Our Crete Personal Pages - The Page of David about Sissi
Country: United Kingdom
Last visited Crete: 2003
My wife and I first visited Crete way back in 1995, choosing Sisi with the old "pin in the brochure" method! Heraklion is a combination civilian/military airport with Greek airforce jets sitting in their hangars. Taking photographs there is strictly forbidden.
You are carried by bus from the plane and disgorged with your hand luggage at the steps leading to Passport Control. It is here that you might hear your first spoken Greek. After the Passport Officer has examined your papers he might send you on our way with a half-hearted "Kalimera".
Next stop, luggage retrieval and two ancient carousels clank and grind, spewing out cases and boxes, wheelchairs and a miscellany of things. Onwards to Customs and then you’re free to head outside to your bus/taxi and the glorious heat. A forty minute drive along the coast through the tourist resorts of Gouves, Hersonnissos, Stalis, Malia and finally Sissi.
Sissi is not a very large village, just a couple of streets and a pretty harbour. Two beaches, the rocky Manos, very popular with local families who gather there in the afternoons and Boufos – sandy but touristy with a little beach bar where you can hire sunbeds and umbrellas. A hill above the Boufos Beach we named 'Pottery Hill' as it is covered in pottery fragments.
The first Greek we met back in 1995 was Mike, whose apartments and taverna, Mike's Place in Sissi, was and still is in front of the Cuckoo's Nest Apartments. He sits on his rickety chair across the road urging everyone who passes to try his "special tonight".
Also here is a new souvenir shop – the Lazy Bee. Directly opposite is Malia Cars, a car hire and excursions' company favoured by the tour operators and which can be very reasonable.
Following the road westwards, up a steep hill, you’ll find the Palm Bay Hotel set in a lush forest of palms (Phoenix theophrastii). These form the second largest stand on the island, the largest being at Vai, an excursion there is well worth it if you are a sunworshipper.
A little further on in Sissi is the Knossos ‘supermarket’ and Mevis Cars, another car-hire and excursions’ company run by Gregory Apostolidis and his partner.
Directly opposite is the Pink Flamingo (review) owned by our friends George & Maria Fardelakis and their family. As well as a restaurant they have a couple of apartments set in pretty gardens. If you continue past the Pink Flamingo you come to a few more tavernas and shops, the newly opened Alexandros Hotel (2002) and Sun Village Apartments (2001) and then a dusty road which seems to go on forever until you reach a giant holiday complex.
If you walk down to the water's edge here you will come across the tiny church of Saint Barbara overlooking the rocky foreshore. Walk the eastwards and you come across the leather shop of our good friend Nikos Koutepas and on the corner the Pepo Bakery which sells a mouth-watering selection of freshly made cakes and breads. I’d recommend their orange cake.
Follow the road right and you come to the Bread Sweet House, a new bakery and then Nikos’ other shop selling souvenirs. Across the road a little further up the street is the newly established Mardi Gras owned by Michael and Margaret Chen from Liverpool. Since 2003 it has sadly been closed.