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Crete Food Travel

Culinary trips around Chania

February 23, 2019

Do you love greek food? Which is your favourite dish?
A Swedish travel agency listed the list of ten popular Greek meze in their last campaign about Greek holiday dreams. And yes there are many options to choose when you are at the Greek restaurant….

  1. Manouri med koukounari Greek cream cheese with pine nuts.
  2. Fasolakia Cutting beans braised in tomato, onion and olive oil.
  3. Saganaki In short, a piece of deep-fried cheese. Measuring!
  4. Midia Green mussels on a rice bed. Grilled with garlic butter.
  5. Dolmathakia Wine dolm filled with rice, nuts and various spices. Also works to eat hot and cold.
  6. Feta med meli Filo dough filled with feta cheese, topped with honey and sesame seeds.
  7. Taramosalata A spread made of fish rum, olive oil, lemon and potatoes or bread. Perfect to put on a piece of bread.
  8. Pantzaria Citrus marinated beetroot with feta cheese and roasted sesame seeds.
  9. Gigantes Beans in tomato and olive oil.
  10. Saligaria White wine Sautéed snails filled with garlic butter.

Did you know that Cretan cuisine differs from the rest of Greece? If you plan to visit Chania this year and love greek food do not miss to do some nice food trips while you are there.

Many of my friends and neighbours in Sweden rent their own car and travel around Crete, and often asks me about my culinary trips. So here are my best food trips around the area of Chania. Don’t miss the opportunity to explore the area if you are fond of the gastronomic culture of Greece. Cretans love their soil and produce everything from wine to honey…

Chania town

Leave your hotel or accommodation and walk in the old town and the port of Chania. Old town with its charming Venetian style. Here you will find a good offer with restaurants with a lot of Greek food. My husband and I were delighted with a small fish restaurant at the harbor. There we saw the first time we were there that they had guests who were fishermen and locals mixed with tourists. At Stelios Psarotaverna, Akti Enoseos, you will find fish and seafood on the menu.

Visit a winery

Manousakis Winery, Vatolakkos Chania. In the village of Vatolakkos you will find the wonderful vineyard Manousakis. It is the story of Theodore Manousakis who leaves his village as 11-year-old for America and returns 50 years later to plant the first vineyard in his former home town. Book a tour to learn and taste the vines and enjoy the food in the restaurant.

Milia

Milia restaurant, Vlatos, Chania. The story of the medieval village Milia which once was abandoned and now refurbished to a mountain retreat. Here they cultivate and harvest organic products. The restaurant serves Cretan dishes such as organic vegetables, baby goat and lamb dishes. The village is located near the village Topolia.

Olive oil tour

You see olive trees everywhere in Crete. And a lot of olive oil is produced here. We visited TerraCreta’s facility in the Kolymbari area. Here you can book a tour and learn about olive oil and taste the different varieties, for just olive oil I didn’t know much about until we visited the facility.

Elos village

Elos village, located 60km from Chania, on the way to Elafonissi. The village is known for their chestnut trees. In October you can buy nuts at the village stores and they make tasty dishes with chestnuts as well. I have been there twice at different restaurants and always equally satisfied.

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Crete Travel

A day trip to Spinalonga

February 17, 2019

The first time I heard about Spinalonga was when the Greek channel Mega sent the first episode of the series “To Nisi”, meaning The Island in Greek. It`s the captivating story of the Greek family from Plaka, which achieved record ratings for Greek television. Plaka is a small fishing village in Elounda bay in Crete, opposite of the the small island of Spinalonga. The Greek history books did not cover the history of the leper colony Spinalonga, the island was unknown and forgotten until then.

It´s the fictional story is about leprosy patiens who lived and survived in Spinalonga and their relationship with the inhabitants of the little village Plaka. Giorgos Petrakis and his wife Eleni are the main characters in the story, they live in Plaka with their two daughters. He is a fisherman who trasports supplies to the lepra colony. One day he is forced to transport his wife to the island and later on his daughter. Its a story about fear, passion, love of three generations and the best tv serie Greek television ever produced I dare to say.

Plaka

The history

The island´s fortress was built in the end of the 16th century by the Venetians, who wanted to protect themselves from the Ottoman Empire that had invaded other islands in the Medeterranean. The islands name originates from this time, Spina Longa means Long Thorn. Two hundred years later the Turks invaded Spinalonga and in the late of 1800s as many as two hundred families lived on the island with two-story houses and a mosque. Around the turn of the century there are troubled times in Greece, French rule over the island and the Muslim population decides to abandon the island.

