A Venetian harbor filled with uniquely decorated tavernas, bars and shops greets you upon arrival. And traces of history can be seen from every angle – an old Turkish Mosque, a Jewish Synagogue, an Orthodox Cathedral and the Venetian wall to name some.
Like so many of the Greek islands, Chania has a very checkered past
Chania started off with a Minoan settlement around 1100 BC and then fell to Byzantine rule around 400 – 1200 AD…Then came the Venetians, thereafter, the Ottomans (Turkish) and finally the Greeks took the island the early 1900’s.
While walking around the picturesque ‘old town’ you can see remnants of the various periods. And Chania was also heavily involved during WWII. The British forces that faced the invading Germans were able to hold them off for quite some time.
If you arrive by boat, there’s a beautiful marina found after entering a small commercial port
Within the commercial area, tour boats and ferries go in and out.
The visitors quayside butts right up to restaurants, pubs and a serious amount of tourists walking by. No – you won’t get a good nights sleep while mooring in Chania, however, you’ll truly be able to absorb the eclectic atmosphere!
Alternatively, you can drive to the city but the impact certainly won’t be the same. Once you maneuver yourself through the busy traffic, find a parking garage, and walk for a while you eventually make it to the beautiful port.
We had to extend our stay in Rethymno to wait for a friend to arrive at the airport. While waiting, we decided to drive to Chania. The drive wasn’t bad. Upon arrival at the ‘new town’ however, I thought it would never end. The traffic was terrible and I felt as we were wasting time being in such a built up area.
My view changed once I saw the harbor entrance, the Venecian wall and the whole harbor – what a beautiful sight
While walking around, we stopped off at one of the uniquely decorated tavernas. It was great to see that they were very kid friendly. The restaurant had cartoons playing on the TV’s, a kid playroom in the back and a child size toilet and sink! We ate at Zepos and I can highly recommend it – the food was excellent.
I was so impressed with my Shrimp Saganaki that I wrote a blog about it. Read Shrimp Saganaki – Britican’s way
After our lovely lunch, we wandered around the harbor making our way to the marina
We stopped off at various stores and had a little nose. Unfortunately, for us, every Greek Island (and there are thousands) has the same tourist offerings. The pictures on the T-Shirts are the same but the island written along the bottom changes.
Sadly, every tourist shop has varying sized wooden penis can openers
If I never see another penis can opener again, I’ll be happy.
To my surprise, there was also a Starbucks. It’s the first Starbucks I’ve seen since I left the UK! I’m sure they’re dotted around on various islands as I know Cyprus has several, but I always find it difficult when they put one in the middle of an ‘old town’.
Chania was very busy when we took a stroll through the harbor and ‘old town’
I felt as if there must have been 20 busloads of tourists. Surprisingly, I didn’t hear English spoken as the crowds pass by. I did, however, overhear an American waiter tell an American couple how he ended up living in Crete – came out for vacation, met a girl, got married and now has children.
Whenever I hear my fellow Americans my ears perk up – they are very few and far between all the other hoards of travellers.
Our intention was to eventually sail to Chania after our friend arrived, however, the wind was right to make it to Santorini so instead of extending our stay in Crete, we said our ‘good bye’s’ and left Rethymno.
Overall, I loved Chania – yes it was busy, crowded and surrounded by a modern dusty city, but the ‘old town’ was unique, colorful and full of history
My daughter was entertained while we ate and there were loads of things to see as we walked along. My husband is a history buff, so we stopped at every historical plaque to read about the areas checkered past.
We did get stung on buying some DVD’s from a DVD sale man, so buyer beware if you decided to purchase a pirated DVD. We were told that all the movies we purchased were in English and only one was. It’s a bit depressing when you get ready for a movie night and movie after movie starts off in Russian, German or Italian! Until now, all the DVD’s we’ve purchased have been good so it looks like our luck ran out this particular time.
Anyway, if time permitted I would have like to have moored our boat in Chania marina.
Perhaps on our next trip around the world?
All my articles on Crete are below: