5 EASY TIPS TO FEEL LIKE A LOCAL ON YOUR HOLIDAYS IN CRETE
If you’ve already booked your holidays in Greece and will be visiting Crete on your Greek island hopping, then we sure hope to see you in our cosy Hotel Elounda Palm! Most importantly, we want to help you make the most of your stay in the island of Crete.
Crete is known from ancient times for its hospitality. According to Greek mythology Zeus who was born and raised on the island of Crete, was the protector of foreigners who visited Crete and made them feel welcome. Therefore it is believe that Cretans inherited the hospitality from the father of Gods, Xenios Zeus.
Hospitality in Greek is “Filoxenia” which comes from the words “Filos(=friend)” and “Xenos(=stranger)“. It means that you approach strangers treating them like they are your friends so as to make them feel like home. Cretans nowadays maintain their reputation and try to be the best hosts.
Cretan hospitality cannot be described, you have to experience it. Although here are some of the “musts” you will “taste” if you visit Crete.
#1 Drink “Raki” and say “Ya mas” with everyone, everywhere
From your arrival at Elounda Palm Hotel to the last taverna you will go, everyone will welcome you with a shot of Raki and say “Ya mas” out loud. Raki is the traditional liqueur of Crete, made from grapes and nearly every family produces its own raki, so there’s plenty of it everywhere! You can find it in every store with traditional products or you can ask a local to give you a bottle to take it back home with you.
“Ya mas” is “Cheers” in Greek, which means to drink to our health! If you want to show off (just a little bit) you could say “Eviva do” which is used in the Cretan dialect.
Caution: the one who treats you the raki, also has to drink!
Don’t be afraid, drink as much as you want, as long as you stick to raki and won’t mix it with other spirits. Good quality raki will not give you a hangover the next day! A morning dive in the private pool of your Villa in Elounda Palm will be just enough to wash all worries away!
#2 Talk with old people in the villages even if they don’t speak any English
It’s very common for people to greet you in the streets even if they don’t know you. Especially in the villages, older people will talk to you and maybe invite you into their houses.
The other day we were on a trip in south Crete, close to Elounda and we sat by the beach to have some coffee. An old man came close to us and said “Kalimera (=good morning)”. We were not sure what he wanted but he immediately invited us in his house for a coffee and brought us a full bag of apples and oranges which he had just cut from his garden. We were surprised by his kindness and his generosity.
It is so beautiful when people are pure and real, with an open heart.
#3 Dessert after lunch or dinner (or both!)
Insider’s tip: If you go to a local taverna or a restaurant in Crete, you don’t have to order dessert because they will bring it anyway! They will offer you homemade delicacies like fruit preserves, honeyballs aka “Loukoumades” or Greek orange pie with ice cream. And of course on top of that a huge fruit platter with local seasonal fruits.
And don’t forget the raki! They serve it also at the end, because it helps with digestion.
#4 Dance “Syrto” with the locals
In the past, locals celebrated big religious feasts where young boys had the chance to meet the girls from the area and choose their beloved one (so no need for dating apps)! Once they found their match, they invited her to a traditional dance.
Nowadays there are many feasts in Crete, all year around, but mainly in the summertime. Locals and visitors alike enjoy the Cretan folk music by the melody of Lyra, lute and mandolin accompanied with a lot of dancing.
If locals see you watching from a corner, they will drag you into the circle of the dance, or you could always be brave and just try to follow the steps of the others on your own! This is not a Greek dancing competition!
#5 Make lifetime friendships
People you meet in Crete will not forget you, and you will definitely not forget them! This is why many people come back again and again – the boutique Elounda Palm hotel is a hub for families and couples who visit Crete for years (raise your hand if you’re one of them)! It is not only the beauty of the island that makes it so special. It is the people and the unforgettable moments with them, that will last for a lifetime and make you feel that you belong here.
These are only some of the highlights of Cretan hospitality to be experienced on your next holidays in Elounda! Just unwind, be yourself and you will feel like home. We hope our tips will help you discover the Cretan tradition and feel like a local during your stay in Crete.
Have YOU experienced Cretan hospitality? Share your story with us!
P.S. Here is one of our favorite stories.