Rodialos is a very special holiday villa. Built around a small patio shaded by a pomegranate tree, it is a place filled with light and energy, while exuding an atmosphere of calm and optimism. Large windows look out over the sea and doors open to terraces all around. The sea is just 40 metres away; there are steps down the steep rocks to the water. There are four simply furnished bedrooms (one master bedroom with an open-plan bathroom and three double rooms that share two bathrooms with shower) and a huge, beautiful, open-plan living space. Life at Rodialos is about being outside, enjoying the company of your hosts, preparing food and eating it. Mary is an expert cook who loves to guide her guests through the world of Cretan cuisine. Organic veggies and herbs grow in the garden, and you can join Mary when she goes shopping in the local street markets. Her cooking classes vary from simple explanations while enjoying the healthy and delicious food, to full-week workshops that will turn you into a Cretan food expert. There are also yoga workshops, massage, concerts and dances. Nothing is set or standard at Rodialos. If you are in the mood for an alternative kind of holiday, just tell Mary what you have in mind and see will work something out.
Open plan bathroom in the master bedroom
The other 3 rooms share 2 bathrooms with shower.
Fully equipped kitchen
Mary is an expert cook and loves to guide her guests through the world of Cretan cuisine. If you follow her cooking seminars, you can help her harvest organic veggies and herbs from her garden and join her when she goes shopping in the local street markets for the few things her own garden doesn’t produce. Her cooking classes vary from simple explanations while enjoying the healthy and delicious food, to full-week workshops that will turn you into a Cretan food expert. If you sign up for these, breakfast and the meal you cook together are included. If you rent the house independently, you will find the kitchen stocked with breakfast ingredients, and of course you are free to harvest some produce from the kitchen garden. And when you don’t feel like cooking, you have a good choice of restaurants in the village of Panormos.
Children are welcome at Rodialos and they will enjoy the space in and around the house. Keep in mind thought that young children should not be left unsupervised as there are some steep cliffs plunging down into the sea. You can take your little ones to the a small sandy beach close to the house (not an amazing beach, but nice for swimming) and there are other, child-friendly beaches (some organised with umbrellas) within easy (car) reach. Your kids will enjoy the mildly lively atmosphere of the village of Panormos with its little tourist shops and boutiques, little cafés and seaside tavernas.
Swimming and beaches
If you love swimming in the sea you are in the right place. The coast (right!) in front of the house is rocky, normally making access to the water hard, but a (steep) flight of stairs take you down to the rocks from where you can get into the sea. There also is a small beach a short stroll away. In Panormos, a 15-minute walk away, there are several small sandy beaches with shallow waters – ideal for children – and beach loungers and umbrellas for lazy grown-ups. Drive 10-15 minutes west for long stretches of sandy beach (some parts rather busy and built-up, other parts quieter), or head south for some for some really great beaches. You need 1 – 1.5 hour to drive to some of the most stunning beaches in Crete. You have probably seen pictures of the famous Preveli Beach at the exit of the Kourtaliotikos Gorge (with a palm tree grove and a beautiful river). It tends to get crowded in July and August, but nevertheless, it is a must-see. Other fantastic beaches include Skanaria Beach and Triopetra Beach (or the Melissa Cape sand hills).
For scuba diving walk over to the resort hotel on the way to Panormos, which houses a diving centre. There’s a kids programme in the pool (from 8 years and up), as well as courses for beginners (from 10 years and up) and advanced levels, and dives for experienced divers.
Cooking classes and seminars
Learn the ins and outs of Cretan cuisine. Mary is an expert, and organises cooking classes and seminars (of up to seven days) on request. Fresh produce is harvested from her organic vegetable garden and bought at local open-air food markets, and then transformed into dishes that are both healthy and delicious. The style is based on the oldest Cretan traditions, but always executed with creative twists.
The Old Town of Rethymno
The historical town of Rethymno is only half an hour by car – go visit! You will enjoy strolling through the cobbled pedestrian streets exploring small shops selling anything from spices and traditional products to beautiful handmade jewellery, art and fashion. Have a drink in the old port, and if you stay for dinner, pick a restaurant in the backstreets. Visit the Venetian Fortezza and the Archaeological Museum next to it (small but worth it). If you have time, also check out the Museum of Historical and Folk Art and the Museum of Contemporary Art.
Walking and hiking
Move away from the coast and go for walks in the beautiful hilly countryside. From the village of Choumeri (11 km away), you can catch up with the E4 walking trail. Drive a bit further, to the village of Koxare (22 km south of the town of Rethymno) from where you can trek (and swim) trough the 3 km Gorge of Kourtaliotis. The scenery with waterfalls, rock pools and palm trees is fantastic. Other beautiful gorges you can cross on foot include the one that starts just north of the Arkadi Monastery and ends close to the village of Pikris, and the gorge of Agios Antonios which starts north of the village of Patsos. You can also sign up for a one-day guided hike to the 2456m high peak of Mount Psiloritis (also know as Ida); the highest in Crete.
The Arkadi Monastery
Make an excursion to the historic monastery of Arkadi (30 min by car), a symbol of the Cretan resistance against the Turkish occupation. It’s famous for its dramatic history: in 1866 almost a thousand Cretans, mostly women and children, took refuge at the monastery. After a siege that lasted several days most of them died in an explosion of gunpowder.
Rent a bicycle from the village to explore the area, or sign up with Olympic Bike in the town of Rethymno for bike trekking (tours between 25 and 48 km) or even more demanding mountain bike tours (between 50 and 155 km). You can also go on a more relaxing tour on electric bicyles with eBikes Rethymno. Going uphill will be a lot easier.
Pottery and ceramics
Visit the pottery and ceramics shops of Margarites, a historical village 14 km from Rodialos. There are more than twenty shops, with styles ranging from Cretan traditional to playful and modern. There are quite a few places where you can see the artisans working; some also organise lessons or seminars.
Once a year Mary organises yoga retreats and language courses at Rodialos (contact her for dates), and she sometimes also hosts concerts and small cultural events. If there is anything in particular you would like her to organise for you, all you need to do is ask!
Rodialos is situated between the road and the sea, outside the village of Panormos. The sea is just 40 metres away and there are steps down the rocks to the sea, so unless it is very windy, you can swim in the sea right below the house. Otherwise you can walk a few minutes to a small beach. The village centre is about ten minutes on foot.
There are different ways to get to Crete. There’s an international airport at Heraklion another airport at Chania, and ferries from Piraeus arrive at Hania, Rethymno and Heraklion. Heraklion and Rethymno are closest to Rodialos, but Chania works too. Rodialos is about 800 metres west of Panormos (off the national highway about 20 km from Rethymno, or 55 km from Iraklion). The terracotta-coloured house sits all by itself and is hard to miss, but new arrivals are met in the village.
After 2 and a half weeks in Greece it was nice to have a chance to cook our own breakfast and not have to leave the place for dinner. The boys loved the chance to stay at a house. This was a great quiet spot. Very comfortable. Mary the owner gave us a tour of the place. We walked into town and a 2 great meals at the same place. We had breakfast out on the rocks on the morning we left. The surf was too strong, so the kids couldn’t swim but walking around the rocks was fun.