And here we have it, the first of my Greece blog posts! Because we squeezed in SO much in the time we were there, I decided to split it up into four blog posts, starting with today's, which is a tour of our first hotel. We stayed at The Blue Palace, a Luxury Collection Resort & Spa, Elounda (one of the Starwood properties) for our first three days which was absolutely incredible but, but before I go on and on and on, let me start from the start so that I don't miss anything out.
It's not often you see stars made in the sky by airplanes, amazing ya? Enough to take my mind off my fear of flying for a good few minutes at least. All of our flights and connecting flights were through Aegean Airlines, who, as far as I know, are currently Europe's No.1 airline. They fly to over 100 international destinations, with 30 of these being in Greece alone. We flew from London as they don't currently fly from Scotland, and there's flights directly from there to Athens three times a day all year round. There were a few delays so we ended up travelling for 20 hours - horrible, don't want to talk about it - so when we our weary selves finally arrived at The Blue Palace around 11pm we were cheered up instantly with the loveliest of lovely welcomes in our room...
A local honey-based spirit, some juicy apples and two bottles of water (which we later found out are topped up daily - the water that is, not the alcohol. Steady on). We decided it'd be wise to save the shots for another night because I was on a one-way train to tired town and knew I'd end up very drunk, very quickly, so instead ordered a big ass Greek salad from room service and settled down to watch a bit of tv before nodding off.
The next morning we woke up bright and early, dying to see what the room and hotel looked like in daylight, but nothing could have prepared us for how beautiful it was going to be i.e. we opened up our curtains to find that we had our very own infinity pool attached to the room. What the shit, I know.
The novelty really doesn't wear off; I split my time in the room between either hanging out at the pool or just looking at it lovingly. You can see already why the hotel's such a popular honeymoon destination, yes? We also had the perfect view of Spinalonga - that little island you can see just off centre there - but I'll tell you about that in more detail in my next post! We got dressed and hopped in the lift up to breakfast, with the view right across the resort temporarily taking my mind off of the breakfast that lay head, which is saying something - there's not much that can distract me from the thought of food.
Breakfast was a very classy, and very tasty, affair. There was every type of pastry known to man (damn my body's inability to digest gluten), home-made crepes, cakes, every variety of cooked breakfast you can imagine, fresh fruit, fresh fish, eggs... They really had it all. Oh, and champagne. Delicious, delicious champagne. I'll come back to breakfast again later though. We then met Eva, the marketing manager, who was incredibly sweet and helpful, along with the hilarious Irina, who offered to show us around the hotel. This I was excited about - every time I go to a swish hotel I'm desperate to see inside all the different rooms and check out what they've all got to offer, so this was a dream come true for me.
We walked back though the hotel, taking in all its beautiful decor, before getting down to business.
We were taken into one of the suites - each one is done up in a the style of a different Greek island - with its beautiful pool (see photos directly above) and then into the presidential villa, which was, in a word, shamazing. It's got everything you could ever need or want in life, from marble bathrooms and private verandas, to a big outdoor cooking area to a walk in wardrobe. Add in a hu-age private pool to this (see the first photo above) and you've got a little slice of Heaven right there. Apparently Lady Gaga and Rihanna have all stayed there (I tried to find a lock of their hair to ebay but to no avail sadly, those cleaners are good) so it was all very exciting. We were also taken to see some of the spots you can get married at in the hotel, as well as to see the olive trees planted by previous couples who'd married there. Basically once you've tied the knot they invite you to plant your own olive tree along with a little name & date plaque so that you can come back and visit it every year. With olive trees living up to 500 years there's no chance you're out-living that badboy, so you'll know that after you pass away there'll be a little something to remember you by out there. Anyway, less talk about death and more about LIVING. With that our tour was done and we headed off to the spa.
