“Thank you for coming with me!”, said my lovely Aunty Pam as the Easyjet flight touched down at Chania airport in Crete. Pam had stayed in Chania as part of a group holiday a couple of years ago, and was keen to show me why she’d loved it so much – and she was happy to pay for both of us if I took on the job of booking the flights and hotel; how could I refuse?!
We had that wonderful moment of stepping out of the plane into the hot midday sun, having left a rather miserable London in the chilly early hours. As we found the bus that would take us into Chania town we were peeling off our extra layers, fanning ourselves with our flight tickets and willing the aircon into life.
I love the journey out of a foreign airport – I love to see signs and posters in a language that I don’t understand, and local people going about their normal lives. What I hadn’t expected to see was the range of mountains on the horizon, with their snow-covered peaks sparkling in the hot sun! As we neared Chania town, Pam started to recognise some of the landmarks, and she knew exactly where to go when the bus pulled into the bus station.
We’d only brought hand luggage, so the 10 minute walk to our little hotel near the sea was an easy journey. We passed inviting ice cream shops and patisseries, fascinating little craft shops and the usual tourist shops, full of olive oil soaps and postcards. “Almost there”, said Pam, and a few moments later we emerged onto the beautiful, picture-book little harbour, with a strong wind carrying the scent of salt and fish through the air, whipping my hair into a mass of tangles and forcing the little waves to slap against the harbour walls.
We needed to cool down, and the hotel wasn’t expecting us for another half an hour; plenty of time for us to relax with a cold drink and enjoy the view. The harbour is full of cafes and restaurants, all with their tables under shady awnings, all with waiters trying to tempt us in. We opted for a restaurant claiming to offer ‘the best frappe in Chania’ and enjoyed half an hour of watching the world go by before the short walk to our hotel to check in.
The ‘Antica Casa Studios’ are a minute’s walk from the harbour, close to the entrance to the Maritime Museum. We dragged our trolleys across the bumpy cobbles up the sloping alley, and found our studios, where Maria was sitting at the entrance waiting for us. We followed her up the steep, winding stairs to our room on the second floor (making a mental note that we wouldn’t want to do this after a few glasses of retsina!) and, after signing the paperwork and a chat with Maria, we were free to kick off our shoes and change into something cooler!
We started off by opening the shutters and doors onto the tiny balcony, furnished with a couple of chairs and a little metal table – perfect for a swift drink before dinner or a glass of juice in the morning. From here we could see down the alley to the sea, just visible and sparkling between the colourful little buildings. The warm breeze rippled through the flowers on the balcony and made the curtains sway behind us. The studio was quite large, with tall ceilings and tasteful décor. It had a tiny kitchen, with a hotplate, fridge and sink, and a small bathroom with a bathtub and shower. Once we’d unpacked our cases (it doesn’t take long when you only have cabin bags!) we decided to go straight out for a wander around the pretty little streets and the picturesque harbour. Dressed more comfortably now in sandals and sunglasses, it was time to get to know Chania…..
Info: Antica Casa Studios, Chania, Crete – http://www.simplychania.gr/antica.html