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Shopping  &  Souvenirs

Crete offers a large selection of typical souvenirs, that don't need to be kitschy, but very useful as food like olive oil, spices, honey, wine or as daily used objects like ceramics, leather products, jewellery, needleworks and weaved handcrafts.

In the smaller shops apart the big touristic areas you can find the best quality of handcrafted art, sometimes for good prices directly from the relevant producer, artist or craftsman.

Kiosks, souvenir shops, small supermarkets and shops in the touristic areas are open also out of normal opening times, as well as on sundays and public holidays.

 

 

Prices

Because Greece is an EU-member since 2002 and has the "Euro" as common currency, the prices meanwhile also are on a common European level. Some products that were very cheap during the previous times of the drachmes currency, are little bit more expensive now with Euro, but the average price level is still better than in the UK and other European countries. Also the food in the taverns and restaurants is offered for good prices, service is included in the bill, but a tip is always welcome.

Products of daily needs like bread, vegetables and fruits are very cheap, especially fruits and vegetables are available in a large quantity because of the perfect climatic conditions on Crete. Just products of milk like yoghurt, curd, cheese and fresh milk are a little bit more expensive, as well as products that have to be brought by ferry boat or by airplane from Athens to Crete daily, because except some small companies, there is no industry or big companies available on the island. For example petrol on Crete is some cents more expensive than in Athens.

Large Greek, French, German and Dutch supermarket chains on Crete nearly have the same prices like somewhere else in Europe and also the same known products and offers. Household products, electrical appliances, computer products, toys, jewellery, furs, home improvement products, building materials, furniture and new cars are partly cheaper than in the UK and some other European countries. Also for shoes and clothing prices are the same, except luxurious designer fashion labels, but sometimes cheaper up to 50 % during sale.

In smaller shops or craft shops sometimes you can haggle over the product you like to buy to negotiate a better price.

The value-added tax (VAT = in Greek: ΦΠΑ) in Greece is 23% (since 2012).

The entrance fee for museums and archaeological sites are on a normal European level, but cheaper than in England. In the prefectures of Chania and Rethymnon most archaeological sites are free of charge. Children up to 12 years and sometimes also students with necessary student card pay less prices.

            

 

Opening Times

The normal opening times of the shops in the cities are from Monday to Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Tuesday, Thursday and Friday also in the afternoon from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Banks are open from Monday to Thursday from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and Friday only until 1:30 p.m.

Cash dispenser (ATM) working 24 hours and are nearly at every bank an at many shops at central places.

 Post office is open inside the cities from Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Also supermarkets are open without break from Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. and  on Saturday only until 8 p.m. Smaller supermarkets and souvenir shops at the touristic areas are also open in the evenings, sometimes until 12 p.m. or longer, and also open on Sunday.

For urgent needs of beverages, sweets, snacks, cigarettes, telephone cards, newspapers, magazines amd other small things there is always a kiosk (periptero) at central places and streets of the cities open day and nights.

Pharmacies are open from Monday to Saturday 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. and like other shops also open Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 5:30 p.m. until 9 p.m., some pharmacies are open alternately all the day and also during the night, also on sundays and holidays. This emergency service plan you can find at the doors or windows of all pharmacies.

The opening times of petrol stations are usually from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. without break. During the night and on Sundays and at holidays some petrol stations are open alternately. At the closed petrol stations you can also find a schedule at the window, which one is open now.

The archaeological sites mostly are open from Tuesday to Sunday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., also when they are free of charge, because the areas are fenced in. On Mondays most are closed.

 

          

Food

Typical Cretan agriculture products are olive oil, honey, spices and wine, but also cookies, sweets, dried fruits and nuts. These products with high quality you can buy at its best directly on Crete, athough we have the European trade market inside all European countries, these local agricultural produks are not available in other countries or they are not easy to find in your country.

   

Thr olive oil from Crete is the best and most healthiest in the world. It is proved that it helps since the ancient times at different pains and the latest medical research found it prevent effect also at many  illnesses, like cancer, heart and vessel trouble. And of course olive oil is very tasty at all kinds of dishes, not only for the Greek cuisine.

The best quality is cold pressed native olive oil from the first pressing, called "extra virgin olive oil" (ΕΞΑΙΡΕΤΙΚΟ ΠΑΡΘΕΝΟ ΕΛΑΙΟΛΑΔΟ), that is only obtained from the ripe, flawless olive solely by purely mechanical methods without heating and without any additives.

The quality of the oil is critical to the taste and health, so the consumer should know the different quality categories and then make his choice accordingly. Olive oil is today classified according to the EU Regulation No. 1019-2002 in three quality categories and their description must be included compulsory indicated on each package.
The acidity for the "Extra Virgin Olive Oil", or for the "Virgin Olive Oil" must be less than 0.8%, or be 2%, while for the "olive oil composed of refined and virgin olive oil" must be less than 0.3%. The refined olive oils contained in the latter category come from virgin olive oils of lower quality, improved by chemical or biochemical methods. More than 95% of the Cretan olive oil production belongs to the best category "Extra Virgin Olive Oil".

