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Fodele in Crete

Crete is an island of delights, but none more surprising than the village of Fodele. Nestled in fragrant orange groves on the sunny northern coastline, the old part of the town manages to capture something unique; a cool, quiet oasis with lush foliage to shade under and a chuckling river to relax by. The newer part of Fodele follows the river to the sea and opens out onto a warm sandy beach.

Fodele is situated between Heraklion and Rethymnon and its position in the hills of plane trees and orchards gives it an excellent panorama over the sparkling bay. It stretches from the northern side of the Stroboulas Mountain across the Pantomantris River and down through bushes and groves to the warm, inviting sea. This lush vegetation makes Fodele a magnet for a variety of flora and fauna and is a great place to get up close to some of the creatures indigenous to Crete including lizards, snakes and butterflies.

The pace of life is definitely relaxing and far removed from the rigours of modern day life. The park in the centre of the old village is shady and green with many tavernas to enjoy a cooling drink. The plane tree at the centre of the village square is said to be over a thousand years old, but how ever old it is, it remains a favourite meeting place to shade under. There are many little craft shops to browse around Fodele, perfect for souvenir hunting. The market is a great place to barter for things, be prepared to haggle! For a greater variety of shops nearby Heraklion or Rethymnon have a diverse range of quality shopping. According to historians this village stands on the site of the ancient town of Astali and the architecture is no less impressive now with beautiful traditional houses, strewn with fragrant flowers, lining the streets.

About one kilometre from the village centre is the El Greco Museum. It houses memorabilia and reproductions from the famous Cretan artist. Just before you get to the museum, you will find the Church of Annunciation of the Virgin Mary. At over 900 years old it is an important relic from the Byzantine period with beautiful frescoes partially remaining over the walls. Another key building in the area is the Monastery of Agios (Saint) Panteleimon, dedicated to the patron Saint of bakers. It's a fine example of Venetian architecture. Rippling in the sunshine you will see the ever present yellow flags with a black eagle emblem, something seen at many churches in the area. The two faces of the eagle look in opposite directions demonstrating the Byzantine passion for being ready for any threat from any direction.

The most popular time to visit Fodele is from Easter to October when the temperatures are a delicious 20-30 degrees Celsius. The area is particularly favoured by couples, as families tend to stay at the newer end of the village by the beach, a couple of miles away. There are two beaches at the more modern coastal part of Fodele. The first, accessed straight from the national road has a good range of facilities, restaurants, bars, petrol station and a large hotel. The other, further to the west, can only be visited by travelling the old road from the older part of the village. This has no facilities but the landscape is more interesting and you can swim and sunbathe more peacefully.

It's simple to travel to Fodele. The flight times from the UK to the international airport at Heraklion are approximately four hours. The airport is well served by cheap, reliable public transport and taxis are plentiful and well priced. If you choose to hire a car, the road system is modern with a new national road (Iraklion- Rethimno) taking you straight to the outskirts of Fodele.

Nightlife in Fodele is quiet and relaxing. Whilst some of the hotels offer in-house entertainment and a few bars have music, many people just love to soak up the balmy evenings in one of the tavernas or restaurants whilst enjoying the fabulous food and drink. Most tastes are catered for and there is a range of international cuisine but a visit to Crete would not be complete without sampling some of the local meze, (the equivalent of Spanish tapas). The seafood in particular is heavenly. The Greek way of enjoying a meal is in an unhurried fashion and is the ideal way to unwind.

This sense of luxuriating in the timeless traditions of this area is possibly the most irresistible reason why Fodele is such an attractive destination.