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A Passion for 'The Way' & the Camino de Santiago

A Passion for 'The Way' & the Camino de Santiago

We recently received a heartfelt comment on our article about 'The Way', the 2010 film about walking the Camino de Santiago starring Martin Sheen. It's from Bobbi, a high school teacher in the United States. Since this movie is renowned for having a strong impact on people and inspiring them to walk the Camino, we decided to share Bobbi's story with you.

> If you would like to walk the Camino de Santiago you can find all of our trips here


Growing up in rural Pennsylvania, I never knew The Camino even existed. 

It wasn't until my junior or senior year in college (located in St. Augustine, Florida, the nation's oldest city first settled by the Spaniards), that I learned about it in one of my classes. 

Pilgrims walking the busy streets on the Spanish Camino |  <i>Cathy MacAulay-Spencer</i>

I started out as an accounting major, but ended up taking a Spanish language class and fell in love with the language and all things Spanish. I took on Spanish as a second major, and graduated with dual majors in Business Administration and Spanish. I worked for a financial firm for a number of years servicing our Hispanic clients. 

After the birth of my first baby, I left the firm and became a stay at home mom. I'm sure this is probably more information than you care to know, but I want to demonstrate how all of these experiences converged to mould me into the person I've become and how it's led me to something I feel very passionate about.

Once my daughter started school, I "fell into" a teaching position at a middle school teaching both math and Spanish. It was during this period I stumbled upon the movie "The Way." 

  
I ended up watching it so many times because each time I watched it, I'd take away something different I hadn't realized the previous time I watched it. I guess you could say the movie had a transforming effect on my life. 

I felt incredibly inspired by the movie and became so passionate about "El Camino de Santiago" that I dove deeper into its history and created a unit for my middle school Spanish classes. At the end of the unit, I've shown "The Way" as a culminating activity (with edits). My kids have all loved it. Now I'm teaching high school and showing it again in my classroom. 

Hiking the Camino in Spain |  <i>Edwina Parsons</i>

Throughout the years, my teaching unit has transformed and each time I teach it, it feels like I'm doing it for the first time. The movie has given me so much valuable insight, knowledge and motivation to break out of society's "chains" and live---really and truly live my life. The movie does an excellent job capturing the essence of the Basque people and showcasing the rich culture of Northern Spain. 

Every time I watch this movie, I feel more and more motivated to walk The Camino. 

I never make it through without my eyes welling up with tears because it evokes such an emotional response. Some of my favorite scenes are at El Alto del Perdon [The Height of Forgiveness], and one of the most beautiful quotes I've ever heard is "Donde se cruza el camino del viento con el de las estrellas" [Where the path of the wind meets the path of the stars].

Exploring Alto Del Perdón while walking the Camino Trail |  <i>Scott Kirchner</i>

I love the scene of the gentleman who offers his home as a place of refuge to peregrinos [pilgrims] hiking The Camino and the fellowship enjoyed by peoples of different ethnicities around the large outdoor table (this is very typical in Spain). 

The scene at La Cruz de Ferro gets me every time as the characters in the movie leave their stones at the foot of the cross to unload their burdens. The scene at the cathedral in Santiago de Compostela never ceases to amaze me as I'm astonished by its grandeur. 

The iconic Santiago de Compostela as seen from the Camino de Invierno (Winter Way). |  <i>Adolfo Enríquez</i>

The comradery shared by peregrinos on the way is a testament to how people should treat one another. I truly can say this movie is the best I've ever seen, and it motivates me to hike El Camino Frances. 

The Camino is calling, and I must go!

 


 
Walk the Full Spanish Camino (the route they take in the film)
View all Camino de Santiago trips.
 
 

 

Were you inspired by The Way to walk the Camino de Santiago? Or did you have a different influence? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.

  
 

Watch: Portuguese Camino to Santiago de Compostela

Watch: travel inspiration for the Portuguese Camino to Santiago de Compostela

The traditional Portuguese Camino route is beautiful and packed with history. If you like to get a taster of it before you set off yourself, watch the below video. 