Also pickled olives, of which there are over 40 different varieties in Greece, you get wherever you can buy Olive Oil.

 

Another specialty are the most diverse varieties of Cretan honey (Meli), which is also very healthy, and above all for colds, and also tastes very good, such as the popular thyme honey. It comes packaged along with nuts both in large jars and cans, as well as a nice souvenir in smaller Glasamphoren.
The hives are on Crete in remote locations of the flowery Phrygana and there due to lack of industry on the island, the Cretan air is almost free of pollutants, the Cretan honey has an extremely high quality. Some beekeepers in the Cretan mountains on the way to the south coast also sell their products directly
.
 

 

Von den diversen kretischen Obstsorten, die sich in frischem Zustand nicht sehr gut als Mitbringsel eignen, gibt es aber auch meist Varianten of Trockenobst, wie beispielsweise Rosinen, Sultaninen, getrocknete Pflaumen, Aprikosen oder Apfelringe. Ebenso gerne gegessen werden auf Kreta Mandeln und Nüsse der verschiedensten Sorten, auch mit Honig und Sesam zu kleinen trockenen Pasteten als Knabberriegel gepresst.

 

Die kretische Phrygana ist bekannt für ihre vielen Kräuter und Gewürze, die dort wegen der warmen klimatischen Bedingungen hervorragend gedeihen, dies sind unter anderem Oregano, Thymian, Rosmarin, Safran, Koriander, Diktamus, Lavendel, Majoran, Salbei, Myrte, Kreuzkümmel, Zimt, Kamille, Fenchel und Minze. So werden auch in vielen Geschäften und in der Market hall Gewürze, teils getrocknet, teils als Pulver und fertige spezielle Gewürzmischungen für alle Arten of Gerichten preiswert angeboten.

Auch viele Arten of Tee kann man dort kaufen, so zum Beispiel den berühmten und gesunden Diktamus-Tee.

 

Ebenfalls aufgrund des warmen Klimas wächst auf Kreta auch vorzüglicher Wein (Krasi) in den verschiedenen Anbaugebieten, insbesondere bei Archanes im Bezirk Iraklion, ganz im Westen der Region Chania bei Kissamos, an den Hängen der Messara-Ebene und im Osten der Insel. Einige Winzereien bieten auch Führungen, sowie Weinprobe und direkte Einkaufsmöglichkeit an. Die kretischen Weine werden auf natürliche Weise gekeltert und ihnen werden keine chemischen Mittel zugesetzt. Es gibt verschiedene Rot-, Rosé- und Weissweine of lieblich bis herb, sowie den mit Pinienharz aromatisierten Retsina aus Kissamos bei Chania, dessen ursprüngliches Aroma früher aus den Pinienholzfässern stammte, in denen der Wein reifte.

  

Bei den Spirituosen sind die typischen Souvenirs der griechische Anisschnaps Ouzo, den es of unzähligen guten Firmen gibt, sowie der kretische Raki Tsikoudia, der aus dem Trester destilliert wird. Ausserdem gibt es den bekannten Weinbrand der Firma Metaxa, den es als 3-, 5- und 7-Sterne-Metaxa gibt, wobei 3-Sterne der preiswerteste ist, 5-Sterne eine bessere Qualität hat und der 7-Sterne-Metaxa der schmackhafteste und beste ist.

 

          

Jewellery

Die Goldschmiedekunst hat auf Kreta seit der Minoischen Zeit eine jahrtausendealte Tradition, die heutigen Juweliere und Goldschmiede verkaufen sehr schönen und hochwertigen Gold- aber auch Silberschmuck, der zum Teil mit Edelsteinen oder Brillianten verziert ist, sowohl als Reproduktionen antiker minoischer Motive als auch in klassischem und modernem Design. In der Altstadt of Chania und Rethymno, sowie in Iraklion, Agios Nikolaos und allen grossen Ferienorten gibt es viele gute und nicht zu teure Juweliergeschäfte. Ringe, Ketten, Armreife und Anhänger sind sehr beliebte Geschenke, fast alle Geschäfte gravieren auch. Gold- und Silberschmuck wird vielfach immer noch nach Gewicht verkauft und ist wesentlich preiswerter als beispielsweise in Deutschland.

Wer etwas mehr Geld ausgeben möchte, kann als wertvolle Souvenirs auch kunstvoll gearbeitete Siegelsteine kaufen, die bis zu 800 Euro kosten können, alte griechische Brotstempel, die überall in Griechenland angeboten werden und immer seltener und teurer werden. Die Preise liegen je nach Alter zwischen 100 und 1500 Euro.

