I am actually writing in response to the article about Greece in TRAVEL, 23.6.12: I have just returned from SW and central southern Crete - Paleochora area and Sphakia (Chora Sphakion/ Frankocastello). This part of Crete is mainly wild, spectacular mountains, empty, spotless beaches with deep clear sea, incredible gorges, tiny roads ending in villages and trails off up to the peaks, very pretty towns. There is little sign of economic catastrophe here. I was amazed to see some German tourists .. either unaware of the 'dialogue' between the two nations'media and politicians, or arrogantly sure the Greeks would welcome them - which they were doing. There is masses of accommodation easily obtained on site - or in advance simply by googling accommodation in the areas/ places mentioned. Travelers should be aware though that 1) Greece has always been a cash economy, even more so now: we had to pay cash for car hire, accommodation, food, petrol. But everything is cheap (apart from car hire). A beautiful room + fridge/ shower/ balcony over the sea/ cooking area easily obtainable for 40 euros or less - so much cheaper than the £40 mentioned in the article. But medical services are stretched: there is an excellent, cheap, private clinic in Paleochora - also Chania (cash only!). But in Chora Sphakion there is only the local public medical centre. Wonderfully helpful, free, but struggling to cope with demand from locals and sometimes there are no doctors there - I know about this as my wife had an accident - do not fall down holes in Crete at the moment! The drive from Chania to Chora Sphakion over the White Mountains, passing through beautiful, prosperous little towns such as Vrysses, follows the arduous, spectacular track that allied soldiers walked when retreating from the battle round Chania in 1941, to the tiny, attractive port of Chora Sphakion from where they were evacuated to Egypt.
Recommended: Haris studios, Paleochora; Paradiso Apartments, Frankokastello - huge amount of accomodation available in both places. You can get to both regions from Chania airport by local bus or taxi but car hire makes you able to really explore - easily obtainable at Chania airport, or in Chania. We used autoclub Crete - cheaper than the rest - but cash only!
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