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All you need to know about camping at Sougia, Crete!
I have recently returned from my latest adventure: free camping in Sougia, Crete. Sougia is a marvelous resort in the south of Crete, Greece. You can reach Sougia by bus (that leaves every day at 5 am and 2 pm from the central station of Chania), by car or even by foot, if you dare crossing the wonderful mountains and also explore the Agia Irini Gorge.
The waters at Sougia are warm and deep enough for one to enjoy a well deserved swimming session in the sea – night swimming is definitely a treat when in this marvelous place! The beach is long and wide, being actually the longest one in the South-West of Crete. Sougia beach is 1.2 km long and 70 m wide at certain points. This most amazing beach is generously welcoming its visitors, which are not particularly many, but they are surely peculiar!
What you must really need to know about Sougia is that it is a very hidden place that has acquired a tranquil and even specific character due to its very special visitors, who discovered this resort in the 1970s and keep on visiting it ever since! And let me tell you something: They are wild! The regular visitors of this magic place called Sougia are the nature lovers who might actually choose to get rid of all inhibitions, unnecessary futile accessories, such as their swimming suites. Also, these particular Sougia visitors might actually choose the free camping experience even over the quite affordable accommodation offers that this snug paradise has to offer. In case you also feel like the wild children of mother nature, always ready to embrace essential roots of existence and you'd rather go free camping than book with a hotel or rent a room in the local tiny hostels, then there are a few things that you will need to know, such as:
Find a spot that has good shadow. The beach is not completely 'bold', in the sense that it is enriched with some beautiful trees called Armirikia. These Armirikia trees prove to be quite useful while engaging and indulging in the free camping experience due to the shadow they keep during a hot summer day in Crete, Greece. You will find that you have made a very good choice if you decide to put your tent under Armirikia's embracing shadow. Also, remember that the shadow forms in the right side of the tree during the morning, while it slips over to the left side of the tree in late afternoon and then evening. Why do I mention all of these details? Well, because you might not actually manage to get a spot just under the tree, so you need to be practical and think ahead, also according to your life rhythm. If you are a night person, you might end up going to sleep early in the morning after too much partying. Therefore, a well chosen spot shadow-wise might prove to be a long-term investment for an enjoyable stay, avoiding to get baked in your tend while you are suffering from a hangover.
What about the shower?
Next thing you need to know – and this is really good news! - is that the Sougia beach, despite being kind of wild and natural, has showers! Don't expect to find the modern and exquisite Mira showers to spray the perfect water drops over your whole tanned body! Not a chance! The showers are rudimentary, planted here and there – rather seldom – on the beach. Plus, expect an ice-cold water coming directly from the mountains surrounding mysterious Sougia. It will, nevertheless, be the most refreshing experience!
Refreshing experiences and relaxation
Anyway, let me just give you just another tip when it comes to refreshment! It concerns the nice bars, cafes and tavernas that comfortably lie along the Sougia beach, especially its left side. The last cafe on the left side of the beach is a famous spot especially for the connoisseurs. Those who know what it is all about will always order omelet when ending up in this place. It is the best one that you will always have! And those guys who run the place are rather kind and nurturing, you can even decide to spend your whole afternoon in that spot, comfortably losing yourself in the chair with a book and a nicely chilled freddo espresso or the more popular frappe.
Dinner time! And the best taverna of Sougia!
As for eating out, what I can only recommend is to go to Rebetiko! Rebetiko is a taverna right on the main street of Sougia - it would be rather difficult to miss it, since Sougia is a very tiny village. Rebetiko will feed you well – a bit of everything of those amazingly delicious Cretan delicacies! An unforgettable experience that no gourmand will ever forget! All of the ingredients are organic, freshly picked right from the fertile gardens of Crete, baring the most intense and genuine flavor that you will have tasted! Kolokithokeftedes might sound like a very complicated denomination for some and that is particularly because it is about a Greek traditional dish that you will truly enjoy savoring at Remetiko. Kolokithokeftedes are the ideal treat for vegetarians, as they are all made of zucchinis, mixed with herbs and then bathed in the best olive oil you can ever get – that one of Crete, locally produced in every household! You certainly do want to experience that! It must have been the oil that Ancient Greek Gods called ambrosia and Cretans drink a shot of it every single morning, for good health.
But going back now to all that marvelous food, I must admit that I particularly enjoyed boureki – a traditional mix of zucchinis, eggplants and delicious white sauce that opened my appetite for a well-deserved glass of white wine. The wine of the house is more than decent and I highly recommend! The owner of Rebetiko produces it himself after a method learned from his father, which he took to some exquisite heights, must I say! Unfortunately, he does not sell it bottled, otherwise I would have brought some to keep me company even now, as I recall my most recent travel adventures. As for those of you who are not into wine, the raki they provide with at Rebetiko is quite strong and, along with this choice, you will certainly reach yourselves in no time some very euphoric heights. Also, related to Rebetiko, what I found out from my non-vegetarian friends and I can tell you from their accounts is that the steaks and 'biftekis'(quite specific Greek burger-like meatballs) served at Rebetiko were the most delicious that they had had in years!
Extra tips for fun lovers
Last, but not least, I just feel like giving you some few extra tips, especially if I already got you interested in this mysterious place. If you have just had dinner at Rebetiko, I recommend to just cross the street at Raki, you won't regret having a well-deserved karafaki of traditional raki, which helps at digestion and to cheer you up. If you cheered up already, move on to the next level: go out at Fortuna, especially if they have one of those special parties where they bring some of the most famous DJ’s of the day (Yes, Sougia is one of those places that has one or two of these cosmopolitan surprises in store for all of those curious travelers who dare exploring!). If Fortuna seems to be just too urban and up-to-date for you, then Alabama is awaiting! Placed just by the beach, Alabama is a place with a history and its owner is already legend among the more knowledgeable about the place! You will have to go there and meet him personally and then you will know what I mean! Like any creature of the night, he will certainly offer you a few drinks! Geia mas!