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Why I Prefer To Deal With Cretans When I Am In Crete


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#1 Tim

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Posted 26 July 2006 - 01:31 PM

In 'another forum' I expect to be criticised for a comment reminding people that rather than renting a property off of someone who is most likely a non Cretan and non resident, that Cretans make great hosts and there are advantages to doing business with them rather than non locals.
I do get a tad annoyed at people who buy themselves a property and then seem to expect other holiday makers to pay for it for it seems to me to be done at the expense of the local Cretans who are trying to make a decent living. I expect some will argue that the 'development' of land for foreign purchase is playing an important part in the Crete economy but I don't believe that any enterprise that sees a chunk of money earned in Crete but going abroad, helps the local economy much.
Aside from that argument I do firmly believe that putting my small amount of holiday businss into Cretan hands benefits me as well as my hosts. It isn't always possible but I think it worth trying to do local business.
I thought it might be interesting to start a thread on the benefits of dealing with locals for I am sure there are some tales to be told!
For my part I will start off with my car hire man, who perhaps had better stay anonymous for this tale. He is someone many of us have dealt with for many years and had great service from. On this particular occasion I was contemplating a trip in high season and I thought, though he had said that there will always be a car available for me, that his fleet might well all be out on hire. I rang him from the UK and explained that I was hoping to come over if I could get a cheap flight and how was he fixed to let me have a car. He repeated that he would always find one for me. He added that he would be away for a bit and that I should ring one of his family when I knew if and when I was coming. A few days later I rang his family member and said I had a date in mind. She said fine, when? I said I have just found and booked a flight and arrive at 02.30 tommorow morning. The line went quiet for a moment and then she said OK, see you at the airport in the morning.
When I arrived, full of apologies for the short notice, she laughed and said well we told you that you would always be able to have a car from us - and you have - but this one is stolen! She calmed my fears by explaining that the car was actually on hire to someone else but she knew that they wouldn't be needing it for a while so had 'repossed' it and would provide them with a replacement before breakfast.
The episode struck me as a very practical way of dealing with a problem between parties who all had a good relationship with the 'service provider'.
My most recent experience of hiring a car in the UK was to be told that no they had no record of my booking and nothing was available for a couple of days!
I am sure there are plenty of stories 'out there' that demonstrate the benefits of dealing 'local'. Maybe some will fill the gap in postings that some feel exists.

#2 Dinny

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Posted 26 July 2006 - 02:42 PM

For my part, I totally agree with you, Tim. Except for my plummer (who never shows up when he promises to) it is a pleasure to deal with Cretan people.

The family renting their house to me always spoil me when I come to pay the rent, always going back with a bottle of homemade wine and olive oil. And also if for any reason my landlady comes to see me at home she always brings something. Naturally, I have brought 'something Danish' back from my holidays for them, 'cause kindness should receive an equal answer whenever there is an occasion.

I hope to make up just a bit for 'money going abroad', since I work with foreign translation agencies, so whenever they pay me the money will be flowing to Crete. I try to a certain extent to do my daily shopping locally, in the small shops in Pitsidia, but since prices are quite heavy here I also have to make my bigger shopping (cat food!!!) at Marinopolos, otherwise I would go broke very quickly! :D But, whenever I buy things here in Pitsidia, I can be sure to come home also with some offerings of fresh fruit, some lemons, a couple of tomatoes. While other women buy clothes, I buy meat! I am one of our local butcher's best customers, but I always get a few juicy bones and a couple of pork hearts for free for dogs and cats every time I visit him.

I buy my cigarettes locally, and the old woman in the shop (4 trembling shelves on a wall) who speaks only Greek always insists on offering me a raki whenever I come in. There is absolutely no way to convince her that with these hot temperatures it would be better NOT to drink raki, so at least I manage to make her pour only a tiny glass! If it's not raki, then it's lemons or even grapefruits I bring home tgether with my cigarettes.

The remarkable thing is that obviously the small shops here are owned by old couples seeming to possess nothing more than the clothes they are wearing, but they gladly share some of whatever they have with whomever is dropping in to buy a few things. They are simply all very generous! :)

#3 DaveW.

