Thursday, 2 February 2017

Travel Review -- Fodele village, Crete (Creta)

Fodele (pronounced Fother-lay) is a beautiful village approximately 30km from Iraklion going towards Rethymno. It is 3km inland from Fodele beach itself, but the setting is out of this world. It has it all.  There is a small river that runs through the village and you can go for a river/nature walk, which takes you up a small hill and back through a residential area of little side streets and back into the village.

River running through the village

The village is a working agricultural village, olives and figs. The residents have sheep, goats, chickens, dogs, cats and rabbits in little pens in their gardens.


Ready for picking
Our apartments overlooked mountains and mandarin groves from our living room balcony, as in the first picture.
Mandarin Groves
 You could almost reach out and touch them and the smell was lovely.  The ladies in the street will happily give you some oranges they've picked off their trees. When you buy something from one of the stalls they'll often give you an orange. Each year they have an orange festival.

The main village street itself was about 1 mile long and had several shops selling locally made tablecloths, jewellery, honey and olive oil.  Also a few tavernas, bistro's and restaurants. We tried several of them and our favourite was one run by "Smoothy George" called Domenico's.
Me and Smoothy George
He had a vast menu and included lots of Greek specialities. He gave us several to try and didn't charge us. We tried stuffed grape vine leaves "Dolmades", served with Tsatsiki. Souvlaki, which are like skewered meat kebabs covered in lovely spices. Also loukoumades, which are like little doughnuts covered in icing sugar and cinammon, and the local honey as a sauce. They were absolutely delicious! I'm sure none of it was very low fat, but it was delicious!

Feta cheese salad

El Greco

Fodele is also the birthplace of  "El Greco" the artist. Famous for his paintings of religious icons. He was said to be born in Fodele, but lived for a while in Italy and because they couldn't pronounce his name they just called him El Greco "The Greek".

If you are staying in the village, they'll class you as a resident and if there is a wedding you'll get an invite. We had an invite to one and they're not to be missed. There were bench tables laid up in the village square. Each family who came to the wedding brought wine from their local village (an acquired taste sometimes). The feast of goat meat and rice was served up with fresh fruit also served. Then it's followed by Greek Dancing which was fascinating to watch. All the men, women and children get up and dance. 

Greek Dancing

The Bride and Groom Arrive 

It was great sharing a meal with new friends. We were with Greeks, Albanians, English and Zimbabweans. A real mix but all great company and such fun. 

From our balcony in our bedroom, we overlooked the local Greek Orthodox church, who's bells woke you up at 730am on Sunday morning and the service was then run through loud hailers for those elderly residents up the hillside who could not get to church. 

We  thoroughly fell in love with Crete and it's people. We travelled to Chania on the Western side of Crete, which is a beautiful resort set around a Venetian harbour. Full of great restaurants, shops, museums and a lovely little book shop. 

Also we went to Iraklio the Capital (Heraklion), which was a good place for visiting the great museums and shopping. It's an industrial city but still beautiful in parts.

The beaches of Crete are beautiful, with one close by being Aghia Pelagia. The season starts in April and runs through to the end of October. 

So whether you've been to Greece or not before, give Crete a try. We'll be going back again this year as there is so much else there we haven't seen, plus we fell in love with the people.

Books set in Crete

The Island - Victoria Hislop
Based on the Island of Spinalonga just off the coast near Elounda. Fishermans boats will take you over to the Island. 
It's a beautiful setting near Elounda, with the little tiny village of Plaka with great restaurants where you can sit and watch the ferries travel over to the Island which is very close to the shoreline. 

Zorba The Greek by Nikos Kazantzakis
Set before the start of the First World War, this moving fable sees a young English writer set out to Crete to claim a small inheritance. But when he arrives, he meets Alexis Zorba, a middle-aged Greek man with a zest for life. Zorba has had a family and many lovers, has fought in the Balkan wars, has lived and loved - he is a simple but deep man who lives every moment fully and without shame. As their friendship develops, the Englishman is gradually won over, transformed and inspired along with the reader.