One of the newest innovations on the island – with tremendous potential and surely destined to play an important role in the coming years.
It is organized by the musical workshop 'Labyrinth', the brain-child of Ross Daly.
Under this aegis every summer, dozens of concerts are performed, spotlighting major Cretan artists and musicians from all around the world. It covers a wide range of listening tastes - from the most experimental to the ultra-traditional, and naturally includes dancing too!
Parallel events include a Bazaar, a market for local produce, and exhibition of musical instruments etc etc.
This year the festival starts on June 29 and there are concerts held every Friday.
The period of summer sales in Rethimno starts on Monday July 9 and ends on Friday July 31. This is the ideal time for locals and tourists to shop as the prices will be a lot lower. It will also be a relief to the shop owners, who are expecting their shops to be full of people doing their daily shopping. So, let's go out for shopping on July 9!!
The modernisation of what is Greece’s second busiest airport was financed by Hellenic Duty Free Shops to the tune of 13 million euros.
Renovations at Nikos Katzantzakis Heraklion Airport have seen the introduction of a new departures area covering 2,895sqm, the restoration of the old departures area, two extra toilet complexes and the introduction of four VIP lounges.
The airport’s 2,054sqm of duty-free space has relocated from the first floor to the ground floor of the airport. Hellenic Duty Free Shops said the newly-opened walkthrough stores would create a “world class” retail experience and also offer a strong sense of place by offering traditional Greek products across the core duty-free categories, including Cretan food and beverage produce.
Hellenic Duty Free Shops CEO George Velntzas said of the renovations: “This whole investment undertaken by our Company was realised in 165 days and constituted the successful expression of the partnership of a private initiative with the Greek State benefiting both sides.”
What about the new Kastelli (Heraklion) Airport?
While the main focus was on the new renovation of Heraklion International Airport at the opening, Christos Spirtzis, Minister of Infrastructure and Transport, replied to a question about what will happen to the new airport in Kastelli, saying "we now have a modern airport until the new one in Kastelli is ready."
On June 30 the Creta Wine Fair is hosted at Fortezza Castle. Let's taste together the best wines of Crete. There will be also live Mediterenian Jazz by the gutarist Dimitris Koliakoudakis and the trumpetist Achileas papakostas.
Entrance: 5 euro (including a glass for wine tasting)
Wild greens, "Horta" in Greek, are among the most healthy and nutritious foods for foodies.
What’s best, is that they grow wild, with no help at all. They are basically plants that grow uncultivated in all sorts of places, ranging from roadsides to open fields and mountains.
Wild greens have been a very important part of the Cretan diet throughout the centuries and they have played an important role to the people’s survival during harsher times, when the food was scarce (wars, famine e.tc). The Cretans have always valued them for their medicinal properties and their suggested benefits for conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure but also for being a great source of antioxidants and Omega 3 fatty acids. In fact, wild greens are generally higher in nutrient content than their domesticated counterparts.
These glorious wild greens are also a gastronomic treat, with flavors ranging from bitter to salty and sweet and textures ranging from tender to crisp. They can constitute both, a side dish (cold or warm salad) and the main meal. Greens pair well with almost everything – meat, fish, pasta, seafood – as they enhance rather than overpower the flavors of the other ingredients.
Although foraging for horta may sound like an old-fashioned activity, it is in fact still very popular. Driving around the Cretan countryside, you'll often see men, women and children alike, picking horta on the roadsides and in olive groves, gathering the greens into plastic bags, bushel baskets, or specially-designed large-pocketed aprons.
Wild greens still form a significant part of the diet in Crete, judging from the fact that they are collected in the wild, sold at the supermarket, the greengrocers’ shops and the local street markets. Many wild greens have become trendy of late, and feature on many top-end restaurant menus.
Truth is that on just about every Cretan restaurant menu, you will find a dish called horta, which is a bowl of boiled wild greens with lemon and olive oil. Lemon juice goes amazingly well with cooked greens, not just for adding flavor but also for helping your body absorb the iron from them. Many islanders used to drink the broth in which the greens were boiled, adding plenty of lemon juice to it.
Wild greens are also used for the traditional Cretan green pies, called kallitsounia. Kallitsounia are small half-moon shaped pastry filled with a mixture of wild greens and fried in virgin olive oil. According to the local recipe, the finely chopped wild greens are not boiled but cooked, with plenty of virgin olive oil and only a little water, for approximately an hour at a medium temperature. They are then left to cool and drain before filling the pastry.
