Tuesday 23rd August 2022
I’ve been on Crete for over two weeks now and felt I was overdue for some sightseeing, having been a bit too content to remain close to my accommodation within the resorts of Stalis and Malia. I had a look at the bus timetable and decided on a trip to the larger resort of Agios Nikolaos, approximately 45 minutes east of Stalis. I’ve been once before, but only very briefly when meeting up with a friend who happened to be in Crete at the same time as me, so it’s not a resort I’m very familiar with.
Rather than set off early, I had some work to do first thing so I chose the 12:35 bus and spent the morning in my room. Just before midday, I got my bag ready and walked into Stalis to get some lunch: a protein shake and a chocolate doughnut (a nice mix of healthy and unhealthy food!) plus a bottle of water to take with me. I was early for the bus, so I found a shaded spot near the small church next to Jasmine House Chinese restaurant and sat to eat my food.
Bus Journey and Agios Nikolaos
The bus arrived a few minutes behind schedule. It wasn’t jam-packed so I had a row of seats to myself, making the 40-minute journey quite comfortable, especially with the excellent air-conditioning of the modern coach.
Arriving at the main bus station in Agios Nikolaos, I checked the timetable for a connecting service to Elounda, wanting to revisit the nearby resort where I’d stayed back in 2016. The next bus wasn’t due for another 45 minutes, though, and I didn’t want to waste time sitting around at the station, so I decided to walk into the centre of the resort instead with a view to taking a later bus to Elounda.
I walked down to the main tourist area with an enclosed lagoon (Lake Voulismeni), which took about 15 minutes. As I arrived, it started to cloud over but I was able to get a few photos while the sun was still bright:
The cloud cover made it more comfortable to walk around but also made it seem less pretty. From the lagoon, I headed east towards the port area where I found a strange statue of a woman sitting atop a giant bull-like creature:
Fun Train Tour of Agios Nikolaos
At this point, I wasn’t really sure what else to do to pass the time, until I stumbled across a little train offering guided tours of the town:
Guided tours aren’t usually my thing, but I had time to kill before the next bus to Elounda and I figured it would be a good way of seeing more of Agios Nikolaos. Providing it wasn’t too expensive and I didn’t have to wait long for the next departure, I would give it a try. At the kiosk, I was told that the tour lasted about 40 minutes and cost €9, which seemed reasonable. The next train was due to depart within 10 minutes, providing enough people arrived, so I took a seat in an empty carriage and waited.
If I’m being honest, the tour was a little dull. Agios Nikolaos isn’t the prettiest of towns. We headed back past the lagoon, then away from the town centre towards a main road, passing a museum along the way. We then circled back towards the coast further north near Minos Beach Art Hotel before turning around for the return journey.
It rained a little during the tour too, so while I was glad of the shelter I don’t think the weather did anything to improve the experience. Anyway, it had been an interesting way to pass a little time.
When we got back to the starting point at the harbour, I got out and began the walk back to the bus station so that I could catch the 3 pm bus to Elounda. Getting back to the station was a lot harder as it was uphill most of the way, and took over 20 minutes from the marina. I made it just in time to buy a ticket and get on board with a few minutes to spare.
Elounda – A Trip Down Memory Lane
It’s been 6 years since I last visited Elounda. I stayed here for a week in September 2016 on my second-ever solo Greek holiday and I was excited to return and see how much it had changed.
The bus dropped us off in the main square which I remembered clearly from my previous stay. I could see the village had built up quite a bit, though it was still quite familiar. I decided to walk north along the coastal path to see if I could spot the accommodation where I stayed in 2016 (Manos Apartments). I thought it would be easy to find, but I ended up walking right past and didn’t realise until I was almost out of the resort. I turned around and managed to find it on the way back – I’d missed it because there were now buildings all around it, whereas in 2016 it stood alone with empty ground either side.
Just as I arrived back in the village centre, it started raining quite heavily so I took refuge in a cafe/bar called Babel, where I’d regularly had breakfast on my previous visit. The owner looked familiar so as I was ordering a drink and some snacks, I mentioned my stay in 2016 and showed him some old photos on my phone which he recognised immediately.
Fortunately, the rain soon abated and within 15-minutes it was back to blue skies:
I took another walk back along the beach to pass some time as the next bus back to Agios Nikolaos wasn’t until 6:30 pm and I didn’t have any more sights to see. I wasn’t that hungry but made a snap decision to eat early to fill some of the time and sat down at an Italian called Porto Fino. Despite having a proper wood-fired pizza oven, the result was quite disappointing: the BBQ chicken pizza only had tomato sauce, no sign of any BBQ, and the chicken was a bit tough with fatty bacon too. I left fairly quickly and regretted not waiting until I was back in Stalis to have dinner.
Back to Stalis
Getting back to Stalis involved retracing my steps to Agios Nikolaos and taking a second bus from there. Upon checking the timetable, I realised I’d be cutting it fine for my 6:30 pm bus from Elounda to make the 7 pm connection back to my hotel. If I missed it, the next bus wasn’t until 8:30 so I’d be stuck at the bus station for 90 minutes. I was getting anxious when 6:30 came and went with no sign of the bus, fearing I would definitely end up missing the connection, but it turned up just a few minutes later.
Whether by chance or intentionally, the connecting bus was still waiting at the station when we arrived a couple of minutes after 7 pm. I rushed to get a ticket from the indoor kiosk and was one of the last passengers on board before we set off.
The journey back was uneventful and allowed me to reflect on my day out: it had been nice to see a different resort and revisit Elounda, and in some respects, I was glad to have done it on a day with bad weather so I wasn’t just stuck in my hotel room. However, it hadn’t made for a fantastic experience and I was glad to be heading home.
Back in Stalis, I remembered that I needed more bottles of water for my room, so rather than heading straight to the hotel from the bus stop, I walked into the resort and went to the supermarket instead. I picked up a 6-pack of large water, plus a Lucozade and some biscuits to snack on after my disappointing meal earlier. Carrying the water back up to the hotel was an effort, but I treated it as a free arm/shoulder workout and was determined to make it back without stopping to rest!!
Priority one back at the hotel was a refreshing shower, then I sat down to review the day’s photos and videos, tucking into a few biscuits while I worked.