Saturday, July 24, 2021

July 23rd & 24th – Late Nights and Early Mornings in Aghios Nikolaos

There’s always disappointment when you miss a port because of the weather (it was too windy for us to get into Amorgos), but when the compensation is an overnight stay in a beautiful place like Aghios Nikolaos in Crete, then the disappointment fades away a little.

Not only does “Aghios” offer great opportunities to visit the amazing ruins of Knossos, or trips to Spinalonga, or into the Cretan hill villages; but the fact that we’re docked right in the centre of town gives you a great chance to enjoy Crete’s most upmarket and one of its most genuine resorts. Within a couple of minutes’ walk from the ship, you are in amongst the wonderful array of waterfront bars and restaurants. And, the great thing about Aghios is that it boasts multiple waterfronts – just inside the harbour is the supremely picturesque Lake Voulismeni, which is bristling with yet more restaurants. While, a short walk along the coast, you have a couple of sheltered beaches, again lined with plenty of places to dine.

So, seeing as everything here is leading you to eat and drink, we were powerless to resist –overnight cruise stays in Aghios are a rare event, so we could forego the wonderful food onboard for one night. We had sundowners on the cliffs above the lake – the ship in the harbour in front of us was the tallest building in town - and then we had to find somewhere to eat. The choice was almost too great, but we decided to try somewhere that wouldn’t be relying just on its waterside location, and we headed to the backstreets.

We chanced upon a lovely taverna called “Viola” – it had only been open for a month (so it had no online reviews), but its all-female crew had created something special. It wasn’t a flash place – the menu was certainly not expansive (or expensive) – but, they did the simple things well. The super-friendly owner explained that they had had a whole year of lockdown to work on the quirky decorations and lighting that turned what could have been a rather drab roadside location into a really atmospheric find – the magical atmosphere was added to by the fact that the full moon was rising enigmatically at the end of the street.

On our walk back to the ship, it felt quite late to us, but on the waterfront the party was just starting. Hordes of (what looked like) teenagers were congregating outside a couple of bars pumping out deafening dance music, as the awkward mating rituals (especially post-Covid) of the youth of Aghios were about to commence. It made me glad to be way too old for that kind of thing.

Seeing as we had managed to resist the call of the nightclubs, we decided that we should get up early to go for a morning swim. Usually these virtuous ideas have disappeared by the time we should be getting up, but Aghios had inspired us. So, we rose at 7am and were on the beach at 7.30am – the virtually empty waters bathed in a soothing golden light. It was idyllic.

Aghios is a place made for relaxing – a place where choosing where you’re going to have a drink or go for dinner, is going to be your biggest problem. If we were going to be “forced” to have an overnight anywhere on this cruise, then this was a pretty good option.