Crete is, for sure, an excellent natural environment with rich plant variety which renders it one of the most ineresting flora in the world. There are about 1800 species and subspecies of plants on the island and 193 approximately are endemic, which means that they are only found in Crete. The rich flora of the island is due to its geographical position, mild climate, mountains which are separated from each other with meadows, small plains and many gorges.
The most popular wild edible plants of Crete are:
avronies (Tamus communis): they are found in wet sites, springs, stone benches, gorges of the lowland, sub-montane and montane zone. The tender shoots are consumed cooked in steam and browned with meat or eggs.
agoglossos (Anchusa azurea): it is found in the ends of roads, fallow and cultivated fields mainly of the sub-montane zone. It is also called “fish of the mountain” since the tender stems can be dipped in a beaten mixture of flour and liquid and then, fried. The tender stems are also consumed cooked in steam.
agriagginara (Cynara cornigera): it is found in fallow and stony sites of the lowland and sub-montane zone. The leaves and the head are consumed raw, cooked in steam or browned. They can even be cooked with scrambled eggs and can become pickle. The raw salad is a very common side dish for the local drink raki.
agrioradiko (Taraxacum megalorhizon): it is found in the montane zone at an altituide of 1000m approximately to 1600m, in the Plateau of Katharo in Lassithi and in the mountain Kedros in Rethymno. The leaves are consumed raw in salads or cooked in steam.
askolympros (Scolymus bispanicus): it is found in fallow land, stony sites and cultivated fields of the lowland and sub-montane zone. The leaves are consumed cooked in steam and the root is consumed cooked in steam and/or fried afterwards.
ahatzikas (Scandix spp): it is found in the ends of roads, ditches, vineyards, fallow and cultivated fields of the lowland and sub-montane zone. The leaves have a special smell and they are consumed browned.
galatsida (Reichardia picroides): it is found in stony soils, steep sites, fallow fields, thickets and cultivated fields from the littoral to the montane zone. The leaves and the tender shoots are consumed raw with vinegar, cooked in steam or browned.
glykoradiko (Leontodon tuberosus): it is found in the ends of fields, fallow sites, rare thickets, vineyards and cultivated fields of the lowland and the sub-montane zone. The roots are consumed raw and the leaves are consumed cooked in steam.
zohos (Sonchus sp.): it is usually found in cultivated fields, fallow land, ends of roads of the lowland and sub-montane zone. The leaves and the tender shoots are consumed cooked in steam.
kafkalithra (Tordyliym apulum): it is found in fallow and mainly cultivated fields or vineyards of the lowland and sub-montane zone. The leaves have a strong smell and they are consumed raw in salads or browned.
kritamo (Crithmum maritimum): it is found on steep and sandy beaches of the littoral zone. The leaves are consumed raw in salads after being seasoned with vinegar. It is also called “sea fennel” because, in its fresh form, it smells like a mixture of fennel and peppermint.
lagoudopaximado (Prasium majus): it is found in stony soils, fallow fields, gullies, wet sites and rare thickets of the lowland and sub-montane zone. The tender shoots are consumed browned.
lapatho (Rumex spp): it is usually found in cultivated fields, pasture land and wet sites of the lowland and –mainly– sub-montane zone. The leaves are consumed browned. They can also be stuffed with herbed rice (dolmades).
lapsana (Sinapis sp.): it is usually found in cultivated fields, ends of roads and fallow fields of the lowland and sub-montane zone. The leaves and the tender shoots are consumed cooked in steam
pentanevro (Plantago lanceolata): it is found in wet sites, meadows, gullies or slopes of roads of the lowland and sub-montane zone. The leaves have a light, sweet and fresh smell. They are consumed browned and they are eaten in small portions along with other greens.
radikio (Cichorium intibus): it is found in meadows, fallow and cultivated fields of the lowland, sub-montane and montane zone. It is a species with many different varieties (color, shape, fuzzy leaves or not e.tc.). The leaves, the tender shoots and the root (“goula”) are consumed cooked in steam.
skordoulakas (Μuscari commosum): it is found in fallow land, meadows, stony sites and cultivated sites of the lowland, sub-montane and montane zone. The root (bulb) is consumed cooked in steam. Ιt is also eaten as a 'pickle' having been cooked and preserved with olive oil, herbs and a little vinegar.
