Home from home in Crete

This article, by Øyunn Bjånaes Hrasky, first appeared in the May 1998 issue of Interiør-Magasinet.

Rush hour in Crete

A Norwegian language version of this article is also available.

The small hamlet of Makrigialos lies on the south east coast of Crete on the Libyan Sea. Here you will find some of the best summer accommodation along a beautiful long beach - but be warned, this is not the place for parties and wild discos. This is a place where you can come to escape from stress and enjoy the local hospitality.

The four white houses are situated on the harbour front. These houses, with their white walls, blue widows, arched doors and balconies with natural wooden fences, could belong to any fairytale Greek village. In front of the houses are terracotta pots planted with geraniums, completing the picture. The houses are situated at the end of a beach with a small harbour in front, only 30 meters from the water where you can take a morning dip. The sea is clear and clean with pleasant temperatures day and night - usually 24-25°C until the middle of October.

Fresh bread for breakfast can be bought at the bakery not far from the houses. You can prepare lunch or dinner yourself, or you can enjoy a tasty meal in one of the many small tavernas in the village. For dinner we just loved the heavenly Moussaka with a touch of cinnamon, small deep fried sardines or crispy Calamari. As said before, the hospitality is wonderful and a 'nightcap' (raki) comes usually with the bill.

Makrigialos Touristiki is the name of the company run by Norwegian Gunnar Strømsholm. His company started to purchase the properties in 1979, with the last addition in 1988. The houses were basically in ruins and formerly used to store olive oil from the mountain villages before it was shipped out to Ierapetra or Sitia. Some of the houses date back 150 -200 years and the local planning office had to approve the restoration. First Gunnar was told to pull them all down and build new ones as these old houses were not that important, but the stubborn Norwegian got his permit in the end!

Like many of the Mediterranean islands, Crete is now overrun by mass tourism. Gunnar's wish was to create something special for the many tourists who wanted to spend their holiday in something different from a soulless hotel room. The architects Nikos Skoutelis and Flavio Zanon in Heraklion were contacted and the careful construction was started using local materials. The buildings have been furnished with local antiques and modern facilities.