Kamilari/kalamaki Heraklion - Some Local Knowledge If You Would Be So Kind
Posted 28 July 2009 - 11:11 PM
First post for me and as this seems the most active Cretan board I thought I would ask a couple of questions. Fro what I've read we've not made a bad choice of where to stay; doesn't sound overly touristy and it's away from the English (I am English - just don't like the beer culture abroad or here in Blighty). We're a family of four (wife, me and two girls 10 & 8) and we're arriving 19/08/2009 and leaving 10/09/2009, si it's a good long break.
We're hiring a car from Heraklion (where we are landing) and the first question is how long will it take to drive across to Kamilari. The driving doesn't bother me; I'm not a complete novice in Greece but I don't imagine we'll be away from Heraklion until 11.30pm (but since I'll still be on UK time it won't be that late for me) so the roads will be quiet (I think) though dark. Looking at the map, I reckon about 1.5 hours or so if I find the place fairly quickly; the road doesn't look too bad but I think it's a bit up and down so the little hire car may struggle a bit.
Next question was about ATMs. We're thinking of coming out with a relatively modest sum (sort of 500-600 EUR), and using a topup ATM card (FairFX) rather than carrying wads of cash. So, are there many ATMs in the area (particularly in the two villages mentioned), and are they stocked on a regular basis with cash? I don't imagine it will be too hard to find an ATM in Matala.
That's about it for now; any information gratefully received.
Posted 28 July 2009 - 11:46 PM
Kamilari is supposed to be lovely: I'm sure you've made a good choice. I'm sure that Tim, who knows it well, will tell you all about it. I would only offer you this little piece of advice. Find somewhere to stay near Heraklion and do the drive in the morning. It's more than "a bit up and down": it's mountainous most of the way, and although the road is good as far as Mires I would be very surprised if it didn't take you at least two hours. And the last bit looks hardly more than a track. Not a good idea when you're tired after a long flight.
But the main reason for suggesting this is that you'll be driving through magnificent landscape, and will miss it all. Get a good night's rest and enjoy the journey in the morning.
Regarding ATMs: there was a long thread on the Interkriti forum a week or so ago about the difficulties people have been having with them. The banks are taking increasing precautions to avoid card fraud: several people reported having their transactions refused by their banks, and also finding that some ATMs will only take certain cards and not others. To avoid the second problem, take several cards with you so that you've got a choice. To avoid the first, notify each of your card providers that you will be in Crete, so that you don't run the risk of being refused. Note, though, that even if you notify them, some providers (including my own, Lloyds TSB) will approve only purchase transactions and refuse cash withdrawals. So you do need to take avoiding action.
If you are refused an ATM withdrawal, ring the bank and answer the security questions so that they're sure you are who you say you are, and not a card thief.
Mires is a big market town and there will be plenty of ATMs there if you have any difficulty in Kamilari/Kaminaki.
Posted 29 July 2009 - 08:41 AM
Where are you staying in Kamilari? It's a small place, and unless it has changed there are no big hotels, as far as I know, just small family-run apartments. If you are staying in one of these, the owners will be asleep when you arrive, and although Cretans are some of the most hospitable people in the world, they may not appreciate being roused at 3am, or being telephoned for directions if you get lost on the last bit of the journey or can't find the apartments when you get there.
Another reason for staying put for the night near Heraklion!
Posted 29 July 2009 - 10:12 AM
Just make sure you follow the road signs to Moires. The kafeneions are open until late in Crete so in case u get lost ask someone to direct you to the Moires road. When u arrive in Moires look for a sign to Matala. Kamilari is on you right about 1km after the Shell Garage and just before Pitsidia and Matala.
Also regarding ATM I never had any problem with my Maestro card. ATM's are available in Matala and Moires.
Posted 29 July 2009 - 12:29 PM
I agree with much if what has been said already about your choice of venue, and ATMS.
As far as the journey is concerned the roads are pretty good all the way in so far as the road surface is concerned but as Julie has suggested, it is pretty winding in places. There is also, as far as I recall, a complete lack of lighting once you get out of Heraklion- and the direction signs are not brilliant. There are several routes from Moires (Mires) so no panic if you miss the Matala turn. I would normally head through Mires towards Timbaki (Tympaki) and turn off left at the Phaistos sign. (There is also a later, less direct turn and route before Tympaki)
You need to be aware that on the route, there are a number of pretty sharp turns, some with adverse camber that can still catch you out even when you know the road.
A couple of considerations may help you decide one way or the other whether to overnight in Heraklion, or head straight to Kamilari.
How comfortable are you getting into a car that you may not be familiar with and then driving 'blind' across most of the island? Many hire cars come with near empty tanks and getting fuel late at night can sometimes be a bind. Unless Kamilari has changed, you will be staying in a small family run place and not a big hotel with facilities. Some owners will be happy to stay up and meet you - and even perhaps meet you somewhere close by and guide you in - others maybe not so keen. You might want to discuss the options with them before making your decision. Finding a place in the dark in Kamilari could be difficult, though I have always found people there most helpful - if they are about at the hour you arrive. Many are used to guests arriving late.
