Family Travel

Summer Holiday – Visiting Crete as a Family

It’s not that often I talk about my family on here but we have just come home from two weeks in Crete and I wanted to share our trip with you all. As we have been so busy for the last few months doing the house up, we really needed a relaxing holiday, rather than a action packed one.

My mother in law has a little villa in out there in a small village near Alymrida in the Apokoronas region. We didn’t actually stay in her villa, we stayed in a bigger one a couple of doors up. She stayed in hers with her hubby and one of my brother in laws. We stayed in with the kids and then my other brother and sister in law. We had a week all together before the brother and sister in laws flew home. Leaving us for a week with the in laws.

olive trees

Anyway, Crete is such a beautiful island, it’s about a four hour flight from East Midlands. We flew with Ryan Air, I would like to say the flights were cheap but they weren’t really. We flew into Chania airport, which has changed a lot in the two years since out last visit, there are now shops and a large duty free area.

Believe it or not we only took cabin bags with us not my best luggage set, so we didn’t have the long wait for our luggage. Straight out of departures to meet with the car hire company. We used Auto Club, its who the in laws use each time they travel to Crete, so I just went along with it. Although I think you can find cheaper, just look around for deals.

From the Airport we headed straight to Almyrida to a Dimitris taverna that we have eaten at before. We choose it because the food there is good and they are happy to accommodate the children’s likes and dislikes. Before heading to the villa to start our holiday.

The Villa

villa in crete

Crete has some truly amazing villa’s, they are dotted all over the island. We stayed about a 15 minute drive from Alymrida in a small village called Drapanos. Our villa was located on a small complex with parking and a pool. During our first week it was only our family there so we made the most of having the pool to ourselves. The children’s swimming ability has come on leaps and bounds during our stay, they are both driving to the bottom of the pool and loving being in the water.

The villa had two bedrooms and a sofa bed in the living room, a balcony, bathroom and downstairs toilet. It was basic but had everything we needed for our two week holiday. What I did love is, although it was on a little complex it didn’t feel like you were surrounded by lots of people and it felt private, which is what we look for when on holiday. My hubby is not a fan of large hotels with hundreds of people, although I’m trying to persuade him to go on a cruise, not sure if that will happen tho.

Eating

Eating out in Crete can be really cheap, we were self-catering with staying in a villa. We had said we would do a mix of eating in and eating out. During the week all of the in-laws were with us, we ate in twice but the rest of the time we ate out. Lunches and breakfasts were had at the villa, generally or we would pop to the bakery if on a beach day.

We visited the Synca to do a food shop and it really was pricey compared to the UK. We bought ham, cheese, crisps, breakfast cereals, biscuits, pasta and other bits for a meal for 7 people. Bottles of pop, water, beer and not €90 for it all. Which I thought was quite a lot for the little bits we bought.

The restaurants varied so much in price, we found a little place just around the corner from where we stayed that was so cheap. The food was good, the service was fabulous and the family run place was so friendly and they were great with the children. We decided that we couldn’t buy the food in the super markets for as cheap as what a meal cost there. It wasn’t la a cart food but for what we paid it was great and we ended up eating there 4/5 times during our two weeks.

In Almyrida there is a much bigger selection of places to eat from high end to the smaller café. We eat in various places, all with a good selection of food. We didn’t eat at the high end restaurant, although the food looked good and the views were fabulous, we decided it wasn’t the place for the children. The little café is the perfect place for break, lunch and even dinner. There was even a very Americanised placed that you could get burgers, ribs, pizza’s, we didn’t eat there because we can get that kind of thing at home. My hubby is always keen to try new foods, me not so much but I do enjoy most Greek food.

meat and fish platter

One evening we ate in Psaros where between 5 of us we ordered the meat and fish platters. Well they were amazing, so much food on then and at €28 each between 5 it was reasonably priced. It also meant that I got to try a collection of seafood items that I wouldn’t order just for me encase I didn’t like it. I tried cuttlefish, octopus, neither or which I had before. It was also great because the kids tied mussels, squid, octopus and various other bits on the platter. I have to say I wouldn’t have cuttlefish again but I am pleased I tried it.

