Τετάρτη 26 Δεκεμβρίου 2018

Christmas wishes

We wish you Merry Christmas and happy New Year !!

See you next summer in Crete !

Christmas carols from every corner of Greece (videos)

Greece is a country where traditions and customs are a part of modern, everyday life. Most holidays in Greece are celebrated traditionally, and Christmas in no exception.

Christmas caroling is very popular, and although you might hear any songs being sung at any given moment during the holiday season, there are actually three “official” caroling days in Greece.

The custom is that children go from house to house singing carols, with the accompaniment of a triangle, and residents of the houses give them small amounts of money. Greek Christmas carols (“calanda”) are always sung on the mornings of Christmas Eve, New Year’s Eve and January 5, the Eve of the Epiphany.

Caroling has been a part of Christmas celebrations in Greece for two thousand of years. In fact, it has its roots going back even further, to ancient Greece, where children would carry small boats and sing songs honoring Dionysius.

The tradition of praising the head of the household also began in ancient Greece.
In addition to singing songs to honor their god, they would also bestow the household with a gift of an olive branch, which also signified prosperity.

Amazingly, many elements of this ancient tradition still exist today. Children often do still hold decorated wooden boats while singing the carols. And the sentiment is also the same – they wish the homeowners health, wealth, and prosperity by what they sing.

Different regions of Greece have their own versions of Christmas carols. Here is a sample of carols from the island of Crete:
(Source: thegreekobserver)

Recipe for Christopsomo – Greek Christmas Bread

Christopsomo is a cake that is typically served on Christmas Day in Greece. Preparing this bread as a Christmas treat is something that is said to help bring about the health and well being of all members of the household into the coming year. However, in order for this to hold true, only the best, most expensive ingredients are used. Legends aside, this bread is also delicious. Once you start making it, you’ll be eager to turn it into an annual tradition!

Greek Christmas Bread (Christopsomo) Recipe Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup warm water (108 – 112 Degrees Fahrenheit)
  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 6 tablespoons butter, softened to room temperature
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons aniseed, crushed (or mahleb, if you have it)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg white, lightly beaten

Instructions to Make Greek Christmas Bread:

Add water, yeast, and 1 tablespoon of the sugar to a medium sized bowl and stir gently with a wooden spoon. Let sit until the mixture starts to foam, which should take about ten minutes.

Add butter and eggs to the yeast mixture and beat on medium speed using an electric mixer until the ingredients are well combined. Slowly beat in the rest of the sugar, 1 cup of the flour, and the aniseed until well combined. Turn off the mixer and stir in the remainder of the flour with a wooden spoon or your hands until dough is smooth and isn’t sticky.

Knead for five minutes in the bowl. Spray a large bowl with cooking spray and add the dough. Spray the top of the dough with cooking spray and cover it with a towel. Let the dough rise until doubled, which should take about two hours.

Punch down the dough to let out the air. Let stand for five minutes and then knead again for about three minutes to release the air bubbles. Form the dough into a loaf, spray a baking sheet with cooking spray, and place the dough on the sheet. Let stand for about an hour on the counter, or until the size of the loaf doubles.

Preheat the oven to 350 Degrees Fahrenheit. Brush the loaf with the whipped egg white. Place in the center of the oven and cook for 35 minutes, or until the loaf is golden brown.
(Source: thegreekobserver)

Τρίτη 20 Νοεμβρίου 2018

End of season ...

Thank you to those who made memories at PlakiasSuites,
see you next summer in Crete !


Breathtaking Video Launches Campaign Highlighting Why You Need to Visit Crete

Crete is a top destination for tourists for many reasons, and Marketing Greece has recently launched a new campaign to show off the islands greatest assets – from the mountains and ancient Minoan culture, to the modern beaches.

The goal of the campaign is to increase the average monetary spending of tourists as well an encourage them to see more of the island by extending their stay.

This is the 4th season of Wanderlust Greece, and after spending 15 days on the island all of the enchanting and authentic charm of the Crete revealed the reasons why travelers should add this Greek island to their list of holiday destinations.

“The trip to Crete has been a real challenge for us as the destination constitutes a top Greek tourist brand. One of our quests was to follow the promotion strategy of the Region of Crete, working in a supportive and fully harmonised way with its central message: The Island Inside You,” Marketing Greece CEO Ioanna Dreta said.

“Our goal was to create a list of experiences that highlight all those aspects of the product that make Crete a flagship of Greek tourism,” Dreta added.

Check out this amazing video that highlights everything from the old town of Chania to the mountain Mylopotamos, along with local traditions and customs to the accompaniment of the Cretan lyre!


Autumn in Crete

The experience of a lifetime!

It’s a common secret among travellers to Crete that summertime on the island is at least 2 months longer than most European destinations. Renowned newspapers, in 2014, praised with various articles the island’s mild climate.

The Telegraph had an article about autumn tourist destinations where Crete features as a warm and welcoming place; the same year the Austrian newspaper Kurier published a long praising article on the island describing it as a place where you can enjoy a laid back summer vacation in autumn and get to know local tradition.

The Canadian newspaper The Globe and Mail included Crete in the six top European destinations for an autumn holiday, saying that people who prefer to extend their summer vacation all the way into October should visit Crete.
One of the island’s biggest assets - apart from beaches - is the famous Cretan cuisine which you can enjoy all over the place.

 The reason for all of the above is quite simple. Crete is located in the southeast part of the European continent and temperature never drops below 20º C from September until November.

The average sunshine totals seven hours. Water temperature in the south shores washed by the Libyan sea reaches 23º C and the average air temperature is 26º C.