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Posted 26 July 2006 - 09:06 PM

...hell's bells Tim there is a subject to get people going!!!! A few years ago Yannis and I had a disagreement about a comment that I had made about asking for discount when hiring a car, the point being made by Yannis that if the customer kept on asking for discounts then the Cretan supplier would soon be operating at a loss and be unable to make a living. I, personally would not consider haggling over prices in a shop but would consider any discount offered on the Internet.

When I arrive in Crete I try to do all of my shopping locally. I purchase my tinned goods from the small supermarket down the road that, was until a couple of years ago when it became part of the Inka chain, run by the local farmer's co-operative. I buy all my bread from a bakery in the village, and my fresh meat from one of the village butchers. I even managed to get enough Greek together in December to order some chops and village sausages, only to be greeted by Stelios' 'You want some chops and sausages'!!!!!

I use one of the car hire firms in the village who also doubles up as an exchange and last year I ran out of Euro's after a shopping expedition in Chania. I have built up a good friendship with the guy who runs the business and thought that he was joking when asked if he could change some Sterling, he said that he didn't have any. It was a holiday and would have meant that I would have struggled for a couple of days until he had replenished his cash. He wasn't joking. But he put his hand in his pocket brought out a handful of notes counted them out and gave some to me with the words ' pay me back when you can'. What trust!
I could carry on, but in my experience the Cretans are amongst the most trusting and honest. :D

I would always try to shop 'local' rather than, dare I say non Cretan.
If you look like your passport picture....you probably need the holiday!

#4 Pam

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Posted 27 July 2006 - 01:13 PM

I too prefer to deal locally rather than with holiday companies. For many years we rented accommodation from the same agency on Paxos and rang them up one year to say we had decided to take a last minute holiday and did they have anything to spare. The response was just turn up and we could choose from whatever was available - admittedly this was out of peak season but they let us have a lovely apartment at the same price as a studio.

I think the whole point of going abroad is to experience the local culture, drink what the locals drink and eat what they eat (though the occasional English breakfast is welcome). We would never go to one of these all-inclusive resorts as I believe they put little back into the local economy.

Tim don't think you'll get any disputes from the people on this forum, but I await with interest the responses on the other place.

Pam

#5 CRETELOVER68

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Posted 27 July 2006 - 08:58 PM

:D We are going back to Crete next June for 3 weeks and have sorted travel arrangments ourselves, we are staying in Georgioupolis with Nikos and his family who gave us such a friendly welcome on our honeymoon in 2003
We have found that doing the arrangments ourselves we have not only saved money but have the more family approach which is what we look for
And boy oh boy I cant wait xx

#6 Kritsa Yvonne

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Posted 27 July 2006 - 10:15 PM

Ah shopping and Crete – what a great combination.

Many of our fondest memories have been when we have been trying to by “odd” things only to be taken aback by “extra” service:

Bread that gets cheaper once you are accepted as a “local”, 3 free cup hooks because they usually sell them by the half kilo, a freshly picked lemon given to you to ensure the taste of your tinned vine leaves is the best they can be, a new shower and fittings ordered and delivered within 3 days and payment to the delivery man, free drinks because you pointed out the change should be from a €20 and not a €50, a hire car delivered extra early because the lady “selling it” wanted a lift into town from the delivery man etc, etc, etc.

For people only used to shopping in places like Malia or Hersonissos I would say go to the shops on the outskirts of town to buy your meat and fruit etc and you will get much more for your money – or try a market for a taste of local produce.

Funny but we agree with Dinny in that the only real trouble we had with local services was also with a plumber!

My husband once told some lads that the price of food in Crete was really good but when they returned to the UK they said he was wrong……….the price of a big Mac was the same as the UK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Yvonne
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#7 Henry Hooray

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Posted 27 July 2006 - 10:16 PM

Well, I too definitely agree with everything Tim says here (wonder what that 'another forum' could be - would you mind letting me know, Tim?). We usually fly with some charter outfit, and they of course tend to be British, but we have also used the services of Olympic: that can be a really good way of flying to Chania. And of course everything after that is Greek, if we have the options.