Beaches

beach in crete

The beach we visited a couple of times in Alymrida was lovely, not very wide but does stretch around the cove. We went down early each morning to get the sun loungers at the front so we could keep an eye on the children playing in the sand and also see the rest of the family swimming.

We loved that it is nice and shallow, I was able to go reach the bottom for meters and meters out, before hitting a drop then it shallows off again. It also meant that the kids were able to reach the bottom for a lot of the way out. We did have our swim shoes with us because about 10 meters out there is a rocky patch and it just protects your feet.

Along the beach front there is also a water sports hut, where you can higher kayaks, surf board, wind sailing, paddle boards, peddlelows and even catamarans. The brothers hired kayaks for an hour and all really enjoyed it.

It was easy to spend the day on the beach, enjoying the sand (although I hate sand). In and out of the sea, which was lovely and warm. The restaurants along the beach front have sun loungers that they rent out, we paid 3.5 each although I’m not sure what the other ones cost. However the restaurants came down and took food and drinks orders, which was nice and no more in cost than it would be going into the restaurant.

Out and About 

As we have visited Crete before we knew there was a couple of places we wanted to revisit. Chania and Rethymno were top of my list, both towns with venetian harbours. I really wanted to eat on the Rethymno harbour, I had remembered it to be bigger and a lot more fresh fish. Even so it was nice to wonder around the city and eat lunch on the harbour, although it was premium prices there.

Although I stayed at the villa with the children, the rest of the family went to Octopus bay for snorkelling. Which wasn’t suitable for the kids as they had to walk over a lot of rocks to get down to the sea, although apparently it was great when they got into the water and swam out a bit. My Hubby went twice while we were away, next time we visit we hope the children will be able to enjoy it as well.

They family also visited a Nazi war bunker, which they said was amazing to see. We also visited a war museum based in Askifou that my Hubby and in laws loved. They were amazed to see so many items in his private collection that had been collected from around the island in their civil war.

My brother in laws are bother in the graphic design industry, they both teach in a college and one has his own business. Anyway we visited a typography museum that they loved. It was amazing to see the way things have come to life on paper over the years. The kids and them were able to produce an inked news paper using a printing press, which was a fabulous experience. It was only 4 each for adults with the children going in for free and we spent a good couple of hours there. It’s based in Souda and was well worth a visit.

Crete really is an amazing island, it has something to offer for everyone. If you haven’t been I would highly recommend going. We will visit again in a couple of years time, I have other plans for next year. I am hoping that we can go the Lapland again early next year.

Next on our bucket list is visiting European Cities, Eva at Captain Bobcat has written about the top Family Friendly European Cities. I cannot wait to book somewhere.

Explore off-the-beaten track around Hicksville, New York

Traveling east through Queens along East Jericho Turnpike, you’ll cross into Long Island and merge on to the Northern State Parkway. In a few short miles, you’ll arrive in Hicksville, Long Island. Hicksville is hiding a few offbeat attractions that you can explore during your next visit. 

long island new york

Virtual Realms

Hicksville is home to Long Island’s first virtual reality arcade. Virtual activities range from fun games like Fruit Ninja suitable for kids aged seven years and up to the more sinister zombie and combat challenges targeted to mature gamers. Virtual Realms is easy to find on the east side of Hicksville on South Oyster Bay Road. There are plenty of accommodations nearby if you need a place to spend a few nights in Hicksville. 

Long Island Puppet Theatre

long island puppet theatre

If you’re traveling with toddlers from three to five years old, head to the centre of town and visit the Long Island Puppet Theatre. Little ones can sing along to stories like Puss in Boots or enjoy the Princess Tea Party. Reserve seats for your favourite show ahead of time since the theatre gets booked for private parties too.

The Hicksville Gregory Museum

Everything about The Hicksville Gregory Museum is a bit offbeat, including its location. The museum is housed in The Heitz Place Courthouse which is over 100 years old. Over time, the courthouse served as the original Village Hall, a jail, and the local World War II draft headquarters. Today, The Hicksville Gregory Museum offers eclectic collections of fossils, butterflies, minerals, and dial telephones.