stamnagathi (Cichorium spinosum): it is found in the littoral and montane zone. The leaves are consumed raw in salads with olive oil and lemon, cooked in steam or browned. It is considered the “prince” of wild edible plants as it is rich in vitamin C and E and Omega 3 fatty acids, which boost the immune system. This particular variety is now starting to be commercially cultivated.
stafylinakas (Daucus carota): it is found in meadows, stone benches, vineyards, ends of fields and cultivated fields of the lowland and sub montane zone. Domesticated carrots are cultivars of this species. The leaves and the tender shoots have a strong smell and they are consumed cooked in steam. They are also used in pies to give flavor as they smell almost like parsley.
styfnos (Solanum nigrum): it is found in cultivated fields, fallow sites and meadows of the lowland, sub-montane and montane zone. The leaves and the tender shoots are consumed cooked in steam.
fasoulida (Ranunculus ficaria): it is found in cultivated fields, springs and wet sites of the lowland and sub-montane zone. The leaves are consumed browned in small portions.
During your winter visit in Rethymno, a good starting point to learning about edible wild greens, is to go for a walk at the local air market (Laiki), operating on Thursday mornings at the parking next to the Municipal Garden and on Saturday mornings, at 200m distance from the central bus station. Ask the local producers to help you tell apart the different species and organise your own excursion on the countryside in order to forage for them. You can also taste different kinds of wild greens at almost any restaurant and tavern, in and out of the city. Try new recipes and learn about the making of simple Cretan dishes based on wild greens.
If Rethymno is a summer destination for you, don’t miss the opportunity to visit the Cretan Diet Festival, which is organised every summer in the beginning of July aiming to highlight and promote local products. During the Festival, you can try special menus in many restaurants, which are introduced by local chefs based on Cretan traditional recipes and local ingredients (olive oil, wild greens, cheese, snails, pomegranate e.tc.), paired with local wines.
As the Greek island marks the anniversary of the beginning of the Battle of Crete a hidden gem of a museum in the town of Platanias, west of Chania, remains o poignant reminder of the three-and-a-half-year occupation of the island during the Second World War. The War Shelter museum of Platanias consists of an underground complex of booths and tunnels that were used by the Germans to store ammunition and military materiel during the World War II. Many decades after the war, the Platanias Church Committee and citizens of the village decided to reconstruct the war shelter and utilize it as a small World War II museum in memory of the Battle of Crete. The German army used locals as forced labor to build the tunnels that were mainly used to store weapons and ammunition.
The tunnels have been preserved in their original form and visitors to the museum can see unique exhibits abandoned by the Germans when they withdrew from Crete. Among the old photographs, Nazi uniforms, helmets, furniture and containers used by the Germans for storing fuel. Abandoned military hardware, such as antiaircraft missiles, mines, torpedo tubes, are also displayed at the museum. The construction of the shelter itself is related to an interesting local story, according to the local site goplatanias.gr.
During the Battle of Crete a heavily wounded German pilot died in Platanias after he was nursed by locals for several days. The strong fear for Nazi reprisals and executions of innocent civilians forced the villagers to bury the German soldier in a secret grave near a church. Unfortunately, some days later this exact spot was chosen by the German officer in order to begin the excavations for the shelter construction.
Mihalis Stamatakis, a smart church commissioner, persuaded the Nazis to move the tunnel entrance thus not revealing the secret soldiers grave and consequently saving the village from certain massacre. He invoked the holiness of an olive tree that stands in the same place at the main entrance of the war shelter today.
Excavation finds in Crete in 2010 indicate that man traveled the Mediterranean 130,000 years ago, and not 10,000 years ago as originally believed, according to Science magazine. In an article entitled “Searching for a Stone Age Odysseus”, it says that up until a decade ago, archaeologists assumed that the adventurous travels of Odysseus, as reflected in Homer’s Odyssey, were the first ventures in the Mediterranean, placed 10,000 years ago. Or that sea travel was a human endeavor that started in the Bronze Age.
However, excavators in 2010 claimed to have found stone tools in Crete dating back at least 130,000 years, leading to assumptions that man traveled the seas as early as in the Neanderthal stage. The recent find indicates that the Neanderthal was navigating the Mediterranean. After all, Crete was inhabited, and Crete has been an island for over five million years, meaning that the people who lived there, somehow sailed to Crete.
Between 2008-09, a Greek-American scientific team found in the southern coastal location of Plakias hundreds of stone tools, which are very similar to tools used by Homo erectus over at least a million years ago, and Neanderthals 130,000 years ago.