The more spiritually connected of all of the Camino routes to Santiago, the Portuguese Way brings walkers and cyclists a quieter and flatter experience. Portugal is where the apostle St James, whose tomb is at Santiago Cathedral, first preached and many believe that his final journey to Santiago took him through Portugal. Today, the circumstances have somewhat upgraded and you can have your accommodation, meals, luggage transfers, maps & route directions all organised for you with complete backup and support while on your trip. 

Starting in Lisbon, the Portuguese Way leads through delightful cities such as Porto, Coimbra, and Ponte de Lima. Or there is the even quieter coastal way to follow on foot or by bike. 

Whathever way you prefer to travel, get inspired with the stunning Portuguese Way video below.

 

Portuguese Way Travel Video

 
Whether you prefer to focus on the food or history, are keen to cycle or want to complete the entire length of the Camino Portuguese, choose the right trip along the Camino for you.
 
 

 
Have you walked or cycled the Camino Portuguese? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.
 
Watch: Cycling through Umbria from Florence to Rome

Watch: Cycling through Umbria from Florence to Rome

There is a serene pleasure to be experienced while cycling through the pretty backroads that link Florence to Rome. 
 
It's a cycle journey through the 'green heart' of Italy, from the enchanting city of Florence to the nation's capital Rome. The contrasts are very noticeable as you leave behind Tuscany and arrive in the peaceful and mystical Umbria. 
 
As you cycle approximately 290km you will see cities like Assisi, Perugia, Spoleto and Terni, displaying an incredible wealth of art treasures, which take their visitors back to the Middle Ages. The cities have barely changed over the centuries and the rolling landscape dotted with vineyards and hilltop towns will give you an appreciation of why the area is so popular with painters. 
 
On mostly backroads the route winds through the valleys of the Apennines and gentle hills near to Trasimeno Lake. At the end, the Eternal City of Rome awaits you, a fitting end to this exhilarating Italian journey by bike.
 
Watch the video below, then enjoy it for yourself on the self-guided Florence to Rome by Bike tour.
 
 
 

Rating: 

Terrific trip, astounding history, great riding, hilly, but satisfying riding and visiting. Highly recommend (but would do the trip when it wasn’t so hot!)

C. Church | Cambridge, New Zealand

 
 
 

 
Do you want to go for a bike holiday in Umbria? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.
 
  
UK Trip Closures May 2022
This year we are seeing exceptional interest in our UK trails from walkers & cyclists from around the world. We’ve used the word before, it’s unprecedented and we have now closed our UK trips for May. We’ve come to a point that there simply are no more beds to be found. 
The rest of the year is highly popular as well, so do get in touch now if you have your boots laced up and are ready to hit the trails. 
 
 

Want to Explore In May?

Fear not, there are a few options in case you would like to explore the UK in May and June.
 
If you’re an English Lake District enthusiast, consider our Keswick: Lake District Centre Based Walking trip. Our team have pre-walked a series of routes for you that you can follow at your own leisure, or combine them with relaxing by lake Derwent Water or taking part in some of the other outdoor activities that this ‘adventure capital of the UK’ is home to. 
 
For coastal walking in the UK, you can travel along the Channel Island Way for your May or June break. Walk in the footsteps of Victor Hugo, Renoir and Queen Victoria. 
 
Get in touch with our team in London to discuss about your travel plans and current availability.
 
Fancy New Barge on the Danube River

Fancy New Barge on the Danube River

Fans of bike and barge holidays in Europe rejoice - there's a premium new barge in town that needs to be introduced. View stylish photos and read about the features of the classy MS Swiss Crown below.

The MS Swiss Crown will be used on:
Swiss Crown Swiss Crown Double Cabin with window Restaurant Entrance Swiss Crown
 
Stylish, elegant and timelessly beautiful - this is how the 4-star Superior ship MS Swiss Crown presents itself as it glides gently along the Danube river. 
 
