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Top 10 Things to Try in Crete

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As the largest of all the Greek islands, it’s safe to say that you won’t be bored on a holiday to Crete. But what exactly does it have to offer besides its 650 miles of stunning coastline, turquoise waters and lashings of glorious Greek sunshine?

Read on for our 10 things you must try in Crete (raki optional!):

Wander Rethymnon Old Town

If you fancy a complete contrast to the island’s party resorts of Malia and Heraklion, Rethymnon Old Town awaits. Behind the pastel buildings that line the pretty harbour you’ll find a labyrinth of cobbled streets and tiny piazzas. It’s a fantastic place to visit a traditional taverna or pick up authentic souvenirs including handicrafts, olive oil products and unique jewellery.

Rethymnon
Image by Romtomtom via flickr

Tour the countryside on horseback

As well as endless beautiful beaches, Crete also has lots of lush countryside to explore. Saddling up for a tour on horseback is one of the best, and most eco-friendly, ways to see the island. The Stables in Finikia offer brilliant treks up into the mountains, through the countryside and along the beaches, followed by a homemade lunch at the farmhouse.

Horses
Image by Tilemahos Efthimiadis via flickr

Spa yourself silly!

Crete has become one of the top spa destinations in the Greek islands and there are hundreds to choose from catering to all budgets. Our favourites lie near Elounda on the east coast, where the views from the infinity pools to the cobalt Aegean Sea are to die for. The perfect place for a girls’ holiday and to relax and indulge.

Sunbathing Crete

Sip cocktails at a beach bar

You’ll find no shortage of cool clubs and swanky cocktail bars in Crete – why not take advantage of your island position and choose one with a sea view? The New York Beach Club or Palm Beach Club are both places to be seen in party hard Hersonissos, while those who want to escape the neon nights on Malia strip should head to the relaxed Beachcomber Bar five minutes away in Stalis. If you’re in Chania and fancy doing your drinking and dancing somewhere a little bit different, the Kibar, set in an atmospheric old monastery, mixes modern and traditional vibes for a memorable night out.

Cocktails
Image by Thomas Strosse via flickr

Party at a waterpark

If it’s just not a summer holiday without a trip to a waterpark, you’ll be spoilt for choice in Crete. Acqua Plus, Watercity and Limnoupolis Water Park all bring as many slides and splashes as you can handle. Star Beach Water Park in Hersonissos also offers waterpark action for the kids during the day, with a party vibe for the grown-ups after dark!

Pool at waterpark
Image by limnoupolis.gr

Try a traditional mezze

You can’t go to Crete without ordering a traditional Greek mezze at least once! The huge array of small plates usually includes fresh feta, olives, stuffed vine leaves, dips, salads and homemade breads and can be ordered at any taverna on the island. For a truly authentic mezze experience you should head to a bar rather than a restaurant. This is because mezze, meaning small plates, actually originated when small dishes of food were given out free with alcoholic drinks. Seek out a Kafeneion or an Ouzerie (traditional bars), order a carafe of wine or shot of the local fire water, and see what surprise selection of snacks you’re served!

Traditional Mezze dishes
Image by wikimedia

Go wild at Samaria Gorge

Samaria Gorge is a real playground for those who like to be active on holiday. The six(ish!)-hour hike along the river is definitely a challenge, but you’ll be rewarded at the end by a welcome drink in a waiting taverna, and a refreshing dip in the Aegean. The views from the mountainside are breathtaking, and you’ll pass wild goats, tiny villages and thick woodland as you go. A trek into true Crete.

Samaria Gorge
Image by Krzysztof Belczyński via flickr

Sail to Spinalonga island

A day on the crystal-clear waters is a must and there are lots of boat tours to choose from. We like the BBQ boat tour, which departs from the pretty harbour at Agios Nikalaos. Sail over to gorgeous Kolokitha Bay for a spot of snorkelling before enjoying a BBQ lunch on board. Then it’s on to historic Spinalonga island. Spinalonga was the last remaining leper colony and this former Venetian fortress and makes a fascinating (if a little spooky) day out!

Spinalonga Island
Image by George M. Groutas via flickr

Go wine and raki tasting – if you dare!

While cocktails in a beach bar or wine on a terrace might be more your usual style, when in Crete it’s almost obligatory to sample the local firewater, raki. Go easy though, at 40 – 65% proof, you won’t need many! Crete also has some fantastic wineries, if you prefer your tipple on the less flammable side! We really enjoyed http://vintagetourscrete.com/, which offers a range of culinary and wine tasting routes.

