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© 2023 by Routes & Roots Ltd.

CRETE in a nutshell

A serene and pure Mediterranean landscape with an incredible balance of sea and mountains, unfolds in front of your eyes. You'll feel right away how time here sits still and gives you its best. Bite into a juicy fruit from the orchard, nap under a century-old olive tree, dip into pristine waters, stroll the pebbled sideways, listen to the cicadas... immerse yourself and enjoy the beauty of simplicity, authenticity and peace of this very warm-hearted and welcoming island.

WHAT TO PACK IN YOUR SUITCASE

  1. A photocopy of your identity documents, useful in case you lose them

  2. Any travel insurance of your choice, that covers you during your trip. If you don't know which one to choose, we can recommend you worldnomads

  3. A good sun cream for protecting yourself from the sun

  4. Mosquito repellent

  5. A basic first-aid kit

  6. Some good walking shoes

  7. Comfortable walking clothes. We'll go to the mountains where it get a little fresh sometimes. Just have a light sweater

  8. Your swimsuit and sunglasses (we'll be close to the beach and have our own pool, remember?)

  9. Your beach towel

  10. Some longer light clothing to wear if the night is a bit cooler which rarely happens

  11. You favorite Summer clothes

  12. Soaping clothes you're not scared of staining

  13. All your chargers and cables even though you can get those easily there

  14. An electrical adapter (or 2) for Greek plugs (some exemples here)

WHAT TO READ, WATCH AND LISTEN TO TO GET YOU IN THE MOOD

BOOKS

The Island by Victoria Hislop

On the brink of a life-changing decision, Alexis Fielding longs to find out about her mother's past. But Sofia has never spoken of it. All she admits to is growing up in a small Cretan village before moving to London. When Alexis decides to visit Crete, however, Sofia gives her daughter a letter to take to an old friend, and promises that through her she will learn more.

Arriving in Plaka, Alexis is astonished to see that it lies a stone's throw from the tiny, deserted island of Spinalonga - Greece's former leper colony. Then she finds Fotini, and at last hears the story that Sofia has buried all her life: the tale of her great-grandmother Eleni and her daughters and a family rent by tragedy, war and passion. She discovers how intimately she is connected with the island, and how secrecy holds them all in its powerful grip...

Zorba The Greek by Nikos Kazantzakis

The classic novel Zorba the Greek is the story of two men, their incredible friendship, and the importance of living life to the fullest. It is the tale of a young Greek intellectual who ventures to escape his bookish life with the aid of the boisterous and mysterious Alexis Zorba. The novel was adapted into a successful 1964 film of the same name by Michael Cacoyannis as well as a 1968 musical, Zorba.

MOVIES

El Greco (2007)

Shortly before Dominikos Theotokopoulos, known to the world as «El Greco» , faces the Spanish Ιnquisition for his blasphemous  ability to illuminate the faces of ordinary people into saints, the story of the film begins in Crete and the agonizing years of his youth, during the Venetian invasion in Crete, when the young painter falls in love with Francesca da Rimi, the daughter of the Venetian governor of the island and follows her in Venice. His apprenticeship next to the painter Titian in Venice and his contact with the High Renaissance movement were milestones to his artistic achievement later in the Spanish school in the 16th century. However, his establishment in  Toledo  coincided with the fatal conflict with the Spanish cardinal Nino de Guevara. 

The Two Faces of January (2014)

The film does for Crete what The Talented Mr Ripley did for in the small villages of southern Italy. The plot takes its inspiration from all that beauty and sunshine of the island's locations, including the ruins of Knossos, the setting for the stories of the Minotaur's Labyrinth, of Theseus and Icarus, dating back to the Bronze Age and the Minoan civilization, as well as the cities of Chania, and Iraklion. 

