The Royal Blue Resort In Crete – An Amazing Experience

This year our summer vacation had to be special, as we had not been on vacation for 2 years and it was also going to be our honeymoon. After months of intense searching, we realized that no other place would be better for us at this given moment that an island in Greece.

Having limited the location to a specific country, we had to choose an island. But it was so difficult since Greece is known for its gorgeous islands. So we thought that it is not a coincidence that everyone suggested Crete. But then we had to find the perfect resort that would be perfect for us in terms of location, food, amenities, and overall appearance. At some miraculous point, I found the Royal Blue Resort and boy was I right since we plan to go back next year.

So, let´s break down the reasons why I would highly recommend this resort.

Overall Appearance & Location 

The resort looked beautiful in all the pictures I found online, and it was the main reason why we booked it. Of course, when we arrived, we were honestly speechless, since it was beautifully designed with gorgeous decoration details all around. The pictures, in fact, somewhat lacked in showing all of its beauty.

It is located in Panormo, 23 minutes away from Rethimno and 1 hour from Heraklio. The location is perfect since it is far away from tourist sites or crowded areas, so you get to fully relax in quiet.

Gold Package

The other main reason that we decided to book this resort is that we booked a Gold Package of various amenities in it, such as private pool, breakfast in the room, all-inclusive (breakfast, lunch, dinner), thalassotherapy and a back massage for each person for free, private romantic dinner while watching the sunset, welcome & goodbye gift, free transportation from and to the airport, and many other delightful things.

Turns out the package was so worth it for everything it offered. Some may not seem so important, but when you want to simply relax and recharge, you will use all of them. Besides the massages that were much needed, the free transportation to the airport was a great perk, since we had a very early flight, and with one hour of sleep, we were definitely not able to drive for one hour.

Facilities & Hotel App

The resort has a private beach, 38 pools (shared & individual), 4 restaurants, 3 bars, 2 tennis courts, a playground, spa, gym, hair salon, parking, and a mini-market among others. You can also rent a car or bike through the hotel, or enjoy a tour of the island by yacht or mountain bike. All rooms are equipped with air-conditioning, satellite TV, spacious bathrooms with two washbasins and music, bathrobes, and other elegant amenities.

It is worth mentioning that upon check-in, you are given a special code to enter their app on site. The app has a map of the hotel and actually guides you on how to go to places (the resort is enormous). You can also check for any type of events on the bars or restaurants, find out about any spa offers and basically order anything you want to either come to your room or to the public pools.

Food 

Oh, the food! It was exquisite. Breakfast and dinner were served in the form of a buffet in the Symposium restaurant, with endless options. The food, as well as the desserts, were simply incredible. One evening they had Asian cuisine, which I am not really a fan of, but it did not disappoint.

Lunch was served in the EORA restaurant, and you could choose anything you wanted from the menu. Since we were there, we basically picked something different each day, so we tried the whole menu. The octopus and the fried squid turn out to be some of the best seafood we ever had. And of course, we always ended our lunch with their delicious chocolate soufflé.

The Main Pool 

For the main pool, I only have one word! Stunning… Keep in mind that we had our own private pool, but many times we were going there for a few hours. It was that good!! A huge pool with a panoramic view of the sea, umbrellas, recliners and a pool bar.

You could enjoy your amazing Rakito (Mojito with Raki), which was quite refreshing while sunbathing at some of the most comfortable recliners and swimming without ever getting bored. Going from one side of the pool to the other would take some time unless you are a professional swimmer.

Our Room

I have to say that there was a mistake with our booking. I thought I had booked a room with a private pool with a view of the sea and I had confirmed it with the reception. Somewhere in between one of us did not understand and we ended up with a room without sea view, but with a big bush hiding all view. It turned out to be better since we had more privacy and not people passing by every second. The room was being cleaned to perfection about two times per day. The bed was like sleeping in clouds. Insanely comfy and really big.

The room was quite spacious with satellite TV, a big bathroom with anything we might need in it, bathrobes, towels for the pool, coffee and little honeymoon treats, and of course Raki. Because when in Crete, you are bound to have raki everywhere you go. In the garden, we had a small lounge area and then 2 recliners and a pool that looked quite small at the beginning, but it really wasn’t.

Sunset Madness & Nightfall Colors

When the sun sets, the whole resort transforms into something majestic. People have left the pools and beach and are getting ready for dinner and a night out. Everything is empty, yet so calm and quiet, with only the sound of the sea and the crickets.