I.FLY Trapeze and Aerial Arts

If you’re visiting Hicksville in warm weather, you can reach for the sky at I.FLY Trapeze and Aerial Arts in nearby Eisenhower Park. Experienced trapeze artists will teach you to fly on a trapeze bar at this outdoor trapeze venue just five miles from Hicksville. If you’re not quite ready to grab the bar and fly, try watching first. Check out one of the evening trapeze shows to see the professionals at work. 

Cradle of Aviation Museum

If you ever wanted to see Navy fighter jets or an Apollo Lunar Landing Module up close, you’ll find them not far from Hicksville in Garden City. You can stroll through the history of modern flight at the Cradle of Aviation Museum. Don’t miss the Jet Gallery, Planetarium, and Firefighter’s Museum. End your day of exploring with a spin on the 100-year old Nunley’s Historic Carousel next door.

Prefer trains to planes? See the restored Locomotive #35 in the display yard of the Oyster Bay Railroad Museum. This museum’s founders are on a mission to educate visitors on the history of The Long Island Railroad and the rail’s impact on town residents. Check out the Visitor Centre to see the plans to restore the Historic Landmark Presidential Train Station.

Long Island is home to plenty of beaches, parks, and restaurants. As you travel across the island, plan a stop in Hicksville to enjoy a few unusual activities you won’t find anywhere else.

 

Holidays abroad on a budget

When it comes to finding a family holiday abroad, many families are put off by the cost. But they really shouldn’t be, there are many ways to head off on holiday abroad without breaking the bank. We are already planning our holiday abroad for next summer. This year with my Hubby’s work schedule we haven’t been able to get on a plane yet. Although there is still a few months left, so you never know!

Having a family holiday abroad on a budget is possible, in the months leading up to your holiday make a few cut backs. Don’t have that take away on a Friday night, cook something, swap out fizzy drinks for squash or water, change the supermarket you shop in. There are so many different things you can do to save some extra money to put towards your holiday. We also put money aside each month throughout the year, some months it’s very little others its a bit more, it is what we use to form the budget for our holidays. Why not wait until last minute to book a holiday and only use what you have saved up. It will mean you are not tempted to book something that is not possible for you to pay for easily.

Stick to Europe for holidays abroad on a budget

When looking for your holiday abroad, looking within Europe is a great place to start. There are so many locations to choose from. Spain, Greek Islands, Balearic Islands, the Canaries, places perfect for families, couples and people who want to have fun. You can check prices at Holiday Gems to see just how affordable a holiday abroad really would be for your family.

When traveling with little ones, sometimes it’s easier to keep to a 4 hour or less flight. I found when we headed to Crete last year that the just under 4 hours was enough for the kids and us. We were able to play enough games and watch a film, which kept them happy and all of the people around us.

Take items with you

If you are not going on a all inclusive holiday, when why not pack lots of snacks for the children. My littlest one eats snacks all of the time, so it really does increase our budgets having to add in snacks for her all of the time. I try to be organised and take items with me, things that wont melt and wont go off. Just make sure you check what items you are able to take to that country, some do not allow you to take any food items with you, others allow you to take a lot of different items.

When we went to Crete I just knew the kids would want fancy inflatables for the pools, but I also knew that they would be expensive on holiday. So I bought them at home and took them out with us. It meant the kids were happy and we didn’t spend lots of our spending money on inflatables.

Going abroad with you family doesn’t have to be an expense, it can be very affordable. Set your budget, choose the perfect location, make sure they offer items for the children, go all inclusive if its within the budget as it will save you paying for food and drinks while you are there. All inclusive means the children can eat as much ice-cream as they would like, while you enjoy a cocktail or two and you don’t have to worry. Often you will find these hotels offer kids clubs and entertainment, so you get some time to relax and enjoy the holiday.

Have you got any tips for travelling abroad on a budget?

 

*This is a collaborative post. As always thoughts and opinions are my own.*