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Genral info Crete

Money

We recommend that you take some Euros on holiday with you although you will find many places to change cash and travellers cheques in the main tourist areas. Banks are open Monday to Friday until 2 pm only.

Telephones

There are OTE offices in most of the main towns from where you can telephone to anywhere in the world. Increasingly, Hotels  and  Apartments have telephones in the accommodation, linked to computers that calculate the cost of any calls. Street kiosks sometimes have card phones and you can buy telephone cards at kiosks, mini-markets and post offices for use with public phones.

Electricity

The voltage is 220 volts which is compatible with the UK but you will need a two pin adapter to use your own equipment. Electricity is expensive in Crete so please do be considerate in the way you use it. Occasionally there are power cuts due to high demands.

Drinking Water

The spring water from the mountains of Crete is perfectly safe to drink but bottled water is available in most restaurants and shops. There are shortages in the long hot summer and care should be taken that water is not wasted.

Pests & Others

Due to the warm climate of the southern Mediterranean, the rural background of Cretan life, and the location of certain properties, pests are really unavoidable. It is particularly important not to leave food sitting out, or uncovered. Flies, wasps and bees are naturally attracted to tavernas, and in no way suggests unsanitary conditions. Many of our houses and villas are situated in the countryside and you may therefore be awoken by a cockerel or disturbed by goats or sheep, or the barking of a guard dog. This is all part of the Mediterranean island life and as such a little understanding goes a long way.

Time Zones

All of Greece is within the same time zone as Eastern Europe, which is two hours ahead of the UK. They also change for Summer Time, by an hour, and since 1997 the changes are made on the same dates as the rest of Europe. Therefore there should be a consistent difference of 2 hours.

Medical Services

The medical services in Greece are generally good. However, we do advise you to take a form E 111 with you. This form, along with a personal identity document will ensure that you receive medical assistance and can reclaim any costs you incur upon your return. We do of course strongly advise everyone to have full Travel Insurance cover including repatriation for medical emergencies, when traveling abroad.

Food

Restaurants and tavernas are mostly open from 7 pm and many stay open to 2 am the next morning. The choice of cuisine is very varied, based mostly on vegetables, meat, fish, cheese and wines in a vast array of combinations. In some tavernas guests are welcome, before they order, to have a look at what is available in the kitchen or what is in the saucepans and baking trays. The taverna waiters should advise any specialties for that day.

A good restaurant is usually pretty full of local people, although Greeks like to eat much later than we do in the UK, perhaps around 9 pm or 10 pm. House wine, from the barrel, is served by the carafe in most tavernas and is very inexpensive. Food is cooked fresh every day, starting early in the morning. In the afternoon there is usually a siesta time roughly between 2 pm and 5 pm, and the main meal of the day is in the evening.

Technical Problems

It is not always as easy or as fast to get problems solved as one might hope. Most equipment is imported and spare parts are not always readily available. The Greek way of life does not lend itself to necessarily giving priority to blocked drains or water shortages. However, problems are resolved while retaining the laid back charm which is an essential ingredient of a Cretan holiday.

Beaches

The many beautiful and varied beaches of Crete are naturally open to everyone to use and are generally very safe for swimming. However, often there are no lifeguards on the beaches and no life saving amenities available. The island winds, which are most refreshing in the summer heat, may of course at times roughen up the seas and naturally seaweed and driftwood may alter the look of the beaches. There are now many spacious yet well organised beaches with sun beds and sun umbrellas, snack bars with a wide choice of water sports, from canoes, pedal boats to wind surfing, jet skis, water skiing, and para gliding. So you can very much choose what suits you best, whether it be tiny secluded coves or mile long beaches.

Pets

The change in quarantine laws allow English residents now to have the choice to bring their pets on holiday, and for anyone resident in mainland Europe it is possible to bring pets into Greece. However, you should check with us first if it is suitable to have pets in the accommodation, which you are booking. Prior to travel you will need to procure and bring along, on behalf of your pet, a certificate of health from a registered Veterinary Surgeon, and check with the airline that they will carry your pet.

Building Works

There always seems to be new buildings going up in most Cretan towns and so you will need to be prepared to see building sites here and there. However this does not automatically mean that you will be confronted with building noise, because mostly Cretans build in stages. They build as far as their money allows and then stop until they make enough money to complete the project. Also, in the summer months work on buildings frequently stops entirely, due to the heat. We naturally make every effort to be advised of any building work, which might possibly affect our holiday accommodation.

Breakfast

The Cretan breakfast, similar to other Mediterranean countries, is a very simple meal. Over the last few years, however, due to numbers of foreign visitors, you can now find a varied and more substantial choice of breakfast in most tavernas and cafes.

Cost of Living

Although it is still very inexpensive to eat out in Greece, it is true to say that the cost of food and drink has increased a bit over the years. Naturally the further away from tourist areas you are, the cheaper the cost of food.

Tipping

In restaurant bills there is a service charge of between 10-15 % already built in. However it is usual to leave a small tip for the waiters. It is also usual to tip taxi drivers, hairdressers, porters and chambermaids.

