Crete's Culinary Sanctuaries
Travel Notes: All Registrants Must Read This Advice
Copyright © 2005 Nikki Rose. All rights reserved.
Crete's Culinary Sanctuaries organizes educational programs in collaboration with a local network of
teachers, professional chefs, organic farmers, conservationists, lodge owners and professional
transportation providers. CCS is not a travel agency or tour operator. It is the responsibility of each
seminar attendee to make their own travel arrangements to Crete and meet CCS representatives at the
designated time and place on the program start date. CCS does not handle travel arrangements outside
of our scheduled programs.
CCS Seminars are designed for attendees to linger in villages, meet residents and experience rural life in
real time. Most days are packed with activities with afternoon breaks when possible (as is local custom).
Crete is a big, mountainous island with many historic sites, so it is not possible to "see it all" in a few days.
We limit "road trips" to areas we work in to explore on foot in most cases (some itineraries include cycling
and canoeing). Time spent driving is time lost in Crete.
Tips: If you are traveling to Greece from faraway lands, we suggest that you consider arriving in Greece a
few days earlier to rest before the seminar start date (independent travel). Spending a few days in Crete
after our seminar is also a good idea. By then you will know more about the island. Brush up on mythology
and ancient history; it will bring the magic of Crete to life. Don't be shy about saying please and thank you
in Greek. Ask any Greek you meet -- they will likely be very happy to help you learn a few Greek words.
Getting to Crete: We suggest you contact a travel agent. Also, refer to our Links section for additional
resources. Review guidebooks like Lonely Planet. British Airways and Aegean Air offer direct flights to
Crete from various northern European cities during the high season. There are a few direct flights from
Frankfurt, Munich and Amsterdam, among others.
Flights from Athens to Crete: There are a few direct international flights to Crete during the spring and
summer months. Only domestic airlines fly from Athens to Crete: They are Aegean Airlines and Olympic
Airways and offer several daily flights to Heraklion, Crete. The flight takes about an hour. Major hubs in
Europe offer frequent flights to Athens (Frankfurt, London, Paris, Milan, Amsterdam, to name a few). Ferry
boats operate daily from Pireas (near Athens) and the Cycladic Islands, but ferries can be delayed due to
Mother Nature, so we don't recommend the ferry unless you allot time for delays. Depending on which
region of the world you live in, flight connection times (if early morning) may require an overnight stay in
Athens. Try to book your flight through to Crete and review the itinerary carefully.
Accommodation: See descriptions of accommodation your desired CCS program itinerary. Most
accommodation is in self-catered properties or lodges owned by organic farmers. Some are fabulous
restored buildings with private fireplaces and patios. Most are in peaceful remote areas surrounded by
gardens. Rooms are usually spacious studios or apartments with lots of charm and sometimes limited
modern amenities (no TV, internet, room service, reception, daily maid service, etc.). Beds might be
comparatively hard; towels might be small and rough. Hot water might not be available 24 hours a day
(some accommodation use solar water heaters or electric-powered water heaters that are turned off at
night to conserve energy). Breakfasts are light, continental style (usually fruit and preserves, cheese,
yogurt, honey and breads). The benefits of staying in the countryside are numerous, including serenity,
space, lovely scenery, closeness to communities and distance from mass tourism and generic food. Even
self-described luxury travelers have enjoyed these benefits.
Level of Physical Activity: Access to some accommodation and sites might require climbing the
equivalent of a flight of stairs or much more in some cases. Crete is a rocky, mountainous island, the
places we visit are usually easily accessible for anyone who walks often (including a fair amount of stairs)
or hikes on a regular basis. Some ancient sites are perched on mountaintops or hillsides and require a
fairly challenging ascent on worn rocky paths (for certain seminars that include extensive hiking). All hikes
are designed to savor the sights and scents of the countryside. There are no competitions to a finish line.