Zorbas (1964)

Ever since Alexis Zorbas introduced the world the Sirtaki Dance, at Stavros Beach in Chania, with the alluring musical chords composed by Mikis Theodorakis, the legend of the character (Antony Mc Quinn) that capture the plethoric and appealing energy of the men and women born in the old island of Crete have spread all over. With obvious connotations taken from the classic Greek tragedies, it is definitely one of the best movies of the past, based on the novel by Nikos Kazantzakis 'Alexis Zorbas'. The story begins with an English writer, Basil (Alan Bates), when he decides to make a deep discovery to the roots of his father's homeland in Crete, a journey in which he will meet the person who will change his whole way of thinking about life. The film won three Academy Awards. 

MUSIC

Νίκος Ξυλούρης {Nikos Xylouris/Xilouris/Ksilouris} (7 July 1936 - 8 February 1980), also known as Ψαρονίκος, was a Greek composer and singer from the village of Anoghia in Crete.  He was part of the movement against the Greek military Junta of 1967. His songs and music captured and described the Greek psyche and demeanor.

Crete, the largest, most contrasting and southernmost Greek island, is the cradle of the Minoan civilization, which makes its history the most ancient of the European continent. This probably forged its unique character and soul. You'll prabably notice it very quickly in the strengths of its traditions, the quiet force of its old villages and bell towers, the undisturbed smiles of its inhabitants... there is no other place like Crete, and nobody will be able to impact their rustic way of living.

Rocky mountains, phantasmagorical green oaks, chestnut forests, raptors circling in the everblue sky, the jingling bells from goats climbing gnarled trees echoing in the valley, quiet village kafeneions where men get together reading the news and drinking coffee or playing tavli, slow-roasting meats in the kitchens of the taverns, a country backed by deserts, gorges, vineyards and blue shadows... You will never feel so much peacefulness at a time. 

Fun facts about Crete

1. It is said that God Zeus was born in Crete, hidden in on of Crete's 3000 caves to hide from his father Cronus who wanted to kill him

2. Crete has over 2000 plants species, of which 157 are endemic

3. Crete is located at almost identical distance from Europe, Asia and Africa, which explains its cultural diversity, mainly in art, music and food

4. Tourism started in Crete in the 60's after Walt Disney's suspense movie Moon-Spinners that was shot in Elounda

5. Crete has some of the oldest olive trees in the world, growing since antiquity. They grow 14 different species of olives.

6. Hippocrates, the "father of medicine", affirmed Crete's air had healing powers. Go find out, we do believe him, and we're not the only ones !

7. The highest mountain in Crete is called Psilorisis, ans it is 2456m. high

8. Another famous legend took place in Crete: the one of Icarus. The story says he wanted to take flight like a bird and made himself wings of wax to fly up into the sky; He went so high that when he approached the scorching Cretan sunshine, the wax wings started to melt, leading to his fall and death

9. Crete's waters and coastlines are the clearest in Europe, and the most blue flag beaches in Europe

10. Crete is the 5th biggest island in the Mediterranean and the 88th in the world

11. Crete is home of the largest palm tree forest in Europe. It is settled on a beach called Vai at the North-East point of the island

12. A Cretan consumes 30 liters of olive oil per year whereas the average person consumes only 1 liter

13. Raki (called "tsikoudia" on the West part of the island) is the spirit of Crete. This Italian grappa like beverage is made of grapes and has 37.5% of alcohol. It is served everywhere, at almost any time of the day and night, and is a strong symbol of hospitality. They add honey to it in the Winter and say it cures from any type of cold or flue

14. The Cretan diet is no lie !  The population of Crete always presented the best health status and the lowest mortality rates from coronary disease and cancer compared to all other populations. Very soon, searchers decided it was due to the excellent natural diet used on the island : Fresh and dried fruits, pulses, endemic wild herbs and aromatic plants, and rough cereals, favored by the regional climate. Low dairy products, honey instead of sugar, little meet and fish, snails, and LOADS of olive oil

15. And finally : Jennifer Aniston is half Cretan from her father. So there is absolutely no more reason not to go