Crete – Hersonissos & Santorini Day Trip
This Crete holiday turned out to be a real rollercoaster!
From 3 to 17!
We had started talking about a trip away in May pretty much before we had even let the tyres on the plane ground to a halt from Sri Lanka.
I had my heart set on going Crete since last year and flights were working out really cheap so we went back to searching. We already knew about a few of the hotels so started our search there. 2 of my friends were popping by on the Friday evening for dinner and to see what we had found holiday wise. We had chosen to fly to Chania as the flight times were good and cheap and had chosen the Kiani Beach Hotel as it was a small kid friendly hotel. My friends liked the look of our plans and decided to book on the spot. Our 3 had grown to 5 without even trying. We woke on the Saturday to tell a few more friends about our trip and before we knew it the numbers kept growing. This was a cheap all inc break at the right time for our friends wanting a break from the never-ending UK weather so within weeks our 5 grew to 8, 12,13 to 17. Yes 17 of us would be going on holiday together! 14 adults and 3 children under 4!
The Email that changed everything
3 days before our departure date we received an email from Expedia asking us to call them urgently as our hotel room had been cancelled by the hotel. We couldn’t believe it! With only 3 days to go we didn’t understand what was going? Which room had they cancelled out of our booking of a total of 6 rooms/suites? At First Expedia even seemed confused and it took nearly an hour on the phone to find that 4 out of the 6 had been cancelled and conveniently all those booked under the Patel surname.
In short this was what was batted around
- The hotel was having renovation done and our 4 rooms were affected – We knew the hotel was expanding but they were building a whole new site so our 4 rooms surely weren’t going to be on a building site from the start?
- Expedia had oversold the rooms which the hotel was not aware of – I had been speaking to the hotel for over 8 weeks in regards to our bookings and requests and they seemed to know all about them and our reference numbers in my email trail. Not once did they mention that there might be an issue with availability.
- All our bookings were made separately from different accounts and during different times as families added on. Yet only the Patel rooms got cancelled.
- Kiani Beach would not cancel the remaining 2 rooms as they had not done anything wrong (refer to above points, they had done plenty wrong) it took a lot of effort to get them to agree to cancel the remaining two rooms to keep our group together.
The Hard Work Begins
Dee , Ash and Dhanisha spent the next 2 days on the phone trying to re jig our whole holiday. Normally finding a substitute hotel wouldn’t be so difficult but finding one at such short notice and with enough availability for our group that met our needs was proving difficult. The Expedia team were trying their best but kept coming back with ‘prices have all risen’ ‘this is all out of budget’ ‘there’s not enough rooms’… blah blah blah.. Dee stayed strong and was adamant we only got what was equivalent to what we had booked – A 5* All-inclusive child Friendly hotel. Chania being a quiet area did not have anything available so after a 5-hour long conversation on the phone to Expedia we settled Creta Maris Beach Resort in Hersonissos. It ticked all the boxes but was on the other side of the island and a 2 1’2 hour drive away. Kiani Beach did cancel the last 2 rooms and they booked over too, keeping the group together. We cancelled our transfers and hired 2 9 seaters instead for the week. It was slowly working out. I have to give credit to the Expedia team who spent so much time on the phone with My husband and Brother in Law sorting this out. They paid for the hotel changes.
The gangs all together!
In the dark hours of the night we all made our way to Gatwick Airport. We had a 5.10 am flight so we left home at 2 am! The holiday group was a mix of my friends and family and I was super excited to have them all together. They are all an easy, chilled bunch of people but I did wonder how they would get on as a group. As we found each other in the airport the guys were already bonding and the girls were all chatting. Nice! Dylan and Druv were super excited at 1) being with each other -the two brothers are besties and 2) at going on holiday with so many others!
We flew with Norwegian Airlines, the plane felt a bit cramped but not really an issue on such a short flight. We were all scattered on the plane and used the time to sleep. Dylan had remembered from Sri Lanka that he needed to sleep so the pilot could take off (a line we must have used that even we had forgotten about) but it worked a treat. He slept for the majority of the flight without a fuss. We met our hire car man and completed the paperwork. We were off- or so we thought… The hire man said he would direct us to the resort as he had forgotten one of the sat navs. We were really baffled by this as surely, he wasn’t going to drive 3 hours out the way for us? But he was adamant we just follow him, so we did… to Kiani beach!!!! He hadn’t been informed that our hotel had been changed by his staff so here we were outside the hotel which really messed things up for us! After a few other dramas with our hire vehicles we were finally on the road with 3 cars instead of 2. We made it to the right hotel tired at around 4pm.
Creta Maris Beach Resort – A Blessing in Disguise
Creta Maris is in the livelier more touristy area of Hersonissos close to Heraklion Airport. The resort itself is HUGE although we didn’t get to see it all, it is set up like a village interspersed with pools, restaurants and bars throughout. Our rooms were the promo rooms which are on offer as they have not been refurbished yet compared to others throughout the village. They are a really good size and are decorated in traditional colours and styles. Check in was speedy and before we knew it we were sitting on the beach catching the last of the sun’s rays, admiring the view. Time to unwind!
The next couple of days were holiday bliss! In the day sitting on the beach or poolside and in the night hitting the town. The kids were loving it. They would play in the little splash pool and dry off in the sun just to do it all over again! If they were not in the water they were in the sand building sandcastles with the help of the numerous uncles and aunties they could rope into getting water and stones for them. The sea had gone from the beautiful calm of the first day to very choppy so we followed the red flag warnings and did not venture in. The resort also has a small park on site which we would take the boys to when we wanted a break away from the water. We even had a go at the mini golf on site!
