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July 03, 2006

A trip out to Platanias

On Sunday we headed out west of Hania to a place called Platanias. It is one of the former villages along the Gulf of Hania that has become a huge tourist resort.

We really want to go to a place called Drakiana, which is a restaurant somewhere along the indeterminate strip that runs from Agia Marina to Maleme. It gets a great review in our guide book. It is, though, a 3km trek through olive and orange groves to get to it though - and with the temperature here nudging 38°C, we didn't fancy that!

We waited for the KTEL bus at the end of our road fro around twenty minutes without joy, when unbidden a taxi pulled up. "Οχι, οχι" I said. "Where are you going? I'll take you". "Platanias". "Eight euro!". "No, no". "Seven euro?". We were wilting under the heat and the overpowering stench of dog poo at the bus stop thanks to a large deposit left there by a four-legged friend, and so relented - "OK, OK".

The taxi dropped us at a taxi rank and bus stop right in the middle of town. Well, as much as you can work out what is the middle of town anyway. The road from Agia Marina to Maleme is literally a non-stop parade of tavernas, cafes, holiday apartments & resorts, mini-golf, go-karting, bars, tourist shops and the like. We cut up a side-road and headed for the beach. The beach was heaving with people, but we found a spot at a beach-side cafe to stop for a drink. We were absolutely sweltering.

We both agreed that visiting one of the real package holiday destination beaches puts into context how "local" our Golden Beach is. Today, on a Sunday, I don't think we saw a single Greek person in Platanias except for the people serving us in shops or bars, whereas we know our nearby beach is a haven for the locals at the weekend. It was also amazing how it lacked character. You walk along the beach and there are identical lines of loungers and umbrellas, and bars pumping out house or UB40 or Madonna. There doesn't seem to be anything about them that makes them any different from any other island in Greece, or indeed, from any other stretch of sand in the whole of the Med region. Our little nearby beach is most definitely Cretan though, with Greek TV blaring out, old men arguing over backgammon, and a few blokes who seem to be there simply to stare at the girls. Not me, of course, you understand.

Plataniasfrappe Anyway, I digress. Having found a spot to stop in Platanias, we each ordered our amazing brand new discovery - frappe coffee with Baileys. It is like a regular iced coffee, but with a warm shot of coffee, sugar and Baileys in the bottom. It is divine. We are going to have to invest in the necessary "frothing" equipment to start making this at home!

After that we did a spot of book shopping. I finally picked up a "proper" history of Crete, you know, by a Professor, with a bibliography in it, and everything. Expect to be bored with historical facts from now on.

We wandered around for a bit more, and then found somewhere to stop for a bite to eat. Although pretty much everywhere looks much of a muchness, we picked a place called Αριαδνε (Ariadne). It was on the beach front, but also had its own children's play area, pool, table football and pool table. It was really nice, and the staff were very friendly.

Plataniassalad Our main meals were great, but we shared a salad for starters which was just exceptional. Smoked salmon, lettuce, rocket, cucumber, shaved parmesan, capers, sun-dried tomatoes and spring onions. It came with fragranced olive oil and vinegar. It was just one of the best bits of food we had since we got here - and really emphasised just how mediocre some of the tourist traps around Hania's old harbour are.

Plataniasariadne We had a running joke with the barmaid, who kept bringing our drinks with the wrong sex "swizzle-sticks" in them, and then making a big fuss of having to swap them around so that I had the saucy lady and Claire had the strapping, if somewhat deformed, man. We ended up there for nearly three hours having a great conversation and one of the loveliest afternoons we've had since we reached Crete. We got the KTEL bus back after a little wait, and it dropped us off literally at the entrance to our road, which was an absolute result as it was absolutely stiflingly hot today.

Oh, and you'll see from the evidence of the pictures that the camera is still working. Proof that the semi-autistic male habit of just repeatedly prodding and cajoling and pressing all the buttons on broken gadgets until they magically fix themselves is alive and well in Hania.

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