The atmosphere is limpid most of the time and the tall mountains are clearly defined against the horizon in every detail.
The summer’s blue sea waters change into new fascinating hues, the autumn winds fill the heretofore clear blue skies with amazing cloud shapes and the fairly limited rainfall is very welcome after the dry season has passed.

However swimming remains one of the activities you will definitely enjoy even in late October. Make a note that at this time of the year you will find that there are less tourists so you’ll get better holiday deals as prices are down compared to the high season.

 While you are on your autumn trip to Crete don’t miss the opportunity to visit the renowned historical sites, monuments and museums.

The season’s mild weather will tempt you to discover inland secrets and the wide variety of flora and fauna, to visit picturesque mountainous villages as well as those of the lowlands, to follow the hiking trails, go mountaineering or cross breathtaking ravines such as the well-known Samaria Gorge, Kourtaliotiko Gorge etc.

 The end of the summer is the time for agricultural activities such as grape harvesting and sun-drying of the grape berries so as to produce raisins.  

Ploughing, sowing, grape pressing, wine and raki making are all activities that take place later in the fall.

This time of year you can follow the traditional agricultural activities: participate in grape harvesting and pressing, go olive picking, watch the procedure of raki making in cauldrons- cauldron feasts, as it evolves into a traditional celebration, taste local products and learn about the way they are made in the island’s agritourism farms.

Let’s bear in mind that traditional Cretan cuisine is based on fresh seasonal produce and that makes it all the more tasty not to mention healthier and more nutritious!

Crete FVW Workshop Offers Insight into German Travel Trends

Extending the season and tapping into wellness tourism in spring and fall are key priorities for Crete’s regional authorities who joined German media and tourism professionals on the island that hosted the annual FVW workshop last month.

Germany’s leading trade magazine for tourism and business travel organized its annual meeting on Crete together with the Region of Crete and with the support of the Greek National Tourism Organization (GNTO) and the tourism ministry.

Titled “Sustainability. The Path to Longevity – Discovering the Authentic Crete and its Treasures”, the workshop brought together Germany’s top tour operators, travel agents and journalists who exchanged views and insight with local sector professionals.

Holding the largest share of the tourist market in terms of arrivals from Germany, and attracting significant investor interest, Crete remains a top choice for German travelers.

Workshop participants explored, among others, the further development of the Cretan tourist product, which is diverse and capable of attracting travelers to the island all year round. The workshop’s program aimed to offer delegates experiential experiences and included visits to Crete’s traditional sights and cultural spots.

Indicatively, in this direction, Crete’s Commissioner of Tourism, Michalis Vamiedakis referred to a three-pronged strategy – Crete: tourism + culture + products, which includes branding the island’s famed hospitality and lifestyle under the “Live Like a Cretan” motto.

Vamiedakis said the highest number of arrivals to Crete was from the German market and the tourist season had already been extended by one week.

Among the options for year-round tourism, workshop delegates suggested gastronomy and wine tasting tours, interactive activities, agrotourism, healing and wellness tourism, entertainment, sports and adventure, conferences, educational and scientific forums, and the development of city break tourism, mainly in Chania and Rethymno.

 In the meantime, according to market analyst Crysostomos Antoniadis representing Trevo Trend, based on booking demands, Greece is ranked third for package holidays behind Spain and Turkey, with the German market marking a 14 percent rise.

He went on to add that in terms of demand: Heraklion was first with 50.91 percent, followed by Rethymno at 20.19 percent, Chania with 16.19 percent, and Lassithi with 12.70 percent.

Based on 64.2 million searches so far, up by 15 percent, interest in winter holidays is low with June and July, and then May, gathering the greatest demand.

According to German tour operators attending the event, including TUI Germany, Alltours Flugreisen, FTI Touristik, Ferien Touristik, and LMX Touristik, it is vital due to the strong demand – 40 percent of their clients request to visit Crete – to ensure bed capacity and airline seats. They added that travelers prefer to explore the destination, opting against all inclusive holiday deals.

Interestingly, according to German travel agents 66 percent of their customers said they were unaware of alternative Crete options with 22 percent expressing interest in destination sustainability.

WTM London confirms Greece’s “golden year” in tourism and highlights challenges

By Thanasis Gavos / Published on: 06-11-2018, 17:14 (IBNA)

Greece’s participation with 70 co-exhibitors in this year’s World Travel Market (WTM) in London is one of the main poles of attraction for international tourism professionals attending for yet another year.
As the Minister for Tourism Elena Kountoura confirmed, the number of arrivals will have exceeded 32 million by the end of the year, making 2018 another record-breaking year.
Even though observers have noted that this level of arrivals should have probably been translated into even more money pouring in, Mrs Kountoura said that revenue would reach 16.2m euros, in a significant double-digit year on year increase.
“We have exceeded every expectation. We are rightfully talking about a golden year for Greek tourism, a year that will be for ever remembered,” commented the Minister.
The 32m plus of arrivals include cruise visitors. Cruise and yachting are some of the sectors where the emphasis of the national tourism strategy will turn in the coming years, said Mrs Kountoura.
She added in the increase in capacity in 4 and 5-star hotels and resorts, the expansion of internal flight connectivity, the opening up of new markets such as the Chinese and the Indian ones, the modernisation of state tourism education and the “digital transformation and innovation” of Greek tourism.
Greek tourism professionals have at the same time, however, pointed to several challenges facing the country over the coming years. First is the recovery of traditionally competitive destinations such as Turkey, Egypt and Tunisia, with a product which is much cheaper than what Greece offers.
The minister dismissed such concerns: “What Greece has to offer is so unique that the more stability, peace, security and balance there is in the region, the more we will be growing.”
Smaller tour operators at the WTM were lamenting the restricted space they have been left with as the big international players have all but conquered the Greek market. “They won’t hold their punches. They demand and they get the best hotels at the highest of seasons,” one told IBNA.
The President of SETE (Association of Greek Tourism Enterprises) Yiannis Retsos noted that team work has kept Greece in the top-10 destinations worldwide.
But, he noted, overtaxation has been hitting tourism professionals hard. “Of course this applies to all sectors of the Greek economy,” he added. “What I and SETE are really concerned about right now is the infrastructure. The 32 million of visitors are now testing our public infrastructure every day: waste disposal management, power and water supplies, sewage systems, airports, ports. If we want the country to continue being a protagonist we need to invest and improve.”