So it's a Greek taverna or rooms we stay in (we hardly ever book ahead), local Greek bars, restaurants, cafes, tavernas we frequent, Mythos, raki, and local wines. Backgammon, or tavla, is the game. The ice cream does tend to come from some Unilever company, but we are not purists. The cars are foreign, but the rental company is owned and run by locals, whether we book in advance or on the spot.

And a word of warning: study the label on the Greek honey jars very carefully: a lot of it is made in Denmark (just like a lot of the feta cheese).

Henry.

#8 Wim

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Posted 11 February 2007 - 01:32 PM

Absolutely right Tim.

LETS BUY CRETAN WHEN IN CRETE.
(And also at home :blush: At last I've found a shop selling Cretan olive oil rom the Lyrakis family)
True is that adage: "He who yields to rule by wooden heads, becomes himself a fool."

#9 lars

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Posted 12 February 2007 - 02:59 PM

[i]"I do firmly believe that putting my small amount of holiday businss into Cretan hands benefits me as well as my hosts. It isn't always possible but I think it worth trying to do local business"[/i]

Right you are Tim and it is much more fun.
From the beginning we made it a sport to buy what we needed only from small local shops and we still do.
Why?
Usually the goods are better, vegetables, as an exampel, are fresh compared to the ones you get at Marinopolous.
In the butchers shop in Chania or in Armeni or else where you can have the piece of meat the way you ask for and not only that, there is always time for some "smalltalk". How do you fix that special Cretan dish in the right way, which herbs and so on.

When we buy wine or raki, of course we pay our friend Galanakis a visit because we know he has the real stuff. His oinopantopolio is small but the best and there are many things to find not only wine and raki.
His honey is excellent and it has no Danish labels.
Agora and laiki are places we visit as often as possible.

When we are out driving it is a must to stop in a village to buy something local. Why not bread from
Georgios bakery in Anopoli or from Michalis bakery in Topolia? They all have their own speciality.
To try cheeses from different places (and not a Danish feta), sausages with different tastes and so on, it is just fun and exciting.

A couple of years ago I needed a black "mountain shirt" for a special occasion. Of course it was easy to enter a shop in Chania to fix it but we did not.
When we were out driving, we went up to Anogia to fix it and certainly that was the right spot for a "mountain shirt".
We entered a shop and an old man helped us . He took one shirt after the other out of their boxes and I had to try them all until he told me that "afto einai, this one is the right one for you".
Before we left we celebrated the deal with a glass of raki.

When we pass Lasithi of course we buy the best potaoes in Crete from our very dear friend Jannis.
We have a good time together not only with him and his family but also with all his neighbours.
It is so nice to come there because you feel very strongly that you are welcome in a very special way.
There is food and wine on the table and we all have fun. They laugh because of the photos we bring and they point fingers at each other. In the end all of them look like small children because they have chocolate all over their faces. Swedish chocolate is a favourite, that is for sure.
Does a visit like this benefit to them as much as it does to us.
Yes I truly believe so. It is a break in their daily routine of hard work.

For us it is a natural thing and an exciting moment to deal or make business with the Cretans.
You learn a lot and you get new friends eager to show you or to tell you.
We rent from Cretans and get the best service there is. We also feel secure. If something happens, we know that we can ask for help without hesitating.
We instead try to help as much as we can, with olives and grapes or whatever comes up. It is give and take in a very natural way.

The best way to explore Crete is to make "business" with local people and we simply love that.

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Potatoes from Lassithi
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#10 Tim

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Posted 12 February 2007 - 03:20 PM

lars file mou, you had my mouth watering!
I would not mind betting that our Cretan friends in the villages are not suffering the problems that mass turkey farmers here in the UK and in Hungary are presently suffering. Give me a present of raki instead of a bird flu bug any time!
I fail to understand why so many-but not all-ex pats resort to buying goods and services from the multi nationals and other ex-pats. I read elsewhere that a certain ex pat (Dutch?) provided a great tv aerial service. Good for him - but do they think that before he came along that nobody in Crete had aerials?
Our Cretan friends are good enough to show us unbelievable hospitality, can it hurt so much to take a little effort and do business with them? As you show time and time again- it has great rewards beyond the obvious.

