Chania: A Perfect Family Getaway
My wife and I fell in love with the Greek Islands during our honeymoon, which was a romantic return to the post-collegiate experience each of us enjoyed, albeit separately, on the American version of “The Grand Tour” – a summer of backpacking across Europe. On our first date, in an Upper West Side diner, I regaled her with tales of dining on “fresh off the boat” fish in Zakynthos Town, while she confessed to a number of retsina-soaked sunsets, followed by equally retsina-soaked nights, on Santorini. As our meals arrived, we both confessed we had fallen in love with Crete, particularly Chania, and soon thereafter we fell in love with each other.
The decades wore on, as they do, and this past summer my wife and I, now in thrall to six-year-old twin girls, decided to rekindle our romance with Chania and share one of our favorite cities with our progeny. Chania is the capital of Western Crete, which is home to immaculate beaches, cerulean seas, quaint harbor towns, incredible hikes, fascinating archaeological sites and generous, healthy meals – what better place to take your kids?
This past summer my wife and I, now in thrall to six-year-old twin girls, decided to rekindle our romance with Chania and share one of our favorite cities with our progeny.
Much of Chania bears the stamp of the centuries the island was under the dominion of Venice. Our girls loved strolling down its ancient Venetian streets and along the city’s exquisite waterfront to the Firca, the fortress the Venetians built to protect the harbor. The girls also loved the Maritime Museum of Crete in the Old Town, where they were amazed by an authentic, full-scale reconstruction of a Minoan ship. From Chania, Western Crete’s irresistible beaches are a short drive along a seaside highway that twists through the lush, rolling foothills and commanding weathered peaks of the surrounding countryside. Even the twins were impressed with the view through the window of our little rental car.
Of course, if traveling alone or as a couple requires a certain romanticism, traveling with kids requires a commensurate realism, and at the end of the day, even with the magnificent stage set of Chania and its breathtaking hinterland, you’re still going to need some real play. So it made perfect sense for us to book at the Creta Princess where, aside from it great beach, lovingly appointed room, exquisite meals and terrific service, they’ve got an outdoor playground and a private waterpark, replete with five water slides and a jungle-themed pool for the kids! Once they were sufficiently “waterlogged”, we could walk into one of the restaurants for an early meal and a great kids menu – they’ve also got a junior buffet and a lunchtime pizzeria. Give a kid a waterpark and a pizza…
So my second time around in Crete might have been a bit less adventurous and romantic than the first, but it was perhaps even more satisfying. Sure, my backpack, once containing travel guides and a bottle or two of local wine, is now stuffed with wet wipes, healthy snacks and matching Hello Kitty water bottles; then there is extra sunscreen, of course. The first time around, Chania welcomed me as a wandering post-graduate; the second time around, she welcomed me as a dad. I can’t say which visit I enjoyed more.