Greek karidopita

By: Ioanna Stamoulou | | Desserts, Greek Classics, Mediterranean Cooking

This traditional mouthwatering walnut cake is so fluffy and extra syrupy, scented with cinnamon and clove aromas! Try it out and be amazed by the unique texture and rich flavor. Serve with vanilla ice cream and a drizzle of melted chocolate and go over the top!

Serves: 1 medium baking pan Preparation: 25′ Cooks in: 50′ Ready in: 1:15′

12 eggs, whites and yolks separated
12 tbsp sugar
12 tbsp powdered Melba toast or bredcrumbs
12 tbsp chopped walnuts
12 tbsp semolina flour
4 tbsp brandy
2 oranges, zested
20gr baking powder
1 tsp powdered cinnamon
1/2 tsp grounded clove
a pinch grounded allspice

For the syrup:
4 cups sugar
4 cups water
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 lemon juiced
1/4 cup cognac


Step 1
Preheat oven at 180C. Mix sugar and egg yolks using an electric mixer and at medium-high speed for at least 5 minutes, until really fluffy, smooth and creamy. Pour in the cognac whilst continue mixing. Set aside.

Step 2
Meanwhile, in a bowl blend semolina flour with powdered Melba toast, chopped walnut, baking powder, orange zest and all spices with a spoon.

Step 3
Combine the two mixtures and blend with a silicone spatula, until smooth.

Step 4
Whisk egg whites into the bowl of the electric mixer, along with a pinch of salt until mixture is very thick and glossy and a long trailing peak forms when the whisk is lifted (meringue). Add gradually meringue into the mixture using a clean spatula and blend with light circular movements from the bottom up.

Step 5
Butter the bottom and the sides of a baking tray and bake in the preheated oven for about 45-50 minutes, until fluffy, nicely colored on the outside and baked through.

Step 6
Meanwhile prepare the syrup. Add all ingredients for the syrup except lemon juice and cognac into a pot for about 8 minutes until sugar dissolves. Add lemon juice and boil for another minute. Remove pot from heat and stir in cognac. Let cool.

Step 7
Very slowly ladle the hot syrup all over the cold cake, allowing time for each ladle of syrup to be absorbed. Let cool completely and serve ideally with some vanilla ice-cream.

Photo Anastasia Adamaki Food styling Antonia Kati

Τρίτη 18 Σεπτεμβρίου 2018

New Review on Tripadvisor: Tutto perfetto!

'We have been new guests of Plakias Suites .. and the judgment remains the same: the maximum.

The complex is located in the quieter part of the long and beautiful beach of Plakias, which can be accessed simply by crossing the road.

At the beach there are umbrellas and sunbeds reserved for guests of the structure, with plenty of space available.

The suites are always like new: from year to year they are whitewashed and partially renovated, the feeling is to access a newly inaugurated facility.

So do not change the judgment: spacious, clean and well-appointed - with some details that makes your stay perfect: blinds to sleep in the dark, a veranda perfect for relaxing and having more space, a fully equipped kitchen but also the presence, next to a good restaurant to eat or take away.

Housekeeping is done every day, the feeling is really about being in a hotel suite.

Plakias' location allows you to visit a dozen of the most beautiful beaches within walking distance, and Eleni and Giorgos (the owners) are super willing to give directions and advice on places to go: this also makes Plakias Suites a perfect base for visit the south of the island. 

We will be back again'

Stayed: August 2018, travelled with family

 See here: TripAdvisor
 Plakiassuites: Ranked #1 of 51 Speciality Lodging in Plakias, Retyhymno - Crete!
  114 Reviews Certificate of Excellence

Greece among top choices for Russian tourists

Russian tourists are fourth in terms of arrivals in Greece

Despite the fact that the diplomatic row between Athens and Moscow went up a notch after the retaliatory expulsion of Greek diplomats by Moscow, the Russian Embassy in Greece “celebrated” the fact that Russian tourists chose Greece as one of their top destinations.

Russian tourists are fourth in terms of arrivals to Greece for 2017 after the United Kingdom, Germany, and France, and third in overnight stays after Germany and the United Kingdom.

It is worth noting that arrivals rose by 13.3% compared to last year, surpassing 5.7 million overnight stays.
(source:proto thema)

Tripadvisor: Acropolis Museum in top 6 Travelers Choice Awards for 2018

The Acropolis Museum was ahead of the Louvre in Paris

Move over, Mona Lisa, The Acropolis Museum in Athens was ranked sixth in TripAdvisor’s annual Travelers Choice Awards for 2018 for museums, just ahead of the famed Louvre in Paris.

Designed by Swiss architect Bernard Tschumi and inaugurated in 2009 with the intention of getting the British Museum to return the stolen Parthenon Marbles – which didn’t happen – the building, says the review, “is as stunning as the treasures it houses,” despite some criticism for its already-aging and greying cement exterior.