#11 Pam

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Posted 12 February 2007 - 03:48 PM

Wim, thanks for resurrecting this topic. Even here in England we use local shops far more than supermarkets, though we are fortunate that we live in an area where we still have proper bakers, butchers etc. I suppose some ex-pats might prefer to use an English person, especially for technical stuff because of the language problem, though I would myself try to find someone local first.

I remember years ago, not on Crete, but on Paxos, we were spending our last night in the local kafenion, which we did use a lot. The hour got quite late and finally Spiros came out, put a half bottle of Metaxa on our table and said he was going to bed -we could pay him tomorrow. We then said, but we're going home tomorrow, to which he replied "pay me next year"

Pam & Bob

#12 Brook

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Posted 12 February 2007 - 04:16 PM

Great topic... I agree with everyone as well. When in Crete, experience all that she has to offer from its culture to its people. Dealing with the Cretans can be very rewarding as most of them are generous and are always willing to give you that little bit extra except when they think you have insulted them!
On one occassion while travelling in Western Crete, I was with my wife, my in-laws (who are originally from there), and my wife's uncle. We were at a Taverna and we ordered the 'paidakia' (lamb chops). Now lamb chops are easily identified by their long bone and are hard to miss. When our meals arrived, my father in law, in his Cretan native tongue, mentioned to the owner that what we received was not what we ordered as the lamb resembled more of a shank and other parts of the lamb but not the chops! The owner quickly defended his position and told my father in law he did not know his lamb! WELL! when Cretans collide...watch out! At first friendly words were exchanged and we asked for the owner to make the order right and all would be forgottenn, he refused and said that he would bring over the bill and we were to pay! This did not hold well and My father in law got up and began to walk out! YIKES!!! The owner, now shouting left the restaurant area and disappeared for a while... Was he going to get a shot gun, I thought? (as many Greeks own shot guns, especially in Crete)... I quickly followed suit as we made a procession out the Taverna, never to return again... Word for the wise... Never insult a Cretan, especially about his food!

#13 Retired in Crete

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Posted 12 February 2007 - 07:43 PM

An interesting topic, which I have read quite closely. May I add a few thoughts?

Firstly I would agree that the Cretans are among the most generous people on this earth, they take real pleasure in giving you a present or an "extra" and this applies particularly to holidaymakers. Most restaurants around here have no sweets or puddings on their menu but will always "give" you some sliced fresh fruit or something sweet to finish your meal. Most will also "give" you raki or a liqueur. However, you are being naive if you do not think that these extras have been costed into the price of your meal.

I also think that a lot of the comments made also apply to shopping in the UK. The local "farmers market" is almost always better value than the supermarket. The local shop will often get things in especialy for you and will also provide all the local gossip. However the unrelenting march of the big four supermarkets shows that the majority of folk prefer to use their services. Didn't I read recently that 1 in every 3 spent on food in the UK is spent in Tesco?

I, like most people, have to live to a budget. I cannot always afford to support the local shops. I recently bought a flat screen TV from a local electrical shop which we have dealt with many times and are on first name terms with the owners. He gave us a discount from the ticket price. A few days after making our purchase we were in the Carrefour supermarket in Iraklion and saw the same TV for 300 Euros less! I do, of course, realise that not many holidaymakers buy TV's.

I am at a bit of a loss to understand the logic behind the "rent your holiday home from a Cretan because you are putting money into the Cretan economy" school of thought. Hasn't the UK owner of the property already put a sizeable chunk of cash in? In addition these holiday properties are usually serviced by "locals" and the laundry goes to a Cretan business.

Lastly, the comment re the "Dutch satellite installer" and the inference that he is depriving a Cretan of a job does not stand up to scrutiny. He is simply trying to earn a living in the only way he knows how, just like the "Polish plumbers" and all the other immigrants to the UK. Are you suggesting that they should not be allowed to work?

