Monday, 5 August 2013

Daytime coffee, evening drinks - Heraklion parks... with your dog

In the unofficial dog park by Kommeno Bendeni
In a previous post about the Venetian walls that circle the old city of Heraklion (13/06/2013), I intentionally left out the parks that surround the outside of the walls. These parks are some of the nicest, easiest places to go with your dog when you are in Heraklion.

We were living lose by to Eucalyptus Park, by the entrance to the city - Kommeno Bendeni - so this was our typical evening walk spot. Sometimes we'd wander up or down the walls first, other times head straight to the park. This spot is great for dog walking for four reasons:
1) All through the day, but especially in the evenings, one part of this park is full of dog walkers who let their dogs run free within a confined space. When Sage was a pup, she used to love playing with the other dogs there. She got a little more fussy as she got older, but still I liked her to have a lot of contact with other dogs
Sage with her old friend Drakos in park by Kommeno Bendeni

2) Just next to the dog park there is a wooded area with some fairly mature eucalyptus trees. These give a bit of shade in summer, and I've sheltered under them from the rain too. On days where I'd left it too late to take Sage for a walk anywhere else, we would always head to this park, to sit under the trees

3) They opened a cafe there, among the trees. This cafe means that more people are coming to the park, so that even late in the evening there were people and lights on - making me feel safer to walk Sage there. It's great to sit with friends, enjoying a beer, and watch our dogs run around under the trees. On weekend evenings in the summer, this place can get pretty busy and loud - I have been once with Sage when it was like this, but not sure she enjoyed herself much. The rest of the time they play quieter music and there is a relaxed atmosphere and mixed aged range of customers. You can also bring a picnic and eat at the picnic tables under the trees next to the cafe.
Eucalyptus Cafe in park by Kommeno Bendeni

Sage and Betty in park by Eucalyptus Cafe
4) This park is quite enclosed. It is situated in the 'moat' that ran around the outside of the walls, so on both sides the walls rise quite steeply. This makes it easier to let your dog run freely, and not to paic constantly about them running out onto a road, or leaving the park. There are three or four entrances, if you follow the outside of the wall.
Another great park to go to is Georgiadi, just off the central square Eleftherias. This park is surrounded by roads, so does not feel so safe and enclosed as Eucalyptus, but is arguably more dog-friendly in terms of the people who go there. There is always a huge mix of people at the cafe in the park, lots of families with children running around, students, some tourists, older generations. The music is always a bit subdued, a relaxing background noise rather than an imitation club. This cafe is open in the winter months too, weather permitting. In the summer, they stay open very late, depending on how many people are there. You can drink coffee, soft drinks or alcohol, and they serve a basic mixed meze plate - all at the lowest prices you can find in Heraklion.
Early evening at Georgiadi Park

Georgiadi Park

The park can get extremely busy during the summer, especially when they host festivals or concerts. A lot of people allow their dogs to roam freely - I used to until I saw that Sage was begging from other tables and some people were afraid and/or annoyed by her. Nowadays I keep her on a long lead by my side, and take her for short walks around the park when she gets bored.

There are always a  lot of friendly stray dogs hanging around waiting for scraps (or just attention), and often some brave cats too. This is a lovely, relaxing place for you and your dog, just bear in mind that the space is shared between dog-owners and child owners (and others of course), and this is a delicate balance that should be maintained by everybody.

Evening in Parko Georgiadi

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