One of the investigators claimed that these tools are indicative of Neanderthals’ maritime migrations from the Near and Middle East to Europe. An attempt to date gear has led to an estimate of at least 130,000 years of age, but doubts about their age remained, which did not help to dissipate the skepticism of other scientists for such a bold theory.
Then there were other finds of probably Neanderthal origin, such as Stelida on Naxos, which, even in the last Ice Age, when the water level was lower, was estimated to be accessible only by sea. There, another Greek-Canadian team, discovered in a flint quarry hundreds of stone tools (more sophisticated than those of Crete in their method of construction), among which hand-tools that resemble tools made by both Neanderthals and Homo Sapiens 50,000 to 200,000 years ago.
The dating process of these tools is still in progress and is expected with interest. It can not be ruled out to confirm their age and thus give more credibility points to the assumption that there were even more ancient seafarers in the Aegean.
Other paleolithic tools have also been discovered on the Ionian Islands, mainly on Zakynthos and Kefalonia. This, according to the archaeologists, shows that people were going to the islands much earlier than initially thought.
But for some islands, there are doubts about when they were cut off from the land and became islands. Such as e.g. is the case of Lemnos, where archaeologist Nikos Efstratios of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki believes he has found a Paleolithic hunting camp which is over 10,000 years old.
Air Force One landed on Souda U.S. base on Crete at 3:07 on Sunday for refuel with President Donald Trump on board on his way to Singapore for the critical meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
“Air Force One landed on the Greek island of Crete at 3:07 local time, about eight hours after leaving the Bagotville airbase (in Quebec, Canada). Our destination for refueling is the bay of Souda, where it seems to have a beautiful Mediterranean night,” says the telegram of the press team.
Air Force One departed at 4:41 local time in Greece with the final destination being the Paya Lebar Air Base in Singapore.
The trip is estimated to last for 10 hours and 13 minutes and Air Force One is expected to land at 8 pm local time Singapore.
U.S. President leaves G7 in disarray
The U.S. President left the G7 summit after a fruitless debate on trade tariffs.
Trump rejected the joint communique so Canada, Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Japan did no issue a statement as they could not reach a consensus on trade.
The U.S. President blamed Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for high tariffs and called him “dishonest and weak”. He also attacked the trade policies of other countries.
Thanasis Papakonstantinou and Sokratis Malamas, two of Greece's best musicians, perform together on stage this summer in Crete! A musical journey through the simplicities and complications of life with tradition and magical realimas a guide. Monday August 6 in the open theatre of Arkalochori (Heraklion) and Wednesday August 8 in Vamon (Chania).
Ioulia karapataki: vocals
Yiannis Antoniadis: clarinet
Apostolis Yiagkos: keyboard
Dimitris Lappas: guitars, tzouras, bouzouki
Nikos Magnisalis: percussion
Kostas Pantelis: electric guitar
Yiannis Papatriantafullou: bass
Fotis Siotas: violin, viola, vocals
Kuriakos Tapakis: lute, bouzouki
Most of the visitors of the island who seek to discover the luscious flora and fauna of Crete have visited or will visit the lake of Kournas. It is the only natural, freshwater lake in Crete, just 2.5 km from the sea and 4 km from the seaside town of Georgioupolis. Adjacent is located the mountain village of Kournas and the edges of the White Mountains (“Lefka Ori”) that create a magical landscape and offer a unique experience to the people who will choose to visit it.
The scenery at the lake is truly majestic and creates the illusion that you fell into the pages of a fairytale! It makes you feel like fairies and spirits will jump out of their hideouts and start dancing on the tranquil waters. So, even though most people have heard about the lake, how many of you know the tale that hides behind it…?
The lake of Kournas has its own legend and of course, its own nymph. According to the myth and the folk narrations, the nymph of the water was once the daughter of a villager who sat down with her father on the spot where the lake is today. Her father, bewitched by her beauty, was tempted and approached her with wicked intentions. The girl, terrified, cried out “Sink , Lake, sink, and I a spirit in the lake!” The spirits of the lake heard her cry, took pity on her and made her wish come true. The ground shook and sank with a terrible noise, leaving a lake where the valley had been, and the unfortunate maiden took refuge in its dark waters. The locals like to narrate that, even nowadays, the nymph rises from the depths of the lake to sit under the moonlight and brush her hair…