1 SPECIAL EDITION 2019 An amazing ancient civilization A unique culture A paradise that touches the sky and speaks to the sea History Nature Tradition Gastronomy Hospitality Wonderful Beaches and Mountains I knew that no matter what door you knock on in a Cretan village, it will be opened for you. A meal will be served in your honor, and you will sleep between the best sheets in the house. In Crete, the stranger is still the unknown god. Before him, all doors and all hearts are opened. Nikos Kazantzakis The National Herald THE NATIONAL HERALD
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4 4 SPECIAL EDITION 2019 CRETE 2019 THE NATIONAL HERALD Editorial W elcome to The National Herald s first special insert of 2019 as well as its first of a series of special inserts that will focus on various tourist destinations in Greece! As the winter grows colder, we thought we could warm you up with thoughts of Greece and possibly jumpstart your summer planning with our recommendations for the island of Crete. The mystery of Crete runs deep. Whoever sets foot on this island senses a mysterious force coursing warmly and beneficently through their veins, sensing their soul beginning to grow. Nikos Kazantzakis Crete is Greece s largest and most populous island with many calling it the cradle of European civilization. It is also the birthplace of some of the most prominent Greeks of the more modern era including Nikos Kazantzakis (author), Odysseas Elytis (poet), Domenikos Theotokopoulos (a/k/a El Greco, artist), Nikos Xilouris (composer), Eleftherios Venizelos (politician), and Konstantinos Mitsotakis (politician). The island attracts more than 20% of the tourists visiting Greece and is home to some of the most famous Greek landmarks, including the Knossos Palace, the old Venetian port of Chania, the Samaria gorge, the island of Spinalonga, and the Palm Beach of Vai, which is the largest natural palm forest in Europe. The travel industry on the island grows every year with a wide array of accommodations for every taste from super luxurious to simple campsite. Despite the tourist development, Crete manages to keep intact its unique character and its long history from its Minoan palaces, Medieval Castles, Ottoman mosques, Jewish synagogues, and Byzantine monasteries. The island forms a significant part of the economy and the cultural heritage of Greece but maintains its own local cultural traits such as its own poetry (mantinades), music (typically performed with the Cretan lyra and the laouto) and indigenous dances (like the pentozali). The Cretans themselves are fiercely proud of their island and customs which is one of the main reasons why Crete has remained so pure and enchants everyone who visits it. The island is mountainous and has a number of gorges and waterfalls its visitors can enjoy. There are thousands of destinations that will captivate the senses of all who seek to be seduced by the island s beauty from its majestic landscapes, to its rich history, to its world famous cuisine and its incredibly hospitable people. There is a kind of flame in Crete let us call it "soul" something more powerful than either life or death. There is pride, obstinacy, valor, and together with these something else inexpressible and imponderable, something which makes you rejoice that you are a human being, and at the same time tremble. Nikos Kazantzakis Like the famous myth of Minos palace and the minotaur, we hope you use our guide to explore Crete with the same care that Theseus took to explore, and eventually conquer, the labyrinth. We hope you enjoy this special issue and we wish you all the best for Look out for our additional inserts which will focus on other parts of Greece throughout the rest of this year! THE NATIONAL HERALD Stavros Arnaoutakis on Crete and Tourism By Vasilis Koutsilas T he regional governor of Crete, Stavros Arnaoutakis, spoke to The National Herald about the progress the island has made in attracting and accommodating tourists, the prospects ahead, and the efforts made by the region to strengthen Crete s tourism brand. How did the tourist season of 2018 close out in Crete? First and foremost, Mr. Koutsila, I would like to thank you for taking the time to speak with me and for the interest you and The National Herald have shown towards promoting Crete to the Greek diaspora. According to the National Bank of Greece, the 2018 tourist season saw an income increase of 200 million euros in comparison to the 2017 season. Comparing the 2014 season with the one that just closed, there has been an increase of 600,000 tourists. Actually, during the months of October-November and March-April the visitors exceeded 280,000, significantly contributing to the expansion of the tourist season. It is worth noting that, by September, more than 3.7 million tourists arrived at the airport of Heraklion. Crete has achieved a strong, steady stride in the international tourist environment, despite the successive developments and developments in the wider region, and the ever-increasing competition was yet another year of strong performances across the board following a record-breaking This development did not happen by chance, but instead came to be through a structured plan combining political, operational, and communications initiatives. The plan that we implemented included cooperation with the relevant national Ministries and businesspeople of the tourism field so that we may better exploit opportunities and tackle the challenges at hand. Is Crete targeting the lower volume tourist months? Is the island doing something about that? In the Region of Crete, we are implementing our strategic plan to support tourism, bringing new data to the forefront. This will bring even more insight into the distinctiveness of the island. In this way, we are aiming to highlight our traditional advantages, relating to the natural environment, climatic conditions, soil geomorphology and kilometers of clean coasts. Apart from these things, through an integrated strategic approach, we strive to present Crete as a tourist destination that is ideal for the entire year. The island can meet the needs of specialized groups such as: tourists, athletes, scientists, students, etc. Seasonality is recognized as the most prominent feature of the tourism industry, and, is at the same time, the most important problem the industry is faces. In Crete, the overwhelming majority of arrivals at tourist accommodation facilities took place between the months of June and September. This comes at a point in the year when competitor nations experience a clear drop in seasonal visitors. The seasonality of tourism in Greece is manifested in different ways per tourist destination, which makes it necessary to tackle the issue headon at a regional level. In this way, it will be possible to identify possible regional inequalities in seasonality and more fully map out the regional breakdown of the tourist season. The extension of said season can only come from a comprehensive strategic development plan that includes the highlighting of comparative advantages that each region possesses, strategic partnerships with airlines and tour operators abroad, and the cohesiveness of all relevant stakeholders that should support the endeavor of elongating the tourist season. A basic prerequisite for attracting visitors at the end of the season is to highlight our appeal for interest-based tourism so that those individuals can enjoy their respective interests in a supportive environment. Can the current tourist infrastructures in Crete support larger tourist flows or a longer season? Crete has all the infrastructure necessary to support even greater tourist flows throughout the year. The development of alternative forms of tourism, which will drastically contribute to the mitigation of seasonality, remains necessary. In the next few years, with the construction of the new international airport in Kastelli, which will be built in the coming months, and after the operational upgrading of the three airports of the island, Heraklion, Chania, and Sitia, our island will be able to easily respond to a mass tourist season which will expand into the winter months as well. How can the quality of the tourism product of Crete be improved? Is there a specific plan that the regional government has come up with to address this? In the Region of Crete, we continue to implement a regional tourism policy that works in parallel with national endeavors. We have seen the first positive results in the extension of the tourist season, the emergence and promotion of new thematic Continued on page 14
5 THE NATIONAL HERALD CRETE 2019 SPECIAL EDITION Thalassa Boutique Hotel Stamathioudaki 89, Rethymno Tel: (+30) Welcome to an Exclusive Seaside Experience in the Heart of the city of Rethymno Thalassa Boutique Hotel is set in a 150-year-old building, completely refurbished in 2017 to redefine the level of comfort and customer service. It includes a sea-view terrace and swimming pool with hot tub. The spacious and sound-proofed apartments at the Thalassa Boutique Hotel overlook the Venetian Castle and the Old Town of Rethymno. Staff are happy to assist you with booking tickets, as well as car/motorbike and bicycle rental. The Thalassa Boutique Hotel provides a 12-hour currency exchange service, air conditioning, free WiFi access, a fridge and TV. A rich breakfast is served each morning. High-level services include 7 Seas Restaurant and Euphoria Health Spa to create a complete package ideal for couples and travelers looking for quality and comfort in their overall experience. 7 Thalasses At 7 Thalasses Restaurant, seafood and fish have a leading role and are distinguished for their quality, freshness and masterful cooking. That's why 7 Thalasses is the #1 choice for seafood dishes! Mediterranean Seafood Restaurant Stamathioudaki 89, Rethymno, at Thalassa Boutique Hotel or Iraklitou & Irodotou 1, Nea Alikarnassos Heraklion a b Either in Rethymno or Heraklion - experience fresh seafood, complete wine list and top service.