Combine this noise with the stunning sunset that lights up everything in a very romantic and mysterious way and you have a perfect evening. During that time you just wanted to photograph all corners of the resort, but it is impossible to capture the view and the feeling. At nightfall, the hotel lit up with beautiful colors all around, allowing you to walk through at any time.

Would I Recommend?

Hell yes! I am going back next year!! I have never relaxed so much in a vacation. We usually explore every new place, but this time we barely left the resort. Our day was full of relaxing things, swimming, drinking cocktails, eating delicious food and at night there was always something going around the hotel.

Resorts usually offer you everything you might need, so you do not have to leave if you do not want to. The Royal Blue exceeded our expectations and we were thrilled with the impeccable service and pampering from everyone!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Balos Lagoon in Crete – Is It Worth It?

Balos is a bay with a lagoon located on the West coast of Crete. Along with Elafonissi and Samaria George, these three places have been naturally created this way.

Balos is one of the most visited beaches of the island, and it can get really crowded at times and especially during the weekends. There are a few reviewers who argue that visiting Balos is not worth it. I am going to give you all the facts and you can decide for yourselves.

Access by Excursion Boats

You can access Balos in two ways, by boat and car. You can take the excursion boats from Kissamos that leave usually around 11.00 in the summer and cost approximately 27 euros per person and go on a small cruise. The cruise will first take you to see the bay of Kissamos and then stop at Gramvousa for 2 hours. The abandoned shipwreck is a very interesting sight and you can even hike 20 minutes up to the castle of Gramvousa for some amazing views. If you plan on hiking, wear sneakers.

20 minutes away you will reach Balos. Depending on which cruise you book, the time you will have to spend in Balos varies. They usually allow you to stay for 1,5 hours or up to 3. You have to be back to the boats at least 10 minutes before departure. You will be back to Kissamos by 18.00, which means the main disadvantage of going by boat is that you need a whole day for visiting Balos.

Access by Car

Your other option is to go by car. We were informed that the road was bad and access not so easy, but we had no idea what we would face. After Kaliviani village, you enter a dirt road for about 30 minutes until you reach Balos´ parking lot. Imagine having a rough road with big stones, many cars in front of and behind you, in a narrow street with a 200-meter cliff with no barriers on your side. Pretty scary? Oh yes!! At some point, you will be stopped and asked to pay 1 Euro per person for the maintenance and protection of the area.

Of course, many people visit Balos and with the rough route, it may take more than 30 minutes to arrive. Unless you arrive by 08.00 or 09.00, then the parking will be full, which means you have to park alongside the mountain, one car behind the other. You arrive, you park and then the hiking begins. It takes about 10 minutes to go through the mountain (straight road, very easy to cross). After the mountain, you know you have 20 more minutes of hike. But then you get to a high point and you see Balos.

The way down is not very easy, but in all honesty, it could be worse. Thankfully, there are some stone stairs that make it more manageable. But once you arrive all you think about is the way up. We stayed for about 1 hour since we knew we had to go back before we became tired and hotter. The way up is not pleasant at all. People are coming down all the time, so you have to step aside and wait. The uphill is rougher and requires good sneakers, a lot of water, a hat (100%) and a lot of energy. The only thing that made it possible for me to go up was the perfect wind that was much needed.

When you arrive at the parking, it is impossible to do a U-turn on the spot, since it is way too narrow. So you pray no car is coming from the parking lot (because it is insanely difficult to go back when you are literally next to the cliff), and you go there so you can turn easily. I have to warn you that the way back with the car is as difficult as the way up to the mountain. The cars move like crazy and you can get super freaked out, as on the return you will be from the side of the cliff. But the advantages of going by car are the exquisite view and the fact that you will not spend your whole day there.

Balos Lagoon

While hiking to arrive at Balos, you reach a high point. Your mouth will drop and the view will take your breath away. I have to admit that no picture will ever manage to capture this beauty. No wonder it is listed as one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Everyone stops at that point and just look at the view. Once they stop being wowed, the photoshoots begin. Once you arrive at the bottom, you are hit with a strong breeze and with sand and small stones hitting you badly in all of your body.

A few years back, Balos did not have any umbrellas or recliners and no food cantine. Now, there are about 100 umbrellas with recliners that you, of course, have to pay, but they are not enough. About 1/4 of the Lagoon´s visitors will get lucky to get an umbrella (you can buy one from Jumbo for 5 euros and take it everywhere with you). The food cantine was like heaven-sent at reasonable prices, as you will need a lot of water for your hiking and your stay there.