In 1903 the greek government decides that the abandoned island will become a leprosy colony as many, with Dr Hansen´s disease as it called, live in caves to avoid to infect others. In the beginning there was no treatment and many lepers died. But as time went by doctors came to the island and a hospital, shops and school was established. The lepers lived in the houses that the turks abandoned. People fell in love and married at the island, they had children, some of them who grow up at the island never get infected. When the cure of the disease was found the numbers of lepers fell and the leper hospital closed 1957 and the island was abandoned.


Spinalonga or Kalydon which is the official name of the island is reached by boat from Plaka, Elounda or from Agios Nikolaos in Crete. Visit the site early in the morning or late in the afternoon, its very hot temperatures during the middle of the day due to the little amount of vegetation at the island. The island is uninhabited, but there is a coffe shop and restrooms at the entrance. The island is open for tourists from April to October, more practical information at the official website for Spinalonga

There are a number of books written about Spinalonga.
“The island” is the name of the novel that made Spinalonga known to the public.
Victoria Hislop British writer and journalist made her debut 2005 with the novel. The book became a bestseller in UK and is sold over two million copies worldwide in more than 17 countries.

The Greek tv channel Mega broadcasted the series of 26 episodes in 2010.
Shot in Crete and in Spinalonga over two years. Watch the trailer in English version here. The story begins with Alexis who wants to learn everything about her mother’s past. To her surprise, she finds out that her family is connected with the isolated island of Spinalonga, the former settlement of lepers.

Victoria Hislop about Crete and Spinalonga
“Visiting Spinalonga for the first time was a very strong experience and I knew even in the first minute that I arrived there that I had to write about it.  It was very compelling and very emotional.  And I admit that this visit made a profound change to my life”. Read the article at Athensinsider.com .

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Saint George church
The entrance
The view from Elounda
Crete Travel

Rethymnon in 13 photos

February 2, 2019

My family comes from the mainland in Greece. I have traveled to many islands through the years but never been to Crete until recently. Now I understand why it´s such a popular destination. Crete is the largest island in Greece and its geographical position have made the people love and grow their land. Olive groves, orange trees or vineyards can be seen after the roads. I admire people with devotion or meraki as the greeks says. The Cretan cuisine is delicious, more about the gastronomic culture on the island here.

Are you going to Crete this summer? Are you thinking about where to stay? The island is large and there are many attractions to explore. If you choose Rethymnon then you will be able to make day trips to the east and to the west side of the island. Or just explore what is around the city of Rethymnon itself. Here are my best culture tips and photos.

Rethymnon port

The beautiful Venetian old harbor and the lighthouse are Rethymnons citys pride. The lighthouse we see today, 9 meters high, is built by Egyptians in the 1830s when Crete belonged to the Ottoman Empire. The harbor is the meeting point for tourists and locals. Here you will find many cozy taverns and cafes with the tables directly at the dock where the colorful fishing boats are located.

Old town

The city of Rethymnon was already there in the Minoan times. The old city we see today is the best preserved on the island built during the Venetian era of the 1600s. It so nice to stroll around old town and explore the old buildings and the architecture.

Fortezza castle

Fortezza is built on the hill Paleokastro (means old castle) under the Venetian regime. The Venetians built it to protect the city from the Ottoman occupation. But despite this, the Turks conquered the city in the 1600s. The fortress was destroyed during the second World War but is renovated and a mosque and two churches from the 1800s have been preserved.

Preveli

Preveli Monastery is located 37 km from Rethymnon in a beautiful hill overlooking the water of Preveli beach. The monastery is consisted of two main building complexes, the Lower (Kato) Monastery and the Rear (Pisso) Monastery  which is in operation today. The monastery is known for its battles against the Turks 1821 and in the battle of Crete 1941.

The beach is located about 2 km from the lower Monastery, has a nice parking place there. It takes about 15 minutes to reach the beach from the parking area, take the stairs and walk down the hill to the beach. It is a unique and popular place where the river Grand River opens into the sea.

Arkadi Monastery

Arkadi Monasterys church was built in 1587 by Italian architects and was heavily influenced by the renaissance art. But I’m more impressed over the interiors and beautiful colour of ochre on the walls. So nice to be a monk here and have time for reflection and inner thought in this beautiful environment. The Monastery is one of the Eastern Orthodox Monasteries underlining the catholicity and universality of the church and has therefore many visitors and pilgrims from the whole world.