What did my first solo trip to Greece and Shirley Valentine have in common? Not much as it turns out!
Why is it that as soon as I mentioned I was travelling solo to Greece for a week the comments about Shirley Valentine started? For any of you who don’t know the story, (which was a film and play in the late 1980s) a fictional, mid-life Shirley heads off to Greece for a holiday and falls for the local tavern owner ending up in an, ‘unexpected discovery of herself, and the rekindling of her childhood dreams and youthful love of life‘. Actually, Shirley is 42, not 50-something, married and travels to Greece with a mate – so not many similarities to me really, except perhaps the thought that was present in the back of my mind that maybe a holiday romance wouldn’t be the worst thing to happen whilst I was there. Let me nip that in the bud right now and tell you that unfortunately, didn’t materialise, however, it didn’t stop me from having a very enjoyable week in Crete!
Hoping for an ‘unexpected discovery of myself, and the rekindling of my childhood dreams and youthful love of life’
I booked a cheeky week away in Chania some time ago, flying there with BA from Heathrow and staying at the Fatma Hamoum Boutique Hotel , a lovely 4 star boutique hotel, slap bang in the middle of the historic old town (only a 20-minute taxi journey from the airport) and metres away from the waterfront and the old harbour. Going solo, and not wanting to book a rental car, it was important for me to be able to get around on foot. That was absolutely no problem being surrounded by shops, bars and restaurants and about a 10-minute walk from the local beaches.
A word about my hotel. It suited me so well, not only because of the location but having just 6 bedrooms, a secluded roof terrace and a beautiful breakfast room it was the perfect size for this particular holiday. I stayed in the Daniz room at the front of the hotel overlooking the narrow pedestrian street below – great for getting a feel for the local atmosphere but not so great at midnight when the restaurant opposite was closing for the night. Still, with A/C and good windows, it was definitely possible to get a good nights sleep. The small staff could not have been more helpful and the plentiful breakfast buffet set me up well every morning for the long days at the beach.
I found Chania absolutely charming and with the bougainvillaeas in full bloom, exploring the narrow streets and passageways of the old town was a real treat with plenty of local goodies to splurge on from olive oil based toiletries to beautiful handmade jewellery and leather goods. There was, of course, a fair amount of holiday tat on display and the harbour did get very busy at night with horse-drawn carriages fighting for space with fellow tourists, street sellers and buskers but I found that if I managed to avoid that part of town once the sun had set then it didn’t feel too bad at all.
My only slight complaint about this trip was the fact that everything seemed to be priced for couples – set menus, drinks, seafood platters, even the sun loungers – which was quite surprising as I saw more females of a ‘certain age’ travelling alone than I have noticed in most other places. Come on Crete, get with it here, we eat out and spend money as we travel so why not encourage us a bit more?
Apart from that small niggle, as my first visit to Greece, it hit the spot just right and has left me with the desire to explore much more of the country. In fact, I’d like to go back to Crete and see the spectacular scenery and stunning beaches on the south of the island, but then as some of you already know, I do have a problem visiting the same place twice when there are so many other exciting hot spots to see. But then there’s always an exception to every rule and maybe Crete is just that!
Stay tuned for my next blogs on the incredible food scene in Crete and also a wonderful day trip to Marathi Beach.
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