On 23rd April the three of us jetted off on our first family holiday to Crete. We’ve taken a few trips within the UK & Ireland over the last year and Luisa is no stranger to the airport, given that we lived in Edinburgh for her first 6 months. For that reason we were quietly confident that we could handle anything this holiday would throw at us.
I really don’t find travelling with a baby to be particularly difficult, probably because I’ve done it a few times now. That being said our return flight from Crete was pretty stressful as Lu was exhausted and the airport lacked any entertainment for her. I recently shared my top tips for flying with a baby as a guest post my friend Leanne’s blog, A Slice of My Life Wales. You can read my tips here.
Today I want to share some photos from our first family holiday and give you some info about Crete in general. Later this week I’ll have a video about what we packed and another post about the not so wonderful parts of our trip.
We flew from Dublin to Chania which is on the west of the island. The flight out was brilliant, the staff in the airport and onboard our Ryanair flight we’re really helpful. Luisa charmed her fellow passengers and enjoyed a few treats including a new Bing bunny toy.
The owner of the hotel/apartments we were staying in had arranged for a taxi to pick us up at the airport. We arrived around 9pm and it was still pretty hot so it was brilliant to just jump in the car and let someone else worry about luggage and logistics. Usually when we travel abroad Matt & I are more than happy to navigate public transport but with Luisa in tow a taxi was much handier.
We stayed in a beautiful hotel/apartment complex called Elma’s Dream. It’s a small family run business with about 15 apartments in total. The location was great as we were right by the beach but only 15 minutes on the bus to the city. We opted for a 1 bedroom apartment which also had a living room, kitchen, extra outdoor dining area and private balcony. We found Elma’s Dream to be really family friendly with great facilities – although the pool wasn’t heated so it was a bit cold in the mornings despite the good weather.
Beautiful view from the private balcony
We spent a lot of time in the nearby city of Chania. It’s absolutely beautiful and has a real Venetian feel to the architecture. As you might expect close to the harbour is very touristy but it takes no time to get off the beaten track and figure our where the locals dine.
We ate out a lot in Crete as it was such good value for money. The average meal including starter, main and drinks (lots of drinks) and complimentary desert set us back £15-20 for two people. With prices like that the effort of making dinner seems totally pointless! All the locals we encountered were exceptionally friendly and very taken with Luisa. I’ve lost count of the amount of waitresses, shop assistants and people on the street who stopped to talk to her and asked for a cuddle.
Everywhere we went the food was fresh, the portions were generous and the staff were charming. Here’s some links to our favourite spots to eat both in Chania and the surrounding area and photos of the food we enjoyed.
The Well of the Turk – Middle Eastern & Mediterranean Food, 4.5 stars on Trip Advisor.
Steki – Traditional Greek food, 4.5 stars on Trip Advisor, lovely courtyard.
Theodosi – Greek food, 4.5 stars on Trip Advisor, luxurious but inexpensive, best ribs & seafood in town.
The weather in late April was pretty hot ranging from 25-30 most days, Luisa was constantly smothered in suncream and comical hats. We found the best ones to be Scandi style bonnets as she couldn’t pull them off. I doubt she’ll ever forgive us for the injustice!
We decided against taking our Cosatto Giggle on holiday as we didn’t want it to get ruined in the airport. It would have been great to have it as the 3 wheels would have made navigating the cobbled streets easier but I just couldn’t take the risk. Instead, we opted for a new buggy – the Joie Nitro. Teamed with a Snooze Shade it made a great holiday pram. Sure it probably wasn’t the same level of comfort but it lay flat, kept her cool and made it back in one piece.
There were so many first for Luisa on this holiday. Her first passport, first swim, first trip to the beach. Some went a little better than others I must admit. She absolutely loved the pool and we spent a lot of time cooling off in it. The beach on the other hand was a nightmare. Keep an eye out for a post coming later this week about the dark side of our holiday!
The best thing we bought for our first family holiday was, hands down, a mini paddling pool from poundland. When Matt came home with this in the week before our trip I scoffed but I’ve had to eat my words. We popped Luisa in this on the balcony so she could stay cool and play whilst we had a hard-earned glass of wine or iced coffee. I’m going to be sharing a video very soon about the things we brought away with us including Luisa’s clothes so you can hear more about the epic paddling pool then.
Most of our time on holiday was spent mooching around shops, eating and sightseeing. Crete is a really beautiful island with loads to do & I’d highly recommend it as a destination for families. The local people are wonderful and the weather is divine. We’re actually hoping to return to Crete the same time next year if we can afford to.
As I said we really just did a lot of nothing on holiday, we spent a lot of time in markets and exploring the old streets on foot. In terms of ‘attractions’ the places we really enjoy we’re all free to visit. There are, of course, lots of tours but we prefer to explore by ourselves.
If you’re thinking about booking a holiday for your brood you should head to Sky Scanner and seek out some bargain flights. We managed to find return flights for the 3 of us for just over £150. You might be surprised how affordable the flights can be if you are able to travel during term time. As we went at the start of the season we got a particularly good deal but I just had a quick looks and there are flights from London on the 15th-29th May for £75pp. If that’s too short notice for you why not go from the 23rd June – 30th July for £89?
Outside of London there are still bargains to be had with flight from Nottingham, Leeds, Bristol and Glasgow all coming in around £100 if you play about with the dates.
The next step is to find accommodation. For families I personally think serviced apartments or villas are better than traditional hotels as you have more privacy and the option to cook for yourself. Clickstay have over 300 properties in Crete, ranging from private villas with pools, apartments and houses.
This detached 4 bedroom villa has private pool and starts from just £104 a week.
I think it’s safe to say we had an amazing time on our first family holiday and I hope we have many more trips to come. If you’re planning a trip this summer keep an eye out for my posts and videos on what to pack for baby on a trip to a hot climate.
You’ve probably seen more than enough of my holiday snaps but I’m throwing in a few more now for good measure.