Sehr schön sind auch Souvenirs aus Onyx, einer Art des Achats, die auf Kreta meist gelackt und nur selten geschliffen verkauft werden, die Preise richten sich hierbei nach Form, Farbe und Grösse.

 

 

Ceramics and Pottery

Not only in the traditional pottery villages Margarites and Trapsano, but all over Crete you get very beautiful ceramic goods, produced partly by historical patterns, but also many modern pottery is available. The Cretan pottery manufacture both utilitarian objects, such as vases, bowls, plates and dishes, but also pure art such as wall reliefs, statues and sculptures.
The art of ceramics goes back to the 7th millennium BC. back when the first settlers in Crete their use ceramic pottery making. Famous are the huge, Cretan storage vessels (pithoi), which in Minoan times for example were used for storage and transport of olive oil. They were produced by potter families, travelling from village to village
.

            

 

Leather and Shoes

The traditional for the Greek population handcraft of leather processing has also developed first in Crete. You can buy here particularly good shoes at low prices, but also many other leather items such as belts, gloves, purses, bags and backpacks.
In specialty stores, of which, among others, still there are many in the "Leather Street" of Chania, are also the traditional Cretan leather boots (Stivania), which formerly belonged to the national costumes​​.

    

 

Needleworks and Weaved Handcrafts

The long tradition of handicraft weaving emerged in its present form in the 19th century and is still practiced today in Crete. The origins, however, are undoubtedly much earlier epochs, because already some frescoes in the Minoan palace of Knossos show this age-old craft.
In addition to woven blankets and rugs also very nice tatted lace and embroidery, as on handkerchiefs, aprons and tablecloths are available in all colors and sizes. Typical of Crete is a geometric stitch, called Rethymiotic stitch, which adorns many decorative works and the best clothes manufactured in our own families to this day.
Traditional weaving, in which there are hand-woven fabrics can be found among others in the villages Anoghia, Zoniana, Zaros and in the old town of Chania. For finely crafted embroideries, which are made partly in hand several months of work, especially Kritsa, as well as the villages of Lassithi Plateau are famous, beautiful macrame bags are available for example in Fodele.
Some souvenir shops with a generous offer but also sell low-cost, mass-produced goods produced in the Far East, which contains partly synthetic additives, better to take care of the labels.

            

 

Wood Carved Handcrafts

A special feature of Crete is the meandering wooden crook from Prinos-wood, which is a universal tool with the shepherds in the mountains. Use it for carrying of loads, for disciplining of dogs, for driving of mules or simply as a wall decoration. Very popular are also carved and turned bowls and plates, as well as many attractive small commodities from the valuable hard olive wood.

 

 

Icons

Representations of saints and biblical events on small or larger panel paintings is called in the Orthodox Church icons. They are in all houses of worship, but also widely used in homes, offices, shops, as well as dashboards Greek vehicles or at the helm of the house to find boats. Greek icons are not like in the Latin Church just pious images, they are for the believers "Gates to Heaven" and bring the saints into the house. They are partially decorated with precious metals, precious embroidered curtains, precious stones and rings and serve the worship of the saints depicted.
Icon painter must be as the creator of murals in the churches addressed strictly to the ancient rules, which is why very little artistic creativity, freedom and imagination are in demand even today. To see many icons, regardless of the century, since the Byzantine period the same. The Venetian-Roman influence had made formally only a few deviations of the Byzantine rigor possible without, however, the Cretan icon painters always held to the Byzantine requirements.
Icons are now estimated also of art lovers and are available as thumbnails, or huge paintings in shops and monasteries. The best and most expensive icons created using the ancient techniques and traditional materials. In addition to hand-painted copies of the original ancient icons that offer a number of artists in Crete also to paint icons according to your wishes.

            

 

Knives

In some streets of Chania and Heraklion there are many shops of cutlers where the traditional Cretan knives are made, you can find a large selection of different, very sharp cutting tools of first-class quality.
Please think of us when they return by plane to the international safety regulations and are not accompanied with knives and scissors in hand luggage! Store your corresponding souvenirs before in suitcase luggage that you give up!

 

 

Traditional Costumes and Folcloristic Cretan Accessories

Die heutige traditionelle Tracht der Kreter entstand im 14. Jahrhundert und ist vor allem durch die tiefe Pluderhose (Vraka) der Männer bekannt. Durch ihren Schnitt und die Art, wie sie angezogen wird, zählt sie zu den kompliziertesten Trachten Griechenlands. Man sieht die Vraka heute jedoch nur noch bei Folklorefesten, da sie mit dem Aufkommen moderner Anzüge verdrängt wurde. Ein etwa 8 Meter langes Gürteltuch, in dem der traditionelle Dolch, aber auch das Geld steckten, hält die Vraka. Dazu wurden die Lederstiefel (Stivania) und eine teils mit Brokat besetzte Weste getragen.