Designed in warm wood tones, the ship radiates a comfort that makes you feel at home. The simple elegance of the timelessly beautiful staterooms, which are decorated with great attention to detail, will inspire you. 
 
Bar and lounge on the Swiss Crown Boat Lobby on board the Swiss Crown Boat Danube Swiss Crown Double Cabin with Balcony
 
Sit back, enjoy the serene, relaxed atmosphere, the panoramic views of breathtakingly beautiful natural landscapes, sometimes from the bicycle seat, sometimes from the inviting, partially covered sun deck. Let yourself be pampered by the friendly, accommodating crew and create on board relationships alongside memories to last a lifetime.
 
Swiss Crown Restaurant Sundeck on the Swiss Crown Danube boat Bar and lounge on the Swiss Crown Boat

The restaurant is situated on the middle deck (Ruby Deck) and serves buffet breakfast, buffet lunch and dinner. The panoramic bar gives guests the perfect place to socialise, while the sauna, steam bath and whirlpool on the upper desk are the best place to be after a day of cycling.
 
Welness Centre on board the Swiss Crown Whirlpool on the Swiss Crown Danube Boat Minisuite Cabin on board the Swiss Crown

There are 29 cabins with a balcony, 26 with sliding windows and 14 cabins on the lower deck - all cabins are beautifully appointed. Cabins are 14 m2 (single cabin is 12m2)."
 
Swiss Crown Double Cabin with window Bathroom in cabin on board the Swiss Crown Double berth cabin on board the Swiss Crown
 
The MS Swiss Crown will be used on:
 

Have you been on a bike and barge tour in Europe before? What was it like? Let us know in the comment section below.
 
  
Food Lover's France with Mary Moody

Food Lover's France with Mary Moody

 
The beloved Australian gardener, author and guide, Mary Moody, will be taking a small group on an active culinary tour of France. Her passion for the region is sure to flow into her guided walking holiday of the French Way of St James.
 
Get reacquainted with Mary’s biography and discover what gastronomic delights you can expect to savour on her Food Lover’s French Way of St James below.
 
Author, gardener and presenter Mary Moody
 

Tour Leader, Mary Moody

 
Mary trained as a journalist on Australian Women's Weekly in the late 1960s and spent several years as a reporter and feature writer on various Sydney magazines and newspapers.

In the 1970s she moved to Leura in the Blue Mountains with her young family and became a passionate organic gardener. She used her journalistic skills to write and edit more than forty gardening books and magazines, and for ten years she was the NSW presenter on the ABC's top-rating show Gardening Australia.
 
In 2000 Mary spent six months living alone in a small room in a medieval town in southwest France. At the end of her sabbatical, she bought a nearby village house in Frayssinet-le-Gelat that she still visits every year. She wrote four memoirs about her experiences as an Australian woman living part-time in France, as well as a cookbook and several new gardening books.
 
Her passions are still family, food, gardening and travel. She leads tours in France and the Himalayas and has written a book and made a film on a local rural French restaurant, 'Lunch with Madame Murat', for the SBS Network. Mary’s latest book, The Accidental Tour Guide, is a powerful memoir of love, loss and discovery.
 
The Accidental Tour Guide | Mary Moody |  <i>Mary Moody</i>

After the death of her husband David Hannay in 2014, Mary sold the farm where they had lived for 15 years and moved back to the Mountains where she is developing a large garden in an extended family home with her son Ethan, his partner Lynne and their three children. She now has eleven grandchildren.
 

The Food Lover’s French Way of St James
 

This French trip is the freshest addition to UTracks’ menu of guided 'Food Lover's' walks (there’s also a tour to Spain). It’s destined to appeal to a wide range of palates and combines spectacular walking with well-deserved fine dining. 
 
Traditional dish on the Le Puy Way |  <i>Mary Moody</i>
 
Accompanied by Australian author Mary Moody, whose love affair with the cuisine and landscapes of south-west France has seen her make her second home directly on the Camino trail, this exquisitely crafted and zesty itinerary captures the essence of the Way of St James pilgrimage and the many culinary delights to be found along the way. 
 