The world’s best museum, according to the site, is another in Paris, the Musee d’Orsay, followed by New York’s National 9/11 Memorial and Museum, and last year’s number one, the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The British Museum in London was fourth and Madrid’s Prado was just ahead of the Acropolis Museum, a glass facade that faces the Acropolis and whose top floor holds space intended for the return of the Parthenon Marbles.

After the Louvre, coming eighth was the National WWII Museum in New Orleans, followed by the National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City and in tenth was the War Remnants Museum in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

read more at thenationalherald.com

Mediterranean Cooking: Watermelon spoon sweet

 By: Simoni Kafiri | | Desserts, Greek Classics, Mediterranean Cooking

Greeks make spoon sweets and offer them to guests as a symbol of hospitality along with a glass of cold water.
 What a sweet way to say “Welcome”!
Serves: for 2-3 medium jars Prep. time: 30′ + 20 hours waiting time Cooks in: 60′ Ready in: 1:30′

1 kg watermelon
1 kg sugar
500 g honey
2 cups water for the pot
2 geranium leaves
3 lemons, juiced + 2 tbsp juice for the pot

Step 1
Peel the rind and discard the outer green part. You only want the white part with a little flesh on it. Put flesh in a bowl and cover with water and lemon juice. Set aside for 2 hours.

Step 2
Drain in a colander and pat dry on a clean tea towel. Boil the water with sugar in a pot for 5-6 mins. Add watermelon and cook for 15 mins. Remove pan from heat and set aside for 18 hours.

Step 3
Next, add honey and simmer until syrup thickens, removing foam with a slotted spoon if necessary. 2 minutes before removing pan from heat add 2 tbsp lemon juice and geranium leaves.

Step 4
Remove pan from heat and allow spoon sweet to cool a little. Pour or ladle watermelon and syrup in warm, clean, sterilized jars. Fully-fill jars and seal straight away.

Photo George Drakopoulos Food styling Tina Webb

Greece no.1 in the 2018 “The Word’s Top 100”: CNT Awards

It also picked up the 1st spot in Best/Favourite Island category

Greece picked up a couple of first prizes in the prestigious Conde Nast Traveller 21st Annual Reader’s Awards, which was held in London.

More specifically, Greece was awarded the top spot in the category “Best/Favourite Island”, while it was also awarded the 1st prize in the best category of the night “The Word’s Top 100”, where it received the readers’ overwhelming majority of votes (95.63%).

Greece also received the 2nd spot in the category Best/Favourite Countries.

(source: proto thema)

Σάββατο 18 Αυγούστου 2018

Moni Preveli - the monastery of Preveli

Preveli is located on the South coast of Crete roughly at the same longitude as the city of Rethymnon. 

If you come from the North you will follow the road to Spili and branch off around 20 km from Rethymnon following a sign to Plakias and Preveli. 

Heading South you pass through the Kourtaliotiko gorge , a short but impressive gorge through which flows the river Kourtaliotis which is then joined by other streams to form the Megapotamos (literally the big river) which flows towards the sea through the palm forest of Preveli
This is one of the few rivers in Crete that flows all year around.

After the village of Asomatos turn left then 1.5km later left again. You will soon arrive at an impressive Turkish style bridge crossing the Megapotamos. It was built in 1850 for the monks of Preveli.

After the bridge the road ascends again and skirts around the ruined monastery of Kato Preveli. 
 Unfortunately it is fenced off and you cannot visit it but you can have a good view from the road.

The road keeps ascending and turns to the West (leaving a short branch heading South to Preveli beach and the palm forest). 
It passes a recent monument commemorating the resistance of the monks of Preveli to the German invaders in World War II and their help in evacuating Alllied soldiers to Egypt.

Another bend in the road lets Moni Preveli appear. The monastery is a famous place for visitors so it may be busy at times. In the summer it is open daily from 8.00 to 13.30 and 16.00 to 19.00 (bear in mind that these times could change).

The Museum 
A substantial number of icons is kept in the Monastery of Preveli. The icons compose interesting themes, covering a period from the first half of the 17th to the end of 19th century approximately, an era that the good tradition of Crete has been interrupted by the Turkish conquest.

The painters continue the tradition of the late Cretan school of painting, turning equally into account the austere orthodox tendency as well as the copper painting of the masters of the first half of 17th century in Rethymno and Chania, influenced by the western ones, mainly the Flemish.

The choices made in the selection of the various themes of the icons, indicates a good level of culture of the monks - who purchased these at the end of 19th century, considering the distance from the urban centers and the isolation of the area.
 (source: west-crete)

Κυριακή 12 Αυγούστου 2018

Plakias Village, South Crete

Plakias Village, on the south coast - directly south of Rethymno about 30 km south of Rethimno small town. It is part of the municipal unit Foinikas. 

A big crescent bay holding a fine beach between two immense wind tunnels, the gorges fo Selia and Kourtaliiotiko.

This is quite a busy tourist destination, but has a unique feel, which appeals to some who normally choose to stay in smaller, quieter places. Beautiful surrounding countryside, fine walks and gorges. 

Plakias is surrounded by mountains to the north and the Libyan Sea to the south. The name in Greek means "flat" but the approach and coastline are quite mountainous and dramatic.

Small hotels and many beachfront restaurants & cafes. The large crescent bay of sandy beach and the harbour provide a varied and yet not too busy destination.

Frangokastello and Sfakia is a pleasant twisting and scenic short drive. Above Plakias, Myrthios, affords gorgeous views of the bay, coastline and sea.

The gorges of Prevelli (and the monastery), Kourtaliotis and Kotsifos are easily visited.In addition visit the mountain village of Spili, Preveli Monastery and Preveli beach and the wonderful villages in the hills on the road to Sfakia.