6 6 SPECIAL EDITION 2019 CRETE 2019 THE NATIONAL HERALD By Heini-Sofia Alavuo T raditional Cretan cuisine is exceptional, even by Greek standards. Its strength lies in fresh ingredients, seasonal fruits and vegetables, wild herbs and the copious use of olive oil. Food is locally produced in nearby farms and villages, and traditional recipes have been cherished for centuries. Socializing is an essential part of eating, hence the habit of sharing food. Cretans are also known for their hospitality and friendliness, and this is particularly true when dining out. In almost every Cretan taverna guests are spoiled with some dessert and a small carafe of raki on the house. There is no tipping culture in Greece, but voluntary tips are always welcomed. Cheese KEFALOTIRI This hard and salty cheese is made primarily of sheep s milk, but they do sometimes mix it with goat s milk too. Intense, strong flavour and a slightly fatty texture. MIZITHRA Very typical fresh cheese made with whey and milk, usually from sheep or goat. ANTHOTIRO Mild, soft and fresh cheese that turns hard once it dries out. Usually sprinkled on pasta dishes. Also from sheep or goat. GRAVIERA Hard cheese made with sheep s milk and ripened for at least five months. It has a very rich, slightly sweet taste and can be eaten either alone, on bread, or cooked in pies. Meat APAKI It takes many days to cook this smoked pork dish first, the strips of pork are marinated in vinegar A Guide to Cretan Food for several days. Then the meat is hung above a fire made with sage, bay, and rosemary. The final product can be served fried with herbs or as cold, thin slices. ANTICRISTO Anticristo is a regional way of grilling meat, mainly sheep and goat, by placing pieces of meat facing each other over a fire. The picturesque village of Anoiga is especially known for their anticristo goat. SNAILS Chochlioi Boubouristi are snails cooked in olive oil and salt, with sprinkled rosemary on top. This traditional Cretan recipe is so delicious, that it has spread to other parts of Greece as well. Fish Although Crete is an island, it s noteworthy to mention that traditionally, locals didn t eat seafood as much as they ate meat. People stayed close to the mountains where they could develop their agriculture and livestock farming in peace as coastal areas were exposed to pirate and buccaneer raids. Today, there are many seafood tavernas around the island with impressive seafood menus. The seafood is cooked simply with sea salt and olive oil. Vegetarian dishes and small entrees ASKORDOULAKOUS These mountain bulbs are gathered from the hillsides around villages and eaten as a fresh salad, dressed with olive oil and lemon or vinegar. The bulbs can also be pickled or put in a stew with oil, vinegar, and flour. DAKOS This dish consists of chopped tomato, fresh mizithra, herbs, and olive oil on top of a paximadi, a dried rusk bread. Bite into it carefully, because the hard bread can be difficult to cut! The rusks are usually soaked in water and/or olive oil first to soften them up before serving. OLIVES AND OLIVE OIL What s a trip to Crete without trying some of their famous olives and extra virgin olive oil? Olives are a good snack with drinks, and dipping freshly-made bread into some Cretan olive oil while waiting for the orektika to arrive can be a heavenly experience. Desserts KALITSOUNIA These pies come in many different shapes, most commonly in the form of a tiny cup filled with sweet cheese. The type of cheese used in kalitsounia can change depending on the region of Crete, and they can be either baked or fried. Kalitsounia are a traditional Easter treat and are sometimes served with honey, sesame, and cinnamon on top. KSEROTIGANA This sweet pastry is a speciality of Chania, and traditionally prepared for Epiphany or weddings and engagements. After frying, they are dipped in honey and sprinkled with some crushed almonds. LOUKOUMADES These deep fried small local donuts are sweeter than they look. They are served warm with honey, cinnamon, and nuts, and some people even add ice cream on top. Drinks RAKI This clear liquor is made during the fall after the grapes are harvested. Since Cretans don t let anything go to waste, raki is made out of the by-products of the winemaking process. The taste of raki is strong and can vary depending on who made it. Rakomelo is a combination of raki, honey, and spices like cardamom and cinnamon. It s considered to be high in antioxidants and good for digestion. WINE Crete is one of Greece s biggest wine producers, and the local wineries are known for their high quality. Several ancient wine varieties grow only on the island and have been preserved since Minoan times. An Interview with Yannis Psaroudakis of Creta Eleon By Anastasis Koutsogiannis The Oil that Enriches Everyone s Life In today's Crete there may not be any more military sieges, but Cretans and all human beings are under attack by the anxieties of modern life and olive oil, which is still the basis of the Cretan diet, is one of the remedies. Creta Eleon is a family business founded in 1950 that started with a small store in the center of Chania selling a variety of goods that catered to the needs of olive oil producers from the city and surrounding areas. Over the next 60 years Creta Eleon managed to establish, develop, and expand its business always respecting the product and the producer, and it now it refines, trades and bottles up to 10,000 tons of olive oil annually. The olive oil is sold to other brands after undergoing the standardization testing that certifies its high quality in Greece and the rest of Europe, and it is also bottled in the company s own facilities. Creta Eleon S.A., in order to safeguard the highest product quality, applies the strictest international standards. Its Quality and Management System is certified by the ISO 22000:2005 while its brands are following strictly the IFS, FDA, ELGO- DEMETER & KOSHER safety and product guidelines. The National Herald spoke with Yannis Psaroudakis, the owner of Creta Eleon, educated in the US, who elaborated on the company s vision, Cretan olive oil, and the nutritional value in modern daily living. Mr. Psaroudakis, what is the philosophy behind your products? Yannis Psaroudakis: In order to create a great product, you must first get to know it, be familiar with it, love it and respect it. So, if you want to produce a fine olive oil, you first have to know it's particularities, its value, and every single stage of its life. You have to know the land that grew the olive tree, the conditions of its environment, the way that the producer collected the olives, the way the elision of the olive fruit is done at the oil press, and every single stage of transfer until the olive oil comes to our hands to be bottled. This is the philosophy that guides our relationship with the olive trees and the olive oil, which in the course of our lives and experience we have come to embrace, becoming familiar with their every element and particularity. We know the land where we produce our olive oil well, the rich and fertile Cretan land and its climatic conditions, the mild, moist Mediterranean climate, the terrain morphology the soil in alternating landscapes of mountains and sea. This is the land in which the so-called "Koroneiki" genre of olive tree is cultivated. This type of tree produces a fruityflavored olive oil with high nutritional value. We are close to, and in partnership with, the people who cultivate the olive trees that produce the olive "fruit." We are also in collaboration with the olive mills that produce the olive oil with our company s machinery and the scientific associates guidance. In this way, we end up with a product that is delicious and healthy for our consumers. The meticulousness and conscientiousness of our company can be observed from the ground up, and continues from production to the moment of sale. Our goal throughout this effort is to introduce our fine quality product to consumers all around the globe and convince people to include it in their daily diet, to blend it into their lifestyle. Knowing the endless nutritional and curative properties of pure olive oil, we are committed to making sure our company's olive oil retains all of its natural and unaltered contents which make it unique and special. The natural elements of the Mediterranean, Hellenic soil, and the land of our Cretan island, along with its mountainherb aroma, citrus tree flavors, and the aura of the sea that surrounds us, all these find their way into the EXTRA VIRGIN olive oil in our bottles that we offer to the consumer, and we invite them to taste and love it, rewarding our effort. According to various researchers, Cretan olive oil is the No.1 reason for longevity in Crete. As an expert, could you tell me more about this? Scientists have found time and time again that the Cretan people live longer. This mainly has to do with the lower percentage of locals who face one (or both) of the two most common dangerous health threats: heart problems and cancer. The first thing researchers did was try and find the environmental factors that cause such a clear distinction in life expectancy, and they found that the main reason was the traditional healthy Cretan diet, with Cretan olive oil at its core. But how does Cretan olive oil help the Cretan people live longer? And how we can use it to help achieve our own longevity? The answer lies in Cretan olive oil's components. Cretan olive oil and especially the extra virgin type is full of fat that is not harmful to our body, but, instead, it's the most healthy, safe fat for our daily needs. This has to do with the olive oil being full of saturated fat, and also full of Omega-3 fatty acids, both of which are beneficial to our health. Most other kinds of fat, like the that contained in meat and dairy products, like butter, pose threats to our hearts. But this doesn't happen with the "healthy" fat that is found in Cretan olive oil, which helps the locals have a sound, goodworking heart long into their 70s, 80s and even 90s. Cretan olive oil is crucial for avoiding heart problems, but it also has very important anti-cancer qualities. Research has shown that frequent olive oil consumption especially of extra virgin olive oil prevents the development of cancer in the human body. Taking into account all these immense health benefits, we can hardly find another food product that is so beneficial to longevity as olive oil. There is recent scientific research that was published in March 2018 by the National Institutes of Health that describes the potential health benefits of olive oil and plant polyphenols. In its conclusion it says that An increase in consumption of virgin olive oil and other plant products rich in polyphenolic compounds, specifically in