The largest island of Greece, Crete is the ideal getaway if you are looking for a secluded and peaceful place to meet hospitable people, unwind, and experience something new.
Aside from the tragic myth of Icarus’ escape, the ancient Minoan ruins at Knossos, stunning thousand-kilometer beaches, and top-quality olive oil, here are more interesting stuff which Crete has to offer!
1. Cretans Love their Guns (or Rifles)
Statistically speaking, Crete has the highest ratio of guns per person in the whole European Union. Although this is the case, Crete is still considered as one of the safest tourist destinations in the world. Don’t be startled to see Swiss cheese-like road signs on Crete because some Cretans believe they make pretty good targets. Fun fact: Firearms and big celebrations go together like bread and butter in Crete. This tradition is called balothies and it is customary for Cretans to fire their guns during weddings, baptisms, New Year, and even when their favorite soccer team wins!
2. Raki All You Can
If you’re the kind of person who needs booze to have fun, you won’t be disappointed if you are planning to visit Crete. Locals here are very fond of drinking Raki, the island’s traditional wine made from distilled grape skin. Cretans love Raki so much, each family have their own unique recipe. Fun fact: Cretans drink Raki after eating huge meals because they believe it could help with digesting the food.
3. Around Crete in 50 Days
If walking is your passion, maybe you can do exactly what Ivan Van Driesche did. A Belgian hiker who fell in love with the beauty of Crete, Ivan walked around Crete in exactly 50 days for a fund raiser to save stray animals in the island. Fun fact: Ivan carefully listed down details of his journey such as the number of steps he made, the calories he burned, the places he have seen and the people he met along the way.
4. Cretans Like to Keep it Simple
Cretans are well known in the Mediterranean to use their body and facial gestures as a means of communication so it helps to be observant when talking with locals. If you’re a tourist and you want to ask for help, don’t worry. Cretans are known to be the most helpful people and most of the population speaks English and German.
5. Dutch Treat is Not an Option
In terms of being hospitable, don’t be surprised if you are treated like royalty in Crete. If you have been invited by a Cretan or any Greek for that matter to a “Kafeneio” or cafe for a meal or drink and they offered to pay for it, let them. Refusing to this tradition will greatly embarrass and humiliate your host.
Photo of road signs riddled with bullet holes in Crete, Greece, by Lone Black Rider