The name in Greek means "flat", because the town stands on an alluvial fan of material that has washed down the Kotsifou gorge directly to the north.

This material has formed along the sea's edge into a long, fine, gold-hued sand beach, which shelves very gradually out into the bay, making it quite safe for swimming and hence, for family holidays.

The history 

Initially just a fishing jetty and a few houses, Plakias developed during the last few decades into a tourist resort. The first official mention of Plakias was in 1961, when it was recorded in a census as the permanent home of six fishermen.

The recorded history of surrounding mountain villages like Myrthios and Sellia goes back to the 10th century, when the Byzantine Emperor Nikephoros II Phokas (961 AD) built roads and bridges in order to link those villages, and there are some fragments of wall remaining from a fortified area on a hill top just northeast of the present main town .

The local area is geographically suitable for a settlement, having plenty of agricultural space, and there may well have been a settlement there since Minoan times .

How to get there 

In summer there are six buses a day from Rethymno (€3.50, one hour). Have a look at Buses timetable.  Some of these buses go via Preveli Monastery. The Plakias bus stop is on the seafront taxi rank .

It’s possible to get to Agia Galini from Plakias by catching a Rethymno bus to the Koxare junction (referred to as Bale on timetables) and waiting for a bus to Agia Galini. The bus stop has a timetable. Or we recommend that you should rent a car in order to discover better the area.

Parking along the main town road is difficult in high season, but visitors should note that there is a large, free parking area just east of the main town .

There are plenty of places to eat along the sea front with the biggest cluster of tavernas at the west end.

What to see & do 

Beaches. Plakias has a 1300 metre long sandy beach and there are several other beaches within walking distance (Souda, Damnoni, Ammoudi and Skiinaria). The south-eastern end of the beach, near the Kakomouri headland, is used by nudists.

Damnoni beach is worth visit out of high season, despite being dominated by the giant Hapimag tourist complex.

To the weast is Souda, a quiet beach with a couple of tavernas and further west is the Polyrizos-Koraka beach.

And of course the well-known palm-studded beach of Preverli whiich gets very busy in Summer, therefore the remote and peaceful Agia Fotini, Ligres, Triopetra, and Agios Pavlos are perfect for stress-free escapes surrounded by photogenic splendour and popular with yoga and meditation groups. An area where there is no  megaresort to distort the idyllic ambience, just a few lone tavernas with modest rooms.
 Strong summer winds are common on these beaches. 

To the east (8 km) is the historic Monastery of Preveli, which may have been founded as early as the 10th century CE. Due to its isolated position, it has played an important role in Cretan revolts against occupying forces such as the Nazis in World War II. 

Hiking. There are plenty of walks locally, and bolder walkers will enjoy the high green country beyond the coastal mountain range north of town . Mountain biking and cycle touring are other local attractions. There are well-worn walking paths to the scenic village of Selia, Moni Finika, Lefkogia and a lovely walk along the Kourtaliotiko Gorge to Moni Preveli. An easy 30-minute uphill path to Myrthios Village begins just before the youth hostel.

Diving. Several diving operators run shore and boat dives to nearby rocky bays, caves and canyons, as well as all manner of courses. 

Birdwatching. Lots of bird species, migratory and other, build their nests and lay their eggs near the coast. On Nature’s path to the north of Plakias, both Kotsifos and Kourtaliotis gorges shelter rare and endangered species like the “Royal Eagle” or “Eleonora’s Falcon”.

Nature lovers. The herbs in the area are worldwide known for their variety and their healing power. Plants like the Cretan Tulip, the Cretan Saffron and many more are part of a unique ecosystem in this area. 

Villages. Visit the small postcard-pretty villages draped across the hillside above Plakias, one of them is Mirthios with a couple of excellent tavernas, both with bay-view terraces.
(source: crete travel)

Πέμπτη 9 Αυγούστου 2018

New Review on Tripadvisor: "Perfect Holiday"

"Plakias Suites is perfect place for quite, relaxing holidays. 

It was our 3rd visit and again was absolutely without any problems. 

We can recommend to all of you, who would like to enjoy beautiful sandy beach, fantastic service of Eleni and Gorge and very nice apartments. 

Apartments are very well maintained, clean, spacious and we absolutely love our terrace. 

Big advantage is also possibility to use free of charge beach umbrellas. 

Suites are just short walk from the centre, where you can find a lot of tavernas, shops etc….definitely will come back again!"
Stayed: July 2018, travelled with family
See here: TripAdvisor
 Plakiassuites: Ranked #1 of 51 Speciality Lodging in Plakias, Retyhymno - Crete!
  109 Reviews Certificate of Excellence

Κυριακή 5 Αυγούστου 2018

Samaria Gorge Travel

The gorge of Samaria is situated in the National park of Samaria, in the White Mountains in West Crete. This majestuous gorge is considered one of the great attractions of Crete and many tourists want to visit it. But you must realise that it is a long (5 to 7 hours) walk on rough terrain so you will need to have a certain degree of fitness and walking experience in order to enjoy it.

Opening times of the gorge of Samaria

The Samaria National Park has traditionally always opened to the public at the beginning of May. It has often been possible to enter the gorge of Samaria at some point in April from the bottom part but this depends on the weather and the amount of work needed to restore the path after the winter rains.

So the opening dates of the gorge vary: it could open a little before the 1st of May, on the 1st of May or later (if the weather is bad or repair work is late).
In 2018 the gorge of Samaria will open on the 1st of May

The gorge of Samaria closes to the public at the end of October. but may close earlier if autumn rains (not uncommon in October) damage the path or make some cliffs unstable.