populations with low olive oil intake, does seem to be rational and provide diverse health benefits. So it is more than obvious that olive oil could be beneficial for our health. I know that Cretan olive oil s history goes back thousands of years. Could you please tell us briefly its history? The history of Cretan olive oil dates back to Minoan times. If there is something constant in the turbulent and complicated history of Crete, it is the timeless love of the Cretan people for olive oil. It is not a secret that Crete has the first European soil in history where olive trees were grown methodically, with olive oil extracted from them. The ancient Minoans had olive oil in their diet thousands of years ago. Olive oil was produced and consumed in Crete at least since the beginning of the zenith of the Minoan civilization in 2,000 BC. As evidenced by numerous archaeological findings, olive oil was a keystone of the Minoan diet, the ancestor of today's Cretan diet. Indeed, numerous olive oil presses dating from the Minoan era have been found all over the island, showing clearly the long history of olive oil production in Crete. Some of these olive oil presses are the oldest of their kind in Europe. Olive oil played a central role in the Minoan diet, as is the case with the modern Cretan diet. In times when there were hardly any means to preserve food like today's refrigerators olive oil had the paramount advantage of being easily preserved for years, even in high temperatures. This is shown clearly with the very large clay vases or "pithoi", as the ancient Minoans called them that were found in the Minoan palace of Knossos, the masterpiece of Minoan architecture. Historians are convinced that these very large storage containers were used to safely preserve olive oil. In fact, according to the archaeological findings, the total storage space in the palace for olive oil amounted to hundreds of thousands of kilograms. Another easy to understand reason why Cretan olive oil was historically an extremely valuable food throughout history is its nutritional value. Olive oil packs a great deal of high nutritional value and "good" calories into a very small space. It is one of the most "condensed" foods on earth. Cretan olive oil was not only used historically as part of the Minoan diet, though: There is evidence that olive oil was used since ancient times for cleansing, for lighting, as a medicine, and myriads of other purposes. After olive oil was established in the Minoan era as the foundation of the islanders diet, it never really lost its central role at the core of the Cretan diet through the ages. In more recent history, olive oil was very popular and valuable during the years of Venetian control of Crete, especially during the turbulent times of the Ottoman attacks on the island, the numerous sieges launched by the Ottomans on many Cretan towns and fortresses. Olive oil was the foundation of the food supplies for those hard times during sieges: it could be easily stored for long periods of time in small spaces and it could feed a lot of people. It is impressive when we realize that olive oil is at the core of the Cretan diet since the Minoan era, for more than 4,000 years! The history of Crete, due to the island's location between three continents, and its unique climate and advantages, was as rich as could be packed into a small place like Crete. And a central part of this history has to do with Cretan olive oil. Can you share some of your company s facts with our readers? Creta Eleon is an authentic traditional product of high nutritional value from exquisite varieties of olives, produced according to the most stringent standards. Our company, Creta Eleon, created a new brand that strives to connect its values and philosophy with an excellent product that meets all the requirements of the modern market and consumers worldwide. We produce a sophisticated line of olive oil with high standards of quality assurance and product safety. We are located at the outskirts of the city of Chania in Crete, and own premises of 4,000 sq. m. for the receipt, marketing, and storage of olive oil, as well as an ultramodern plant for bottling olive oil, with a capacity of 3,000 bottles/hour. We have the ability to meet any order from all over the world with our own label or with the labels of our client-buyers. Our goal is the production of an excellent product of organic, extra virgin Greek olive oil with a Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) and a Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) of Chania, which we offer to consumers who love and respect nature and its beneficial gifts, like we do.
7 THE NATIONAL HERALD CRETE 2019 SPECIAL EDITION Our Story Our family business was founded in 1950, starting with a small store at the center of Chania city, which covered the selling of olive oil needs for the olive oil producers of Chania. In the next 60 years that followed, being guided and consulted by our perennial experience and having respect to the product and the producer, we managed to develop, establish and expand our business, distributing up to 5,000 tons of olive oil, annually, which we sell for standardization in Greece and the rest of Europe but it also can be bottled in our facilities. This is our Philosophy In order to create a great product, you must first get to know it, be familiar with, love and respect it. So, if you want to produce a fine olive oil, you firstly have to know it's particularities, it's value and every single stage of it's life. You have to know the land that grew the olive tree, the conditions that it went through growing, the way that the producer collected the olives, the way elision is made at the oil mill and every single stage of transfer until the olive oil comes to our hands to be bottled. The Natural Elements of Mediterranean, Hellenic Soil and our island, Cretan Land with the mountain Herbs Aroma, Citrus Tree Flavors and Sea Aura that encompass us. We bottled up all of these in a EXTRA VIRGIN Olive Oil Bottle which we offer to the consumer and we invite you to taste and love it, rewarding our effort. The Health Advantages of Cretan Extra Virgin Olive Oil The advantages of Cretan Extra Virgin Olive Oil for a Healthy, Balanced Diet are Tremendous. Extra Virgin Olive Oil is one of the Best Foods to include in your everyday diet in order to improve your Health and Longevity for you and the people you care. The care and traceability of our company starts in the base of production and continues up to the selling moment. Our goal, throughout this effort, knowledge and care, is to introduce our product to the consumers all around the globe and using our fine quality that we offer, convince them to include it in a daily basis on their diet, as a lifestyle. a b Knowing the endless nutritional and curing capacities of pure olive oil, we commit that our company's olive oil has all of it's natural contents unalterable that makes it unique and special. Contact us Oasis Varipetrou, Chania, Crete, Greece Phone:
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9 THE NATIONAL HERALD CRETE 2019 SPECIAL EDITION Seitan Limania Beach Akrotiri Almiros Beach Agios Nikolaos The Red Beach Matala Lagoon of Balos Kissamos Vai Beach Sitia Top10 Beaches in Crete Elafonissi Beach Kissamos Korakas Beach Rethymnon Beach of Chrissi Island Ierapetra By Heini-Sofia Alavuo Crete is widely known for its mesmerizing beaches. Many of these areas are protected under the international Natura 2000 program which was established in 1992 by the EU to protect the biodiversity of nature. Thus, always remember to respect nature when visiting these areas. Vai Beach, Sitia Located in the very eastern part of the island, Vai has the biggest palm forest in Europe. In addition to having beautiful palm trees, Vai also has a wonderful sandy beach and clear waters, making it one of the most beautiful destinations in the Mediterranean. Seitan Limania Beach, Akrotiri In the northwestern part of Crete, this beach is located at the bottom of two rocky hills, but it s definitely worth the hike. The water is calm and deep, and the beach even has some rocks to jump from. It s very small though, so be prepared for crowds especially during the hottest tourist season. The beaches of Agios Nikolaos What s best about the beautiful beaches of Agios Nikolaos is that they are located right in the center of the city and are easily accessible. These beaches are especially convenient for families since the local tavernas are within walking distance. The Red Beach, Matala Located in the southern part of the island close to Matala, the Red Beach is a great location for free-spirited people Psaromoura Beach Agia Pelagia Lentas Beach nudism is completely acceptable. Close to the shore there s a beautiful big cave, and it s possible to swim quite far inside to investigate more. Psaromoura Beach, Agia Pelagia This beach is relatively close to the city of Heraklion, but like many other beautiful beaches in Crete, you need a car to get there. The beach is great for snorkeling and rock collecting. Elafonissi Beach, Kissamos This beach used to be under the occupation of pirates, and it is understandable why the view is just breathtaking and the white sand gives this beach an exotic look. You can choose to stay either at the more organized or the more casual part of the beach, depending on your preferences. Ditiko Beach, Lentas Ditiko Beach, also known as Diskos, in the southern part of the island is an ideal place for even a longer stay, if you have your tent or hammock with you. It s perfect for nature lovers who want to stay in touch with the outside world too: there are shops and tavernas a short walk up a hill. Beach of Chrissi Island, Ierapetra This small island was almost closed to the public once it was clear that the ecosystem couldn t handle the amount of litter tourists were leaving behind. Daily boat cruises are still organized, but every visitor must promise to be responsible the clear water and fresh smell of cedar are worth it. The island has the largest naturally formed Lebanon cedar forest in Europe, which makes the beach even more unique. The majority of the trees have an average age of 200 years, and the density is approximately 28 trees per hectare. Lagoon of Balos, Kissamos In the very western part of Crete the lagoon of Balos has beautiful clear blue waters and amazing scenery. The water is very shallow and the sand is very fine, so this beach is ideal for children. Korakas Beach, Rethymnon Close to the city of Rethymnon and next to the village of Rodakino, this long beach is well-organized with tidy umbrellas, tavernas and even rooms for rent, but on the other end, it has some wild rocks and plenty of pebbles. The water is clear and there is lots of room for everybody.
