Things to know about Crete

Not essential, but possibly captivating insights (we hope so)

info gif Bullet holes in road signs. It is no secret that Cretans own guns, especially in mountainous areas. Road signs are easy targets and you will see many of them that resemble swiss cheese after some shooting practice. Cretans usually fire their guns at weddings and other celebrations.

info gif Churches = ekklisies. The big churches are inside the towns but the numerous small ones are practically everywhere. Usually white-painted, you will find them on a beach, on the mountain peaks, in deep gorges or inside caves. People of Crete are deeply religious people and they build churches to express their gratitude to God or to fulfil a “tama”, a promise given to God in exchange for a request.

church, crete

The miniature churches next to the roads however, are memorials for people killed in a car accident, at the same spot where the accident happened. The family of the deceased construct and maintain them . They contain a photo of the deceased, some religious objects and a lit candle.

info gif Erotas or Eros, son of Aphrodite, was a god in ancient Greece. It is difficult to give the meaning of the Greek word “erotas” because there is no word for it in English.The closest translation is “being in love”. The english word Love is “Agapi” in Greek.

info gif Erontas or diktamos is the Greek name of the herb dittany. It used to be a rare, hard to collect herb because it grew at steep cliffs in mountainous areas. Today it is cultivated, so it has become easy to find. It is said that its name “erontas”, which is actually the same word as erotas, was given to it because a man should be deeply in love with a woman in order to risk his life and collect it for her from a cliff.

info gif Fresh Fish: Fresh fish in Crete has become rare and quite expensive. Common fish you will find at restaurants are: red mullet, sea bream, red snapper, swordfish and tuna. Octopus, squids, shrimps and mussels are also easy to find and they taste great. Fish like Sand-Smelt or Silverside is quite cheap and tasty, although its taste is described as “fishy” by people who are not used to Mediterranean fish.

info gif Garides are shrimps. Have them boiled or “saganaki” with tomatos and feta cheese.

info gif Gazoza, the Sprite of Crete. It is still produced by small companies all over the island and you will find it at cafes in the villages.


info gif Greek Salad. In Greek it is called “horiatiki” and it is a tasty salad made from fresh tomatoes, cucumber, olives and feta cheese. Add some origano, vinegar and plenty of Greek olive oil and you have a tasty and fulfilling dish.

greek salad

info gif Herbs. Oregano, sage and thyme grow throughout Crete, filling the air with their distinctive aromas. The island boasts a rich variety of herbs that are readily available in many places. For generations, Cretans have used these herbs for their medicinal properties. If you’ve got a sore throat, a tea made from chamomile and sage is a soothing remedy. For a sweeter taste, add a touch of honey. For congestion, a tea with thyme can provide relief. These natural remedies reflect Crete’s deep connection with its herbal heritage and the island’s rich natural resources.

info gif Honey. Honey of excellent quality is produced in Crete and the reason is the many herbs of the nature of Crete. Thyme honey is considered to be the best. You can buy honey at many stores and supermarkets all over the island but for the best honey you will need to have a very good friend in Crete, who will buy it for you directly from a local producer.

info gif Immigrants: People from several European countries have migrated to Greece in significant numbers. Most of these people are employed in sectors such as agriculture and construction, and together they make up more than 10% of the Greek population. These communities have quickly adapted to the Greek way of life, with their children attending Greek schools and integrating into the local culture. In addition to these groups, the last decade has seen a significant increase in immigrants from various Asian countries. This diversification further enriches the cultural landscape of Greece, as these new residents bring their unique traditions and skills to contribute to the social and economic fabric of the country.

info gif Kafeneio, the Greek cafe, a very important part of the traditonal social life in Crete and Greece. Kafeneia (cafes) were strictly for men and the traditional ones become rare in cities. The modern version of a kafeneio is distinguished by the waitress from Eastern Europe. LINK: Greek Customs and Habbits

info gif Kalamari, deep fried squid. A popular dish in Crete and Greece.

info gif Kalimera, the greek way of saying Good Morning.

info gif Lamb meat. The best meat you can have in Crete is the young lamb or young goat meat from animals raised in the mountainous areas. If you happen to be in a tavern in a small mountainous village, ask them for grilled paidakia. Delicious!
Pronunciation of paidakia= pythakia: py as in python, th as in this.

lamb of crete

info gif Mizithra, a fresh soft white cheese. It contains lower fat and cholesterol than yellow cheese. It is made by sheep milk.

info gif Paximadi, the traditional Cretan way of preserving bread for a long time. It is hard dried bread that gets soft when you add some water to it. You will find it in various forms, sizes and made from wheat or barley, with or without yeast, whole grain or not. Pour some olive oil on a big round piece of paximadi, add some grated tomato, origanon and feta cheese and you will have the very tasty appetizer known as “ntakos” in Heraklion district or “koukouvaya” in Rethymnon and Chania.


info gifPita Giros, slices of grilled pork meat with yoghurt, lots of onion, french fries, salt and pepper, all wrapped inside a round “pita” bread. Pita – giros is the fast food of Greece and you can find it almost everywhere. It costs 2,5 Euro (Heraklion 2004) and one of them will keep you full for several hours. Chicken giros is becoming popular lately because of the less fat it contains.

giros gyros pita

info gif Platanos or Plane Tree, a tree that grows close to water. You can find it usually close to a river in gorges or in the central square of villages of Crete. It looks similar to the maple tree and it can grow very big. Huge trees can be seen at Krasi village, at Asi-Gonia village or at Vlatos village, where a sign “Monument of Nature” points to it.

platanos tree

info gif Raki. This is the famous local drink of Crete. It is produced in late October or early November and it is distilled from grape skins. It is transparent, very strong and in the summer it is served cold. Raki or tsikoudia is for Crete what ouzo is for the rest of Greece.

cretan man with sariki

info gif Sariki is the traditional head cover of men of Crete. It is black and wrapped many times around the top of the head.

greek souvlaki

info gifSouvlaki. Skewered pork meat, a traditional Greek dish. It is served with french fries and there is also chicken, lamb and swordfish souvlaki.

info gif Unfinished Houses, a common sight in Crete. People in Crete build the frame of their house before their building license expires. Usually people will build a 3-4 floors building. Each floor is meant for one appartment. They need one appartment for their family but they plan ahead for when their children grow up and have families of their own. They will finish the house later when they will need it or they have enough money to do so.

info gif Vegetables. Crete produces many different vegetables and they taste a lot better than what you will find in the supermarkets in Europe.

tourist woman in Crete

info gif Xanthies touristries = blonde tourist women. Highly appreciated by the “kamakia“, the young hot-blooded Greek lovers. Love stories between men of Crete and tourists are common each year. Most of them are just summer loves but a few marriages come out of them also. The result is the many european women living in Crete, mostly German, Dutch and Scandinavian.
Be aware though, that having a romantic love affair during your holiday is one thing and living in Crete married to a Cretan man is totally different. The cultural differences are many and it is very important not to ignore them.

info gif Yakinthos, Saint Yakinthos is the Saint Valentine of Crete. There is a big celebration for the Cretan Saint of Love in Anogia in July every year.

info gif Yannis and Yorgos, are the two most common names for men in Greece. Yannis is John and Yorgos is George. More common names are Manolis and Nikos. For women the most common name is Maria. LINK Namedays in Greece.

info gif Zucchini or Courgette. Try zucchini slices deep fried in olive oil. Fried aubergine slices are very tasty too.

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