On the Friday night everyone (bar Me, Heena, Mayur and the kids) headed out to Malia! Malia is only a short drive away and the few who had been previously had told stories of clubs and drinks and crazy parties. We sent the group off with a cheer and a round of shots! They all came back at different times with the last stragglers strolling in after sunrise! Malia had been a disappointment as most bars and clubs are not open yet as the season doesn’t open for another month. But as the group is big they made their own fun where ever they went.
On the Saturday it was my turn out and we went out to Hersonissos town. It’s on the resorts doorstep about a 5 minute drive away. The group was smaller today with some still recovering from yesterday and I really wasn’t feeling going out myself but once we were out I livened up quickly. Apparently, this area was way busier than Malia and bars and clubs were heaving. We partied for a while and came home at the respectable time of 3am with kebabs and Mac Donald’s in hand!
As we were near Heraklion now, it made a day trip to Santorini possible. A lot of us were interested in this so Mitesh ventured out of the resort and got a really good deal ( 80 Euro for transfer, ferry , guided tour and breakfast/Dinner) So we set of bright and early to Heraklion port for our 7.45AM ferry. Our transfer had picked us up a 6am and it was a nice drive watching Crete waking up and the sun colouring the skies over the sea in pink and purple hues. The ferry was larger and more luxurious than I had imagined. Food was included in our deal so we went up and exchanged our vouchers for a hot meal similar to plane food. We took up a larger area near one of the cafes and settled for the 3 hour crossing. You can catch a faster ferry that gets you there in 2 hours but we didn’t think it justified the extra cost.
Our first stop was Oia, a picturesque town set with a high view point. Our tour guide was informative for our coach of mixed English and French speaking group. She was informative about the 400m deep Caldera and local area. We had 2 hours to spend here and also have lunch. We chose a beautiful little restaurant with the most stunning views. The choice was based mainly on it being empty and us being a large group! We sat down to realise we had chosen a quaint fine dining restaurant. This was going to be interesting with our 2 boys running around! The service and food was amazing and the view just topped it off, they managed to serve our food quickly. On our way back to the coach we heard a commotion from further up the path. A man on a donkey (yep, you read right) was shouting at everyone to move to the right and stay close to the wall. As he passed he was followed by another 5 donkeys following the leader, you could hear shouts of ‘don’t touch the donkeys, make way, make way’ then another man followed with more donkeys! It was crazy and unexpected on such narrow paths. My brother in law was terrified and my cousin was just as scared. I couldn’t stop laughing. The donkey saga was my highlight.
Our next stop was Fira, the capital city. We had a couple of hours to stroll around the shops and enjoy the view. Our group split here, some going for a drink with a view, others for a spot of shopping and us trying to feed the boys some food! They preferred having some gyros compared to our superb meal. Before we knew it, we were back on the coach going to our last destination. The options were we could take a separate excursion to the volcano and hot springs via another small ferry ride or go to the beach. We were heading to the black sand beach for the last hour and half. By the time we arrived here we were getting tired and no one really wanted to go to the beach and get wet/sandy just before we had to board the ferry. We had a quick cocktail and made our way back to the coach.
Our 6.15 Ferry couldn’t come sooner! It had been a busy day. The boys were tired but not sleepy and were being a handful. All the adults were tired too! The journey felt so much longer on the way back and I was counting the minutes till the ferry reached port. We got back to our hotel around 10pm and we were all exhausted. It was lovely seeing Santorini but the whole day felt rushed. We all agreed that it would have been better to have had more time in Oia and Fira and scrapped the beach altogether.
Water Water Everywhere!
I would like to say we got a lie in the next day but nope, the boys were awake bright and early. A touch of sunshine soon energised us too and me and Heena chilled near the pool whilst the boys splashed a little. This turned out to be a water day through and through. The winds had calmed so the seas were back to being still, clear and warm! We sat near the beach all day sun bathing, building castles and taking dips in the crystal clear waters. We took the boys to the children’s pool near Mits and Nims’s room to have a go on the water slides. The boys were having so much fun and so were we that we stayed until the life guard kicked us out. We all had a go on the big slide (although its meant to be for kids only) it was such a laugh.
The resort has 6 restaurants on site if you don’t fancy the main 2 buffet restaurants for every meal you can always book into one of these. The choices are BBQ, Cretan Cuisine, Italian & Greek. You have to book any of the themed restaurants 24 hours in advance and they get filled quickly. We were lucky enough to have got bookings for all of them. The Creta Maris app that you can download is helpful for this or you can go to the guest desk and book your meals.
After all that swimming I was really craving pizza. I mean I wanted cheese overload! We hadn’t managed to get any bookings for this evening so I was ready to go to Cosmos when Mits tried to get a table at the Italian restaurant. Somehow he managed to blag a table for 11! I was in heaven 😊
The Last Meal
Our last full day came around too quickly. We would be leaving early the next morning so really tried to enjoy this last day. Everyone had different plans so the group spent the day getting massages, gift shopping or just topping up our tans. We had all received a free 15 minute massage via the hotel spa and a few opted for other packages with them. The boys on their walk down to the shopping area had come across another spa which looked really good so others had booked in for treatments there. The shopping area close to the hotel is only a 5-minute stroll down the beach. There is also a Lidl just off the main road about a 5-minute drive away for all the essentials you could need. This would be handy for those needing nappies and baby essentials etc.
Heena had managed to book the Greek restaurant for all 17 of us! It was the perfect send off to end the holiday. A large table had been set for us and the waiters went out of there ways to make it a memorable meal. They bought out all the starters in little tapas style dishes so we could try everything. We all laughed and joked into the night over a delicious meal with flowing wine. It was a perfect end to a fab holiday.