10 10 SPECIAL EDITION 2019 CRETE 2019 THE NATIONAL HERALD Thalassa Boutique Hotel An Exclusive Experience By Anastasis Koutsogiannis T he Thalassa Boutique Hotel offers an exclusive beachfront experience in the heart of Réthymnon city. The hotel is situated in a building with 150 years of history, fully renovated from the ground up in 2017 just to redefine the level of comfort and customer service. The location is magical but also convenient. The facilities are fresh, modern, and brand new. High-end services include our 7 Seas Restaurant and our Euphoria Health Spa to create a complete package ideal for couples and travelers seeking to add quality and comfort to their overall experience. The National Herald spoke with Katerina Borisenko, the director of communications of the hotel, who spoke about the history of the building, the amenities the hotel offers its guests, and about the natural beauty and delicious local cuisine of Crete. Thalassa Boutique Hotel is located in a historic building in the city of Rethymnon. Could you please tell us a bit more about its history? This building truly has a magnificent history which begins in During the years of the Turkish occupation it was the summer abode of the Turkish Pasha Rizvan. It was built by the best engineers and carpenters of the time with stones and soil from Santorini. The apartment style rooms on the top floor were given by the Pasha to an all-girls school and orphanage. Right after the departure of the Turks, the building was bought by a prominent and wealthy family from Rethymnon, which eventually became their primary abode. Because of the location of the building right above the ocean the bottom floor was used as a fish curation facility, where fish could be cured with the cooperation of the local fishermen. Between 1990 and 2017, the building was used as furnished apartments for rent. In 2017, it re-opened as Thalassa Boutique Hotel after the building and the rooms underwent a complete renovation. A new restaurant, the 7 Thalasses (Seas) was also opened. What types of amenities can your guests enjoy? Our guests can enjoy our famous restaurant, the 7 Thalasses, which is located right next to the water. The benefits of staying with us are many some noteworthy ones are: our full-service spa with jacuzzi, sauna, massage, and other therapies for the body and face, and our heated outdoor pool. How old are your typical guests? Our guests are typically between the ages of 30 and 50 years old. They are usually couples (no children under the age of 15 are permitted at the hotel) or friends who are looking to unwind and relax. Additionally, I would like to mention that the hotel supports diversity and is gay friendly. What places could a guest visit during his stay at your hotel? Are there any noteworthy spots within a reasonable distance to the hotel? The hotel is a 15-minute walk from the Old City of Rethymnon which has scenic small alleyways adorned with Venetian architecture and where you will find many museums, the old port with its lighthouse, and the Fortezza castle. The hotel is also a 15-minute drive to the Arkadi Monastery, the new museum of Elefthernas, as well as many beaches. Cretan cuisine is one of the most famous in the world. Does the menu of the 7 Thalasses restaurant focus on the island s cuisine or does it include dishes from other parts of Greece as well? The main components of our menu are the fresh fish and other seafood. The root and philosophy of our cuisine is Cretan but our dishes are from all over Greece and the rest of the Mediterranean as well. Where do you get the ingredients that you use? A large share of the vegetables we use come from the garden of the owner of the hotel, and the fish are caught daily from the Greek seas. We are very careful with our ingredients. We always check for freshness and prefer local producers. You have two restaurants, one in Rethymnon and one in Heraklion. Are the menus the same, or do they differ? The menus are almost the same with slight variations which are due to the differences in the local products and producers. The philosophy behind the restaurants is the same since the owner and chef of the two restaurants is the same! Introducing Out of the Blue Capsis Elite Resort By Heini-Sofia Alavuo Out of the Blue, Capsis Elite Resort is a luxurious destination for visitors who want to have a unique and unforgettable experience surrounded by the beautiful nature of Crete. The National Herald had a chance to speak with Katerina Chryssikopoulou, the Marketing Director of Capsis Elite Resort. The Out of the Blue, Capsis Elite Resort first opened in 1978 and was established by Marika and Thanos Capsis, pioneers in the Greek Hospitality and Tourism Industry. It was first oriented towards luxury conventions and high-profile conferences, up until 2007, when the resort underwent major renovations. Now the resort is focused on VIP guests and their families, wellness lovers, and those looking for the perfect place for a destination wedding or environment surrounded by nature, without being completely isolated from the outside world. The resort is in a very accessible location next to Agia Pelagia, only 20km from the city and Heraklion airport. Chryssikopoulou told TNH, The Capsis family has owned the peninsula for more than 40 years, and during that time great care has been taken to maintain and grow the flora. We have followed a sustainable growth pattern in order to respect the mesmerizing environment of this small corner of Crete. She says that the resort grows its own fruits, vegetables, herbs, and flowers, which supply the hotel and its restaurants with local aromas and flavor. Being a 5-star resort, Out of the Blue, Capsis Elite Resort is known for their personalized service and excellent hospitality, leading to unforgettable experiences. Their guests are usually couples, young fa- honeymoon while still offering high-class conference services. The resort is sited in an ideal location right by the sea on a private peninsula which includes a private beach. It s a wonderful place for a getaway in a calm milies, or groups of friends and the resort offers a wide range of services and activities for every taste. According to Chryssikopoulou, the resort has two water sports centers with various exciting activities, and the Minoan Amusement Club entertains kids aged In addition, they have three escape rooms, physical adventure games in which players solve series of puzzles to find their way out of the room, available for both adults and children. The resort also offers day trips to many of the interesting sites around Crete which alternate depending on the season. Chryssikopoulou says that the resort is also available for different kinds of events: An expert team can plan the perfect wedding or event according to the client s wishes. Ceremonies can take place at our private chapel and the reception can be set up in a wide range of available indoor and outdoor locations. Our team also organizes private conferences and meetings. The famous Everlasting Euphoria concept of Out of the Blue, Capsis Elite Resort offers holistic spa and medical wellness services, aiming to help their guests to relax and tone up their spirit. Chryssikopoulou emphasizes that their highly skilled team offers safe, non-intrusive and innovative programs and treatments using state-of-the-art medical equipment. Guests can enjoy their activities and leisure time in peace since all the treatments and programs are personally planned around guests holidays. The wisdom of Crete is embraced in many of the spa treatments and therapies the resort offers. Chryssikopoulou mentions that their skilled team uses herbs and oils originating from Crete for programs such as Cretan Yoga Delight and the Cretan herbs full body massage. Since the resort is surrounded by serene nature, guests have the option to have treatments in various areas of the resort in gardens, in private coves right by the water or under shaded decks. She adds, We also have a day-spa located on the private beach, where pop-in treatments are available, concentrating on after-sun skin care and massage therapy. According to Chryssikopoulou, the resort s most popular wellness service is their Detox5+ program, which is an excellent way to cleanse from toxins. The program consists of hi-tech treatments and a scientific approach to nutrition, based on local Cretan recipes, using organic produce either grown and handpicked from our own greenhouse or sourced locally. Out of the Blue, Capsis Elite Resort truly stands out as an extraordinary luxury resort in Crete with an international upscale clientele. The season starts from April and lasts until late October. The resort has a season average of 80% occupancy for that time. When asked why guests should choose their resort, Chryssikopoulou says, Luxury brings uniqueness: one of a kind locations, exclusive experiences, rare flavors, and exemplary service, all brought together using the highest standards. We are committed to providing an amazing experience to our guests, hence the location we chose and the services we offer. If you are looking for an unforgettable vacation tailored just for you, Out of the Blue, Capsis Elite Resort is a place where dreams come true.
