Plaka is a traditional old village sat 70metres on a hill above Almyrida and has about 380 permanent residents. There are new houses around the original villages’ tiny streets and because of the picturesque square, the residents and their visitors tend to congregate in this area.
The residents in the area are of course mainly Greek but in the summer there’s usually more than a handful of English, Norwegian, German, and Danish sat outside in the square. These people are attracted because of the astounding mountain and sea views in the area and its nice relaxed and cosmopolitan atmosphere. Plaka is also only 2-3 minutes away from Almyrida, Kokkino Chorio and Kambia.
As a result, the two tavernas and two kafenions/cafes in the square are now thriving businesses that are open all year round. The village has one mini-market and a supermarket run by Kostas and his family. This is the best stocked supermarket in the area and like ‘Arkwright’s’ shop – its ‘open all hours’. Kostas is a cheery individual who will help you with anything and make the efforts to try to get you any item that you want and that he doesn’t currently stock.
Takis’ kafenion/cafe is very popular with both locals and non-Greeks– particularly in winter when he has sport on the two televisions in the bar. Taki – like many other local people – has benefited from the money that visitors and new residents put in to the local community.
The Cretans tend to give each other great ‘nick names’. I know a local electrician who has lost a lot of hair in the last 10 years or so. He now has a bald head with tufts of hair ‘around’ the sides – quite ‘monk-like’. He was introduced to me by a Greek friend as ‘Cabriolet’. When I looked confused – my friend simply said ‘open top’. Because of his success, Taki is generally referred to (by us, his customers) as ‘Taki Onassis’.
The Sunset taverna on the right side of the corner of the road from Plaka to Almirida as you leave is also well worth a visit for a good traditional meal. As the name implies, it’s best to visit in the evenings when the sun is going down over Almirida and at the end of Souda Bay – fantastic views.
If you wander through the old village down to the coast you will pass the Bicorna Cafe. This is family run bar/cafe / small hotel with a lovely garden and (hidden away) a great pool. The Goustis family – usually fronted by their daughter Melina – will make you very welcome. On Mondays, Helen who works for a Travel company finds the time to run a great quiz for those (usually quite a lot) who are seated outside by 8.15PM.
There are also a couple of other very nice cafes/bars on the way out of Plaka to Kokkino Chorio. Plaka is famous for the sunsets over Souda Bay, so these are great places to sit with a drink and admire the beautiful gardens around you and the views to sea.
At the end of July there is a great musical festival held in Plaka. The ‘Plakiana’ is in honour of Mikalis Papadakis – a famous Cretan lyre player who was born in the village.
The areas outside the village have retained their natural character well and are ideal for walks in the area. You can go down to the rocky coastline – via olive groves and many fields of vines - where there are great rock formations, caves and some beautiful bays. These are not beaches. There are very large rocks lining the coast and the villagers used to collect their natural sea salt from the hollows where the sea dried, leaving the deposits. Now, like me, I suspect the vast majority get their salt from Kostas!