Average Temperatures in Crete vary by region. It's usually 10-15 degrees cooler in the mountains and up
to 15 degrees warmer on the eastern or southern coasts and in protected bays. It does rain here once in a
while, which can be wonderful, Mother Nature runs that program. Due to unpredictable global weather
changes, this is a general guideline. Outside link to live weather forecasts: www.ekathimerini.com/
Average Daytime Temp Water Temp (Sea) Rainy Days
April 17°C / 62°F 17C / 62F 6
May 24°C / 75°F 19C / 66F 3
June 24°C / 75°F 22C / 72F 1
July 26°C / 79°F 24C / 75F 0
Aug 26°C / 79°F 24C / 75F 0
Sept 24°C / 75°F 24C / 75F 2
Oct 20°C / 68°F 23C / 74F 6
Nov 17°C / 62°F 20C / 68F 8
Dec 14°C / 57°F 17C / 62F 9
Jan 12°C / 52°F 16C / 61F 14
What to Pack: Less is better, since we will be moving around and you might want to save space for olive
oil, etc., to bring home. We are a very casual group and we'll be spending time on farms, in kitchens and
the countryside. Your luggage will always be transported by car from point to point during your visit, and it is
your responsibility to carry from your lodging to the vehicle (luggage wheels are not useful on stairs, so the
less you pack, the more enjoyable your experience will be). For our day trips, bring a light purse/backpack
that can hold your water, camera, batteries, etc. Bring light, comfortable clothes that can withstand a little
splash of olive oil, mud and dust. Basics are "layers" that can easily be washed by hand if necessary.
Check the average temperature chart for the time you will be visiting us.
Bring clothes that do not wrinkle much (if wrinkled clothes bother you) because irons are not readily
available. Perhaps bring one nicer, fancy-casual outfit for dinners (or side trips to Athens), which is
optional because your local companions will probably be clad in casual attire.
Basics, Warmer Season: Sun block, a bathing suit, 2 pairs of shorts, 1 pair of light pants, 2 short-sleeve
shirts, 1 long-sleeve shirt, 1 warm sweater that matches everything, a lightweight, hooded raincoat, a pair
of comfortable shoes with strong, skid-proof soles for walking in the villages, ancient stone pathways,
farms or hiking rocky paths and open terrain with sticker bushes. Cooler season: Pack accordingly for
outdoor activities in the rain, comfortable clothes for cold weather and possibly drafty lodging. In some
lodging, there is no central heating, just lovely fireplaces. There are shops in certain locations if you forget
something but not a lot of time for shopping. Bring a small, powerful flashlight and extra batteries for your
walks under the stars, since remote areas are not always well illuminated. Small binoculars would be
handy too. While shops and pharmacies in the bigger villages carry modern essentials, we will be in the
gorgeous mountains a lot, so bring all of the batteries, toiletries or medicine you will need. Please do
not throw batteries in the trash; give them to your lodge owner.
Luggage: A standard airline-regulated carry-on suitcase and a medium size backpack or purse is the
maximum amount of luggage required and permitted for CCS seminars. Anything over that will require a
fee beginning at 200 Euros per day due to additional costs incurred for larger transportation vehicles. Tell
us in advance if you plan carry more luggage. Consider the environmental impact of larger vehicles due to
unnecessary excess luggage. Remember to leave space if you plan to purchase items here.
Electricity: 220V AC, 50Hz. It's a 2-pin plug which requires an adaptor for USA appliances. Consult your
local electronics experts before you leave.
Money Matters: Many small shops and tavernas accept cash only (Euros). Depending on the CCS
seminar you will participate in, the amount of personal expenses will vary (your free time is just that). If you
prefer alcoholic beverages or sodas during scheduled CCS seminars, the purchase of those items is your
responsibility. There are ATM machines in the bigger villages, but access can be limited. So if you want to
buy special local items like textiles, pottery, olive oil, honey, herbs, etc., to bring home, consider the amount
of Euros you might need for your personal expenses.
Note: Travel to Crete, activities not included in the itinerary, or transportation to and from seminar start and
conclusion dates are not included in the registration fee (aside from where noted on tailored seminars). All
schedules are subject to change depending visitor interests, weather and other unforeseen conditions.
There are many interesting activities to enjoy in rural Crete. Agritourism/cultural immersion is not like a
generic resort experience where the staff is always at the door waiting for visitors, rain or shine. Rural
communities are not like amusement parks with residents waiting around to entertain passersby. Most
people in the CCS network are not employed in the tourism industry. They have other jobs and obligations.
Their participation in CCS programs provides sporadic supplemental income. A fantastic traditional
cheesemaker in the mountains does not have a "back up."
While people in the CCS network are delighted to share their valuable knowledge with visitors, it may not
always be possible for them to do so when and where we want them to. Anyone familiar with farming and
the wrath of nature will understand that farming is very hard work. It's not a 9 to 5 job, it is a lifelong
commitment. The time farmers devote to sharing their knowledge with us is precious. We request that all
CCS attendees accept these facts and understand that a visit with an extraordinary organic farmer might be
cancelled or postponed due to unforeseen conditions. We will plan other activities when necessary. The
beauty of Crete is spontaneity and flexibility. Be prepared to enjoy the experience!
If you have any questions, just ask. We look forward to meeting you in Crete!