11 THE NATIONAL HERALD CRETE 2019 SPECIAL EDITION
12 12 SPECIAL EDITION 2019 CRETE 2019 THE NATIONAL HERALD Top 15 Things To Do in Crete By Heini-Sofia Alavuo C rete is a wonderful destination for those who love food, people, nature, sun, history, or parties. Whether you re a daredevil looking for thrills and spills or a nature enthusiast looking for a place to sit and relax, Crete is a stunning vacation destination for those who want to stay active or who want to be horizontal on a beach. Take a look at our list and prepare for your dream holiday on this magical island. and it s also one of the homes of the famous, but rare, Cretan wild goat, kri-kri. 4. Rock climbing Rock climbing is accessible mainly for those who have previous experience and their own equipment. Many visitors travel to Crete solely to climb, since the rocks and cliffs, as well as the beautiful views, offer a unique experience for anyone seeking an adrenaline rush. The best rock climbing area in Crete is said to be Kapetaniana, 75km south of Heraklion. It s a small village and a peaceful place bay next to Palekastro. They have the necessary equipment to rent and strong winds throughout the day. It s suitable for both beginners and more experienced surfers. The best season to visit Crete for windsurfing is from May to October when the wind is strongest but the water is warm. 8. Cycling Another wonderful way to explore Crete is cycling, either off-road or on asphalt paved roads. Visitors can choose from rugged dirt tracks, roads along the seaside or narrow streets passing through small villages. Rental companies offer deals by the hour, day or even by the week. The Tour of Crete, a multi-stage cyclosportive for amateur cyclists, gathers more than 4 million cyclists to the island annually. This year the tour will be running from May 12th to May 17th. 9. Wine tasting, Chania Some of the best wines come from Crete, and many wineries offer a possibility for visitors to come and taste their products. One example is The Manousakis Winery in the village of Vatolakkos, just 15 minutes away from Chania. Guests have a choice between five different tour options, and it s good to make a reservation in advance. 10. Olive Oil Experience, Chania 1. Scuba diving For some, snorkeling is just not enough diving deeper will reveal a gorgeous underwater world full of life and wonders. Many companies around Crete are specialized in scuba diving lessons for beginners and even offer rental equipment. More experienced or skilled divers can enjoy a wide range of excursions, such as night and cave diving. 2. Bird watching Crete hosts a vast number of migratory birds in the spring and fall, and there are many observation towers and huts around the island. Crete is also full of stunningly beautiful birds of prey, such as eagles, falcons, and vultures. The bearded vulture (Gypaetus barbatus) is one of the rarest raptors in Europe, and currently there are seven pairs of them in Crete, producing approximately five juveniles every year. 3. Hiking The many mountains of Crete offer breathtaking views of the island, and if you climb high enough, you will see both the Aegean Sea in the north and the Libyan Sea in the south. The rugged tracks are paved with fragrant herbs and if you re lucky, you might even spot some goats jumping on cliffs. The most famous mountain ranges in Crete are the Psiloritis range and the White Mountains. Crete is sometimes called the land of the gorges because there are so many. The Samaria Gorge is the most famous of them all, located in the sierra of the White Mountains in Chania. It is 18 kilometers long making it the longest gorge of Crete and Europe, for climbers, with more than 130 different routes and a wide range of grades. 5. Horseback riding Horses have been a vital part of everyday life in Crete for a long time, and even today many Cretans have their own horses. Many horse riding clubs and stables offer riding courses or excursions around the island. For example, Plakias Horse Riding Center in the midsouthern part of Crete offers rides at the beach, which will surely be an unforgettable experience. 6. Caving Crete has approximately 4500 mapped caves and sinkholes available for exploration. One of the deepest precipices, with a depth of 1208 meters, is Gourgouthakas located in the Lefka Ori Mountains. The Geoparks of Sitia and Psiloritis and mount Stroumboulas in Heraklion are good places for speleologists around the world to investigate the fascinating rock formations and flora. 7. Windsurfing Windsurfing has become highly popular in Crete. A must-go place for windsurfers is Kouremenos In addition to wine, Crete is known for its olive trees and all the things they produce. Many producers offer a chance to visit their farms, and some even organize tasting sessions. Terra Creta in Kolymvari offers a guided tour around the olive farm. The tour shows how the olives are harvested, introduces their innovative olive mill, and finally takes visitors inside their bottling unit, where they offer a chance to taste three different kinds of extra virgin olive oils. 11. Lasinthos Eco Park, Lassithi Plateau Located 43 kilometers from Agios Nikolaos in the valley of Lassithi Plateau, Lasinthos Eco Park aims to introduce the old traditions and customs of past Cretan life to their visitors. Surrounded by Crete s natural beauty, the Eco Park offers activities such as wood carving, pottery, and weaving. Visitors can also walk through the herb garden or visit the animal farm, where they have horses, donkeys, and various birds. Suitable for a day trip, but accommodations are also available. 12. Carnival, Rethymnon The first carnival of Rethymnon was organized in 1914, and through the years it has slowly grown to become one of the biggest annual carnivals in Greece. In March, the whole town becomes one big party when locals and visitors join together to celebrate before the 40-day lenten fast begins. The theme of the carnival changes yearly and the main event is a big parade going through the center of Rethymnon. 13. Live Music Especially during the summer, many tavernas offer live music for free, mostly on weekends. Traditional Cretan music is very unique, and the tradition is still strongly preserved today. Crete has many traditional instruments, such as stringed lute-like laouto and 3 stringed violin-like lyra. Both are considered symbols for the island, and Cretan music is said to be a fusion of artist and instrument. 14. Ancient Eleftherna, Rethymnon 25km southeast of Rethymnon, Eleftherna is one of the archeological sites that has not been fully excavated yet. The town was founded by the Dorians in the 9th century BC, and the city s location made it a natural crossroads for thoroughfares connecting two big Minoan cities, as it was located between the ancient city of Cydonia and the palace of Knossos. The findings from this ancient town are exhibited in a museum close to the site. 15. Artisan Cheese Workshop and Tasting, Chania Crete is the Promised Land for cheese lovers, as they have many different types of traditional cheeses including mizithra, anthotiri, and kefalograviera. Visitors can book in advance a spot on a practical workshop in Litsarda Village, where they teach how to make artisan cheese using fresh pasteurized local goat milk. It costs 65 and the price includes the workshop, lunch, and wines. The Lakkos Project By Heini-Sofia Alavuo T he area of Lakkos in Heraklion is one of the most up and coming districts in the city today. After a long period of neglect and public unawareness, it s once again full of life, art, and interesting cultural events. The National Herald spoke with Mathew Halpin, an Australian-born visual artist and the creator of the Lakkos project. The Lakkos project is an initiative where Halpin, different volunteer groups, and the Municipality of Heraklion work together to renovate the area and preserve its fascinating history they paint old houses, decorate walls with street art and organize exhibitions and performances around the area. Halpin met TNH in Kafenio o Lakkos, a coffee shop and taverna at Lakkos square. It opened at the same time that the Lakkos project started, in They operate independently, but the Kafenio has been one of the biggest supporters of the project since the beginning. Originally, Lakkos was known as the neighborhood of the underground world the narrow streets were full of hashish smoke, music, immigrants, red lights, and shady people. According to Halpin, in 1900 the government decided to gather all the Christian prostitutes to Lakkos because it was a bit further away from the city center and it was not considered a good area. Soldiers and people of different life paths visited the brothels or sat in the smoke-filled tavernas, and Lakkos even had its own slang and music. The marginal residents continued living in the district until the beginning of World War II. Halpin says he fell in love with the area because of its colorful history. When I moved here I used to park my car on this square. Slowly the locals started to tell stories about what the area used to be, and soon I started to do my own research as well. Originally from Australia, Halpin has worked as a visual artist around Europe ever since he realized he was entitled to an Irish ancestry visa. Before moving to Heraklion in 2013 he spent three years in Tallinn, Estonia. He tells TNH, I was doing okay while selling my art but after a while, I realized my heart wasn t in it anymore. When the Lakkos project started to take over and began to run properly, I felt a spark. Before the project, approximately 50% of the area was abandoned. Halpin wanted to find a way of protecting the district since in addition to its history, the area s architecture differs completely from other areas of Heraklion. Visitors can find old Ottoman houses, neo-classical houses, and traditional townhouses of the villagers. Many old people live in the area, so in the summer the place is full of their flowers if you take a walk on the smaller streets you might find many hidden gardens, Halpin adds. The project started by painting the old houses with a specifically chosen, historically accurate color theme, but since all of the paints were received as donations, it was soon almost impossible to paint all the houses accordingly. Eventually the project became less about painting houses but more about doing murals and street art, Halpin says. While having a stroll around the area visitors can see many pieces of art, painted by international and local artists. PHOTOS BY ANNA CHRONAKI According to Halpin, the project is much smaller today than in the beginning it s hard to keep people interested for long, and the municipality needs to take care of other areas as well. Finding funding is always a struggle for every The annual Summer Arts Festival takes place right next to Lakkos, so this is a nice place to go have some drinks and food before seeing a show. cultural project, which is why Halpin started an art residency in Lakkos for international artists. Approximately people stay at the residency annually. Their participation fees cover accommodation but also help keep the project running. Most residents are writers, performers, and visual artists, and while they are not obligated to participate in the Lakkos project, many like to leave something behind. The Kafenio hosts various art exhibitions. Theater, dance, and music performances also take place all around the district. Halpin adds, The annual Summer Arts Festival takes place right next to Lakkos, so this is a nice place to go have some drinks and food before seeing a show. It seems that Halpin and other project members have succeeded in what they started. Today, the locals are fixing the abandoned houses too, and even a few Airbnb-rental apartments have appeared in Lakkos. Halpin tells TNH, The whole point of the project was to make the locals see the value of the area and to preserve it for younger generations. The locals really love it now, because Lakkos used to be a very depressing place. Not anymore. Worthy of a visit for those who enjoy history, culture and good food Lakkos has it all.
