My Trip to the Island of Crete, Greece

Chania Crete Lighhouse

The taxi departs from Chania’s airport on the island of Crete, we wind through unfamiliar suburban streets. So far, the city looks like many other cities I’ve seen before, with modern shops, buildings, and cars all lined up against one another�nothing remarkable. As the taxi driver takes a corner, he abruptly stops and tells me he can’t go any further. I’m slightly annoyed, thinking he’s deliberately cutting my prepaid trip short. However, when I turned from him, I realized he was being very literal. No traffic was allowed up this narrow, cobblestoned street.

What I Learned From a Disastrous Trip�and What I’ll Do Different Next Time

What I Learned From a Disastrous Trip in Crete - Harbor_and_lighthouse_in_Chania._Crete,_Greece
Image Credit: Wikicommons/ ���������.

This is just the beginning of a trip of many mistakes. Apply what I learned from a disastrous trip to yours so you can avoid the pitfalls that befell me on your next journey.

Where I Went: Chania, Crete

What I Learned From a Disastrous Trip in Crete - Naval_Museum_of_Chania
Image Credit: Wikicommons/ Moonik.

Chania’s Old Town sits on an ancient port by the ocean. Its history is vast and complicated. The island’s position in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea means that various empires have attempted to control it over several thousand years. The architecture shows the influences of Minoan, Ottoman, and Venetian rule, and the result takes your breath away. The sun highlights the multicolored buildings, with tiny balconies covered in bougainvillea vines. If you have yet to consider yourself a romantic, this place may change your mind. When they made cobblestones, they probably weren’t thinking how inconvenient they’d be for wheeled suitcases.

I woke early on my second day and walked slowly up the winding street, watching as the shopkeepers began to open their stores�moving cafe furniture outside or hanging clothing and other wares for sale on the front of their buildings.�For the next few days, I explored this city, its ancient Venetian walls and lighthouse, wandering up and down, watching the boats go in and out of the port on the blue-green waters. The weather has been near perfect, so when it suddenly turned into torrential rain and cold winds, I was shocked. Of course, this happened the day I planned to move on to the central Crete city of Heraklion.

The Weather Isn’t Always Picture Perfect

What I Learned From a Disastrous Trip in Crete - Kreta_-_Chania_-_Kathedrale_der_drei_M�rtyrer
Image Credit: Wikicommons/ Taxiarchos228.

I needed to walk several blocks away to the bus station. As I fought with the wind and rain, my foot fell into a pothole as I crossed the street. My jeans were now mostly soaked through. I bought my ticket and then fought with the locals to get the attention of the service staff in the station’s coffee shop for coffee. This wasn’t like anywhere in the US or Australia where there’s some queue�it seemed to be a “who can elbow their way to the front” first sort of situation.�

My bus arrived, and I found a seat, hoping the heat inside would eventually dry my jeans. There’s not a lot of choice in seating as it was pretty full. The rain was pelting against the windows, and it was not until we were about 30 minutes out of Chania that I realized my window was leaking. There was a constant drip, and it was coming in on my head. I shifted to the aisle seat, but it still got me. When we were about halfway to Heraklion, the bus made a stop, and the driver told us there was something wrong and we were changing to a new bus. Finally, some relief from the rain!

It took about an hour to reach Crete’s capital city. My hotel was on the same street as the bus depot, just a few blocks over, so I decided to walk. The walk along the beachfront would have been pleasant if it wasn’t for the rain. Instead, I fought with the wind, using my umbrella as a shield until it blew inside out and was finally wrenched out of my grasp.

The Kindness of Strangers

What I Learned From a Disastrous Trip in Crete lighthouse in chania
Image Credit: Wikicommons/ ���������.

The street was flooded, and I realized my hotel, The Kronos, was just across the road. I needed to wade through knee-deep water, dragging my suitcase, to reach it. When I finally got to reception, I looked like a drowned rat. After check-in, I reached my room�which would have had a stunning view of the sea and Heraklion Harbor without the weather. I also realized my suitcase was soaked completely. There was not one single piece of dry clothing inside. I had no choice but to put everything on hangers and wait. In the meantime, I was hungry. I went downstairs where I was told the kitchen is only open for breakfast. Feeling somewhat defeated, I sat down in one of the foyer’s lounge chairs, planning what to do next to right my food and clothing situation. 

I felt a tap on my shoulder and turned to see the hotel’s owner there, offering me a grilled cheese sandwich and a hot coffee. He waved away my offer of payment. After the day’s events, this simple but random act of kindness meant the world to me, and I started to feel that there are people in this world who actually care. 

Preparation Is Key To Avoid Problems

What I Learned From a Disastrous Trip in Crete
Image Credit: Wikicommons/ dronepicr.

Eventually, I ventured out to buy some warm clothes at the local chain stores, but I realized that if I’d done my research beforehand, a lot of this could have been avoided. This first hint should have been the fact that many of the ferries to the Greek Islands started to reduce their services from November onwards. This is because demand is reduced due to the cold weather. I checked before I left and saw that temperatures averaged around 67 degrees Fahrenheit at the time of year I’d be traveling. This temperature is usually pleasant where I come from, but in Greece, the combination of rainy weather and cooler temperatures means a warmer jacket and long pants should have been in my luggage instead of shorts and short-sleeved tops. 

Don’t be fooled by all the photos of perfect blue skies and picturesque Greek architecture. My notion of Greece was a year-round pleasant climate, and in retrospect, that wasn’t very smart. I spent a lot of time researching my destination before taking this trip, but nothing I read prepared me for this. While the country’s southern areas may not get as cold as the north, it’s still fall in November, and you need to prepare for it.�

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