Although I have a week in Heraklion and it’s a big city, I want to get out and explore. Today I’ve decided to go to Rethymnon just an hour and half away by public bus. The first thing that I must say is how impressed I am with Heraklion’s KTEL bus station. It is clean and modern with amazing touch screen technology available by way of two large interactive boards. The first is a large touchscreen map of Crete and shows the KTEL bus routes. The second is a large screen that scrolls beautiful images across it – you can click on an image to expand it and read more about it.
The bus ticket costs 8.30 euros one way. I also plan to go to Bali on the way back.
When the bus approaches Rethymnon it seems to have a different feel to Heraklion. The main street leading to the port although quite congested, is lined with Hibiscus trees in bloom which is really attractive. The KTEL bus station in Rethymnon is close to the Fortezza so I make this my first destination. This fort is huge and to walk around the perimeter takes some effort in the high humidity. I dip my toe into the outskirts of the town but it isn’t long before the heat and humidity beat me back!
It isn’t long before I need to beat a retreat into the shade – my next stop is Rethymno Old Town.
Immediately I am grabbed by the prettiness of the old winding streets. There is something so attractive about the patina of time that shows itself in the paint and brickwork of the houses. This place is an absolute paradise for Door and Window photographers and many from the old town feature on my Doors and Windows page.
I treat myself to lunch at the Taverna Loggia in the old town, set down one of the pretty alleyway. It offered a great Greek menu, excellent hospitality and delicious complimentary dips before the meal. Meal not including tip is 13.20 euros.
As I wanted to visit Bali on the way back to Heraklion I reluctantly wrench myself from the shade of the old town and head back to the bus station. I catch the Heraklion bus which seems to go every hour. The ticket to Bali costs 3.80 euros and takes approximately 30 minutes. I didn’t really know anything about Bali. I’d never heard of it before in fact but thought I would go and check it out anyway.
When I exited the bus I had to cross a very busy highway. Once across I walked over to a pine clad area where a Tiny Train was waiting. Whether this is timed to picked people from the bus from Rethymnon or not – I don’t know but I’m thankful anyway. The Tiny Train costs 5 euros and you can have two journeys on the one ticket. As I was clueless about what Bali had to offer I decided to stay on the train until the final destination which was Karavostasi Beach/Evita Bay. The bay is beautiful with clear turquoise waters. I have not come here prepared to swim so I decide to walk back towards the old port, taking a short cut along a road that the train can’t traverse.
My sense is that Bali is a resort made up of a collection of hotels and apartments – albeit set in a really pretty location. It has a series of bays that are protected by low lying mountains which makes the beaches very sheltered – ideal for families and young children I would imagine. The beaches themselves are sunbed packed but look very clean and tidy. I’m not sure this is somewhere that I could stay for very long but I’m glad that I’ve taken the time to come and see it. Now I say that I’ve been to Bali!
I caught the Tiny Train back to starting point. I didn’t know the exact times of the buses but from Bali but estimated 30 minutes from the departure time from Rethymnon. The concrete bus shelter was located across the busy highway just before a corner. This meant that if I sat in the shade of the shelter I wouldn’t be able to see the bus approaching and would need to signal to it pretty sharpish as the traffic was very fast on this stretch of road. The sun was hot and was killing me. I retrieve my fan from my bag to try and cool myself down. After about 1 hour, a bus approached but sped past. I was now losing the will to live. I must have just missed the previous bus and this one didn’t stop at all. I was left with two choices. Wait another hour for the next bus – though by this time I may have died from dehydration – or catch the next bus into Rethymnon and catch the bus back to Heraklion again. The advantage of the second choice is that I could get some water and a chair to sit on whilst I waited. I would also want to ask why the bus didn’t stop when it saw me waving.
A group of people were already gathering at the bus stop across the road so I legged it over just in time to head back into Rethymnon. Once at the bus station I asked why the bus hadn’t stopped. The lady explained to me that it was because every alternate bus is an express bus! These are the things that you only find out through experience! The advantage of this tedious experience is that as I left Rethymnon I was able to watch the sun set over the harbour!