Ancient packhorse bridge now bypassed by road
 
Beginning in Le Puy en Velay in the Auvergne, the journey on foot is a rich sensory experience taking in the best sections of the Camino between Le Puy and St Jean Pied de Port, including time in the historic and beautiful towns of Conques, Rocamadour, Saint-Come d'Olt and Saint-Cirque-Lapopie. Most days include walks for 10-15kms and each night you'll stay in atmospheric accommodations ranging from restored convents to countryside inns and family-run hotels.
 
A pleasing combination of walking and bus travel in a wonderful rural area of France.  Under the guidance of Mary Moody we walked the hills, and the cobble stoned streets of some historic and beautiful villages. Le Puy en Velay and the volcanic countryside surrounding is a wonderful sight to behold.  Conques, Cahors and Rocamadour  were magical destinations. Mary very generously gave us an insight into living in rural France, taking us to her local market , to lunch at a local restaurant, and then giving us afternoon tea at her village house in Frayssinet-le-Gelat. The end destination of Biarritz came too soon. E. Ward, Australia
 
The foodie highlights are endless, with tastings of delectable cheeses, wines and truffles, interspersed with the rustic cooking style for which the region is renowned. There’s four included lunches, including an intimate lunch at a small 100-year-old family restaurant which is featured in Mary's book 'Lunch with Madame Murat'; truffle hunting demonstrations at an orchard; wine and Armagnac tastings; farmer’s market visits; and 10 included fine dining dinners that include a Michelin-starred restaurant. 
 
Sampling the local French cuisine with Mary Moody |  <i>Mary Moody</i>
 

The Food Lover’s French Way of St James is a full-bodied experience that deserves to be sampled. For more information, visit the trip details page or call our friendly travel experts who can help you with any questions.
 
Do you have a favourite Mary Moody memory? Let us know in the comments.

Don't forget to share this article with any Francophile friends!

 
Watch: Walking Sicily's Magna Via Francigena

Watch: Sicily's Magna Via Francigena Trail

If you're a fan of getting off the beaten track, it's likely that Sicily's Magna Via Francigena will appeal to you. 
 
Like the Camino de Santiago in Spain or the Via Francigena trail on mainland Italy, the Magna Via Francigena is an ancient pilgrimage trail where you'll still feel a great sense of achievement, enjoy a strong community spirit, and get to become immersed in the local relaxed pace of like. However, because the Magna Via Francigena is on the island of Sicily, it does attract fewer walkers. This is what makes it quite a remarkable experience.
 
The hilltop town of Cammarata on the Magna Via Francigena in Sicily Palermo Cathedral is the starting point of the Magna Via Francigena in Sicily Fabulous scenery on the Magna Via Francigena in Sicily
 
The Magna Via Francigena, or il Cammino di Sicilia, according to the locals, is a pilgrimage route to be covered on foot. It's a 160km long historical, naturalistic and cultural itinerary that connects the two extreme coasts, Palermo and Agrigento. In the middle of the island lies the wonder: trails of nature, hidden paths, crowded villages and enchanting places that evoke ancient times and popular traditions in their streets.
 
National Geographic recently walked the Magna Via Francigena and wrote a detailed article on their experiences. Read it here.
 

Watch the Magna Via Francigena

Watch the official Magna Via Francigena film below. It's all in Sicilian but the wonderfully bubbly language just adds to the romance of the route.
 
 
 
 
 

 
Do you want to walk the Magna Via Francigena? Let us know in the comment section. 
 
 
  
Prague To Dresden Cycle: Be In It

Prague to Dresden Cycle: Be In It

Enjoy an Active Travel Holiday through the Czech Republic and Germany 


At UTracks, we are firm believers in the benefits of active travel. After all, it’s what we’re all about.

Active travel isn’t just about the joys of cruising down paths on a bike or letting endorphins wash over you after a rewarding day of walking in Europe. 

