One of the great games in Crete is spelling because, of course, words, including those all important place names, need to be translated from the Greek alphabet into Roman letters. So an element of variation can slip in here: what is seen on a road map may not reflect, by quite a few letters, what is seen on the actual road sign. And given that some road signs have suffered the odd bullet scars due to historic local feuding, finding where you want to go can be a cross between orienteering and good guesswork. One of our trips into the White Mountains tested both the former and the latter, and my dear driver’s patience! So my top tips here are do take your reading glasses, a detailed map and allow an extra 15 minutes per hour’s driving.
Fortunately, the spelling of the seaside village of Kalyves in Western Crete was reasonably consistent, the only alternative we saw was Kalives, so all fairly easy really! It is here that Simpson Travel has their exclusive, very friendly GK Beach Hotel, full name Galazio Kima (Blue Wave). It’s a low building with around 25 pleasant apartments, each having a very comfortable bedroom, modern bathroom and simple sitting room with basic self-catering facilities and the option of children’s beds too. The rooms are light, the furnishings modern and attractive, with a theme of light blue that runs into the poolside restaurant. Many have balconies overlooking the sea and the ground floor rooms have a small, enclosed patio. The property has the facilities of a hotel, so there is no need to do more than wander out to the restaurant if that’s what you fancy. I liked it and could happily imagine families enjoying a fine time here during the summer holidays. When we visited in mid- October, temperature around 26 degrees at 2pm, the sun loungers were occupied by couples of mature years, basking like seals in the sun. And frankly, what could be more perfect!
The pool is a good size, a beer or glass of wine easily to hand and there’s a fabulous view over Souda bay. The hotel sits on the beach so you step onto the fine sand right from the bar. With sunbeds and parasols provided for Simpson guests, the clean, clear Mediterranean Sea lapping gently a yard or two away, this tranquil spot seems just right for a perfect escape. It’s a safe beach, sloping gradually into the sea. We swam for an hour or two and enjoyed it! The lovely Simpson Travel reps (those we met were of sensible ages and disposition!) are on site every day and the hotel staff were friendly and helpful. The menus are just fine, reasonably priced, with daily special dishes and something to suit all tastes. Produce is sourced locally and the hotel owner’s farm provides much of it.
The village, Kalyves, about 10 minutes’ walk away, stretches along a low-key high street, with a good sprinkling of shops and tavernas. Whilst a working village, it makes concessions for tourists and its good location on the coast, so English is spoken, in one form or another, almost everywhere. So if you wanted to ring the changes for lunch or dinner, the choice is yours. And of course, the Greek experience of a coffee or ouzo in a cafe, watching the world go by, should certainly be enjoyed!