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Crete is unforgettable. For years it was thought of as nothing more than a small island far to the south of the Greek mainland – that is until tourists discovered its delights in the 1970s. Now visitors have realised that the island has everything for a great holiday. Crete really does have everything including wonderful nature walks, fine beaches, excellent local cuisine and pretty drives through the mountains as well as modern clubs and bars for those who enjoy a vibrant nightlife. There are also ancient historical sites to explore such as a Minoan palace and Roman remains. Depending on what you are looking for, there is a town or village with accommodation and amenities to suit every taste and budget.
A quiet spot, Lambi (Lampi) is situated to the south of Rethymnon with its southern border as the Lybian Sea. The area around Lampi covers about two hundred and twenty square kilometres and has a population of over six thousand people although the tourists swell the numbers in summer.
Several high peaks dominate the landscape around here including Mount Asideroti, Mount Kedros and Mount Xiro. There are streams and natural springs in the area and beautiful flowers abound. In fact Crete proudly boasts many wild flowers that are only found on the island and nowhere else on earth. In the spring the hills in the centre of Crete are carpets of poppies, gladioli, irises and chamomile which are a fantastic sight to see.
The landscape around Lampi is perfect for nature lovers and is ideal for trekking. There are three rivers in the area, the Kourtaliotis which is well known for the beautiful lake at Preveli beach, the Akoumiano and the Plati which flows into the sea at Aghia Galini. The whole area abounds with exotic flowers and herbs as well as the ubiquitous olive groves which dot the landscape and olives can be seen drying out in the sunshine. The cuisine of Crete is heavily dependent on this particular fruit – with olive oil used regularly on salads and meat dishes.
The local economy here is based on livestock and agriculture. Cheese is made locally and olives are pressed to make oil. Greek cheese tends to come from goats and is regularly used in salads and other local dishes.
Since the 1970s the region around Lampi has placed huge importance on tourism as well as farming. Families can stay in local tavernas and family run pensions. Restful holidays can be enjoyed in other small villages nearby too. Eating al fresco is one of the joys of staying in Crete. Imagine an evening spent sitting outside a taverna with the sweet scent of herbs filling the night air. Dinner is served with a delicious salad, fresh bread and retsina. There is no rush. Life on Crete is unhurried.
However, there is much by way of fast paced entertainment if you just go slightly further afield. For those who enjoy nightlife with dancing, clubs and bars, nearby Aghia Galini is the place to go. There are many attractions here as well as excellent accommodation by way of furnished apartments, hotels and camp sites.
Cars can be rented on Crete and driving is probably the best way to see the island. There are many good roads both along the coast and through the mountains and the scenery is wonderful with expansive views. Self drive means independence and Crete really is an island where you need to take your time to explore.
Getting to Crete can mean sailing from the mainland of Greece if you so choose. This is a great way for your first encounter of the island as the ships arrive in the early morning and it is very exciting to glimpse the silhouette of Crete as it comes into view. Trips by boat take between six and nine hours depending on the speed of the particular vessel. All are well equipped and up to date. Good food is served on board should you require it and there are modern cabins of various types.
Alternatively you can fly to one of Crete's two airports, Heraklion or Chania. Many UK airports operate flights to Crete. Alternatively you could fly to Athens, stop off and do a bit of site seeing and then take a further flight to Crete. Cruise ships, too, stop regularly at the island. The Greek islands have always proved an attractive destination for cruises and Crete is now firmly on the itinerary. How ever you decide to arrive on Crete you are certain to fall in love with this unique island with its long held traditions and friendly people.