There are health benefits for yourself (holidays don’t have to be an out of shape experience!); economic benefits for the country you’re visiting (spread your tourism dollars to ‘off the beaten track’ places that don’t typically receive it); a lower environmental impact (utilising foot/pedal power) and ultimately you have a better travel experience as you explore a more authentic side of your destination. 
 

This is why we encourage travellers to take active holidays. Learn more about our Travel: Be In It campaign here.
 

Prague To Dresden Cycle: Be In It


For this Travel: Be In It holiday, we’re focusing on exploring the countryside of the superb Czech Republic by bike.
 
There are 4 similar versions of this trip:
> Prague to Vienna Self-Guided Cycle

In this article, we're featuring on the Prague to Dresden Guided Cycle. This is a 7 day guided cycle that explores two countries: Germany and the Czech Republic.
 

Four Reasons How the Prague to Dresden Guided Cycle Trip Adds to Your Travel Experience.

 

1. See More of the Czech Republic Beyond Prague


Ask yourself – can you name a place in the Czech Republic other than Prague? The Czech Republic is a hot tourist destination in Europe and every year seems to see record breaking numbers of foreign visitors, with 10.6 million in 2018, almost equal to the country's population. Of this, 6.7 million people (63%) visit Prague. This statistic includes all foreigners (i.e. including other Europeans) and we're guessing if it was overseas travellers like Australians and Americans, this percentage would be even higher, This boom in tourism for Prague has unfortunately led to the adverse effects of overtourism, like needing to regulate Airbnb rentals.

This is not to say Prague isn’t worth seeing; it’s a delightful medieval city with the world’s largest ancient castle and its historic Old Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

On the Prague to Dresden Guided Cycle, we discover lesser known towns such as Melnik (in the heart of Czech wine region), Litomerice (a royal city considered one of the most beautiful in the country) and Decin (a lovely city split by the Elbe River that features the recently restored Decin Castle).

Cycle to picturesque Melnik, the heart of the Czech wine region
 

2. Explore the Countryside by Bike


Cycling in the Czech Republic is fairly relaxed and gentle, with the cycle paths generally paved and the terrain quite flat because it follows the splendid Elbe River in sections. Of the five days of cycling, you can expect to pedal between 25 to 70km a day (16 to 44 miles). There are some hilly stretches on day 2 from Prague to Melnik. We consider this trip as suitable for beginners and children with a good level of fitness.

According to our honest Trip Grading System, we rate this holiday as Grade 2: Introductory to Moderate

If you are a competent cyclist but want an extra zoom zoom on your journey, there are also electric bikes available. 

A happy cyclist following timeless river landscapes to Dresden
 

3. Bohemian Nature is Good for the Soul


The Prague to Dresden cycle journeys through the western Czech region of Bohemia, the largest and most historical part of the Czech Republic.

The Elbe River is claimed to be one of Europe’s most spectacular but underrated rivers, as “the river rises from a bubbling spring of crystal water high in the beautiful Bohemian mountains, winding through silent forests before splashing down the rock face near a pine-scented hiking trail.” 

On the day you cross the Czech border into Germany, there’s time to explore the Czech-Saxon Switzerland National Park and to discover the many rocky passes, deep gorges and rugged hills of this area. The highlight is the impressive Pravcicka Gate, the biggest natural rock bridge in Europe.

The traditional spas of Germany’s Bad Schandau are a must-do activity and the perfect way to unwind after a day outdoors. There are many spas in Bad Schandau, with some featuring panoramic views of the river and forests while you relax in their wellness centres.

Visit the Pravcická Gate, the biggest natural rock bridge in Europe
 

4. After a day of cycling, the food and wine tastes so much better!


Dine on some of Central Europe’s most indulgent foods and drinks – guilt free! After a day of pedalling you’ll have worked up an appetite and on the Prague to Dresden trip will satisfy your cravings.