Bottle of raki
Image by George M. Groutas via flickr

Take a Segway Tour

For those who find regular walking tours a tad boring, but still want to be guided around the island’s best bits, a segway tour is a good compromise. Available in Chania and Rethymnon, segways are easy to ride and a fun way to take a quick tour of the sights.

Group on a segway tour

Image by Bill Abbott via flickr

 
 

Whatever type of holiday on Crete you’re after – relaxing, action-packed, cultured or a bit of everything – this whopper of a Greek island delivers in a big way.

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Two new Ebola cases in Liberia, seven weeks after country declared virus-free

Hours after Liberia reports its first Ebola death since 9 May, two more people test positive for the disease. An urgent contact tracing operation is under way

Two more people have tested positive for Ebola in Liberia, seven weeks after the country was declared free of the virus by the World Health Organisation.

They were tested after a 17-year-old male they lived with, who died on Sunday, was discovered to have had Ebola.

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Reports of English’s demise in US have been greatly exaggerated, experts say

News that US is now world’s second largest Spanish-speaking country belies the fact that America breeds English: ‘Spanish dominance, it’s not going to happen’

The news was striking and, to some, alarming: the United States is now the world’s second largest Spanish-speaking country after Mexico. It has 41 million native Spanish speakers and 11.6 million who are bilingual – more than Colombia or Spain – and is on course to be the biggest Spanish-speaking nation on Earth, with Spanish the mother tongue of almost a third of its citizens.

The study, published this week by Spain’s Instituto Cervantes, made global headlines and dismayed those in the US who fear linguistic pollution. “I thought we spoke ENGLISH here,” tweeted Scott Rogers, a Florida-based conservative blogger.

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Former NY Sen. Malcolm Smith Faces 10 Years In 2013 NYC Mayoral Election Bribery Scheme

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Federal prosecutors are asking that former Democratic state Sen. Malcolm Smith be sentenced to up to 10 years in prison after he was found guilty earlier this year in a scheme to bribe his way onto the ballot for the 2013 New York City mayoral election.

Smith and co-defendant Vincent Tabone, the former Queens Republican vice chairman, were scheduled to be sentenced Wednesday in federal court in White Plains. Prosecutors are asking for up to eight years for Tabone.

The two were convicted in February of crimes that included bribery conspiracy, wire fraud and extortion. When they were arrested, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said the case illustrated a “culture of corruption” in New York politics.

“Smith abused his position of public trust and encouraged others to do so for his own personal benefit. Tabone violated the trust placed in him by his fellow party members in an effort to enrich himself through quid pro quo bribery, and then brazenly tried to prevent the leader of his own party from testifying against him,” prosecutors said this week in asking for lengthy prison terms. They called the defendants’ conduct “truly egregious.”

Their convictions came the same week that longtime Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, a Manhattan Democrat, stepped down from his leadership post in the face of federal charges that he accepted nearly $4 million in payoffs and kickbacks.

In 2013, prosecutors said, Smith wanted to be mayor but also wanted to avoid a Democratic mayoral primary. So he instead decided to obtain the backing of Republican leaders in three boroughs, which would allow him to run for the GOP line, the indictment said. Prosecutors said he authorized bribes totaling about $200,000.

Jurors saw video recordings of transactions that prosecutors said were bribes, and they heard testimony from an FBI informant identified only as “Raj,” who had posed as a wealthy real estate developer and was in on meetings involving Smith and Republican leaders.

Of four other politicians who were arrested with Smith and Tabone, two have been convicted and two have pleaded guilty.

(TM and © Copyright 2015 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2015 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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The homely bookshop sells used English language books, plus works in Spanish and French, but it’s also a place to hang out with a cup of tea or glass of wine

Ten years ago, when I first moved to Madrid, I bought my English-language books at a secondhand bookshop in dusty Calle Campomanes. Then life got busy and I opened an Amazon account. Recently I was on Calle Campomanes and I passed my old bookshop. It now has lemon trees out front and a new name over the door: Desperate Literature.

The shop’s new owners are the born-again booksellers behind Atlantis Books on Santorini, Greece, and Book Thug Nation in Brooklyn, New York, and it’s lovingly managed by Charlotte and Terry, a Frenchwoman and a Yorkshire poet, both ex-employees of the famous Shakespeare and Company bookshop in Paris.

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The expected highs of 36C mean that London will likely be hotter today than plenty of the world’s sunshine spots, including Miami, LA, Rome, Hong Kong and Barcelona.

Predicting the weather can be a tricky business. Lichfield MP Michael Fabricant has more on how you can check how today will pan out.

With this scorching weather, it is essential to have accurate forecasting technology. pic.twitter.com/5kqMSm5yKa

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