The gorge will also be closed on rainy days (when there is a danger of rock falls).
In winter, high water makes the gorge of Samaria dangerous and impassable.

The park opens daily at daylight (so the exact time will vary depending on the time of the year) and closes in the evening. If you want to enter the park after around 14.00 you will not be allowed past the first quarter of the walk and will need to return to your starting point.

You have to pay an entrance fee of Euro 5.00 to enter the park (free to children under 15, half price to students).

If you need to know for sure if the gorge is open on a specific day phone +30 28210 67179

Dispelling a few myths about Samaria

It seems that most of what has been written about the gorge of Samaria was plagiarized from the same original source. This means that the same errors have been repeated almost everywhere.
Let's put a few things right:
  • The gorge of Samaria is not 18 km long (the 18 km refers to the distance between the settlement of Omalos on the northern side of the plateau and the village of Agia Roumeli) but is 16 km long, starting at an altitude of 1230m and taking you all the way down to the shores of the Libyan Sea in Agia Roumeli.
    The walk through the National Park of Samaria is 13 km but you will have to walk the extra 3 km to Agia Roumeli from the exit of the National Park making it a total of 16 km.
  •  The very narrow passage near the end of the gorge is often called the "Iron Gates". None of the former inhabitants of Samaria know why the place suddenly got this name. They were always known by the locals as "Portes" which means "doors" or "gates", but certainly no "Iron" anywhere!
  • Samaria is said to be the longest gorge in Europe. Good marketing but not quite the truth: the "gorges du Verdon" in South France are a little over 20 km in length.
  • Samaria is not always crowded. There may be up to 2000 or more people a day walking through the gorge of Samaria but on many days there are only a few hundreds. Keeping in mind that these people do not start at the same time and most of them walk in only in one direction (down) the number of people you will encounter is much lower and it is quite possible to have the gorge more or less to yourself if you choose your time well (see below 'When is the best time to walk through the gorge?' ).

The infrastructure of the National park of Samaria

The park is supervised by the Department of Forestry and is one of a dozen national parks in Greece. You need to pay an entrance fee of 5 Euro (free to children under 15).
  • The path is maintained and is substantially better than "normal" mountain paths in Crete.
  • There are wardens along the way (in radio contact with each other) who will help you in case of trouble or injury.
  • There is also (in theory) a doctor stationed in the village of Samaria. This has not been the case in the last few years (2009-2014).
  • There are well-maintained springs on the way so that you do not have to carry much water.
  • There are toilets in several places and plenty of rubbish bins. You find surprisingly little litter, considering the amount of people passing through every day.
  • You also get a set of rules aimed at protecting the park and making the experience safe and pleasant for everyone.
The gorge is open only during the day time and if you want to start walking in the afternoon you will only be allowed in up to a certain point.

The guards want to make sure that everybody who walks in also gets out before nightfall. This is the reason why they ask you to present your ticket on the way out as it (supposedly) enables them to know if there is anyone still in the park at night.


Getting there

If you go to Omalos with your own car in order to walk through the gorge of Samaria you will be forced to get back to Omalos to retrieve your car and it is not always such a good solution.

Alternatively there are public buses (KTEL) going to Omalos from Chania every morning (only when the gorge is open). Once you have walked through the gorge and are in Agia Roumeli you take a ferry boat returning to Hora Sfakion (or Sougia and Paleochora if you prefer but there may not be a connecting bus to Chania) and take an evening KTEL bus back to Chania.

If you are not alone, why not share a taxi to Omalos? The cost from Chania to the entrance of the gorge is Euro 75 (2017 prices) for up to 4 persons.

The most common way to "do" the gorge is to book an organized tour. This can be done from most places on the north coast (some come from as far as Agios Nikolaos or Ierapetra, which I wouldn't recommend because it entails an almost 24 hour round trip!). 

You will be picked up from and returned to your hotel. The buses are air-conditioned and you have the benefit of a guide. This does not mean that you need to walk in a group: everyone walks at their own pace and meets at a prearranged time and place in Agia Roumeli. 
These tours are not very expensive and can be booked locally, often directly at the hotel where you are staying.

With your own car

If you must, it is also possible to drive to Omalos with your own car, park it there , walk through the gorge, take the ferry back to Sougia and then take a taxi back to your car from Sougia (about 40 minutes drive). 
But you must pre-book a taxi as there are only two taxis that operate from Sougia.

The public bus service KTEL has also been running buses from Sougia back to Chania via Omalos for the last couple of years to connect with the ferry arriving from Agia Roumeli so this could be an option as well. The buses may not run at all times (especiially early in the seaon) so best to check with the bus company.

What to take with you on this walk?

  •   A water bottle which you can refill on the way.
  •   Sun cream and a hat, especially for the last part of the walk which has very little shade.
  •   Good shoes. These don't have to be hiking boots but you won't be contributing to your enjoyment by wearing tennis shoes or sandals.
  •   Some food. There is no food available inside the National Park.
  •  Something warm to wear for the early morning: it can be cold at 1200m.
  •   A supply of plasters in case of blisters.

What sort of terrain will you encounter?

Stones , stones and more stones! The terrain is stony most of the time but it varies. At the beginning the path is paved with uneven stones, then at times it is more like a forest path with some earth.

Once you reach the river bed you walk mainly on pebbles (which is tiring on the sole of the feet). You also have to cross the river at least a dozen times, sometimes on small wooden bridges but more often by stepping on rocks.

These have been placed at strategic intervals but still require some sure-footedness. The only easy path is once you leave the southern end of the National Park: it is flat and there are no stones, no shade either so that the last 3 km can be really really hot in summer.

How long does it take and how fit do you need to be?