We visit the heart of the Czech wine region in Melnik, which is renowned for its pinot noir. For beer lovers, the Czech Republic is home to the world’s biggest beer drinkers at 142.4 litres per capita, and they love to knock back pilsners like Pilsner Urquell, Kozel and the original Budweiser (yes, predating the American version!). For non-alcoholic beverages, you can sample the local compot, a sweet drink made with fruit, water and sugar. 

Food-wise, you can sample hearty meals typical for Central Europe. Try roast pork or beef with potato dumplings; thick, creamy stews filled with vegetables and meats; or fried mushroom side dishes. And for dessert you can’t miss the apple strudel – on an active holiday, you’ve earned it.

Stop for refreshments after hiking to the Falcon's Nest
 

Experience this trip for yourself: 
 
 
Have you been to the Czech Republic or Germany before? Would you consider another trip to experience Central Europe on an active holiday? Let us know in the comments, we love to hear from our readers.
 
Lesser known islands in the British Isles

From vibrant waterfront towns to dramatic coastlines, the British Isles offer a diversity of culture, history and landscapes that lend well to active holidays. With over 6,000 islands to choose from, we’ve narrowed the list down to seven of our favourites islands in the British Isles.

  Isle of Wight

The Isle of Wight

Located in the English Channel, the Isle of Wight is the largest and second most populous island in England. Known for its dramatic white cliffs and stunning beaches, over half of the island has been designated as an area of outstanding natural beauty. This island is a dream destination for families, foodies and active travellers. 

 

The Holy Island of Lindisfarne

This island and picturesque village is full of history and wildlife. The causeway that links to the mainland is only exposed at low tide, cutting itself off to the mainland twice-daily. Lindisfarne Castle and Priory, which was raided by Vikings in the eight century, are amongst the region’s most revered treasures. 

:: Discover Holy Island on one of our St Cuthbert’s Way walks

 
Cycling in Jersey, one of the Channel Islands

Channel Islands

Sprinkled off the coast of France but officially a dependency of the British Crown, the Channel Islands are comprised of eight permanently inhabited islands. Sandy beaches, ruins of old castles and quaint whitewashed villages provide a glimpse of the traditional British lifestyle that some say can no longer be found on the mainland.  All islands offer gorgeous dramatic coastlines and historic harbours, which were occupied in World War II. With mild winters, warm summers and long hours of sunshine, the Channel Islands make for an ideal year-round destination. 

:: View our Channel Island walking and cycling holidays

 

Dursey Island

One of the few inhabited islands off the southwest coast of Ireland, this peaceful island has only a handful of semi-permanent residents. The most popular way to access the island is by Ireland's only cable car and the only cable car in Europe that crosses open sea water. With no shops or restaurants Dursey Island offers a unique experience with spectacular views of the Beara peninsula. It is said that Monks from Skellig Rock founded the ancient church of Kilmichael on Dursey, which is now a ruin.  

 

Tobermory on the Island of Mull

Island of Mull

Only accessible by boat, The Isle of Mull is home to some of the finest and most varied scenery in the Inner Hebrides. The whale-watching and dolphin-spotting opportunities make a visit to the island unforgettable. The main town, Tobermory, is full of colourful waterfront buildings and yachts. Legend has it one of the Spanish Armada ships sank here in 1588 carrying gold bullion. 

:: Visit the Island of Mull on our Scotland by bike and boat trip  

  Cregneash Folk Village on the Isle of Man

Isle of Man

Permanently settled by Celts, the Isle of Man’s history echoes through the ages. With ancient monuments, medieval castles and designated dark sky sites, the island is full of character. It’s also home to the world’s largest working waterwheel and where the Manx cat originated. 

:: Circumnavigate the island on our popular Isle of Man Coastal Path: The way of the seagull trip

 
Contact us for more information about our range of walking and cycling holidays in the islands of the British Isles.
My Experiences of a Crete Walking Tour

My Experiences of a Crete Walking Tour

 
Crete is one of the most famous Greek Islands and, if you like walking, you should put this gem on your ‘must do’ list. The largest island in Greece, Crete has it all – beautiful scenery, traditional towns, great swimming and fantastic food. What’s more, it is easy to reach, with frequent, affordable and direct flights in and out of Chania from Athens and all over Europe. 
 
