Travel Report: Georgioupolis, Crete.
September 2011. The picturesque fishing village of Georgioupolis is situated on the north coast of Crete, between the cities of Rethymno and Chania. For the first time in years I was taking a trip with a view to doing absolutely nothing. Literally S and I wanted little more than a beach to sit/sleep/read on, some sea to swim in and a range of restaurants to stuff ourselves at. And according to my research, Georgioupolis was just the place we were looking for!
September 2011. I’m happy to say that Georgioupolis didn’t disappoint! Although a popular spot for vacationers, the village and its nine kilometre stretch of sand, Georgioupolis Beach, had managed to retain a welcomed air of sleepiness. The perfect place for me to crack open Keith Richard’s bulky autobiography Life and knock out a couple of chapters before taking a nap.
September 2011. Staring out to sea on that first day and my eyes were immediately drawn to the gorgeous little whitewashed Agios Nikolaos Church, the archetypal Greek fisherman’s chapel. The church is dedicated to St. Nicholas, the patron saint of sailors. And in case you’re wondering, yes that’s the same St. Nick that inspired the legend of Father Christmas. I love the church’s location, as if it’s literally floating in The Aegean Sea!
September 2011. Agios Nikolaos Church can be accessed via a rocky walkway that begins right on the sand. My curiosity held out for a couple of days until, quite spontaneously, I decided to take a Rolling Stones timeout and strolled down the walkway to see the church up close. Take note that the approach can be hard to negotiate, with its jagged rocks and scattered rock pools. Especially if like me you’re foolish enough to tackle it in your sandals. On arrival you can dip inside its tiny interior and light a candle, while the views out over the ocean and back across the beach are lovely.
September 2011. Each night our meals were taken here in Georgioupolis Square. There were only about half a dozen restaurants, mostly traditional Greek places and a couple of pizzerias. The food was always freshly prepared, delicious and easy on the wallet. Service was slow, but hey that’s the Georgioupolis vibe.
September 2011. On our nightly walks to and from dinner we’d invariably pass Georgioupolis’ Greek Orthodox Church. Every night I tried to go in but the door was always locked. The church is a popular hangout spot for the village’s population of tough-looking cats.
September 2011. I think it was on the fifth day of our week-long stay in Georgioupolis that we overheard a German couple talking about a stunning nearby lake. So, in a shocking act of disobedience against our own orders, we actually left the beach and headed out to Lake Kournas. It takes about an hour and fifteen minutes to walk there from town, but we jumped in a taxi.
September 2011. Lake Kournas was a surprisingly underdeveloped attraction. Happily there were at least a couple of tavernas around and this one, with excellent aerial views from its open-air terrace, proved to be the pick of the bunch. I’d brought my book with me too, so after ordering a beer it was back into 1960s England to find out how Keith and friends dealt with the mysterious death of bandmate Brian Jones.
September 2011. Lake Kournas is the only freshwater lake in Crete, which made it all the more surprising to me that they hadn’t done more with it. Down by the water’s edge we found a small pedal boat station and rental prices were negligible, so of course we jumped in one and took it for a spin.
September 2011. Lying in a valley and surrounded by rolling hills, Lake Kournas really is a lovely spot and on reflection it would have been criminal to have spent a week in Georgioupolis without making the short journey here. In the years since my visit I’ve read that Lake Kournas has been given a makeover, with more restaurants, lakeside accommodation and entertainment facilities.
September 2011. We’d had six days of near-perfect weather that week in Georgioupolis. But then, on our last afternoon, there was a quite spectacular storm that swept through. I can still feel the slanting rain, wild winds and the sky enveloped in a breathtaking dark-blue-black-grey haze. It was enchanting to witness, especially from the comfort of our hotel room balcony.
September 2011. Better still, everything had calmed down by sunset and we were able to head out to Georgioupolis Beach for one last stroll. As with Lake Kournas, the village of Georgioupolis has become much more popular in recent years. But it still looks like a comparatively peaceful spot within Crete. If you’re interested in looking into accommodation options, Booking.com has about sixty hotels in and around the village. Check here for more info.
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