In ländlichen Gegenden und vor allem im Gebiet der Sfakia sind die meisten Kleidungsstücke der Männer schwarz, ebenso wie das um den Kopf geschlungene schwarze, gehäkelte Tuch (Sariki), dessen Fransen mit kleinen Kügelchen die "Tränen der Gefallenen" darstellen sollen und seit der türkischen Besatzung getragen wurde.

Die Kleidung der kretischen Frauen war of Dorf zu Dorf unterschiedlich und betraf vor allem die Farben und Motive der Stickerei. Über einer langen Hose aus weisser Baumwolle trugen die Frauen einen Rock (Sartza) und eine Schürze. Die kurze Weste aus Wolle war meist schwarz oder dunkelblau, häufig aber bunt bestickt. Die Haare wurden mit einem Tuch zusammengebunden. Auch diese traditionellen Frauentrachten werden heute nur noch auf Folklorefesten und Tanzvorführungen getragen.

In einigen Fachgeschäften bekommt man komplette Trachten, in vielen Souvenirgeschäften einige Teile, wie Schürzen, Kopftücher oder die schwarze Kopfbedeckung der Männer, das Sariki.

Ein weiteres kretisches Souvenir ist das "Komboloi", eine Art Spielkettchen aus Olivenholz, Bernstein, Silber, Perlen oder Edelsteinen, das mit einer Hand zwischen den Fingern hin- und hergeschleudert wird. Es hat entgegen mancherlei Behauptungen keine religiösen Bedeutungen.

            

 

Cretan Music

Die kretische Volksmusik geht auf uralte Traditionen zurück und unterscheidet sich sowohl in den Melodien als auch in den Instrumenten of der übrigen griechischen Musik. Sie wird hauptsächlich mit der Lyra, einem dreisaitigen Streichinstrument, und der Laouta, einer kretischen Version der Mandoline, gespielt. Die Lyra wird wie eine Geige mit einem kleinen Bogen, allerdings auf den Knien liegend gestrichen und die Laouta wird ähnlich wie eine Gitarre als Begleitinstrument gezupft. Weitere Instrumente sind die Bouzouki, eine griechische Version der Gitarre, die Diouli, eine kleine hölzerne, mit Ziegenfell bespannte Trommel für die rhythmische Begleitung, das Santouri, ein Hackbrett mit Ursprung aus Kleinasien, die Voulgari, eine langhalsige Laute der kretischen Dorfmusik und die normale Gitarre Kithara.

Manche Lyra-Spieler hängen auch kleine Glöckchen an ihren Bogen, die sogenannten Gerakokoudouna, die nicht nur als Verzierung dienen, sondern auch als lebendige und rhythmisch klingende Begleitung das Spiel ergänzen. Der griechische Dudelsack Askomandoura ist ein sehr populäres Instrument der südlichen Ägäis und wird auch bei einigen kretischen Liedern verwendet.

Die traditionellen Lieder handeln of Liebe, Tod und Ehre und sind als improvisierte Stegreifgesänge, den "Mantinades" mit Versen zu 13 Silben überall auf Kreta verbreitet. Die "Rizitikas" sind aus Klageliedern entstanden, die unter türkischer Herrschaft gesungen wurden und den Wunsch nach Freiheit ausdrückten.

Zu den Gesängen und der Musik werden auf Feiern auch die traditionellen Volkstänze, wie Syrtos, Pendozalis, Malevisiotis und Sousta aufgeführt.

Die kretische Volksmusik findet man heutzutage auf CDs, wie auch griechische Pop-Musik und alle anderen Musikrichtungen, in allen CD-Geschäften. Einige Souvenirläden führen auch Musik of kretischen Künstlern, meistens jedoch allgemeine griechische Folklore.

Zwei der berühmtesten kretischen Musiker sind Nikos Xilouris und Yannis Markopoulos.

            

 

Fashion

In fashion, Greece and also Crete is always ahead of his time, as the shops there are based directly on the current trends from Milan and Paris. Like in Athens, also in the cities of Chania, Rethymnon, Heraklion and Agios Nikolaos can be found numerous designer boutiques with the latest fashions that will be current for example in the UK until next year. During the sales period (Ekptosis) in the summer you get partially reduced up to 50% also many very latest garments.
The standard sizes in Greece search for women's and men's clothing, and shoes are labeled also like in other European countries.

 

 

Infrastructure

In the Cretan cities, especially Chania and Heraklion you will find all kinds of specialty shops, boutiques and supermarkets. The infrastructure is similar to that of any European city of medium size. Outside the city center are bigger supermarkets, furniture stores, garden centers, hardware stores, car shops & services and specialist companies of any kind.

          

 
 

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