Jaclyn put together this post for us about her walking holiday in Crete, full of travel tips, walking highlights, food recommendations and plenty of evocative material to aid your daydreams. 
 
Walking through Samaria Gorge in Crete
 
Something feels a bit secret about Crete, like the rest of the world hasn’t yet recognised how beautiful and authentic it is. Santorini is famed for its stunning blue and white domed buildings set deep in the side of the volcanic cliffs, but it’s one of the world’s worst kept secrets, and visitors will likely find themselves shuffling through crowds with their selfie sticks – not so in Crete. Aside from the very famous Samaria Gorge, we rarely saw others while walking in Crete. 
 
Lissos Beach in Crete
 
The great delight for me was the variety of the walks. On our self guided Crete: Mountains and Coast walk, we explored the western side of Crete through two coastal walks, a mountain ascent and three different gorge walks – my favourite leading us to the ancient ruins of Lissos and on to a tiny hidden bay accessible only on foot or by boat. 
 
All of the walks were well sign-posted and the route notes were informative and easy to follow, however there is little shade so long sleeve shirts, wide brim hats and plenty of water are essential if you’re walking in summer. 
 
Loutro harbour in Crete
 
Staying in small family-owned and run accommodations gave the trip a really authentic feel. My favourite was the Blue House in Loutro run by two very funny and warm-hearted brothers. After only a two night stay we exchanged hugs goodbye and from us, a promise to return. 
 
The Blue House is right on the curve of the prettiest blue sea beach you can imagine; the water laps at your feet as you dine at the hotel’s restaurant and sailing boats bob in front of you. The simple, comfortable rooms have large balconies – I couldn’t wait to get out of bed each morning and step out onto the balcony to take in the spectacular view. The salty water is so clear that you can see the pebbled seabed below. 
 
I could happily have stayed another day or two, maybe to hire a kayak, take a water taxi to a surrounding beach or just bar hop at sunset along the small waterfront dining area. A helpful tip is to always have some cash with you as there is no ATM in Omolos, Agia Roumeli or Loutro, although the hotels and bars are happy to take payment by credit card. 
 
On the trail to the summit of Mt Gingilos
 
The most challenging day for me was the ascent of Mount Gingilos. It started off simply enough, a slow zig zag up towards the saddle – lots of rock and gravel underfoot meant we really had to watch our footing. From the saddle there are two summits. Using hands from time to time to get up to the first summit I then saw the large boulders I had to climb over to get to the true second summit and had a moment of panic. I am certainly no rock climber but my travelling companion assured me it would be worth it and he was right.
 
Reaching the summit felt exhilarating and I was so happy I’d pushed myself out of my comfort zone and summitted one of the highest peaks on Crete (1980m). For those not keen to continue to the summit you can just enjoy the walk as far as the saddle, which still boasts its excellent views. We celebrated with an ice cold beer back at the trail head, looking up in amazement at where we’d been to that day. The feeling of elation stayed with me for several days; it was a true highlight of my short time walking in Crete.
 
Fresh Seafood in Crete
 
Another highlight was the food: lots of fresh fish, grilled meats, salads with juicy red tomatoes and locally made feta cheese, and tasty vegetable dishes stuffed with rice and herbs. There are 130 wild herbs and flowers found only in Crete, with the most common varieties being mint, thyme and oregano. While all the food was wonderful, I would recommend dinner at a restaurant called ‘Rebetiko Taverno’ in Sougia – we loved it so much we went there two nights in a row.
 
 
> Learn more about the self guided Crete: Mountains and Coast tour
> Want a small group guided tour instead? View the Crete: Mountains and Coast Guided Walk tour
 
>> View all Crete holidays
>> To find out more about our range of walking and cycling holidays in Greece, click here.
 
