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.