The spa is incredibly beautiful and peaceful. We had our first ever couples massage which, after we'd finished giggling at the little his n hers net pants, was SO relaxing. It lasted a lovely 30 minutes and was exactly what we both needed after a full day of travelling; I can neither confirm nor deny that rob was so relaxed he fell asleep. Ok no, I can, he did and woke up with no idea of who or where he was. We were then invited to try out the Thalassotherapy pool, which +you can see in the last two photos, which is basically a big pool filled with a series of jets which release tension in different parts of yours body a step at a time - from the balls of your feet to your abs - and thus help retain suppleness. I honestly think Rob would have spent all day in there/married it if he'd had the choice. After that we sat and relaxed with a cup of tea and some fruit before heading off in search of some lunch.
We ate at Isola which is the only restaurant in the resort that opens for lunch (but you can always head along to the local Village of Plaka if you prefer, a 10 minute walk away, which is filled with restaurants) and has the most beautiful views across the pool and private beach. Look at all that blue!
- QUAY sunglasses -
After we'd filled ourselves up with salad we headed over to Spinalonga Island for the afternoon and then came back for a quick dip in the infinity pool and some chill time in our room.
- QUAY sunglasses -
The bungalow rooms are minimal but beautiful and have everything you could need. There's an LCD plasma TV, a marble bathroom with a huge bath tub and separate shower, sofas, a desk, a hairdryer, bathrobes and as well as all that you've got 24 hour room service and twice daily cleaning service. Need I go on? Probably not.
We finally managed to drag ourselves out of the pool to get ready for the night, and then settled on the balcony to have some shots (banging them on the table and shouting 'YAMAS' like the true Greeks we wish we were) and watch the sunset before heading on to Blue Door Tavern for some well-deserved food.
The food was incredible and the whole place had a really traditional Greek atmosphere, with its checked tablecloths, candlelit lanterns and wine in tiny little glass tumblers. We both had seafood starters - octopus and seafood platter, both delicious- followed by fish and lamb, finished off with a fruit platter and fruit pastry. All washed down with shots of homemade Raki which was absolutely lethal, I ended up walking home like Bambi on ice.
The next morning we woke up to a beautiful white sea - apparently the way the sun rises results in the sea looking this mystical white colour for a little while post-sunrise, which really was breathtaking. Please excuse the swimwear out to dry in the bottom of the photo, I forgot to move it because I was hungover as shit.
- ZARA dungarees -
We headed up for breakfast and I decided the only way to get out of this raki hell I was in was with more alcohol. Fight fire with fire, if you can't beat 'em join 'em - you know the drill - so treated myself to a glass of fruity fizz which, alongside some freshly squeezed orange, actually worked, huzzah! Oh and the view from the breakfast room might have helped... are you ready?
Ruddy marvellous, innit? Like a bit blue heaven. After that we headed for another quick dip in the infinity pool (told you we couldn't get enough) before heading along to Agios Nikolaos for the day, but I'll cover that more in my next post!
We got back before sunset, so went for a walk down to the hotel's private beach which we hadn't managed to see yet. There was so one there so we had the whole place to ourselves, bringing a whole new meaning to private beach, so we just walked the length of it and soaked in the views.
After that we walked up to the hotel terrace (which is so beautiful at sunset) and finished the night off there with a drink.
The next morning I set my alarm so that I'd be up in time for sunrise - around 6am in May - as I'd heard it wasn't to be missed. I can't really put into words how beautiful it was (it sounds like I'm about to start crying or break into a sonnet doesn't it) so instead I'll just share some photos in the hope that you can experience a little bit of it through those! These are totally unedited and left as I took them, so that should give you an idea of how incredible it was.
Can you guess what we did for our last morning there? Correct - champagne breakfast and a dip in the pool. We also managed to squeeze in a trip to the wonderful Plaka, but again that's something I'll touch on in my next post!
And that was it, time to say goodbye to The Blue Palace! We had one last wander round to take in all the beautiful views and left with our very own copy of The Island, which is set across Spinalonga Island and Plaka. If you're looking for somewhere to stay in Crete I honestly couldn't recommend The Blue Palace more, and I'm sure you can see why from the photos. The staff were all ridiculously lovely and helpful, the service was amazing and just... yes. Like I said, I'll let the photos do the talking.
(slowly backs away)