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CRETE | The Travel Empire


Greece’s Traditional Costumes: A Photo Shoot

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IMG_0237It is more than likely that if you find yourself wandering the streets of Rethymno, you will eventually pass one of the over-sized advertisements for Studio Camera offering customized photo shoots. It is also very likely that after enough shots of Cretan raki, a photo shoot in traditional Greek costumes, an idea that probably never registered with you before that moment, becomes a “must-do” before leaving the city.

Enter Mr. George Christodoulakis, the photographer behind Studio Camera. In our case, we found ourselves talking excitedly in front of one of the ads, unbeknown to us at the time, standing directly across the street from the studio itself. A man, who was standing in the doorway of the adjacent building and happened to know Mr. Christodoulakis, overheard our conversation and passed on his phone number. A few minutes later, we had an 8pm appointment to meet the photographer that IMG_0260night.

At our meeting, we expressed our interest in traditional Greek costumes and were led to the upstairs of the studio, which houses racks of various costumes. Mr. Christodoulakis quickly helped us arrange our outfits and led us across the street to what seemed to be the unused dining space of a local restaurant. Three dimensional props were brought out and the shoot began. Throughout the hour long session, we worked through numerous poses, encouraged by the photographer and even a few of his local friends who dropped in on the shoot. Afterwards, we were guided through all the proofs, allowed to select the best ones to take back home and thereby ended up with what is arguably one of the greatest souvenirs ever.

Arampatzogloy, 30, Rethymno

http://www.studio-camera.gr/ (Greek only)

Greece: Lounge Cafe at the Sailing Club of Chania

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100_0511Neorio Moro, the home of the Chania Sailing Club, was originally built during the city’s Venetian occupation in the 16th century. The space was restored and100_0521 renovated in 2009-2010. The over-sized wooden doors anchoring the modern glass front entrance open into the popular Lounge Cafe. Inside, the open loft-like space houses a colorful huddle of mismatched wood chairs around small cafe tables. Blown up photography prints capturing the nautical character of the Club line the stone walls alongside several small sailboats set up inside the cafe. Small plates and cocktails are offered.

Eastern cove of the Venetian harbor

Greek Punch Bowl, Rethymno’s Irish Pub

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100_0490In terms of the crowd and drink offerings, Punch Bowl is as classic and laid back as any other Irish pub. Its uniqueness and what you will remember, in addition to the friendly staff, is the “decor,” used in the loosest sense of the word. Curios ranging from beer signs, twisted glass beer bottles, hats, artwork and musical instruments cover the walls, even spilling out onto the outside facade of the building. The impressive collection lend to the bar’s character and give an added incentive to stop in when seeking some solace from the hot Cretan sun.

Arabatzoglou 42, Rethymno, Greece

Ancient Greek Firewater: Crete’s Locally Distilled Spirit

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100_0445Tsikoudia, commonly referred to as “raki” or “Greek firewater” has come to be known as the national spirit of Crete. A distilled liquor made from grape skins and other remnants from the wine making process, Cretan raki, which lacks the anise flavor of the Turkish variant, typically ranges between 40% and 60% alcohol content. The drink is produced throughout the island whether legally by distilleries 100_0447or by locals doing their part to carry on the tradition. The Cretans are never shy when it comes to offering up the local spirit, expect to have it before dinner, after dinner, from the front desk concierge walking out of your hotel, mid-day from a friendly shopkeeper, at roadside stops and repeatedly throughout the night at local bars. Flavored variations such as honey raki or more herbal varieties 100_0446are available though they are not any less potent than the original.




Greece: Icarus and Dedalos in Agia Galini

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According to the popular Greek myth, Dedalos was the one who advised Princess Ariadne to give Theseus the thread that helped him come out from the infamous Labyrinth, after killing the Minotaur. The Labyrinth was a maze built by Dedalos; King Minos wanted a building suitable to imprison the mythical monster Minotaur, and according to the myth, he used to imprison his enemies in the labyrinth, making sure that they would be killed by the monster.

Minos was infuriated when he found out about the betrayal and imprisoned Dedalos and his son Icarus in the Labyrinth. However, Dedalos was too smart and inventive and he started thinking how he and Icarus would escape the Labyrinth. Knowing they could not come out on foot and that the shores of Crete were perfectly guarded, prohibiting them to be able to escape by sea either. The only way left was by air.

Dedalos managed to create gigantic wings, using branches of osier and connected them with wax. He taught Icarus how to fly, but told him to keep away from the sun because the heat would make the wax melt, destroying the wings. Dedalos and Icarus managed to escape the Labyrinth and flew to the sky, free.  Although he was warned, Icarus was too young and too enthusiastic about flying. As a result, he flew too close to the sun, melting his wings and causing him to fall into the sea and drowned. The Icarian Sea, where he fell, was named after him.

The statue of father and son can be found adjacent to the town’s port.