Are you keen to explore Crete now? Let us know in the comments!
 
  
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<img src='/portals/World%20Expeditions/Icons/brands/small/WB.jpg?v2' class='brandPopoverIcon' alt="Walkers’ Britain"> <div class='brandPopoverBrandName'>Walkers' Britain</div>
Walkers' Britain (formerly Sherpa Expeditions) have specialised in walking and cycling trips in the United Kingdom and Europe since 1973. Explore iconic trails and destinations on a self guided or small group active holiday with Walkers' Britain.
<img src='/portals/World%20Expeditions/Icons/brands/small/TAS.jpg' class='brandPopoverIcon' alt="Tasmania Expeditions"> <div class='brandPopoverBrandName'>Tasmanian Expeditions</div>
Tasmanian Expeditions is the most experienced operator of treks and adventure travel holidays in Tasmania. We own and operate the most comprehensive range of adventure holidays available across Tasmania's varied landscapes.
<img src='/portals/World%20Expeditions/Icons/brands/small/UTX-new.jpg' class='brandPopoverIcon' alt="Utracks"> <div class='brandPopoverBrandName'>UTracks</div>
UTracks are the active European holiday specialists. Whether you prefer cycling or walking, 2-star or 4-star, small groups or self guided, land, river or sea – UTracks can help you to explore Europe exactly the way you want.
<img src='/portals/World%20Expeditions/Icons/brands/small/WYA.jpg' class='brandPopoverIcon' alt="World Expeditions Schools"> <div class='brandPopoverBrandName'>World Expeditions Schools</div>
World Expeditions Schools is our specialist division dedicated to organising tailor made overseas school group adventures. Specialists in Service Learning projects, choose from more destinations than any other school group provider.
<img src='/portals/World%20Expeditions/Icons/brands/small/YOM.jpg' class='brandPopoverIcon' alt="Yomads"> <div class='brandPopoverBrandName'>Yomads</div>
Yomads offers adventures for the 20s and 30s on six continents. Designed as a way to bring young and likeminded travellers together, Yomads caters to those interested in lightly structured and active trips that allow freedom to roam and explore.
<img src='/portals/World%20Expeditions/Icons/brands/small/ACT.jpg' class='brandPopoverIcon' alt="Australian Cycle Tours"> <div class='brandPopoverBrandName'>Australian Cycle Tours</div>
Australian Cycle Tours specialises in high quality self guided and guided cycling experiences in a selection of the most beautiful regions in Australia.
<img src='/portals/World%20Expeditions/Icons/brands/small/WEX.jpg' class='brandPopoverIcon' alt="World Expeditions"> <div class='brandPopoverBrandName'>World Expeditions</div>
The pioneers of original, worldwide adventure travel holidays since 1975
<img src='/portals/World%20Expeditions/Icons/brands/small/TJX.jpg' class='brandPopoverIcon' alt="Trail Journeys"> <div class='brandPopoverBrandName'>Trail Journeys</div>
Self-guided cycling experts on New Zealand's Otago Rail Trail and more
<img src='/portals/World%20Expeditions/Icons/brands/small/BMAC.jpg' class='brandPopoverIcon' alt="Blue Mountains Adventure Company"> <div class='brandPopoverBrandName'>Blue Mountains Adventure Company</div>
The original Blue Mountains canyoning, hiking, climbing and abseiling experts
<img src='/portals/World%20Expeditions/Icons/brands/small/GWNZ.jpg' class='brandPopoverIcon' alt="Great Walks of New Zealand"> <div class='brandPopoverBrandName'>Great Walks of New Zealand</div>
Explore New Zealand's most spectacular wilderness regions with the self-guided hiking experts
<img src='/portals/World%20Expeditions/Icons/brands/small/NAA.jpg' class='brandPopoverIcon' alt="North America Active"> <div class='brandPopoverBrandName'>North America Active</div>
USA Canada hiking & cycling tour specialists, choose from self-guided or guided trips