Travel: You can’t beat Crete

The culture and scenery resonate in the mind of Amy Bracken after her jaunt to the Greek island of CreteI expected Crete to be much the same as any of the other Mediterranean resorts – full of beaches, cocktails and gimmicky souvenirs. Although this is also true of Crete, I was truly stunned by the area’s unique culture and breathtaking scenery, not forgetting the fantastic weather of course.The Cretian resorts are small villages that have been transformed to enter the 21st century, given their plenitude of shops, bars, restaurants and amusements. And aside from offering mouth-watering cheap food, the restaurants all provide diversity in terms of choice. The Greek dishes are not to be avoided at any rate, and the extra bonus of a complementary drink at the end of your meal just adds to the effect.A short stroll away from the restaurants and you will be spoilt for choice in terms of the sheer amount of bars and nightclubs on offer. The price of admission is generally very low, and as with most southern European holiday spots, the clubs stay open until daylight.While for most students a sun holiday is a repetitive routine of waking late in the day after the night before and spending the day (or what’s left of it) toasting by the pool before doing it all over again that night, a trip to Crete would not be complete without getting a taste of the fantastic scenery of the inland regions.Coach trips can get claustrophobic, so hiring a car would be recommended (a day’s car hire will cost nowhere in the region of what a night out would). Also be sure to bring a few bottles of water and a camera before you make the journey.It is especially worth it after the car journey, which enhances the adrenaline rush that hits you when you reach the peak. There isn’t a better feeling in the world than standing at the top of a mountain in the glistening sunshine and being able to see for miles and miles out to sea.For those of you interested in the cultural aspect, dotted everywhere in the inland regions are isolated churches and monasteries, all of the Greek Orthodox faith. Aside from a few commercial resorts and one or two small cities, once you move away from the coastal perimeter there is a lot of poverty and little signs of modernisation. The interesting part is that these remote and quiet regions are often only two or three miles away from the bustling resorts, and are well worth a visit.Of course, if travelling and culture doesn’t suit your taste, Crete has other areas of interest suitable for 20-somethings looking for some fun in the sun. However, I recommend doing some travelling and witnessing the truly unique local culture and the fantastic landscape as it will linger in your mind for a long time afterwards.