Δευτέρα 28 Δεκεμβρίου 2015

Plakias from above: Paligremnos, the far end..

Plakias is the perfect holiday spot, located on the south coast of Crete.
It is not too large, and so retains the traditional Cretan friendliness, but it is big enough to have a good range of accommodation, tavernas, shops etc.
The beautiful south facing curved bay in which it sits is ideal for swimming and sunbathing.
The hills behind provide wonderful walks, on trails through the olive groves and beyond.

Πέμπτη 24 Δεκεμβρίου 2015

Amazing Crete..

Crete is the largest island in Greece, and the fifth largest one in the Mediterranean Sea.
Here, you can admire the remnants of brilliant civilizations, explore glorious beaches, impressive mountainscapes, fertile valleys and steep gorges, and become part of the island’s rich gastronomic culture.
Crete is, after all, a small universe teeming with beauties and treasures that you will probably need a lifetime to uncover!


Τετάρτη 23 Δεκεμβρίου 2015

Greek art depicts Christmas and New Years Day traditions

The prettiest, happiest time of the year is close and all Greek towns put on their best! Houses, shops, and squares put on a festive appearance with decorated Christmas trees and Christmas boats, the streets and the cafes are lit up with coloured lighting and cheerful tunes are heard in the streets. Young and old children get ready for Christmas and New Year’s Day with customs and traditions whose origin is lost in the mists of time. Join us and be acquainted with some of them through Greek art!

Decorating the Christmas tree…
The festive tree decoration dates back to antiquity. Ancient Greeks used to dress olive or bay branches with red and white ribbons made of wool or with various sweet treats as a gesture of thanks to the gods for the previous year’s crops and ask for their favour for the coming year’s harvest. Next, they would carry the decorated branches in a procession or they would hang them outside the front door until the beginning of the following year.
Today, in most Greek houses it is customary to decorate a fir tree, a practice brought to Greece by the country’s first king, Otto. As Christmas is drawing near, children look forward to decorating the tree with great joy, as pictured in the painting “Christmas Tree” by Spyros Vikatos, on display at the National Gallery.

or perhaps … a boat model?
Greece is a maritime nation and as such, it is customary in many islands for the children to decorate boat models instead of a Christmas tree. In old times, kids used to carry them along while they visited houses and sang Christmas Carols; they would put the treats they received for their singing inside the little boats. Today, boats are decorated in many Greek houses or squares near areas with a maritime history such as Aristotelous square in Thessaloniki.

May we sing the Carols?
Wish making and happy melodies are standard things during the Christmas period and the New Year’s Day! According to tradition, on the Eves of Christmas, New Year’s Day and Epiphany Day [January 6], children visit one neighbourhood after the other, they knock on the door and ask: “May we sing the Carols?” By playing their little metal triangles and their drums, sometimes also harmonicas and accordions and on the islands violins and guitars, they ‘rain’ wishes and bring joy on every household.

The most acclaimed picture by a Greek painter, depicting this festive tradition in an austerely simple and most sensitive manner, is “Carols” by Nikiphoros Lytras. The painting is a major work of art depicting a scene of Greek life, customs and traditions [called Ethography], heavy with symbolism and with disarming sincerity.

Pomegranate for good luck

The pomegranate has been the symbol of good fortune, abundance, youth and fertility since antiquity. The deep red-coloured beneficial fruit with the wonderful taste and the magic properties has been the source of inspiration for many artists, such as Georgios Jakobides for his painting ‘Pomegranates’. 
According to myth, Persephone, the daughter of goddess Demeter, tasted the fruit during her stay in Hades; since then the pomegranate became associated with the regeneration of nature and the cycle of seasons. 
On New Year’s Day in many Greek areas, the householder stands outside the front door and breaks a pomegranate hitting it hard on the floor so that the seeds may spread everywhere and bring happiness and good health to the household. So, you too, break a pomegranate on your doorstep and make your own fervent wish for the New Year!

Hobgoblins. Visitors on the Twelve Days of Christmas!

From Christmas Day until the Eve of Epiphany Day, the legend of the kallikantzaroi [hobgoblins] is reanimated throughout the country. In the popular imagination they are little monsters with bandy legs and arms, hunched backs, over-sized ears, and just about any other type of deformity one could possibly imagine! 
For this reason they are doomed to live underground and throughout the entire year they keep sawing the tree that supports the world! 
At Christmas though, when their sawing is nearly done, they decide to visit the humans, have fun and play all kinds of pranks on them! Humans in turn do their best to ward them off by placing a sieve outside their door or by hanging a large onion! 
Painter P. Tetsis has created lively illustrations of hobgoblins in the book Fairies, elves and hobgoblins by Th. Velloudios
The celebrated folklorist Nikolaos Politis has also made vivid descriptions of goblins in his book titled Traditions.
Season’s Greetings!