A walk of 16 km on flat ground should take just over 3 hours if you walk at a brisk pace. This is theoretically quite easy in the gorge of Samaria as you are going down most of the time but the path requires some care and attention and the walk will take you a minimum of 4 hours of walking time.

Add to this time to rest, to stop and look at the scenery, take photographs and you can count about 6 or 7 hours to cover the entire distance.

The walk is long and can be arduous but it is not a difficult walk. Still, every day people get into trouble or end up having an experience which is far from pleasant. The most common factors are:
  •  people who never do any exercise and suddenly want their body and legs to walk 16 uneven km without protesting.
  •  bad shoes creating blisters and / or foot-ache.
  •  problems with the heat (in summer).
  •  knee problems that develop during the steep descent at the beginning of the walk and have no time to get better once that original strain is over. (source:west-crete)

Τετάρτη 18 Ιουλίου 2018

Well-known Old Towns in Crete

or Rethymno?
Over time, the question remains without a definitive answer, seeing that both towns boast a significant history which is evident in their Old districts that possess a charming mixture of Venetian and Ottoman heritage elements.

The Old Town of Rethymno was built on the cape along the north shoreline and it is –to this day- extremely well-preserved, it could even be called an open air museum.

Among the most interesting monuments are Fortezza, Loggia, Rimondi Fountain, Porta Guora [Great Gate], the central entrance to the Venetian fortified walls, the imposing church of St. Francis, the picturesque Venetian harbour, the mosques of Kara Mousa Pasa & Neratze and many more.

In Chania, behind the Venetian harbour, there is a fascinating world that oozes the style and ambiance of past times. Topana, Splantzia, Kasteli, Santrivani districts and the Jewish quarter are there for you to visit them and explore their meandering alleys, discover the monuments that flank them, their history as well as the essence of Cretan culture.

Wander around, stop by the traditional cafes (kafeneia) and tavernas and drift into their magic atmosphere!
(visit greece)

Birdwatching in Crete - Plakias


Birdwatching in Crete will take you at some of its most beautiful, isolated and unpopulated areas, mountains, gorges, lakes particularly when you are looking for birds such as eagles, vultures and falcons.

It is true that lovely Crete has still a plentiful and wide variety of beautiful birds. Crete is located at the crossroads of three continents (Europe, Asia, Africa) therefore Crete hosts thousands of migratory and rare birds in its wetlands and other areas every year.

Crete is one of the main flypast routes for species they wintered in East Africa, but breed in eastern and northern Europe.

They migrate every spring up the Nile Valley, and then move across the eastern Mediterranean, often in huge numbers. This happens from mid-March to mid-May, depending on the species and the weather. The return migration in autumn is less spectacular because it is less concentrated in time, but still worth watching out for.

Moreover, more than 412 different bird species have been identified in Crete to date, most migratory, thus birding in Crete is one of the most common activities. There are a few endemics that breed on the island.

The great thing about birdwatching in Crete is that, if you pick your time right, you can see both resident and migratory species.

The mountains of Crete, Idi, Lefka Ori, Dikti, Asterousia hold some of the most exciting birds. Smaller birds like the blue rock thrush, cirl hunting adn alpine chough are  common, and there is a good chance of seeing large and dramatic birds of prey.

One very rare species of vulture, the Lammergeier (or bearded vulture) is currently on the dramatically endangered list although it is more common in Crete than everywhere in Europe, maybe you will be lucky to see one the island's three remaining birds soaring above the Lasithi or Omalos plateau.

The diversity of habitats and the richness of the environment on Crete for bird-life, results in an impressive species list and many unexpected surprises, especially during Spring and Autumn migrations.

It is well worth coming on holidays in Crete to see and enjoy these beautiful birds.

Bird watching in Crete attracts many fans, guests every year, so during your next trip in Cree don't forget to bring with you all the necessary supplies - travel cases, binoculars, or other items.

Nearby Plakias Village is the Kourtaliotiko and Kotisfos gorges excellent birding areas with species as Jackdaw, Rock Dove, Blue Rock Thrush; Raven, Chukar, Alpine Swift, Griffon Vultures, and Crag Martins.

The area around Plakias Village is popular with migrants too. Species include: Montagu`s harrier, Short-toed Larks, Spanish Sparrow and Woodchat Shrike.

The rocky places around Plakias attract Rock Doves and the rare Eleonora's Falcon (Falco Eleonorae). In Plakias Bay, Garganey can be seen. Other species in the area include: Little Bittern, Squacco Heron, Chukar, Wood Pigeon, Cetti's Warbler.

The mountainous area around the palm beach of Preveli is another excellent birding location in Rethymnon. Especially around the Preveli Monastery there is a great variety of migrants as Nightingales, Turtle Doves, Golden Orioles, Flycatchers, Ortolan Buntings and Ruppell`s Warbler.

At Geropotamos you can see Reed Warblers and at Pertres River Little Bittern, Squacco Heron and Griffon Vulture.

Τετάρτη 27 Ιουνίου 2018

Ancient Greeks drank beer 4,000 years ago!

Archaeologists discover seeds for the brewing of beer

 Ancient Greeks may be known for their love of wine, but it seems they also had an affinity to beer, according to a study by the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki.

Two Bronze Age brewers that were recently discovered prove that Greeks would brew beer on a regular basis 4,000 years ago!

Archaeologists from the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki found several archaeobotanical remains of a cereal that could have been used in beer brewing. Similar remains found in the Archontiko area in the island of Corfu were also discovered in Argissa in Zakynthos.

At Archontiko, archaeologists found about 100 individual cereal seeds dating back to the early Bronze Age from 2100 to 2000 BC. In Argissa, they found about 3,500 cereal seeds dating back to the Bronze Age, approximately from 2100 to 1700 BC.

