Welcome to my place ... Chania, Crete
‘You will inevitably get a glass or two of the local firewater raki’
Dermot and Christine Pleiss relaxing in a “beautiful quiet spot” called Lykkos on the south coast of Crete
Dermot Pleiss is from Cork and his wife, Christine, is from Waterford. They moved to Chania in Crete in 2007, having fallen in love with it after taking many holidays there. Dermot retrained as an English teacher, and teaches English privately to Greeks, Bulgarians, Albanians, and “whoever else wants to learn it”.
What do you like about living in Chania?
I like the laid-back attitude in Chania. It is like Ireland, but more cavalier. We loved the forty shades of green in Ireland, but not so much the process involved in producing them. We wanted a life without wellies, umbrellas and the possibility of somebody saying fine soft day, thank god, so we moved here.
Where is the first place you bring people to when they visit Chania?
The old harbour, which is the heart of the city. Wander out to the Egyptian lighthouse, which stands guard over the harbour entrance, then take your pick of the myriad of restaurants and tavernas, where you can find some real culinary gems if you know where to look.
The top three things to do there, that don’t cost money in Chania, are ...
There is a huge choice of beaches stretching for almost 20 kilometres from near the centre of Chania, west to the village of Kolymbari. Some beaches charge for sun beds, but there is always room for anyone who wants to bring a towel and find a nice spot.
The second one is the “Volta” in the old harbour. This is the evening stroll that Greeks indulge in in the relative cool after the sun has gone down. You can promenade and strut your stuff, that is if you haven’t overindulged on the sun bed during the day or you may run the risk of being mistaken for the lobster on the menu in the excellent fish restaurants.
The third, and possibly most unexpected free thing is the athletic track and outdoor gym facilities in the athletic stadium. The stadium is very close to the “Agora”, the covered indoor market right in the centre of Chania. So, fitness fanatics, can check out the running track and outdoor gym machines that are open to the public.
Where do you recommend for a great meal that gives a flavour of Chania?
Head for O Kavouras or The Crab as it is in English. Close to the mosque in the centre of the harbour, this restaurant might seem to be a tourist trap, but look closely at all the Greeks eating there. If you want authentic food, eat where the locals eat. Rightly famed for their fish menu, don’t order a dessert here. You will inevitably get a free ‘glyka’, a small free dessert, along with a glass or two of the local firewater known as raki. This is due to the Greek tradition of “filoxenia” or “love of strangers”.
Where is the best place to get a sense of Chania’s role in history?
The best place to go for a sense of Chania’s history is the interestingly named Knife Street, very close to the old harbour. Its real name is Sifakas street, but it is known as Knife Street as traditional knife makers still ply their trade there. As you stroll along, layers of history peel back. This is revealed by archaeological digs, in the exposed layers of thousands of years of history piled on top of each other. They are fascinating showing remains from thousands of years of history.
What should visitors save room in their suitcase for after a visit to Chania?
A small bottle of Kolymbari extra virgin olive oil as it is the best in the world, along with “tsatsiki mix”, an all-purpose Greek form of garlic salt that brings a Greek flavour to lots of different dishes.
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