Double Award Win for Region of Crete at ‘Bravo Sustainability Awards’

The Region of Crete collected two national awards this month for its work in social welfare and web governance during the 2015 Bravo Sustainability Awards for Sustainable Development and Responsible Business, organized by the nonprofit QualityNet Foundation at the Acropolis Museum.
Crete - The Island Inside You“It is with great pride and satisfaction that the Region of Crete accepts both awards… it marks a further commitment for us to continue working towards making the Region of Crete a model of sustainable development through the implementation of innovative actions and far-reaching social policies,” said Crete Governor Stavros Arnaoutakis.

The Region of Crete was awarded for its supportive teaching and community sports programs, made possible with the support of local educators, sports clubs, foreign language institutes, the University of Crete and volunteers.

The second distinction recognized regional authorities’ efforts to introduce total transparency and accountability and improve productivity and performance to the benefit of the public.

Athens Campaign Video Released: #ImAnAthenian – Speak Athenian. Be an Athenian.

A video of the new campaign for the international tourism promotion of the Greek capital dubbed #ImAnAthenian – Speak Aθenian. Be an Aθenian.” was released on Friday.

The new campaign aims to innovatively promote Athens as an ideal city break destination through a brand new hybrid lexicon.
The campaign revolves around combinations of Greek and English words and letters, like Hipstorical, Philosofa, Theatricult and Bistrocrαcy.
Athens_hipstoricalThese new terms seek to imaginatively convey the way that Athenians spend each day in a city with a one-of-kind personality that blends history with contemporary life and urban culture, and even a beach-studded coastline that lies just half an hour from downtown Athens.

A special mobile app — the Athenian Application — is available from www.imanathenian.com and allows participants to upload their own photos from their personal Athenian experience as Hipstoricals or Atheniants and their own Theatricult or Bistrocracy moments in the city.

The campaign has been launched by Athens International Airport and Marketing Greece and is being held under the auspices of the Municipality of Athens with the support of the Athens-Attica and Argosaronic Hotel Association and Aegean Airlines.


WTM 2015: Crete Ready for New Season, Set to Launch Info Site for Tourists

Promoting alternative and adventure tourism and at the same time bringing the celebrated Cretan hospitality to the frontline of its tourism strategy for 2016, the Region of Crete is moving full speed ahead to prepare for the new season, its Commissioner of Tourism, Michalis Vamiedakis, told the GTP during the World Travel Market (WTM) on Monday.

“We’re primarily focused on bringing to the fore the island’s different side, beyond the conventional, to extend the tourism season, because we are aware that this will increase the number of visitors, and of course place emphasis on the human side of Cretan hospitality because this is our winning  card and what sets us apart at the end of the day,” Mr Vamiedakis said.

Crete has been and continues to be one of Greece’s leading destinations, primarily winning over German, French and British tourists.
crete-island-inside_f“International tour operators are telling us that their customers want to know more about events taking place all year round on the island but also about different activities and alternatives on offer,” he added.
 “So we’re ready to launch our new site that will aim to keep travelers updated on what’s going on where on Crete all year round.”
The Region of Crete is aiming through its participation in the WTM this year to build even stronger ties with existing partners and at the same time find new friends.

“We are firm believers in the positive results of events like the WTM, but we also believe that what plays a more vital role is what happens before and after these events… through talk with sector professionals we learn how to improve our performance.

Crete wouldn’t be Crete without its gastronomy, and Mr Vamiedakis stressed that a major part of its tourism strategy is based on the island’s culinary wealth. Paraphrasing the popular phrase, he put it aptly: “The heart of tourism is through the stomach… that is why during all of our promotional activities abroad we feature Cretan cuisine,” he added with a smile.

(GTP is an official media partner of WTM London 2015.)

Katsikaki Tsigariasto – aka Goat in Olive Oil

Arni Rodikio Top 940x460 Katsikaki Tsigariasto   aka Goat in Olive Oil
Katsikaki means baby goat in Greek. In Crete, we love to cook it in many ways, but the following recipe will make your mouth water. 
Keep in mind, that you may accompany it with freshly cooked in its sauce radishes or mashed potatoes.
The 100% authentic recipe combines the goat with a very rare -only cultivated in Crete species of greens – which is called STAMNAGATHI – as seen on the photo.
But you may substitute it with fresh radishes and the effect will be almost the same.

