I love breezy, cheery Paleochora. It’s a coastal town like (gritty) Kissamos, but it has a marvelous vibe – perhaps because it’s a peninsula, and so more like a tiny island in its own right. The sign for the beach points both east and west (joy!), and the cafes along the seaside and in the pedrstrian zone are overflowing with familes with kids, even well past sundown. Elise loves that there are friendly cats everywhere. And while it’s not unique to this town, I’ve also come to enjoy the tradition of having watermelon for dessert – and sometimes a sip of raki.
So we hit the last of the epic beaches on Crete’s western coast, Elafonisi, which had perfectly turquoise water and the gentlest waves yet. Water clarity was not as good as Falasarna or Balos, but who cares! it was awesome! We met a very sweet jewelry designer, Katerina of Cretan Art Seeds, who accessorized us with necklaces, bracelets and anklets made of shells and seeds. In the evening, we stayed at a guest house in nearby Paleohora, with wildflowers tumbling over every wall and a veritable chirping bird/cicada orchestra. Blissful! Dinner was at To Skolio, a cliffside courtyard restaurant with valley views, where we sampled the baked zuccini with feta cheese, Greek salad and giant beans in tomato sauce. It would have been perfect except that, as an open air restaurant, nearly every local person around us puffed away on their cigarettes.
Loved Falasarna beach’s gorgeous turquoise water and golden sand (though I could have done without the oddly redneck beach cafe). If Elise had had her way, we would have body surfed the waves from morning till night. But hunger eventually led us back to Kissamos in search of real food. We managed to find the highly recommended though completely unpretentious seaside Sunset Taverna, where we had grilled swordfish caught right off the shore and sauteed wild greens from the mountains of Crete. As is her habit, Elise made friends with the local cat, who probably feasted a little too well on swordfish that night.
Kisses from Kissamos! gateway to the epic beaches on Crete’s Western coast. While the name of the town, which makes me think of ‘Kiss the Most’, is lovely, the town itself, unfortunately, is not, though it has a nice sandy beach and some good, unpretentious seaside restaurants.