In the last week of September, Thomas and I went to Kolymvari, Crete. After a hectic year for both of us - twelve months that have seen him complete his PhD and start two new jobs, and me leave teaching for a new role - a break was long-overdue. Our plan for the week, therefore, was to sit by the pool and do nothing.
Kolymvari is pleasingly undeveloped and our apartment complex 2km out of town was small, peaceful and surrounded by olive groves, which meant we could totally relax. There were enough shops within walking distance to keep us stocked up on spinach pastries, bread, tomatoes and olive oil, a couple of tavernas for evening meals, and that was it. As a result, we had a wonderful seven days of reading, swimming and lounging.
However, being more used to frantic weekend breaks and city-hopping, we couldn't quite manage a full seven days of lounging. Luckily, Hania - the second-biggest town on the island and site of the ancient Minoan settlement of Kydonia* - is within easy reach of Kolymvari on the bus, and we fell head over heels for its picturesque Old Town. A mass of tiny alleyways and iron balconies with lush vegetation spilling overhead, you never know when you might stumble upon an intriguingly mysterious corner of Venetian architecture or some decidedly contemporary street art.
* This fact ensured I had Muse's Knights Of Cydonia stuck in my head for practically the whole week.
Tamam, which has a number of vegetarian and vegan dishes on the menu, while exploring the Old Town. Being a bad blogger, I completely failed to make a note of the other taverna we found in Hania that had a vegan menu, but if you ever find yourself in the area, it was opposite the old arsenal.
I'd thoroughly recommend the quiet northwestern coast of Crete if you're looking for something a bit different to the usual resorts. The combination of majestic mountains and peaceful olive groves, ancient historical sites, and friendly and welcoming towns made it a real winner. And for late September/early October, the weather was glorious: we had above-average temperatures for the time of year - hitting 32c on the 1st October - and gorgeous sunshine every day. We're already planning our return trip.