1,5 kg baby goat’s meat (cut into portions)
  • 200ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic mashed
  • 3 finely chopped spring onions
  • juice of 3-4 lemons
  • 200ml white wine
  • salt
  • ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp oregano
  • 4 bay leaves
1) Prepare the meat, sprinkling it with salt and ground pepper. I prefer using fleur-de-sel, since the taste is more refined and yet distinguishly salty. 

2) Heat the olive oil well and add the meat. Sauté well until golden brown.

3) Add the mashed garlic and the chopped spring onions and sauté for another 2-3 minutes. Pour in the white wine and wait 1-2 minutes for the alcohol to evaporate.
4) Add the oregano, bay leaves, lemon juice and water until the meat is covered and let it boil.
5) Cook in medium to low temperature for about an hour until the meat is tender.
6) In another pan, heat 2-3 spoons of olive oil and sauté the radishes for 2-3 minutes. Then add them in your meat.
7) Serve while hot. What I usually do is to serve just before the dish a shotglass of juice from our casserole with a little bit of lemon juice. Don’t forget to heat some fresh bread. ENJOY!
You may enjoy it with a bottle of white wine !!!
(article by trofos)

Δευτέρα 21 Δεκεμβρίου 2015

Christmas wishes

We wish you Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
Thank you for the successful year that we had!

Πέμπτη 17 Δεκεμβρίου 2015

Greece to Hit 2015 Tourism Goal of 26 Million Int’l Arrivals

Greek tourism is on track to end 2015 with a record of 26 million international arrivals, the Greek Tourism Confederation (SETE) said on Monday after reviewing November figures released by the country’s main airports.

According to the recent data, the number of international tourist arrivals in Greece registered a positive growth during the first 11 months of the year.
International air arrivals increased by 5.7 percent to over 15 million during the January-November 2015 period, which corresponds to nearly 820,000 additional arrivals compared to the same period of 2014.

Last month, Athens saw a double-digit increase with arrival numbers up by 11.3 percent compared with November 2014. In the first 11 months of the year, the Greek capital saw arrivals up by 23.6 percent.

The Cyclades island complex maintained its arrival growth rate of 15 percent over the first eleven months of 2014.

On the other hand, the Dodecanese and Crete continued to record a slight drop in arrivals by 2 percent and 0.8 percent respectively, compared with the same period of 2014.

The data showed that the whole country — not including Athens — moved on an 11 percent negative rate in terms of foreign arrivals by air compared to November 2014 and a marginal growth rate of 0.7 percent compared with the first eleven months of 2014.

Τετάρτη 16 Δεκεμβρίου 2015

Aki’s Spiced Christmas Cookies in Syrup! (Melomakarona)

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These amazingly aromatic little cakes are a traditional Greek Christmas sweet…called "Melomakarona". Your house will be filled with aromas of orange, honey, cinnamon and cloves… Each bite is so deliciously Christmassy…it will become an instant personal favorite!
For the syrup:
  • Boil all of the ingredients for the syrup, apart from honey, for 3-4 hours. This is done so that by the time the cookies come out of the oven, the syrup will have cooled.
  • When the syrup is ready, remove from heat and add the honey. Stir and set aside to cool completely.
For the cookies:
  • Preheat the oven to 190* C (370*F) Fan.
  • To make the cookies, you need to prepare 2 separate mixtures.
  • For the first mixture, add all of the ingredients in a large bowl. Mix, using a hand whisk.
  • In a separate bowl, add all of the ingredients for the second mixture.
  • Combine the first and second mixture.
  • Mix by hand, very gently and for a very short time (10 seconds at the most). If you mix longer the mixture will split or curdle.
  • Mold cookie dough into oval shapes, 3-4 cm in long, 30 g each. Try to keep them as similar as possible.
  • Bake for about 20-25 minutes, until they are crunchy and dark golden brown.
  • As soon as you remove them from the oven, soak the hot cookies in the syrup for 10 seconds.
  • Allow them to drain on a wire rack.
  • Drizzle with honey and chopped walnuts.
Be careful not to overwork the cookie dough because the oil may start to seep out and then they won’t turn out crispy! The orange used for the syrup should a whole fresh orange, cut in half!  

For syrup:
  • 500 ml water
  • 800 g granulated sugar
  • 150 g honey
  • 3 cinnamon sticks
  • 3 whole cloves
  • 1 orange, cut in half
 1st mixture:
  • 400 ml orange juice
  • 400 ml sunflower oil
  • 180 ml olive oil
  • 50 g caster sugar
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2-3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • grated zest of 2 oranges
2nd mixture:
  • 1 kilo all-purpose flour
  • 200 g fine semolina

Παρασκευή 11 Δεκεμβρίου 2015

Photo of the day..

"December, being the last month of the year, cannot help but make us think of what is to come."
 -Fennel Hudson
 Yesterday photo at Plakias!