Balos is divided into two parts. The lagoon, (the water looks like a blue pastel color from above) you can walk as long as you want and the water will never go above your ankle, so you might feel like you are actually walking on water. From the other side, the sea has 3 different shades of blue, with turquoise being more dominant. The water is not cold, and in normal depth, like any other sea.

The preservation of Balos´ natural beauty and unique ecosystem, is imposed through a strict national and European institutional protection system. Free camping, any kind of pollution, animal hunting, collection of fossils, stones and shells are strictly prohibited.

Is It Worth It?

Visiting Balos at least once in your lifetime is 100% worth it. It is a unique experience with a very special environment. However, I would not recommend visiting by car. Unless you are somewhat sporty and can handle the hiking and heat. If not, it is not worth the stress, but then again you will never see the breathtaking view from above. That´s what Balos is all about. So, I leave it up to you.

10 Best Greek Islands for your summer vacation

The time has come that everyone starts thinking about their summer vacations and Greece always comes to mind. The best time to visit is between May and September. Even in mid-September, the weather is quite hot and many choose this month for a crowded-free vacation.

Greece is the most popular summer destination in Europe with almost 6000 islands for you to visit. There is a little something for everyone. If you want an intense nightlife you go to Ios, Mykonos or Zakynthos. If you want to go somewhere quiet with your family, you go to Chios or Corfu. Or if luxury is your thing, Santorini and Crete will not disappoint you.

Each island is unique in beauty. The crystal clear blue waters, the sandy beaches, the delicious food and the gorgeous blue and white island houses will take your breath away.

1. Santorini

Location: Cyclades

Famous for: Sunrise, wine, volcano, fava

What to do: Sunset in Oia, Wineries, Red Beach

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2. Crete

Location: Crete

Famous for: Traditional dialect, Raki, Mantinades, History

What to do: Elafonissi beach, Balos Beach & Lagoon, Knossos Archaeological Site, Gramvousa Fortress.

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3. Zakynthos

Location: Ionian Sea

Famous for: Intense nightlife, raisins, olives, honey, herbs

What to do: Navagio beach, Porto Limnionas beach, Xygia Sulphur Beach

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4. Kefalonia

Location: Ionian Sea

Famous for: Wines, Olives, Turtles

What to do: Assos, Myrtos Beach, Venetian Lighthouse of Fiscardo

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5. Paros

Location: Cyclades

Famous for: Architecture, Golden sand, exotic beaches

What to do: Parikia Town, Kolymbithres Beach, Lageri beach

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6. Chios

Location: Aegean Sea

Famous for: Mastic, Mastello, Architecture

What to do: Pyrgi, Mavra Volia, Vrontados, Daskalopetra

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7. Milos

Location: Cyclades

Famous for: Rocks, Volcano origin, Caves

What to do: Sarakiniko Beach, Kleftiko Beach

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8. Lefkada

Location: Ionian Sea

Famous for: Crystal clear beaches, Historic sites, Landscape beauty, Savoro

What to do: Egremni Beach, Kathisma Beach, Nydri Waterfalls

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9. Folegandros

Location: Cyclades

Famous for: Wine, Matsata, Souroto, Kalassouna, Karpouzenia

What to do: Livadaki Beach, Latinaki Beach, Agios Nikolaos Beach

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10. Ios

Location: Cyclades

Famous for: Crazy nightlife, Chora, Traditional Food

What to do: Mylopotas Beach, Manganari Beach, La Tomba di Omero

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Exploring Fira & Oia in Santorini

Santorini is by far one of the most magical islands in Europe, with thousands of tourists visiting every summer. What makes this Greek island so special, are the majestic views, the insanely delicious food and the perfect combination of blue and white.

Santorini can be easily explored within 3 days and most of its villages are worth visiting. If you are limited in days, you can skip the Akrotiri, Emporeio and Kamari.

Fira

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Fira is the capital of Santorini and is located almost in the middle of the island. It is the place to be for a night out, filled with bars, nightclubs and restaurants.

During the day you can find numerous cafeterias with great views. As for the evenings, it is one of the perfect locations to admire the sunrise.

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Oia

Ohhh Oia!!! There is no place like Oia!! I fell in love with its beauty. I was simply captivated. Oia is the place you MUST visit while in Santorini. Be sure to visit it both during the day and afternoon.

