When visiting Crete, rent a car and drive to rustic Hotel Eva Marina, about an hour southwest of Heraklion Airport. Nine hundred fifty yards from Matala Beach, it features high-speed internet, an inviting pool, bar and restaurant, and air-conditioned rooms with telephones and balconies at around $70 a night.
In the morning, explore the Minoan Palace at Phaistos, eight kilometers away. Later, near the “Hippie Caves,” with the warm rocks under your feet, you may feel a tinge of something strangely familiar. Spend the afternoon wandering along the beach, swimming or combing the sand for pieces of ancient shard, then watch the breathtaking sunset.
I’m not a swimmer. I don’t venture into the ocean above my waist. I was knee-deep in the water on Matala Beach when a man and his small boy caught my eye. The man, who faced me, suddenly went under, then bobbed back up, gasping and gesticulating wildly toward his son.
I splashed towards the boy, who was oblivious to the danger, took his hand and led him to safety. I turned back, reached out for the hysteric man’s hand, and pulled him in. He spoke no English, but his eyes said it all.