Family vacations in Crete

Our second holiday with our now 15 month old baby. This time we decided on doing “All-inclusive” in combination with day trips.

We were located in Stalida in the north of Crete, 30 km east of the capital Heraklion, where we also landed. Getting the car at the airport and finding the place was no problem, but first thing we did was asking to get another room, since ours was close to a bar where some sort of animation program went on in the evenings (I go to bed at around 8 PM 🙂 ). I must say, the new room wasn’t nice, but it was quiet.

Our first day we spent at the hotel, Ryan had some drinks (out of coffee cups due to pool safety reasons, which is a bummer). Stalida is a typical “All-inclusive resort tourism place” with lots of shops, taverns and also two English pubs. The beaches are not so amazing, the so called “promenade” is an actual road, but everything got ready to close down for off season and therefore tourists were rare and the place was quiet (I assume during summer there is lots of partying going on). We enjoyed the pool, greek food, walking by the beaches and I checked out the fish spa (tiny fish nibbling your feet), which felt amazing. Lucas had an allergic reaction and his eye lids were swollen but we had taken his medicine so it went buy rather quickly (I gave him meat balls which probably had egg in it..).

The following two days we went on a road trip to the west part of the island. We started at 5 AM in order to make sure Lucas would sleep most of the three hour car ride to our first destination: Elafonissi Beach – my first ever pink beach, that I was very eager to see. We drove through stunning mountain landscapes until we reached a very quiet lagoon with flat, turquoise water – perfect for toddlers. The beach was slightly pink but still amazing.

Lucas played in the water, we explored a bit and then made our way back towards the north west, to Balos Beach, apparently one of the nicest in the world. But first you have to pass an eight km bumpy dirt road with, admittedly, breathtaking ocean views. When we finally reached the parking lot on top of a peninsula we were welcomed by lots of friendly goats. Meaning we had to stay there for a while and let Lucas look at them and try to poke them. From there its a short walk until you get to see Balos Beach from above and where a 20 minute walk down to the beach starts. We didn’t want to sunbathe and there were quite some people there already, so we settled for the very nice view, since Lucas started to get antsy and probably would get hungry soon.

So, eight km of bump road back to Kissamos where we found a tavern and got some delicious gyros and tzatziki with fries and tomatoes. After that we headed to Chania (about an hour east), where I have pre-booked accommodation right in the old town near the venetian harbor. We parked at some dubious looking parking lot and checked in with a very friendly host (of which Lucas was a bit scared).

Chania is very pretty and nice to stroll around and soak in the old town atmosphere. Lots of nice buildings, plants and cobble stones everywhere and beautiful fisher boats in the lagoon, that’s surrounded by restaurants and shops. Only ice cream doesn’t seem to be so awesome…

The next day we went to Imbros Gorge – very spectacular with narrow rock rising up on both sides. The start of the 11 km long path is at the village Imbros where it is easy to find parking spots. On the other side of the gorge, 600 vertical meters lower, a taxi picks you up and takes you back through evenly striking mountain landscapes.

I had Lucas in the pouch which he didn’t like at all. He wanted to hike himself. Or rather sit there and play with the rocks, of which the path consists. The whole course is meant to take two to three hours but it took us much longer, because our whining baby forced us to take frequent stops so he can play or eat. The rest of the way we rushed down, barely able to enjoy the views because of Lucas’ bad mood. Most of the time I just sang while carrying him to at least entertain him a little bit… Looks like hiking is off the books until he can walk a little better… that course has been way to advanced for him.

In the morning, after another night at the All-Inclusive place we headed up to the Lassithi plateau, passing picturesque mountain villages and cool landscapes. On the plateau itself time seemed to have stopped. Most of the famous windmills there were out of service or run down. We explored a “ghost village” on top of a hill where nature started to take back uninhabited houses and farms. Lucas had enough time to walk around or sit down and play and I explored the very top of a hill where a church was located surrounded by some graves – with stunning views. Ryan felt sick so we headed back right away on narrow roads through wine fields. Lucas fell asleep on the ride so we didn’t bother stopping at sights on the way down. In the hotel they both slept in the dark room and I sat on the balcony.. A boring ending to an only medium fun day.

Since Ryan’s cold got worse, it was me and Lucas only who drove the 30 km west to see the Palace of Knossos, the larges Bronze age archeological site on Crete and the center of the Minoan civilization. With Lucas it would have been very annoying to follow a guided group, so I just read up on the history beforehand and strolled through the site, again, giving my baby lots of time to sit around and play with rocks. Sometimes in the middle of the way when a large group walked by… I must have looked like the crazy single mom who travels alone with a cranky baby and looks slightly stressed. But it’s worth it, despite the stress. He is in a phase where he can get very loud and screamy if he doesn’t get what he wants. And being picked up when people want to pass is something he really didn’t want. I am glad I was able to enjoy an hour long massage before we set out.

The last full day we drove further east to check out the small towns of Agios Nikolaos and Elounda. Especially the latter was, what I expected to be typical Greek before I came here. Or typical for Crete. Mountains in the background, beautiful beaches, harbors, fisher boats, taverns. A very lovely place, my favorite of the whole trip. We strolled around, dipped our feet in the water and just explored a little. The way back took us again through impressive mountain roads with extraordinary views on the water and plateaus.

All in all it was another rather exhausting vacation, just because Lucas didn’t get his way as much as he maybe wanted and in the end we all got sick. Also with a small kids all those relaxing elements, like sitting at a café by the beach, sipping wine or just reading a book, doing nothing barely exist. But to me it’s still worth it. Next time I’d definitely do a round trip with as little car rides as possible. Also hanging around on the beach or by the pool is quite tiring since you just can’t put your eyes of that little human that constantly wants to jump in 🙂 Little kids just don’t care about traveling but at least they get happy moms when they do it… and the occasional cat to poke at, too.

I was worried about the flight home, hoping Lucas would not be in pain because of his snotty nose. Luckily he slept the whole time and only woke up when the plane touched the ground. And the only one whith ear pains and not being able to hear properly for days was me. But I take that over my baby being in pain a million times.. Happy holidays!!!

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