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Independent trip to the island of Crete and Santorini

The trip was organized independently. On TV, like reports from the fronts, they talked about bankruptcies of travel agencies, so I did not want to risk money and long-awaited vacation. They all scared us with difficulties, they say, it’s expensive, you don’t know where to turn, they can deceive you. I will say this: nothing is impossible for a purposeful person. There is enough comprehensive information on the Internet.

CHOOSE A PLACE
I believed that Crete is a small island and all the attractions are almost within walking distance. This turned out to be wrong. There are already 4 quite large areas with large cities: Chania, Heraklion, Agios Nikolaos and Rethymnon. Each has something to do and something to see.

We decided to stay in Hersonissos, rent a car there and travel around the island. The city is only 30 km from the airport in Heraklion. The choice of hotels and apartments is very decent. This is the perfect place to start exploring Crete.

HERSONISSOS
Hersonissos is one of the most visited resorts. Even in the off-season there are always tourists here. The center of social and entertainment life concentrated along the promenade. Here are the best hotels, many cafes, bars, restaurants and shops. The beach is narrow, long, is a mixture of sand and stone, the descent into the water is convenient. Entrance to the beach is free, but you will have to pay for umbrellas and sun loungers. If you do not need these attributes of a comfortable rest, then no one will swear, but here it is not accepted.
Since the city arose back in the days of Minoan civilization, it saw Greeks, Romans and other representatives of ancient cultures, ruins at every step, but not the most impressive.
We stayed at the Star Beach Village hotel. Room no complaints, there is everything you need. Nearby is the Star Beach Water Park.

EXCURSIONS
Hersonissos is very well located, so getting to somewhere is easy.

First we visited the island of Santorini. The catamaran ride took 2.5 hours. The island changed its landscape several times due to volcanic eruptions. The capital of Fira made a strong impression: narrow quaint streets, countless arches, white buildings against the blue sky and sapphire sea – the picture is simply amazing. We visited the temple of Elijah the Prophet, visited the ancient village of Pyrgos and the village of Oia, which is famous for picturesque sunsets, took a swim on Kamari beach, covered with dark lava sand.

Having rented a car, we went on a trip to the eastern part of Crete. The first stop is Bela in the village of Agios Nikolaos. Its main attraction is the round lake of Vulismeni, which is a geological phenomenon. It is located in the crater of the volcano, fresh sources hit it, and it is connected to the sea by a narrow channel through which fishermen bring their catch. Delicious fish and seafood dishes are served in cafes and taverns surrounding the pond.

Malia
The next stop was in the town of Malia. Previously, potatoes were grown there, but, having appreciated all the benefits of tourism, the city changed its guidelines. It built hotels, shops, cafes – in short, everything you need for a pleasant pastime for guests.

Lassithi Plateau
The Lassithi Plateau greeted us with coolness. The natural landscape was decorated with dozens of mills. It was not possible to visit the cave of Zeus, since it was closed. You can visit the monastery of God strictly until 15.00.

Monastery of the Holy Virgin Kera Kardiotissa
We were not disappointed, but went further along the road along which orange orchards stretched.
The monastery of the Holy Virgin Kera Kardiotissa is a prayed place where you feel light and light. Shooting inside is prohibited. No photos can convey the beauty of the frescoes.

We arrived in Agios Nikolaos again a few days later. Our goal was to visit the island of Spinalonga. Getting there was easy. Regular boats go to the island. Tickets can be bought right at the marina. The voyage took a little more than 30 minutes, and we arrived at Mirabello Bay. The island is surrounded by an impregnable fortress. It was built by the Venetians in 1579 on the remains of the ancient Acropolis in order to protect themselves from pirates. The construction was truly impregnable. Only the Turks managed to take it, when the island became part of the Ottoman Empire in 1715. After Greece declared its independence in the early 20th century, a leper colony was opened on Spinalonga, which existed until 1957.

Knossos palace
Knossos Palace is located near the city of Heraklion. The car trip was not tiring. Entrance to the ruins is paid: 8 euros per person. The architectural ensemble belongs to the Minoan civilization. They say that there were 1000 rooms in the palace, and the very labyrinth in which the Minotaur lived. The palace was destroyed as a result of the tsunami, which provoked an eruption on the island of Santorini in 1450 BC. e.

FOOD AND RESTAURANTS
There is no point in ordering food at the hotel. It is better to get acquainted with the gastronomy of Crete in local taverns. The menu is dominated by dishes of the freshest fish and seafood.

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