In a couple of days, direct flights from the U.K. to Greece will be allowed once more. The coronavirus pandemic has turned tourism upside-down, and people on Crete go about their new normal routines in anticipation of positive things to come. This past weekend Cretans mixed business and pleasure, which is a kind of tradition that will probably suit the post-pandemic era as well.
From Tsoutsouras, Minas Liapakis, who’s the founder of EyeWide Digital Marketing in Heraklion, sends this photo showing the Libyan Sea and the wonderful seaside town where once the ancient city of Inatos stood. If you look closely at the photo taken from the family’s summer house, you can see the profile (the mountain in the background) of the god Zeus lying on his back gazing up at the blue sky. Tsoutsouras, like many Cretan towns, has many legends associated with it. But the locals don’t go for the myths, they go here because the village is far, far away from the noise and troubles of the outside world. Of course, Minas is taking some of those troubles with him these days. Like most Crete executives, the future of business is a 24/7 operation for Liapakis.
On the phone earlier today, I spoke with Stelios Kanakis who is a prominent olive grower here on Crete. This weekend he was in Galatas Village to water and take care of one of his olive groves, and to dine with his family at one of Crete’s most famous village tavernas, Το μουρέλο του Λαδωμένου (The young olive tree of the “slick” one). Kanakis is from Galatas, which sits beneath a long lost Minoan Palace famous for its religious feasts.
Stelios, who’s also one of the founders of Elia Quality Group, which is a private initiative to ensure Crete’s rightful standing in the world of olive oil, has a vision just in time for transforming this amazing island. Most people are unaware of the far-reaching history and traditions of Crete’s olive growing. Since the Neolithic times, the olive tree and the products from it have been a huge value for Cretans. Even before the mysterious Minoans traded this liquid gold with the known world, early Crete people know of its medicinal and gastronomical value.
When Rebecca Skevaki sent me the photograph above on Sunday, I had forgotten about one of Crete’s most beautiful and mysterious places. The barren and rocky Rodopou Peninsula is is a mostly uninhabited area that juts up out of Chania Prefecture like one of two sacred horns of some Minoan legend. The other “horn” is the Gramvousa Peninsula to the west across Kissamos Bay (Kolpos Kissamou Kόλπος Κισσάμου).
Rebecca and her husband Michael Kallergishas (pictured) run several of Greece’s most successful tourism companies. The image of Mike looking out onto the Cretan Sea reminded me of something out of a Katzanzakis novel, so I used filters to make it into an ancient postcard. I quipped to Rebecca, “Mike seems to be looking for Cretan Urban Adventures travelers on their way to Crete.” Always imbued with the greatest sense of humor, Rebecca replied, “You nailed it!”
In Platanias, this weekend, our friend Seaking Adventures’ Captain Antonis Kallitsakis set out to sea with two groups to explore Crete’s famous Thodorou Island just off the coast of Chania Prefecture. We were with Antonis and master diver Ioannis Petrakis on a trip in 2018. When I spoke with Antonis it was music to my ears to hear that more 2020 is back in swing, at least on a small scale.
Antonis, Ioannis, Sophia, and the whole team at Seaking Adventures are just super hosts and ulta professional. Next time we sail with them we want to take advantage of the BBQ at Menies Beach, one of Crete’s remotest and most interesting. Like so many of our friends in business here on the island, my impression talking with Antonis is that he’s glad to be skippering again.
Up the beach at Cactus Beach Resort & Bungalows, Eleni Bantouraki took her kids for a chill weekend by the sea. A manager at one of the popular (#2 in Heraklion on Tripadvisor) Hacienda branches in Heraklion, Eleni told me this morning she wanted the quite and the waterpark and the stunning pools so her young ones would have some thrills. For those unfamiliar, Crete is a sea and sun paradise not only for tourists but for locals who explore during time off. As for Eleni, she’s one of the Crete people you are apt to see almost anywhere, the adventurous unloving type.