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Zaros village is about as genuinely Greek as it comes - not surprising as the Plain of Messara is one of Crete's most fertile regjons, where the colours of the crops reflect the changing of the seasons and the circuit of the sun.
Zaros village is a hotch-potch of dilapidated shops and houses; half the wares spill out on to the road. But the shopping is great - provided you are looking for a ladder or a net for olive-picking or a spare part for your combine harvester. A few modest cafe bars and the odd taverna will cope noisily with your interior needs.
The attraction of Zaros for the tourist is its glorious view northwards to Mt Ida and the range of the White Mountains, the walking possibilities in the immediate countryside and the ease and speed with which you can drive to the important archaeological sites of Phaestos, Agia Triada and Gortys. The really keen can arrange for a guide to lead them to the Diktean Cave up in the mountains, legendary birthplace of Zeus.
The Hotel Idi, although having a slightly laid-back feel, has beautiful grounds with a large pool and brilliant flowers reaching for the skies from all round you. The best accommodation is in the discrete two-storey houses along the edge of the lush green lawns - try to leave the older main block for the one-night stands of visiting coach tours.
The bar in the garden is convenient and just next door there is an attractive restaurant owned by the hotel but not, it seems, actually run by it, where you can view your next plate of fish as it swims innocently round the large tank at the end of the room.
With good new roads over the final mountain range between the plain and the south coast, you can reach the sea and several good beaches easily within an hour. Heraklion town, airport and harbour are reached in much the same time.