If you travel straight there, you might like to have the essentials for the first nights sleep readily available; banging around unloading everything in the small hours may not be the start you want with your fellow holiday makers who have the room by the car park!
As Julie says, parts of the drive are beautiful in the daylight (but so too is waking up and looking across the Messara plain with Psiloritis in the distance).
If you are staying with Michalis and Ilsa at Ambeliotissa (or his late mother's place nearby) then I know you will enjoy yourselves; I'm sure the same goes for other accommodation in the village though I haven't experienced them myself.
I would not expect to find any ATM's in Kamilari but there is everything you might need in Mires not far away. Mires and Tympaki are busy working agricultural towns and have a population of locals to provide for. Kalamaki, on the coast a few miles from Kamilari has a wider choice of tavernas etc than Kamilari, as does far busier Matala.
For all the lack of usual tourist facilities in Kamilari (which to my mind makes it far more attractive) you can get everything you need without going too far whilst enjoying a more 'natural' Crete.
I look forward to my next trip there.
Posted 29 July 2009 - 02:23 PM
The girl handing over the car at 11pm on a trip a couple of years ago misheard me and said 'You'll be fine for Plakias" ... I was going to Sfakia... Having driven to Rethymnon and asking at kiosks, I ended up o/nighting and in a Panda that is uncomfortable, even for one!
Posted 29 July 2009 - 04:02 PM
I'm sure, provided that I can make sure I have a full tank, that I will be able to sort out the accomodation. The owner of the apartment (which is halfway between Kamilari and Kalamaki) owns a hotel down in Kalamaki, so I'm sure there will be someone around late to help us out. That said though I'm going to clarify this all iwth them prior to going anyway, I just wanted to give them an idea of when we are likely to arrive.
It's starting to sound very much like my kind of place. We stayed at Kalamos (Pelion) last year for two weeks, and that was remote. Two tavernas, one of which doubled up as a shop. It was on hour to Volos from there because of the twisty roads. Loved it though, Sidari doesn't compare though I do love Corfu, but just out of season (see previous comments regarding English beer culture).
What are "must sees" in the area?
Posted 21 August 2009 - 03:15 PM
Lovely area by all accounts, kids loving it and the missus too though a little disappointed by the food at Kalamaki; it's very much the Germans in mind by the looks of things, I WANT CRETAN FOOD.
I guess I'll have to venture a little further inland to find some.
Posted 22 July 2010 - 11:30 AM
Posted 22 July 2010 - 11:31 AM
Posted 22 July 2010 - 07:52 PM
I haven't been to Crete for about five years now (shame on me) so I may be wrong on this but I think you will be unlikely to find any tavernas or fuel stations who take a credit card. I have never known any who do, anywhere in Crete.
I am sure Dinny can update us for the current situation in the wider Kamilari area though and apologies in advance if I have failed to keep up. I have had no trouble over the more recent trips in finding holes in the wall in Mires nearby to Kamilari.
If you can contact the owner of where you are staying, by email, why not drop him/her a line and ask. No idea of course who that might be but, if my old friends Michalis and Ilsa at Ambeliotisa appts are anything to go by, your host will be very happy to help with any information you seek.
Good choice of area.
Posted 22 July 2010 - 11:54 PM
Most garages in the east of Crete do take credit cards but it is worth double checking first. The larger supermarkets take credit cards - even Lidl and they don't even do that in the UK, but they will "protect" you by asking for sight of your passport first.
Wow, Kritsa even has free internet connections for everyone so technology is leading the way!
Posted 23 July 2010 - 10:29 AM
I'm not sure whether to regard that as progress - or another step away from the Crete of which I am so fond. Sounds a bit like the spread of mobile phones, not that long ago (OK I'm showing my age) there would have been queues to use the one village landline, then the mobile was everywhere.
How about tavernas, are they now going the same way?
You have me worried Yvonne, will I recognise the place? I think Yannis had better downgrade my status from 'Crete explorer' to 'nostalgic infrequent visitor' ;-)
Posted 23 July 2010 - 09:45 PM
In Kritsa tavernas, cash still rules - if you were to ask to pay by card they would send you off to the ATM in the middle of the village to replenish your cash. In Agios Nikolaos the newer and posher restaurants take a card but again, those we prefer, stick to cash.
"Progress" due to technology happens and I accept that, but the things I most regret are the rapidly diminishing number of donkeys in the village as younger people turn their back on rural life and the significant increase in graffiti.
At least the weather and the fabulous landscapes remain unchanged.
Posted 29 July 2010 - 01:20 PM
most of the Tavernas & mini markets in the tourist resorts do now take debit/credit cards. They by far prefer cash, but a lot of tourists, particularly French, insist on payment by card. I have a friend works in a mini market in Agia Pelagia & they have a sign up saying " No cards accepted for payments under €5". A sign of the timesI think!