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Heraklion In The Winter


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#1 nanlan

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Posted 21 November 2008 - 08:40 AM

Hello! I am a student from the U.S. and I will be living/working in or around Heraklion from January - March 2009. I know winter is the down season in Crete, but I was wondering if anyone has suggestions on things to do or places to explore? The only problem is, I probably won't be able to drive around the island, but I will have access to the bus system. Also, since I do not yet have a great lay of the land, are there any places that are unsafe, since I will be traveling and living by myself the whole time there?

Any and all help and/or suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

Thanks,
Nancy

#2 Tim

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Posted 21 November 2008 - 11:29 AM

Nancy
Many of the locals have relied upon buses to get them around the island for many years so no need to concern yourself at the lack of a car. The buses are run by Ktel and this site should be a starting place for the service they have http://www.bus-service-crete-ktel.com/
Taxis have also usually been regarded as good value compared to outside of Crete.
You will be pleased to know that Crete has long had a reputation as a place where women can safely travel around alone, although things are changing as more foreigners move to the island, Greeks remain amongst the most friendly people in the world to be with.
As to suggestions - start by having a good look around this site and get a few decent travel books. There is so much to see it's difficult to know where to start and what might be most appropriate for you.
Enjoy

#3 nanlan

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Posted 21 November 2008 - 07:12 PM

Thanks, Tim – I appreciate your help on this! It looks like bus will be the best way to go after all, since it looks like they are very extensive.

#4 Julie

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Posted 22 November 2008 - 09:03 PM

You are lucky: you're coming to Crete in the winter, which is the best possible time to explore and see Crete as it is when it's not over-run by and catering for tourists. It can be cold and wet, but if you are lucky with the weather you will get spells that feel more like Spring: sunny and warm. Assuming there has been the usual amount of rain, it will look like Spring too: green, with lots of flowers.

Heraklion is a nice city: noisy and busy, a real place, with lots of shops, restaurants and cafeneions, interesting churches, a magnificent harbour and a great street market, and of course the National Archaeological Museum. It's closed for restoration right now, but there is a temporary display of some of its treasures which will certainly be worth seeing.

The bus network will take you anywhere you want to go, for fares that will seem ridiculously low to you. I've driven a car a lot in Crete, but would always rather go by bus: you see so much more, and meet people.

Do spend some time in Chania and Rethymnon. Chania first, Rethymnon second. On your way back to Heraklion from Rethymnon, catch the early morning slow bus (I think it leaves at 6.30 am and is worth getting up for). It's a three-hour trip, almost twice as long as the fast bus, because instead of speeding along the national highway it winds its way up through the villages, picking up people going to the market, that nestle in the foothills of Psiloritis. Psiloritis, or Mount Ida, is Crete's highest mountain, and it will be snow-covered. If you do this trip on a bright sunny morning, it's an absolutely spectactular ride.

As Tim says, Crete is a very safe place for women on their own. I'm sure you'll enjoy yourself.

#5 nanlan

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Posted 22 November 2008 - 09:25 PM

Julie, this sounds excellent! I will make sure I check out the slow bus. Quick question - if I take the slow bus that passes through those villages, would I be able to get off in one or more of the villages for a bit for lunch or something, and then board the bus again? Or does it just pass through without stopping? Thanks!

#6 Ton

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Posted 27 November 2008 - 01:42 PM

It passes through and it makes a stop for one or two minutes or so in order to let people get off and on. If you decide to stop for a few hours though you might be able to catch the next bus to your final destination. I am not sure if you would need to purchase a new ticket. You would have to ask at the kiosk where you buy your bus ticket.

#7 Emma1310

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Posted 30 November 2008 - 07:10 PM

hey Nancy

I've travelled around Crete a bit by myself and it's very safe and the people are friendly. Of course, you should take the usual precautions and not be silly but there are no real problems. I lived in Athens for several months and even there I felt pretty safe travelling around at night.

The Archaeological museum in Heraklio has a temporary exhibit which is fantastic. It's only small but definitely worth the €4 approx to enter. Be sure to check opening days and times before you travel. If possible, you should also visit Knossos as the two complement each other very well.

KTEL are excellent. Cheap and efficient, but it's slightly chaotic at the bus stations sometimes. Don't be afraid to ask staff for directions as they almost all speak some English. You should take your own food and drink and be prepared to make a run for the WC on a longer journey!

Chania is lovely, very cosmopolitan and lots of good shops (if that's your thing). Rhethymno is also good to visit and reputedly has the best youth hostel in Greece! I know I had fun there. Its just €9 a night and the wine is disgustingly cheap :D
Now is the time for drinking, now the time to beat the earth with unfettered foot.

#8 Julie

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Posted 06 December 2008 - 06:03 PM

Hi Nancy

Sorry for the delay in answering your question about the bus: I've been away for several days.

There is only one "slow bus". It leaves Rethymnon at 7.30 am and winds its way along the Old National Road through the villages, collecting people to go shopping in the markets in Heraklion. If you wanted to get off, there is no "next bus", so you would have to stay in whatever village you got off in all day and overnight.

All the other buses take the new National Road, so you can't get off the slow bus and get onto a fast bus later.

You'll have to leave your exploring of mountain villages for other occasions!

Here is a link to the KTEL timetable:

http://www.bus-servi...e...line=1&lg=2

#9 Aurelia

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Posted 15 December 2008 - 09:02 AM

Hi Julie,

Thank you for this information on the slow bus. What a great way
to see the villages of Crete during all seasons.