Furthermore, archaeologists discovered a two-room structure that seems to have been carefully constructed to maintain low temperatures in the Archontiko area, suggesting it was used to process the cereals for beer under the right conditions.

This discovery is the earliest known evidence of beer consumption in Greece, but not in the world.
(Source: protothema)

Παρασκευή 1 Ιουνίου 2018

Summer has officially arrived ..

Summer has officially arrived .. 

We wish you a great one from PlakiasSuites

Τετάρτη 30 Μαΐου 2018

Photo of the day: Meet me by the sea

Plakias Beach in the South part of Rethymno - Crete.

Greece Among ‘Most Excellent’ Places to Travel Worldwide, Says TripAdvisor

Greece is among the “Most Excellent” global tourism destinations that have the highest percentage of TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence recipients, according to travel planning and booking site TripAdvisor.

More specifically, Greece ranks fourth on the list of TripAdvisor’s “Most Excellent” countries, with Iceland in first place, Ireland in second, the UK in third and Morocco in the fifth position.

In its eighth year, the Certificate of Excellence is given to accommodations, restaurants and experiences that deliver great service and consistently achieve high traveler reviews on travel planning and booking site TripAdvisor.

 “Most Excellent” Countries Overall
1. Iceland
2. Ireland
3. United Kingdom
4. Greece
5. Morocco
6. France
7. The Netherlands
8. Italy
9. Portugal
10. Belgium

“When travelers see a Certificate of Excellence sticker or certificate on display, they immediately know that the business has a track record of offering highly rated guest or dinner experiences.

Now, with our ‘Most Excellent’ lists, we’re excited to reveal the destinations where travelers are most likely to encounter these excellent businesses,” said Neela Pal, Vice President of Brand Marketing at TripAdvisor.

Greece also ranked second on the lists of the “Most Excellent” Countries for Restaurants and Experiences; and eighth among the “Most Excellent countries for Accommodations.

 “Most Excellent” Countries for Restaurants
1. Iceland
2. Greece
3. Ireland
4. United Kingdom
5. Portugal
6. France
7. Italy
8. Spain
9. The Netherlands
10. Hungary

“Most Excellent” Countries for Experiences
1. Iceland
2. Greece
3. Mexico
4. Portugal
5. Morocco
6. Vietnam
7. United Kingdom
8. Brazil
9. Thailand
10. Chile


  “Most Excellent” Countries for Accommodations
1. Singapore
2. United Arab Emirates
3. Morocco
4. Iceland
5. Ireland
6. United Kingdom
7. Australia
8. Greece
9. Canada
10. Indonesia

 The Certificate of Excellence winners were selected using a proprietary algorithm that takes into account the quality, quantity, and recency of user reviews, as well as the business’ tenure on the site. 

Recipients must maintain an overall TripAdvisor rating of at least four out of five, have a minimum number of reviews and have been listed on TripAdvisor for at least twelve months. 

A business must be listed for the full 12-month qualifying period between April 1 to March 31 to be considered.
(Source: GTP)

Greeks Have the World’s 6th Most Powerful Passport

Greece remains in 6th spot for a second year in a row, the best ranking ever !

The Greek passport remains the 6th most-powerful travel document in the world amid an annual global ranking of the Henley Passport Index.

This index measures the number of countries certain passport holders can visit without having to apply for a visa. According to the Henley Passport Index, Greeks can visit 174 countries without a visa.

Greece remains in sixth place, with Japan knocking Germany from the top spot in the list of the world’s most powerful passports. Japanese citizens can visit 189 of a possible 218 countries in the world without a visa.

According to the new Passport Index rankings, German passport holders can travel to 188 countries without a visa, while British citizens can visit 186 countries without one.

Mediterranean Cooking: Ouzo sorbet

By: Simoni Kafiri | | Desserts, Mediterranean Cooking
This “soft snow” is brash and boozy! It’s the perfect after-dinner digestif. Any brand of ouzo will do… If you are not fond of ouzo, replace it with champagne if you wish!
Serves: 4-5 Prep. time: 15′ + 6h waiting Cooks in: 5′ Ready in: 20′

1 cup ouzo
1¾ cup sugar
2 water


Step 1
In a saucepan boil water with sugar. When it comes to a boil cook for another 5 minutes. Remove pan from heat and let syrup cool. Stir in ouzo.

Step 2
Transfer mix in a cool container with lid and freeze. When it starts to thicken, remove from freezer, stir with a fork and return to freezer. Repeat for a couple of times and freeze completely.

Photo: Vangelis Paterakis – Food styling: Elena Jeffrey

Greek Beaches Notch Up Nearly 520 Blue-Flag Awards

Greece is the second country worldwide for its number of blue-flag beaches according to the Association for Environmental Education and the Consumer (ADEAC).

Almost 520 of the country’s beaches were awarded the prestigious blue-flag status. The top area in Greece, for this year again, is Halkidiki with 89 flags.

Blue flags are awarded to those beaches that meet high standards for hygiene, sanitary conditions, safety, accessibility and the provision of lifeguards.

The international committee this year awarded 3,687 beaches, 679 marinas and 55 tourist boats across the world.

Spain safely holds onto its title in 2018 as the country with the most blue-flag beaches. It will be able to fly blue flags at a total of 590 of its beaches this summer.

Greece is second this year, followed by Turkey, France and Italy in that order, out of the world total of 4,423 blue flags in 45 countries.

According to the Hellenic Society for the Protection of Nature, the national operator of the program, the blue flag is the most recognizable ecological symbol in the world.
(Source: Greek Reporter)