Pediada Restaurants Reviews

Crete travel guide

Reviews of Nikolaidis Restaurant in Pediada, Heraklion

Restaurant Nikolaidis in Pediada Review by Julie Morgan

Inland east of Heraklion and south of Hersonissos is hilly, agricultural land with many little villages. This area is known as the Pediada. There is little tourism in this area but you will always be made welcome in the local tavernas.

Armed with the 'Rough Guide to Crete' we set off to visit Ayios Panteleimon just outside of Kastelli Pedhiadhos which boasts a beautiful thirteenth century frescoed church. To get there travel north from Kastelli for about a km and then follow the signs for 'Byzantine Church and Paradise Taverna' written on a piece of wood hanging off a tree branch.

The road very quickly becomes a dirt track, bumpy and lashing the car with olives, by the return trip in our open top jeep we must have acquired enough to make a pint of olive oil! There are a couple of other roads leading to the church but all look as bad.

Hot and dusty we arrived outside this beautiful old church surrounded by ancient trees. As soon as we pulled up we were greeted with hugs and kisses by the owners of the adjacent taverna.

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The Nikolaides family hold the key to the church during the summer months. We speak only a little Greek and they speak only a little English so we knew this would be a meeting mostly played out in mime with lots of smiles and hugs! We walked down the few steps to the two tabled taverna which didn't appear to have any seating available inside, I think it was their home that doubled as a place to serve drinks and simple meals to the hardy few that dare to make the journey from the main road.

As we sat waiting for our coffees I remarked to my husband on the quietness of the place, it was a hot day in early October and the stillness was almost palpable, we were surrounded by trees and could have been almost anywhere, not a sole in sight except a lazy cat winding it's tail around my ankles.

Hot coffees and delicious almond biscuits were brought out to us by Mrs Nikolaides and we sat for a while trying to make each other understand what we so much wanted to say, I think we managed most of it! We declined a meal as we had already eaten before making the trip, but could see that a selection of snacks and meals could be prepared whilst viewing the church, no mass production here!

We then went to see the inside of the church, the frescoes, although weathered, retained much of their beautiful colours, we lit candles and walked around whilst Mrs Nikolaides pointed out the subjects of the frescoes.

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It was so cool and calm inside the church and possible to let your imagination run to times when this would be a haven of tranquillity for the villagers. We thanked Mrs Nikolaides and promised to visit again on our next trip to Crete and yes, next time we would come in time for lunch. We sat outside the church a little longer soaking up the atmosphere and saw the next visitors, hot and thirsty, covered in bits of olive trees being welcomed like long lost family. It is certainly worth the bumpy ride to this church and taverna but honestly don't know if we'd have made it if we hadn't had the jeep!

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