Today I welcome guest poster Maria Giannouli, Chief Editor at KidsLoveGreece.com who is sharing her love of the unique and family-friendly island of Crete.
I feel very proud and privileged to have been born and raised in Crete, a unique island which everyone should have the chance to visit at least once in a lifetime – call me biased if you wish! Of course each of the Greek islands has its own character but Crete has a combination of five factors that make it stand out from the crowd and truly make it one of a kind.
A Place to Visit Year Round
It’s a fact that Crete is a very popular summer holiday destination but what you may not realize is that Crete is also unbelievably beautiful all year round when the diverse landscape, the snow capped mountains, the coastline, the thick forests, and the limestone rocks and caves all change face according to the season. Spring and autumn are particularly beautiful periods with the changing hue’s and tones of nature’s colours. There is no doubt that your kids will be inspired to capture such diverse landscape in their drawings… so do not forget their crayons and notebook.
The weather can be very mild even during the winter months when temperatures can remain fairly constant for a month at a time. Christmas time has been known to have temperatures of 30C, and even now, in the middle of October, we are having temperatures of 25C and summer clothes still dominate our wardrobes. That means no heavy coats are needed even if you visit Greece during winter.
A Living Museum
Crete’s position is unique as it stands between three continents and is like a living museum with its mosaic of people and cultures. On the way to Crete, show your kids a map of the island and talk to them about all different countries which border Greece… what a great geography lesson on the plane.
The Minoan civilization is predominant in the history of Europe as it laid the foundations of who we are today. The Palace at Knossos takes you back 4000 years to the era of King Minos and its many myths. The myth of Ariadne, Theseus and the Minotaur will capture your kids' imaginations and the throne of the legendary King Minos will be one of the highlights of your visit to the Palace of Knossos.
Cretan Traditions and Customs
Cretans are expert at keeping their countless traditions alive: music and dance; costume; handicraft; and the Cretan Lyre (musical instrument) to name just a few.
In mountain villages, women often bake their own bread and even make their own cheese from goat’s milk. The majority of Cretan families produce their own olive oil, and wine and raki (like Italian grappa).
If you are visiting Crete in spring time take the opportunity of participating with your family on an excursion to learn about cheese and bread making. You will visit a very authentic cheese factory and see traditional techniques, both educational and very interesting for children to see.
Greeks are generally renowned for their hospitality and Cretans even more so. In restaurants it is very common to be offered something ‘on the house’ at the end of a meal, and this is often a carafe of raki (Cretan grappa) or perhaps fruits of the season, or even mamma’s specialty cake! This has been a gesture in Crete for many years, so just sit back and enjoy it.
If you find yourself in a small local village the chances are the locals will endear you and treat you like family. Cretans are genuine and authentic people who are ready to open their homes to everyone.
The Famous Cretan Cuisine
Seize every moment to try unique Cretan traditional flavors with dishes and recipes using good wholesome, fresh ingredients from the land. Recipes are often handed down through generations with the motto ‘the simpler, the better’.
Even fussy eaters in your family will love some of these simple but tasty dishes. ‘Dakos’ originated in Crete - a rusk soaked with a little oil and lots of fresh grated tomato, topped with local soft white cheese and dressed with oregano, a black olive, and a sprig of parsley for colour.
Take the opportunity of participating in a cookery workshop where it’s sleeves up, aprons on, and a hands on experience at preparing and eating some good Cretan fare.
Have you visited Crete, with or without kids? Let us know what you liked best about the island in the comments below.
All photos provided by KidsLoveGreece.com
Maria Giannouli is the chief editor of KidsLoveGreece.com, a site that offers authentic family friendly suggestions for Greece. Her work experience in the hotel industry has been invaluable, however, her true inspiration has been her two sweet daughters who love all type of family traveling. Follow KidsloveGreece.com on Facebook for more information on family travel in Greece.
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