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Oia is known for all the luxury hotels and restaurants. You will find a few cheap choices, but mostly you should come here for expensive dining. Anywhere you go for a drink or dinner, you will certainly have one of the best views. The hotels around are all resorts with private pools and jacuzzis and the prices for about 7 days are more than 3000 euros.

What is special about Oia is the characteristic white and blue everywhere. White houses, hotels and shops, combined with the blue of the sea and sky. A perfect combination that can hypnotize you.

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Oia is by far the best place for a photographer. During the day you can embrace the white, while during the night, you can emphasize on the nightlife.

The perfect time to visit is around 5 or 6 in the evening. You have plenty of time to see everything, and still be there for the sunset at 8 o’clock. Around 6 people will start gathering from all parts of Santorini, to see the enchanting sunset. At 8:15 it is almost impossible to leave since there are hundreds of people struggling to get out.

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What makes this sunset so special, that makes people visit Santorini from all over the world? Truly, it is breathtaking. Being Greek, I have seen a lot of beautiful sunsets in my life. No sunset can take my breath. But this one did.  Now, I understand why it is so special to the foreigners.

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5 minutes before the sunrise, hundreds of people just stop moving and talking. There is so much quiet and everyone is looking at the sky in awe. Just a few magical minutes, where you see the sun falling in the water and creating a breathtaking view. Yes, it is a pretty sunrise, but I have seen many. However, I have never felt such peace and calmness.

Exploring West Santorini

Santorini is by far one of the most magical islands in Europe, with thousands of tourists visiting every summer. What makes this Greek island so special, are the majestic views, the insanely delicious food and the perfect combination of blue and white.

The island can be easily explored within 3 days and most of its villages are worth visiting. If you are limited in days, you can skip the Akrotiri, Emporeio and Kamari.

Akrotiri

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On the southwestern peninsula of the island, you will find Akrotiri and in the very last point of it, the Lighthouse. The Akrotiri Lighthouse is among the oldest lighthouses in Greece and was constructed way back in 1892. It is nothing special, but the view there is amazing. The best time to visit the Akrotiri Lighthouse is during sunset. Actually, everything is better visiting during sunset in Santorini.

Red & White Beaches

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When you leave the Lighthouse, your next stop MUST be the Red Beach, one of the most famous and beautiful beaches of Santorini. It is called red, due to the red stones in the mountain and the beach, which are basically rocks from the volcano.

The red and steep hills, give a captivating and wild scenery. Along with the crystal clear blue waters, this beach will for sure take your breath away.

To be fair, access is not the easiest, yet not the most difficult. You just need to hike for a while by stepping into big stones. But once you get there, it is so worth it. From the Red Beach, you can visit the White Beach, which is also gorgeous, but only accessible in two ways. You can either walk from Cambia Beach but the path is not easy to cross or go by boat from Red Beach.

Emporeio

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15 minutes away is Emporeio, a place where there is nothing for you to do, but this small village across the hill is truly beautiful and is definitely recommended for photography lovers. We didn’t make all the way to the top because the heat was insane that day.

Vlychada

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Vlychada is also a very nice area. Most people visit Vlychada Beach, but we decided to visit one of the most known beach bars, called Theros Wave Bar. Be really careful with the streets, because if you end up taking the wrong turn your car may get stuck in the sand unless help comes.


Perivolos, Perissa and Kamari have the best beaches on the island. They are the only ones, that you do not have to go hiking in order to access them and you can actually have a good time there. Relax, enjoy your cocktail and sunbathe.

All three places are great during the day for lunch and swimming. But only Kamari is nice visiting during the night. There is nothing to do in the other two, other than go for a small walk.

Perivolos

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Although it may not be something special, it is one of the beaches you can actually enjoy on the island. You go chill for a few hours and after that, you can go shopping for souvenirs or eat in one of the local taverns.

All the beach bars are organized with sunbeds and umbrellas. In some you have to pay, but not in all of them. The prices vary from 3-10 euros for 2 sunbeds.

Perissa

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Perissa is one more of the best beaches in Santorini. For me it is by far the best one, considering water temperature, view, and location. The view is breathtaking and relaxing. The location is great since it is easily accessible from any point on the island. As for the water temperature is was the warmest one.

Kamari

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Kamari is somewhat located in the middle of the island and it is very close to the airport. The beach is beautiful with black sand from the volcano. This area is full of hotels, restaurants, taverns, bars and souvenir shops. It is extremely enjoyable for a quiet evening.

When in Kamari, make sure to visit Pinakio.

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