The Small Venetian House

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Aug, 2013

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The Small Venetian House is hidden in one of the many winding ancient alleys in the old part of Chania, a short walk from the church square (which is home to the largest plane tree and the loudest cicadas we had ever come across), the harbour (where an elderly man and his wife sell natural sponges from their boat) and a plentiful supply of shops and restaurants. We were initially taken aback rather by the amount of graffiti all over the walls in the area, but soon grew to see it as part of the colourful vibrancy of this medieval city.

We booked the house through i-escape and were delighted with its quirky, creative interior and its extremely well-equipped rooms. Everything we needed from sewing kits to plasters was provided – including two bikes for our use, though we chose to go everywhere by public transport. The bus station was a ten minute walk away and the system for buying tickets and finding the buses easy to manage. We went somewhere different every day.

The house is tall and has four floors, with open stairs and a spiral staircase. Its highlight is the roof terrace, which looks over a hotchpotch of roofs, roof gardens, TV aerials, air-conditioning systems, and one of the city's four minarets, which each night was lit by the moon and each half hour sends out a naive chime as if on some child's toy instrument. We spent huge amounts of time on the roof, hardly using the very attractive lounge.

Our best experiences included walking the Samaria Gorge – if you like walking but are not superfit don't be put off. We are in our late 50s/early 60s. Last year I was flat on my back for five weeks with a slipped disc and I managed it perfectly well because there is no uphill climbing – just initally down, down,down and then 18km on the reasonably rocky but mostly horizontal river bed. Our other favourite was visiting Koumos, an architect's fantasy garden and restaurant just outside Kalives. We were so delighted with the inventiveness of the massive grounds and fascinating quirky details (including the loos) and the rustic, traditional food that we stayed over two hours.

Be warned, i-escape's payment system is unusual – you pay the house owners in cash on arrival, which we had not prepared ourselves for but which didn't spoil our holiday. A comfortable and characterful place to stay with masses to see and do.



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