The bus ride from Heraklion to Rethymno is worth the €8 alone - half on the windy coastal roads, the other half high up in the cretan mountains patterned with rows of olive trees. Honestly, had Rethymno been a bust, we would have been happy to have just taken the drive. But, bust it was not.
The Venetian influence over Crete is blatantly obvious in the windy streets of Rethymno - twisting and turning, only to open in small white-marbled piazze. Tourist shops and jewelry craftwork dot the tiny streets, reminding one of the Plaka in Athens, but with a forth of the crowds. A falafel and replacement wedding ring later, we found ourselves on a steep grade, panting in the 32C weather.
To really hit that Venetian-vibe home, a dominating fortezza sits high upon a hill overlooking the Aegean coast. The fortress itself is one of interest with small alcoves and charming chapels on the grounds - but it is the view which is it's real selling point. All of Rethymno can be seen from the edges of the cliff, and the sea horizon looms in the distance.
By the port, one can find seafood restaurants, a small lighthouse, and people's private boats. Swimming in prohibited, and after a quick dip of the feet, it became clear that it wouldn't be desirable thanks to the heavy stench which often is companioned by industrial ports. That doesn't take away from the beautiful blues and crystal clear waters.
We caught a bus back to Heraklion in the early evening, vowing that the next time we come to Crete for an extended period, this is where we will make our home base.