13 THE NATIONAL HERALD CRETE 2019 SPECIAL EDITION Matala Today is Life By Heini-Sofia Alavuo T he sleepy village of Matala is located in the southern part of Crete, only 65 kilometers from Heraklion. The place comes alive every summer when visitors from all around Greece and the world arrive to enjoy its relaxing atmosphere and lovely nature. Caves of Freedom The main attractions of Matala are the man-made caves carved in the rocky cliff on the right side of the beach. It is not certain who made these caves, but a common belief today is that they served as Roman or Early Christian tombs. Some of the caves even have bed-like formations, which is one of the reasons why Matala became a home for the Flower Power generation. In the 1960s hippies around the world took to Matala and its caves as their refuge from the outside world. The caves served as wonderful ready-made accommodation for freeminded, nature-loving spirits who wanted to get away from their respective strict societies. People continued visiting and living in the caves up until the 1970s when they were driven off by the Greek military junta and the church more specifically, the Bishop of Gortys. He Nature and Beaches The beach of Matala has fine sand and clear waters, and it s an excellent place for cliff jumping or snorkeling. The beach has toilets, showers, first aid facilities, and a lifeguard. Kommos Beach and Red Beach are located close to the village of Matala and are good alternatives when looking for a more natural and simple day at the beach. All of these areas are protected by the Natura 2000 project. was the voice of the locals who didn t appreciate the liberated lifestyle of the hippies and demanded that they leave the caves. A small part of the caves remain behind a fenced area protected by the Archaeological service, and a small entrance fee is required. More adventurous visitors can swim a bit further from the beach and climb up on the rocks to explore the rest of the caves. Staying in Matala It s strictly forbidden to sleep in the caves but free camping close to the area is allowed. Both tents and hammocks are allowed, but as always, be mindful of nature when setting up camp. It is also possible to stay in hotels close to the beach, for example at Dimitris Resort Hotel or Hotel Nikos. The old vibe of freedom and creativity can still be felt in the village today. Previously a fisherman s village, Matala survives mainly from tourism. The summer months are especially busy with many concerts and events taking place in the local tavernas and bars. Although a popular destination, Matala still manages to maintain a serene atmosphere. The village s motto: Today is life, tomorrow never comes, sums it up perfectly. This life philosophy is the legacy of the hippies and still greatly valued in Matala today. In addition to all of the common tourist shops, Matala has a lovely range of places offering hand-made items, such as jewelry, clothes, and art. Some of the old cave-dwellers stayed in Matala to sell their creative and eco-friendly items by the main road, so it s easy to find the perfect souvenir that holds some of the history and feeling of Matala. Matala Beach Festival First organized in 2011, every summer the Matala Beach festival brings together music and peace lovers from around the globe. Before the actual event, volunteers come to decorate the main road with beautifully painted artwork as the whole city prepares for the festivities. It s known as the biggest free festival in Europe, but it s also possible to buy a supportive 5 ticket to the mainstage, which is valid for the duration of the festival. For those planning to visit, it s advised to sort out accommodation as early as possible due to the popularity of the event. Archanes Center of Minoan Culture By Heini-Sofia Alavuo T he village of Archanes is a perfect place for anyone looking for a true village experience in Crete. With only 3900 residents and almost as many cats, the place serves as a tranquil safe harbor for anyone escaping the rush of the city. Archanes will charm you with its small streets and cheerfully painted houses, adorable coffee shops, and fascinating history. Minoan Culture Archanes is a must-see destination for every history enthusiast with ancient Minoan sites surrounding the outskirts of the village. Free from long lines and big crowds, the archaeological sites are open for visitors without charge at any time of the day. In the middle of the town lay the remains of a far less known Minoan palace. Said to have been as powerful and marvelous as the Museums and Workshops While having a stroll around the city visitors can learn a lot about the village at the various museums and workshops built and run by the locals. The Folklore Museum, the Cretan History Museum, and the Archaeological Museum make sure the village has something to offer to everyone. It s also possible to join the sculpture workshop of famous sculptor Manolis Tzobanakis or visit the local Koronekes olive oil mill. How to get there Renting your own car in Crete is definitely the best way to get around the island, but with a bus it takes only a bit over half an hour to get to Archanes from Heraklion. One-way tickets cost around 2 euros and during the summer, the buses run almost every hour. The village is ideal for a day trip, but it also has a good variety of hotels and traditional houses for those who want to stay a bit longer - try Villa Archanes or Eliathos Hotel. Heraklion Radio Taxi Association A fleet of 300 CARS and the only taxi-call system in Greece which has the ability to RECOGNIZE AND UNDERSTAND SPEECH palace of Knossos, its main purpose was to serve as a place to control the many religious centers of the region. Mount Juktas (Giouchtas) was a very important place for the Minoans. Located close to Archanes, visitors will have a beautiful view of the mountain that has been said to resemble the profile of Zeus. The mountain is the site of one of the most important Minoan peak sanctuaries, which were places for religious rites. The Anemospilia temple is located on the north end of Mount Juktas, on a hillside facing north towards the palace of Knossos. It served as a place for sacred rituals, and although some believe this included human sacrifice as well, most archaeologists deny this due to lack of evidence. To reach the archaeological cemetery of Fourni, visitors must climb up a hill northwest of Archanes and follow the signed path that starts from the village. The view is surely worth the hike seeing Mount Juktas and the areas around it make it clear why the Minoans decided to choose the location for their sacred necropolis, the city of the dead. The cemetery itself is not open to the public, but it s possible to hire a guard for a private tour inside the gates. The cemetery of Fourni was in use from approximately 2400 BCE until 1000 BCE. Long-lasting excavations have revealed numerous graves, buildings, skeletons, and objects in the area, and because of these findings, it s considered the most important Minoan cemetery in Crete. Most of the findings have been transferred to the Archaeological Museum in Heraklion where they are now on exhibit. a b Download our app BOOK A TAXI TRANSFER in just a few seconds! Now you can download our app on every mobile device for fast and easy online booking or via telephone call or even via sms. Our app is easy to use and very user friendly. 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14 14 SPECIAL EDITION 2019 CRETE 2019 THE NATIONAL HERALD Traveling for a cause By Heini-Sofia Alavuo For those who want to travel but at the same time do something that could have a meaningful impact on ones self or the environment, Crete is a wonderful destination this summer. Below please find an introduction to two truly noteworthy programs. Unbound Prometheus Unbound Prometheus is a program organized every summer in Greece in different locations this year it s organized in Chania, Crete. Unbound Prometheus is an intellectual retreat for people who have a thirst for knowledge. The program offers advanced seminars on academic subjects, as well as quality accommodation, and visitors will also be able to enjoy the beautiful natural environment of Crete. It s truly a trip for both the exercise and the relaxation of the mind. In 2019, Program 1 runs from July 7 to 14, and Program 2 from July 14 to 21. Program 1 offers a master seminar called The Quantum Universe, Reality and Living by professor and author Menas Kafatos. They also offer two academic bundles: one about mathematical modeling in art and science, and one about corporate finance and strategy. Program 2 offers a bundle about the science behind mass media s influences on people, and one about the computer and the brain. In these seminars, the participants learn from the experts in their field. The program will provide accommodation close to the Chania Center, and the lectures will take place in that same hotel. The tuition fee for one seminar is $1300, but going for both is quite the deal - $1500. The tuition fee covers accommodations for 7 days as well as breakfast and transportation to the scheduled excursions. The program is directed towards gifted high school students, to adults who are seeking intellectual stimulation, as well as to junior faculty members wishing to enhance their research agenda and teaching expertise. Some universities in the United States have also awarded credits to their students who have attended the program. You can find more info about application dates from their website: Archelon The Sea Turtle Protection Society of Greece Founded in 1983, Archelon aims to protect the sea turtles and their habitats. The society has led a number of activities related to sea turtle conservation through the years, and they contribute extensively to the scientific research of the species. Archelon has three different volunteering options in Crete, including Rethymnon, Messara, or Chania. All projects vary slightly in their duties and program schedules, giving volunteers the choice to pick a project that works best for them. The duties can include monitoring of the nesting activity of the loggerhead sea turtle, protection of nests and hatchlings, as well as contributing to public awareness. These projects run from May to September every year. The society supports conservation in action while also collecting data that is used to find solutions to threats sea turtles are facing. Many threats are related to the high amount of tourism at the nesting beaches as well as the huge amount of plastic litter in the sea and by the shores. All the data collected by Archelon contributes to the assessment of the state of sea turtles at the local, European, and Mediterranean levels. It is clear that being a volunteer for Archelon is a great way to do good in both practical and scientific terms. Participation fees start from 350 depending on the length of the volunteering period, and it includes accommodation. A valid driver s license is required, and English is the main language used in all of the projects. It is not mandatory to have prior knowledge or experience with sea turtles, but an ability to work together in an international group is essential. Check their website for more information: Sandals for the Sacred Paths of Crete and Beyond PHOTOS: COURTESY OF KLIMATSAKIS SANDALS FACEBOOK PAGE By Maria Kalogeris In Tsikalaria, Chania, Crete there is an Industrial Park, ΒΙΟ.