JavaSpecialistsSymposium2011:excursions

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What is the ideal conference? Do you know? Well, how about this one?

  • Wake up in a place where it is always sunny, with a temperature just perfect, with the air smelling sea.
  • Attend the conference trying to make the best of it
  • Have lunch tasting one of the best cuisines in the world
  • After the conference,
    • go for swimming in the sea and/or sunbath drinking a glass of your favourite cocktail
    • Continue tasting delicious food in a local taverne
    • Or do something else, like water sports, walk a gorge, do climbing, trekking or else
  • Enjoy the balmy evenings by chatting about Java over a couple of beers at the local pubs/bars/cafeterias

Do I need to say more?

Here are some attractions/ideas that we could go for just before, during or after the conference. A useful site here and a video to start dreaming.


Contents

Swimming

Akrotiri Beach

Crete is an ideal destination, well known for its lovely beaches and its clean seas. On the north of Chania, it can be windy during August, resulting in waves of more than half a meter, ideal for water skiing but not for swimming. If this is the case, then go south!

  • Falassarna, north-west of Chania, has been awarded the 2nd best beach of Greece. It is around 1 hour 45' away from the hotel. It is the place for swimming if it is not very windy but there is nothing else to see there.
  • Balos/Gramvoussa is a magnificent place located at the north of Chania, around 1 hour 30' from the hotel, where you will live again the legends of pirates! You will need a 4x4 to go there though. There is a ferry from Kastelli to Balos, too.
  • Akrotiri beaches near the hotel.
  • Elafonnisi south-west, around 2 1/2 hours drive by car from the hotel. If you like adventure, dare to visit the paradise, Kedrodasos beach (from Elafonissi on foot or 4x4 only).

Walking/Sightseeing

Crete is famous for its gorges:

  • Samarian Gorge is the most famous one, is 16 km long and is situated in the National park of Samaria, in the White Mountains in West Crete. You will need 5-6 hours to pass it and you end up to Aghia Roumeli, where you can swim and eat. There are daily buses starting from Chania to the head of the gorge, called Xyloskalo. The buses, marked "OMALOS", depart Chania/Kasteli at 07:45; the fare is €6.90. The last bus leaves Sfakia at 18:30 and the fair is €7.60. You may find more information here and here. You might find an organised tour more convenient.
  • Therissos has an impressive gorge, 6 km. long, running between Chania and the village of Therissos at the foothills of the White Mountains, 16 km. south of Chania (45' by car). It is one of the few gorges you can travel by car.
  • Kournas lake is the biggest in Crete, in Rethymno near Georgioupolis, 1h 10' from the hotel, where you can also swim in non-salty water and watch the various birds. If you 're hungry you can try the traditional mezzes in the taverns of Kournas village.
  • Aghia Eirini gorge is 40 km from Chania, 1,5 h drive from Chania. The gorge is 12 km long, ~5 hours walk.
  • But also Chania's old town is a must for walking, sightseeing and shopping.

Mountain Biking

Enjoy a ride around the Akrotiri, maybe up to the Governeto Monastery or up to Meskla for those with more energy. Here is a recent short article on spots to bike.

It is possible to rent mountain bikes, but not close to where we will be staying. The ones that you can rent are also probably going to be glorified street bikes, rather than proper full suspension mountain bikes.

In other words - rather bring your own bike if you plan on trailing around a bit.

Where to Eat

Crete is very famous for its hospitality and food. In the old town of Chania you may find some great taverns where you can taste traditional Cretan food at good prices:

  • Eirini's taverne (Chorafakia)
  • Sunset taverne (Chorafakia)
  • Kalathas beach restaurant (Kalathas)
  • Patrelantonis taverne (Marathi)
  • Antigoni (Akti Enoseos & Defkalionos str.)
  • Adiexodo (Theotokopoulou str.)
  • Anaplous (Sifaka & Melhiseidek str.)
  • Apostolis (Akti Enoseos str.)
  • Mathios (Akti Enoseos str.)
  • Myrovolos (Zampeliou str.)
  • Tamam (Zampeliou str.)
  • Enetikon (Zampeliou str.)
  • Milia village gives you the opportunity to live in an older time, when electricity was not yet invented. This old traditioned village is also famous for its great food. It is around 2 hours drive from the hotel. You may also wish to continue south to the Vlattos village driving through the Topoliano gorge.
  • Panorama (Falassarna).
  • Mylos tou Kerata (Platanias)
  • Meterizi (Therissos)
  • Antartis (Therissos)
  • Leventis (Therissos)*****
  • Madares (Therissos)
  • Limeri (Therissos)
  • Aimilia (Zouvra village)

