Travel Report: Rethymno, Crete.
September 2011. Situated on the northern coast of Crete, Rethymno is the island’s third largest city and home to about forty thousand people. In truth though this is a city in name only, comprised as it is of leafy, peaceful streets, a still, picture-perfect harbour and languid, slow-moving locals. I came here on a way-too-brief half-day trip from the fishing village of Georgioupolis.
September 2011. Our trip to Rethymno had been totally off the cuff, so I hadn’t done much in terms of research. On arrival we found ourselves aimlessly wandering through the city’s mediaeval streets. It was mid-morning and this so-called city was dead, just a few senior locals here and there sittin’ doin’ nothin’. Things were so delightfully peaceful we decided to grab breakfast at one of the cafes. Service was sloooooow, but we didn’t mind. Just order those coffees and do it local style, maybe grab a newspaper or take a nap.
September 2011. As mid morning melted into early afternoon things started to liven up throughout Rethymno as more and more shops, cafes, restaurants and bars started opening up for business. Shopaholics will discover a seemingly endless supply of souvenir shops like this one selling all the standard trinkets.
September 2011. Rethymno is pretty touristy. I think this was the first time I’d ever seen a fish spa and my tiny little mind was blown! There are a few fish spas scattered around town, this one is called Dr. Fish Spa.
September 2011. One of Rethymno’s famed sights is the pretty neoclassical Church of Agios Antonios, tucked away in a corner at the meeting point of Messologiou and Salaminas Streets. Built in 1890, it boasts a handsome clock tower and its bell can be heard reverberating around the city on the hour.
September 2011. Rethymno’s biggest draw is its ancient fortress (Fortezza), a 16th century citadel overlooking the entire city and beyond. You can reach it by hiking up a fearsome hill (Palekastro), which swiftly reduced me to a hot, sweaty mess in the burning early afternoon heat.
September 2011. Rethymno Fortress was built in 1573 by The Venetians as a defence post against Turkish pirates. During its glory days the fortress was home to a whole bunch of barracks, stables, ammunition stores and private residences, alongside a mosque, an orthodox chapel, and an open-air theatre. The ruins I visited that day were very shabby indeed and in truth I felt like the whole complex was in dire need of some TLC. I’m guessing funding was an issue, what with the state of the Greek economy.
September 2011. Luckily the views from the top of the fortress made up for it, particularly when you gaze out across the vast deep blue of the Sea of Crete bleeding into The Aegean Sea. The bounding sea to the west is The Ionian Sea, while The Mediterranean lies to the southeast.
Like this? Have a look at my other reports from around Crete.
I’ve been living, working and traveling all over the world since 2001, so why not check out my huge library of travel reports from over 30 countries.