ΠΑ, that consists of small and medium workshops. There we visited the Klimatsakis workshop and had the pleasure of talking with Michalis Klimatsakis, a member of the family that makes handmade leather sandals for men, women, and children. How old is the business and how did it start? The workshop has been in its present form since 2006 when it started manufacturing leather sandals. My father, Konstantinos Klimatsakis, started working with sandals many years back when he started working as a machine maintainer in a large footwear factory. There he learned the art of footwear and learned how to make molds and leather bags, slowly gaining a tremendous amount of experience in the making of sandals. Are you open all year round or just for a specific season every year? The workshop is open all year round. During winter months we fill the warehouse in order to cope with the great summer demand. The sandals are made from scratch, correct? Correct. The sandals are handmade and are made from scratch here at the workshop. We only buy the leather and we create the sandals. Where do you get the leather from and what kind of leather do you use? About 95% of our production is calves leather that the tanners buy semiprocessed (the hair is removed) and then process by using only natural materials. It is a technique that was developed here in Greece, and as a result the leather has no chemicals. That is what makes the leather very durable. Describe to us the stages of a sandal s production. The first stage is the cutting, in which you basically take the pieces of leather and you attach them by either stitching them or with the help of various metallic elements in order to get the shape of the sandal you want. Then, after you have prepared the bottom, you create holes in specific places and you put on the fonti, the assembled leather. Then you modernize it on a shoe last stand, which is shaped like a human foot, and give it its final form. This is the most important step, since it must be formed in such a way as to be stable and comfortable. Finally, you glue the soles to the sandals and add some last details so that the sandals are not only comfortable, but perfect for display. Who is in charge of the designs? My father is mostly in charge for the designs since he has many years of experience. My brother and I, Anastasios Klimatsakis, help in the process as well. Were there times when you had to do something out of the ordinary and experiment with new designs? Did you get a good outcome, or do you think your classic designs are the most successful at the end? You should always follow fashion, but only up to the point where the character of the handmade Greek leather sandal is preserved. If you have new ideas, you can always create a very good Greek fashionable sandal. Classic designs are always a big part of our production but there are some new designs that people love so much that in the end they become classic and timeless as well. Where can someone find and buy your sandals? Our sandals can be found in almost all the Greek Islands and in all the major Greek cities. You recently opened a store in Chania and Rethymno. What can someone find there besides sandals? In our new stores where my brother Yiannis Klimatsakis is in charge, besides the enormous range of our sandals, someone can also find leather bags and belts as well as leather wallets in a wide variety of designs and colors. Do you trade overseas or just in Greece? We sell our sandals in many countries such as France, Germany, Britain, the USA, and Israel. You recently participated in the TE- CHNIMA Trade Fair of 2019 that took place at the metropolitan Expo in Athens. What did you present this year? This year in the Exhibition we presented our collection for 2019, which is enriched with many new designs and many new colors in order to catch up with the market s requirements. Continued from page 4 forms, the opening of new dynamic foreign markets, and the attraction of investments focusing on higher quality. Building on what we have achieved so far, we are entering 2019 more dynamically to strengthen the international identity and image of our island as a unique, world-renowned destination that offers authentic travel experiences 365 days a year in the wider Mediterranean area. Responding to global trends, we are working, through the use of modern tools available to us, to advance and promote Crete in the most modern and effective way in targeted markets. At the same time, we have introduced and utilize all modern methods that are part of an increasingly dynamic field of development in tourism. We do this in order to make tourism even more business and investmentfriendly. We want to create the conditions for companies to acquire the necessary supplies and tools to ensure that they are highly competitive so that they may best meet the increasing Stavros Arnaoutakis on Crete and Tourism demands of our visitors. For the Region of Crete, tourism is not a matter of concern only to professionals and workers in the tourism sector. It is a key factor in the growth prospects of Crete. In this context, we are depending on all the productive forces of the island in order to build a regional alliance in response to the challenges of the coming years. We are absolutely certain that we will succeed. Is the tourist route of Crete connected with that of Greece or can the island operate independently of the rest of the country? It is well known that the tourist industry is reflects international developments, and more so with domestic conditions, socioeconomic conditions and the political environment. Tourism mirrors the surrounding environment. A good tourist year for Greece clearly affects our island. Operationally, how is the regional government driving up the island s visibility where are you narrowing your focus? As I mentioned before, our goal remains the continuation of the tourist stream year-round. The prolongation of the tourist season is the great challenge that we all have to meet. Three equally important conditions have to be met in order to achieve this objective. Firstly, with coordinated communication initiatives we must dispel the myth that Crete is an exclusively summer destination. The local comparative advantages that make it an ideal destination, 12 months a year, should be brought to the forefront. Secondly, there must be a single, coherent, development policy that creates balanced tourism development opportunities throughout the island. Thirdly, at a local level, powerful and autonomous tourism offices must promote the development of tourism in the winter. The goal should be to attract foreign visitors throughout the year so that there is not such a great discrepancy between winter and summer tourism. This requires efficient promotion and communication abroad outlining a comprehensive winter tourism package. Foreigners do not generally know that Crete has large mountain ranges with plateaus and mountain slopes suitable for climbing. Dozens of mountainous villages are transformed into centers of culture and gastronomy during the winter. The communication policy of the Region of Crete in recent years has singled-out and won praise at a national, European and global level. It is a strategy based on specific thematic axes. Particularly in Cretan cuisine, agricultural products and food, nature, culture and history, religious tourism, Cretan tradition, alternative activities, medical tourism, etc. What place do you think is Crete s chief competitor? What are the advantages of Crete compared to other islands? To theorize about competition, we must first and foremost compare ourselves to ourselves. First we, in cooperation with the Municipalities of Crete, the tourism industry, the workers in tourism, have an obligation to continue to support the heavy industry of the island. Beyond that, the identity of Crete at the southern edge of Europe, in the heart of the Mediterranean, continues to be its greatest advantage. Every corner of Crete, every village, every city, from Zakros to Elafonissi and from Gramvousa to Ierapetra, is a unique experience for the visitor. These are the images that for centuries now, create a unique setting. A multi-dimensional mosaic complemented by the elements of our culture, our Christian tradition, our customs and our natural landscape. For all visitors, Crete is a special is a special and unique tourist destination. It s not just the qualities of a modern tourist destination that bring millions of foreign visitors to Crete. Crete is a place endowed with nature enthralling the tourist. Millennia-old stories and traditions come to life at the sites of Minoan civilization. Hospitality is the hallmark of our national and local identity, transforming the island into a friendly and intimate place for all foreign visitors. The security that the visitors of our island feel complements the sense of a oneof-a-kind trip. Do you have an idea, yet, about prospects for the upcoming season? 2019 will be a challenging year for tourism in Crete. After four years of ever-increasing arrivals, we now have an idiosyncratic year. The tourism industries of Turkey, Egypt, and other countries are recovering. At the same time Brexit creates new conditions in the tourist market which we cannot yet grasp. With the data we have, however, we believe that Crete will attract millions of tourists for another year, registering a tourist season just as satisfying as in previous years.
