Sunday, September 23, 2007
Chania with its picturesque Venetian harbour is a fascinating blend of the modern and historic patchwork of Cretan life. Built on an ancient site, the old town with its narrow twisting streets, art galleries and cafés is characteristic of Kriti’s wealth of culture.
Rethymnon surrounded by beaches and crowned by the ruins of a Venetian fortezza, Rethymnon also has a contrast of historic and modern architecture, with excellent restaurants and cafés. The University of Crete is based just outside of town.
Iraklio is the capital of the island and one of the most wealthy cities in Greece. It is modern, upbeat and diverse. We are happy to share our knowledge of the town to those who might think to overlook it, there is plenty to see and do in Iraklion.
Agios Nikolaos is a hilly town surrounding the beautiful Lake Voulismeni. Agios Nikolaos has its own charm and pulse. Come and have a peek at one of the Mediterranean’s prettiest harbours.
Kastelli Kissamos on the north-west coast of Crete, is a small coastal town with an interesting history. Pirate Barbarossa was active here. Some of the most beautiful wild beaches of the island are nearby.
Paleohora on the south-west coast of Crete, is where the mountains meet the sea. From here you can beach hop, hike in the Lefka Ori, or sail to Gavdos Island. Whales and dolphins can be seen in these clean turquoise waters.
Míres in the Messara of Iraklion, in the centre of the island, is a busy market town. The Messara is a huge central valley rolling north to south in the middle of the island. It has been written about, fought over and appeared in mythology. Today Mires is a vibrant agricultural community, with a huge market every Saturday. It is close to the ancient sites of Phaistos and Gortys, and the village of Zaros.
Sitia (photo) in the east of Crete is not often visited by tourists, however travellers will find plenty of interest here in this solidly Greek town. As Lasithi has a vibrant agricultural activity, especially with the olive harvest, Sitia is wealthy town, over-looking beautiful Sitia Bay and surrounded by the wide open landscapes of Kriti.
To see the real people and customs of Crete, one must visit the villages of Crete. Typically, the more isolated the village, the more the local customs are preserved. The manifestations of the old traditions and customs are easy to observe in the local celebrations of the saints of each village, the panigiria, on the name day of the saint whose name was given to one of the churches of the village. The celebration varies from village to village, but typically, it involves long church liturgies attended by the people of the village. Many people who have moved away use this as an opportunity to visit their former villages and sometimes combine it with a baptism or wedding of their own. Music, dancing, and eating often take place in the center of the village the night before.
There are many local feast days, especially during the summer months, and it is easy to find one nearby to attend. Some of the celebrations are particularly interesting because they involve large groups of people hiking or taking small boats to a church or monastery in an isolated location.
On Agios Georgios Day (Saint George's Day) in Asigonia, Chania, the shepherds bring their goats and sheep from the high mountain pastures, (some taking 4 or 5 hours to reach Asigonia) to be blessed by the priest. In this celebration the animals are milked in front of the church, and the milk is boiled and served to the people. The Agios Georgios celebration is held before the Lenten season or on the day after Easter.