Heinz's Tips

Heinz has lived in Chania for 5 years and has had opportunity to eat at many local tavernas. Before we display his list, we need to explain how we usually eat in Crete. Eating is the way that we islanders pass our time, so we take lots of time and have many different dishes. Usually, we order at least a Greek salad (choriatiki salata), a plate of wild spinach (chorta) and some tzatziki (yogurt with garlic). With that we have a carafe of village wine (ena karaf krasi apo to chorio) and water from the taps (nero apo vrisi). We then order (n-1) meals, where (n) is the number of people eating. These are all put into the middle of the table. Eating is a social affair, so we take a bit from each plate and then pass it along. This way, we can try all of the various delicacies. When we go into a taverna, we always ask whether they have ready food (etimo fayito). A good taverna will have at least 4-5 meals, such as rabbit stifado, stuffed tomatoes, boureki, oven baked chicken, snails (kochli), cheese cakes stuffed with myzithra (myzitropitakia) etc. And of course, when you order the bill, the Cretan hospitality offers you (free of charge) the traditional raki and maybe fresh fruits and/or traditional sweet cakes (baklava, kanta'i'fi, galaktomboureko etc.). So, keep some more space to your stomach till the end because you are not done!

Here are some tavernas that we can recommend from personal experience:

  1. Irene's Taverna in Chorafakia, where the village of Chorafakia comes for lunch. Heinz eats here at least once a week.
  2. Kalathas Beach Restaurant. Beautiful setting, nice food, friendly staff. Heinz's summer hangout.
  3. Ola to Kilo in Chania Markobotsari street if you like meat on the spit. They have lots of different types of meat available.
  4. Roumeli near the court houses "dikastiria" in Chania.
  5. Argentina near the harbour of Kolimbari has great fish and other Cretan dishes. Also usually has ready fish and seafood soups. Tel: +30 28240-22243
  6. Hani down near the old harbour (Kirk Pepperdine's personal tip)

There are some other tip-offs that we received, which we will try out to see if they are good enough to include on the list.

Fresh Fish Trap

Fresh fish is surprisingly expensive in Crete. Some of the more exotic fish sell for €40 a kilo at the fishmongers. Restaurants often use the "fresh fish trap" to catch unwary tourists. With a boisterous "ela", they whisk you into the kitchen where they display "today's catch". All is well until you get the final bill, which is then weighed down with additional extras for drinks and all the side dishes that you tried. Expect to pay about €30-€40 a head when eating fresh fish in restaurants. Just to compare, if you have delicious Cretan vegetable or meat dishes, you should not pay more than €15 a head, and that is in expensive restaurants.

As everywhere, the closer you are to tourist attractions, such as the old harbour in Chania, the worse the food and the higher the prices. If you must eat down there, go two or three streets back from the main harbour attraction and look for a restaurant filled with Greeks.

History/museums

Should you be interested in the history of the area, you could visit a number of museums:

  • The Archaeological Museum is housed in the Venetian Church of San Francesco (in Chania) and exhibits important finds dating from the Neolithic and Minoan periods to the late Roman one. The most important parts of the exhibition are a collection of vases and weapons from the Minoan necropolis, a collection of Early Geometric and Geometric pottery and Hellenistic statues, a collection of wonderful mosaics from Chania, Classical and Hellenistic figurines, glass vessels from Greco-Romans times, a collection of coins and various other items. The museum is located on 21, Halidon Street (Χάληδων 10). Opening hours: 08:30-15:00, excluding Mondays.
  • The Nautical/Maritime Museum is located in the north-east end of the Venetian harbour near the Firkas fortress, in the town of Chania, in a building of the Firkas Fortress. It houses a collection of models of ships from antiquity to modern times and a collection of relics from the historic battles of the Greek Navy such as war guns, portraits of important Greek admirals and navigation equipment. The museum also exhibits a collection of rare shells. Opening hours: 10:00-16:00.
  • The Byzantine Collection is housed in a building located in 82 Theotokopoulou Street, in the town of Chania. Various mosaics, wall-paintings, sculptures, funerary inscriptions, ceramics and objects of arts compose the collection. The museum also hosts a large collection of Byzantine and post-Byzantine icons. Opening hours: 08:00-14:00, closed on Mondays.
  • Historical and Folkor Museum of Therissos
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