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Shopping and Eating in Crete

Shopping in Crete

Few people set out on a flight to Crete with shopping as their main activity. With the exception of the larger cities of Heraklion, Chania and Rethymno, you will find minimal stores, shopping centers or designer shops in Crete.

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The most traditional gift items and souvenirs from Crete are crafts. Ornaments with beautiful wood carvings, pottery and embroidery are produced and sold in many of the mountain villages as well as in the larger cities and tourist sites. In particular, villages such as Kritsa (west of Agios Nikolaos), Zaros (southwest of Heraklion) and Anogia (far east in the Rethymno region) have made this an industry.

Shopping in Crete

You also get high quality leather products, terracotta items, bronze and copper items. Some villages produce great handmade wicker chairs, but these are maybe a little worse to get on the plane? Also, handmade knives are a specialty in Crete, and the people of Crete have a history of knives that can be traced back to the Minos. Knives are a natural part of the Greek national costume, and are sold at the craft stores. Do not carry the knife in your hand luggage when you return home.

Crete is known for its excellent honey, the cheeses are in demand throughout Greece, and the olive oil is perhaps the largest export item and of excellent quality. You will probably also be offered wine from Crete, but it has a highly variable quality, so taste first, unless you just want to bring a nice souvenir bottle home.

Shopping in selected cities in Crete

Heraklion is Crete's largest city, and of course also the city with the largest range of products. Here you will find everything from shoe shops, brand shops, art galleries, delicatessens, craft shops and jewelers. The main shopping street is the pedestrian street Dedalou. If you want genuine Cretan jewelry, you should visit the jewelry store Labyrinth, which can design jewelry and jewels according to your wishes, preferably in combination with Greek folk art. It's not particularly cheap, but the quality is high.

Rethymno has more tourists than Heraklion, and this is also noticed in the product range. Here you will find even more souvenir shops, handicraft shops and antique shops, especially along the harbor promenade, while the slightly more sophisticated shops are located on the street Arkadiou. Every Thursday a market is held at Dimitrakaki, where you can buy everything from fresh agricultural products and fish, goats and chickens, clothing and art, books and maps.

Chania is known for its leather shops, so here you set the course for the street with the aptly named Lærgaten, (Odhos Skridhlof) by the cathedral. The main street is Halidon, where the more modern shops have gathered.

At Roka Carpets you can buy handmade carpets, manufactured in the same way as the Minos developed. The store is located in Zambeliou 61. Every Saturday morning, an interesting market is held at Minoos with meat and seafood, fruits and vegetables, local crafts and clothing. At the old port is Crete Gold, a traditional goldsmith who has been producing Greek jewelry and jewelery for about 30 years.

Eating in Crete

Most of us have a certain relationship with Greek food, and have tried both moussaka and souvlaki. But a full Greek meal usually consists of several small starters, a main course with grilled lamb or goat meat, preferably in a stew, possibly fish, with vegetables and salad. The dessert often consists of cheese or sweet cakes topped with honey.

Although there are not many vegetarians in Greece, nor many clean vegat restaurants, there will still be alternatives for you who do not eat meat. The Orthodox Greeks traditionally fast on Wednesdays and Fridays, and many restaurants, especially outside the larger cities, only serve vegan dishes these days.

A completely different food culture in Crete

The Greek food culture is quite radically different from the one we have in Norway. The average Greek hardly eats breakfast, but a hearty lunch during the day. Dinner rarely comes to the table until after 2100. For this reason, many restaurants close in the afternoon, opening only from 2000 onwards. Dinner should be spent a long time, with wine and raki.

Leaving the tourist areas and heading to one of the villages further inland, you can get real Greek dining experience at one of the local tavernas. Here you should not expect any menu, you will usually get what they happen to make that day. In the cities and tourist areas there is a good selection of places to eat, and if you prefer Italian, Indian, Chinese or tex-mex one evening, it is always possible to drive up.

Drink in Crete

No country in Europe has produced wine longer than the Greeks, and their wine history can be traced back at least 6500 years. The most famous is probably the white Retsina wine with a characteristic pine flavor, which has been produced for over 2700 years. In Crete, the Minoans made wine 4000 years ago already, and the Greek wine god Dionysos has his worshipers to this day. The wine in Crete is often homemade and sweet, and is usually served in pitchers rather than bottles. True, much of Crete is less good and something that the Vinmonopoly would not dream of importing. But some exceptions exist.

You will probably also get over the liquor raki, or tsikoudia, but unlike the Turkish national drink of the same name, the Cretan variant does not taste anise. And although the Greek national drink ouzo does not originate in Crete, you will find it everywhere. It is often served as an aperitif before a meal, but is rarely drank afterwards. Then there is more wine that applies.

Two brands of beer are produced in Greece, Alpha and Mythos, and both are tasty, light beer. The ubiquitous Carlsberg, Heineken and Amstel are also available everywhere.

Selection of Crete's Better Restaurants:

Vasilis, Nearchou 10, at the old harbor in the town of Rethymno. This is a great seafood restaurant that has served both Greek and international celebrities for a number of years, with a very talkative and hospitable owner who will undoubtedly roam your table and charm your company. Prices around 140-220 NOK for a main course.

Much less expensive, but at least as good food you get right down the street, at Taverna Pontos in Melissinou street. It serves home-made specialties, in a very pleasant restaurant with a great atmosphere. The restaurant has not yet been discovered by the large tourist crowds, probably because it is not located along the harbor.

In Heraklion, consider Loukoulos in Korai 5, which has gained a very good reputation with both residents and visitors in recent years. In addition to traditional Greek cuisine, made from organically grown ingredients, French and Italian dishes are also offered.

Set in a picturesque 13th-century house by the port of Chania, Amphora restaurant offers traditional Cretan food of the highest quality, with professional service and highly acceptable prices. Wonderful vegetarian dishes. Amphora is also the name of a hotel and a popular bar with wicker chairs right on the water's edge.

 

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