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Vintage travel poster palace of Knossos Crete Greece

Vintage travel poster, Crete. Not one I would have seen in the windows 😉

What do you think of when you hear the word Crete?

My personal travel dream story & your Tips

When you live in Ireland or the UK you often think: holiday resort island, party, & sun when you hear the word Crete. But I grew up in the States, and from that distance Crete meant mysterious ancient Minoan palaces, myth, and history. Very intriguing for a nerd like me 🙂

When I first travelled across the Atlantic to Glasgow and saw the posters in travel agency windows advertising a week in Crete for just a couple of hundred pounds, I was gobsmacked, and excited. Imagine going to the fascinating island of Crete for so little! Why, it would be into the thousands from the US! In that moment the idea awoke in me of a life where there were myriad possibilities of travel to other countries. How lucky people living in Europe were, I thought. And from then on Crete began to symbolize the amazing  *actually affordable* possibility those who needn’t fly across huge distances have of being able to experience new countries & cultures. By God, I was envious!

I left Glasgow that summer of 1995 with my life in an enormous process of change. I’d lost my heart to Glasgow, and also to Ireland. In fact, less than a year later I was back, having sold my car & given away my belongings. I’d made the Big Move to Ireland, solo. Exciting! I loved it. But I was on such a tight budget for so many years after that there wasn’t a hope of a trip anywhere, no matter how ‘affordable.’  I didn’t get to explore my amazing travel dream. Until now.

Joyously, in the past 2 years, many travel opportunities have opened up for me, thanks to travel blogging and travel Birthday & Christmas gifts. And finally I’m going to Crete.


Crete; history, food, wine, nature

Crete Organic wine; Domaine Paterianakis 4 women one wine

Domaine Paterianakis– 4 women one wine. Pic via

Crete is intriguing to me now not just because of the history & myths of the Palace of Knossos and other sites, but because of the local food and new boutique wineries reinvigorating Crete’s ancient wine tradition. In particular, thanks to a tweet by Wines Of Crete, this recent article on Crete’s wines in The SOMM Journal got me interested in the small organic winery Domaine Paterianakis, also the only Crete winery run by women.

Trying different wines is enjoyable, even if you are like me & aren’t a knowledgeable wine person. I’m a total learning nerd, and like to find out about the work & traditions that help to make different wines special. I may see if I can visit the Paterianakis winery, and perhaps a couple others on my visit– I’ll drink some Cretan wines, for sure, whether I visit wineries or not!

Of course, enjoying that famous sun is important to me, too! Living in Ireland, we are a bit obsessed with the sun, and get outside in it any chance we get. I’d like to get out and enjoy that sun in the more natural side of Crete rather than a packed out resort beach, so I’m researching where to do so. I’ll be solo, on a budget & not driving, so I’m staying in an airbnb studio outside of Heraklion where it will be easy to catch the bus to different places. The studio has a small kitchen so I can cook, & I plan to go to the farm market for some local products–and enjoy them with Cretan wine! Writing this reminds me- I must look for local recipes 🙂 Do you have any?

vintage 1940s travel poster Greece

Vintage fabulousness: 1940s travel poster for Greece

Book Lovers & Travel

Reading travel writing & guidebooks are special loves of mine. I also like to read a up on a bit of history or other non-fiction on the area I’m visiting, and some good quality fiction set in the area too. Guide-wise, I’ve gotten the Rough Guide to Crete, and the handy Top 10 Crete, too. I find it good to start with digesting the Top 10 for the easy format overviews, then expand with the bigger guide books and in deeper looking around online. I’d love to hear your suggestions on what to read for Crete, and Athens too, where I’ll be for #TBEX after Crete.

In the comments I’ve gotten a great book tip for Athens from Agata of, (thank you!) and I’ll share it here, too:

Hi Susan, what a great post! I share this passion of yours and read many travel books before I go to a place. This time of the year I’m preparing myself to visit Athens and I found a marvelous book I would like to recommend to you. It’s “92 Acharnon Street. A Year in Athens” by John Lucas, published by Eland. The books describes adventures of an English professor of literature who spent an academic year in Athens. All his ups and downs, his delight with greek people, food and culture and above all: greek poetry. The author is really successful in terms of describing the real life of this hectic city and it makes this book very easy to read! I hope to discuss it further with you in Athens, over a glass of wine! P.S. If you wonder where to buy this excellent book I’m pasting a direct link to it right here:

Recommendations & Tips — can YOU help?

To fine tune a trip for maximum enjoyment, recommendations & insider tips are priceless. The forums on Tripadvisor and other travel sites can be very helpful, as can travel and local area bloggers. Most of these folk are really happy to give you some individual tips if you have a question or two, and it is worth having a look around on social media for Tweeters etc in the area you’re visiting. I do Twitter searches & then make a Twitter list on my visit area. Doing the same with Facebook can be great, too.

I came across Joanna Kalafatis on a Twitter travel chat, and she was happy help answer any questions. Her post on Why Greece Will Always Be My First Love will have you looking for flights!

Do YOU know of some Crete – Athens – Greece websites, blogs, social media that I should check out?

Do YOU  have tips on Crete, or Athens? Especially the wider Heraklion area of Crete?

I also may do a day trip to Rethymno, but don’t think I can go much further as I don’t have time this visit.( My main interests are in cultural travel: history, arts, crafts, design, local food and nature, but do share any other top tips you may have too!)

If so, thank you very much, and please leave your  recommendations & tips in the comments down below, or tweet me at @VibrantIreland ,or comment on my Facebook Page. Cheers! Susan 😀

Be sure to check out this blast-from-the-past 1960’s British Pathe video on Crete, tweeted by Visit Crete, a fab Crete twitter account to follow.