15 THE NATIONAL HERALD CRETE 2019 SPECIAL EDITION Minoan Lines Swiftly, Pleasantly & Safely to Paradise By Heini-Sofia Alavuo Travelers will also be able to enjoy the breathtakingly beautiful Aegean Sea, and the really lucky ones might even spot some dolphins. Minoan Lines is one of the most prominent European shipping companies. Offering reliable and high-quality services, the company has also made a huge impact on Cretan tourism and transportation. The National Herald had an opportunity to speak with Antonis Maniadakis, the Managing Director of Minoan Lines. Antonis Maniadakis has devoted his career and expertise to Minoan Lines for almost 30 years, and in 2005 he was unanimously elected as Managing Director of Minoan Lines S.A. In 2011, he was among the Top Leaders in Greece according to distinguished Greek newspapers and shipping portals. Mr. Maniadakis told TNH that Minoan Lines has been serving the transportation industry for 46 years, managing to gain an excellent, far-reaching reputation, and standing out in an increasingly competitive market. The company is headquartered in Heraklion, Crete, and Minoan Lines employs approximately 350 employees on land and sea. The company manages and preserves a fleet of state of the art high-speed cruise ferries and catamarans, which adhere to the highest safety and environmental standards, he said. Mr. Maniadakis told TNH that Minoan Lines operates in the domestic market in Greece, offering connections from Crete to Piraeus and the Cyclades Islands. Regular itineraries from Crete, either Heraklion or Chania, to Piraeus in Athens operate on a daily basis throughout the year. For the summer season, from April to October, Minoan Lines offers routes from Heraklion to Santorini, Ios, Paros, and Mykonos, and two more cruise ferries operate on the route Heraklion-Milos-Piraeus from June to September. The company is a proud member of the Italian Grimaldi Group. Since Minoan Lines acts as a General Sales Agent for the Grimaldi Group, it also offers routes between Greece and Italy, including Patras, Igoumenitsa, Corfu, Ancona, and Venice. According to the latest numbers, Minoan Lines is clearly an important operator in the industry. For example, during a 9-month period in 2018, the domestic Heraklion-Piraeus Line carried 558 thousand passengers, 89 private cars and 44 thousand freight units. Mr. Maniadakis said, The company s market shares on this route shaped at 66.7% for passengers, 64.8% for private cars and 46.4% for freight units. He agrees that Crete is undoubtedly one of the most popular destinations in Greece and in Europe. Because the majority of travelers choose to fly to Crete, ferry services are striving to keep up with the strong competition created by low-cost airline carriers and charter flights. Mr. Maniadakis told TNH, Minoan Lines operates within the passenger ferry sector, serving Crete on a daily basis with its ferries. With our regular itineraries, we aim to connect Crete to the mainland, serving not only our passengers but also offering our cargo services to the agricultural and other sectors that need to transport their products to the mainland. Traveling by sea makes Crete accessible throughout the year most airlines tend to operate only during summer season with charter flights. Mr. Maniadakis revealed that the company s goal, along with other companies within the travel sector in Crete, is to turn Crete into a four-season destination, offering a variety of different activities, travel choices, hospitality, and supreme services. In the context of climate change, traveling to Crete by sea instead of flying is also an ecological choice, especially after the stunning emission reduction actions Minoan Lines has chosen to take. Minoan Lines aims to be the first Greek ferry company installing exhaust gas cleaning technology to comply with the new international emission regulations. According to Mr. Maniadakis, their plan is to act by April 2019, 8 months prior to the January 1, 2020 deadline set by the IMO Marine Environment Protection Committee. This will eliminate 97-98% of sulfur oxides and 70-80% of particulate matter, leading to a significant reduction of harmful emissions and providing a greener future. Minoan Lines is known for its excellent and high-quality services, which is another reason why many visitors decide to travel by sea instead of flying. Mr. Maniadakis told TNH, Our specific focus is on meeting the individual requirements, needs, and expectations of our passengers. The goal is to provide a unique travel experience on board, making it not just a trip but a luxury cruise experience. The passengers can enjoy state-ofthe-art cabins, swimming pools, lounges, bars, elegant dining venues, boutiques, special children s areas, internet corners, discos, and live music the list goes on. Mr. Maniadakis highlighted, Each aspect of the ship appeals to everyone and is geared towards relaxation, convenience, and comfort the qualities the company prides itself on. Travelers will also be able to enjoy the breathtakingly beautiful Aegean Sea, and the really lucky ones might even spot some dolphins. Customers may purchase their tickets by calling the Minoan Lines reservations office, visiting their ticket offices, or contacting their partner travel agents network within Greece. The company has also undergone significant upgrades on their website and online booking system, making it even easier for travelers to plan their trips. Mr. Maniadakis told TNH, We are fully committed to helping each and every one of our customers enjoy the best possible experience. According to Mr. Maniadakis, the company is optimistic about the future, and its main strategy is to invest in new vessels in order to deliver frequent service from diversified ports to its customers. Safety, Comfort, and Professionalism Drives Taxi Knossos By Vassilis Koutsilas The president of Taxi Knossos, Manolis Psilakis spoke to The National Herald about his company and the changes the taxi industry is undergoing. He began with a comprehensive list of the services that make the company competitive: 1 24 hour service and support 2 V.I.P. transport 3 Passenger pick-up from harbors and airports to a specific drop-off zone. 4 Planned trips 5 Credit card payments accepted 6 Secure transportation of personal items without the customer needing to be there to supervise 7 Polyglot drivers 8 Drivers adhere to a dress code 9 Beloved pet(s) are transported with care 10 Children are transported by drivers who pay strict attention to safety and comfort criteria, including providing car seats for children of all ages 11 Free WiFi in all of the vehicles 12 Transfer of people with disabilities through pre-booking Asked why a person should choose Taxi Knossos, which was founded in Psilakis said that customers prefer Taxi Knossos because it is the largest taxi company in Crete, with a fleet of 300 vehicles based in Heraklion that travel to every corner of the island. With experienced personnel who have a deep knowledge of the services they provide, Taxi Knossos evokes a sense of security, comfort, and confidence in its customers. The taxi field in Greece, as in all other European countries, is in a transitional phase, he said, emphasizing the rise of independent private drivers (non-taxi) who want to provide the same services Taxi Knossos does without the necessary prerequisites and record keeping. Psilakis said, There are companies that work with these drivers in order to cut corners and thereby cut costs when it comes to providing transportation. Taxi Knossos has up to date information about its employees driving records and monitors violations of Greek and EU rules and the company is in full compliance with the EU s General Data Protection and Regulation (GDPR). We offer transportation with certified personal drivers in accordance with Greek law and our fares are approved by the Greek government. We also have a sophisticated vehicle search capability through either a mobile app (Android or ios) or our cretataxi.com website.
16 16 SPECIAL EDITION 2019 CRETE 2019 THE NATIONAL HERALD