Sleeping Habits

For Cretans, the evening meal begins no earlier than 9.00 p.m. Also no one will think anything of it if you telephone at 10.00 p.m. in the evening. However, 'siesta' time, between 3.00 p.m. and 5 p.m. is held as sacred. During the siesta it is just as unpopular to disturb someone, as it is to 'Go German'!!

Property Selection

We put a high value on providing the holiday conditions that will offer relaxation and a sense of well being and so choose all of our accommodation with care. We try, wherever possible, to avoid the areas of mass tourism and to choose attractive surroundings which have facilities in the local area appropriate to the property. We do include several smaller friendly hotels in our programme which offer a personal atmosphere where you should feel very much at home, as well as some larger luxury hotels offering outstanding facilities.

All of our accommodation has been chosen with care, to suit a variety of needs, and to try and create a problem free holiday. Because of the variety of accommodation that we offer we have tried to give a clear brief description of each one, its type of location, the local amenities and whether you can use local buses or if we consider a car to be necessary. We have built up friendly and trustworthy relationships with each of the owners who are keen to maintain excellent standards.

Accommodation

The normal Cretan style accommodation is not generally considered to be of a luxury standard but is comfortable and furnished with care, and has all the basic facilities to create a warm and homely atmosphere. However, we do have many properties which fall into an internationally accepted standard of luxury and we have tried to clearly indicate this, where it is appropriate. All of our properties have tiled bath or shower rooms with wc, a kitchen of kitchenette with electric or gas cooking facility, crockery and cutlery, refrigerator, a living room or a living room with sleeping areas, table and chairs, wardrobes, comfortable beds, bed linen and towels. All have a tiled floors, a balcony or terrace, and hot water, mainly heated by solar energy. The price of your accommodation includes electricity and water costs, linen and towel change and basic cleaning at least once a week. Cots and highchairs can be requested in all properties and sometimes incur a small additional charge. In a number of our luxury villas we can arrange for you to have a daily maid, a cook or a chauffeur to suit your personal requirements.

The classifications that we use are intended to assist you in making a choice that suits you and are as follows:

Stars

Hotels

Villas & Apartments

5

Category A Category A De Luxe

Luxurious

4

Category A

High Quality

3

Category B

Above Average

2

Category C

Average

As yet there is no official categories for Apartments and Villas in Crete so the classifications are ones chosen by us. Generally a "High Quality" classification would indicate a particularly delightful setting as well as a comment on the fixtures and fittings and "Above Average"  would suggest that there is a swimming pool. Although Hotels are officially classified they sometimes slip between categories and we have also tried to indicate this.

The European Blue Flag

Following the 1987 Year of the Environment, the Foundation of Environmental Education in Europe (FEEE) founded a programme with the express purpose to grade and ensure the cleanliness of coastal areas. Successfully running for ten years, this programme is known as the European Blue Flag standard and has been adopted by 18 different countries. Each country has a national representative who works together with the Ministry of the Environment. The annual awarrd of the blue flag covers those beaches and marinas which fulfill the criteria of the programme. Greece has made great strides when one considers that in 1987 there were only 6 beaches entered and awarded the flag while 10 years later, in 1997, 311 beaches and 5 marinas were given the award. In Crete there are a total of 61 European Blue Flags. In order to qualify for the Blue Flag the coastal areas must achieve the following requirements.

  • Regular testing of sea water quality.

  • Good Beach amenities.

  • Safeness of swimming conditions.

  • Provision of Environmental information and education.

Crete: "The Great Island"

Crete has many layers of history. It is steeped in ancient Greek mythology, famed as the birthplace of Zeus and home to the Minoans which was a highly developed civilisation some 4000 years ago. Crete has been appropriately named the cradle of western culture. The palaces of Knossos, Phaistos, and Malia, the seats of the Minoan Kings, denote the pinnacle of this intriguing civilisation. Sites from classical Greece, Byzantium, ancient Rome, Venice and the Ottoman period all the way through to the Second World War. Without a doubt, for those who enjoy history, many interesting holidays could be spent delving into the rich history of Crete. Crete has such uniquely contrasting landscapes throughout its 300 km length that there is always some vista to thrill the senses. There are vast dramatic snow covered mountains, sandy tree lined beaches, flat fertile plains and fabulous deep gorges. There is an abundance of water, fruit, vegetables, seafood and wine, as well as some of the finest honey and yoghurt in the world. The mild Mediterranean climate is ideal for holidays and as such offers the opportunity to swim in the sea for 8 months of the year.

The rich mountainous countryside lures those who are interested in exploring on foot, whilst the historical aspect of the island entices many to visit the variety of beautiful castles, monasteries and archaeological sites, some of which  are 5000 years old. Most importantly, there is always the warm friendliness of the Cretan people who may well invite you to share a drink with them. Crete may become for you, as it has for so many previous visitors, a special and endearing place to be visited time and time again.