Lastly, lastly (the last lastly) I cannot understand the "I only eat Greek food in Greece" mentality. Do you really mean that you never eat spaghetti (Italian) burgers (American) pizza (Italian) or drink French wine when you are "at home" in the UK? Why should being in Greece be any different? Enjoy the "eating Greek" experience, but don't let it dominate your diet.

John
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#14 Tim

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Posted 12 February 2007 - 09:22 PM

John
I will try and answer some of your points.

Renting a holiday place from a Cretan. All I might pay him or her will stay in Crete. The ex-pat may have spent money buying and getting his her home built but there is a good chance that income from it will leave the island.(or save the owner sending more in) The chances are renting from a non Cretan means you are, in part, buying the property for him. Foreign owned hotels will certainly take money out of the country (even though they may provide employment etc locally)

I don't think this is the place to go into depth about the supermarket v local outlet arguments. All I will say is that anyone who believes that the big four supermarkets in the UK are nothing but a positive influence, needs to get real. One quick example. My local Tesco took over the service provided by a local chemist, including a home delivery prescription service. Now they have cancelled the home delivery service claiming it was being abused (how the hell do you abuse a prescription delivery service?) They may initially increase choice etc, but in time they restrict it by creaming off the lines that independents need to survive. Most of our independents have now been lost, we don't have a choice but to use a big supermarket for many things. Have you not noticed how many brand named products are not available but Tesco own are?

Farmers markets are not better value on a pound for pound basis - quite the contrary. The only reason you would buy at a farmer's market, and I do, is to support local producers, save food miles, and get - at a premium- a better product.

Dutch satelite installer. I have no problem with him trying to earn a living - I just note that some ex-pats seem always to use other ex-pats, that they seem unwilling- (incapable?), of living on local indigenous services alone. Don't they think the Greeks are up to it? When such recommendations for every kind of ex-pat services are made I just think that the ex-pat community who take up the recommendations could do more to integrate. Maybe they don't want to though. (Note, there are moves afoot in UK to make immigrants learn English or be penalised)

I only eat Greek food in Greece. I only visit Greece on holiday so I have a limited time to eat the plentiful local food, why waste such time eating types of food that are readily available at home when I am not on holiday? I guess a lot depends on why one goes to a particular country. I go to experience the place, its people and its history- not just the sun.

Lastly the point about 'extras', fruit, raki or whatever. I am quite sure the old chap who sold me eight eggs, instead of the four I started off wanting, didn't tweak the price to cover the raki and walnuts that we consumed over half an hour chatting to him and his family. I am quite sure the lady who lets me her rooms does not build in the cost of the fresh fruit she gives me daily from her garden,nor the raki from her husbands still. I am not so naive that I don't think that taverna on Chania waterfront doesn't build in the cost of a raki or a slice or two of water melon - but many places I use will I am sure eat into their profits to show hospitality to their guests. I am equally sure that ex-pat who welcomes you with a basket of goodies in the room will have made sure the cost is MORE than covered in the rent.

Sorry John, I forgot one fine example. A few years ago my driver mate hit a hole and punctured a wheel. A local garage removed it, repaired the punctured tyre, beat the wheel rim straight, reflated and refitted it - then absolutely refused to accept anything for his troubles. It wasn't his car, he had never seen us before and has not seen us since.

Each to his own- but I don't go to Greece for things I can have at home.

Tim
:-)

added 13/2/07 - a perk of being a moderator is that you can edit your posts!
Re reading some of the other contributions makes me realise that one of the benefits, for the provider, of excellent service and value is that you come back time and time again. Maybe the 'extras' come out of what might otherwise have to be an advertising budget. B)

#15 lars

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Posted 12 February 2007 - 11:28 PM

"Each to his own- but I don't go to Greece for things I can have at home."

Bulls eye Tim!
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#16 santo

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Posted 13 February 2007 - 11:19 AM

Totally agree Tim/Lars, if all your doing is having what you can have at home then why go anywhere??????????

B) :D
Santo

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#17 Retired in Crete

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Posted 13 February 2007 - 01:00 PM

"Each to his own- but I don't go to Greece for things I can have at home."

But I am at home! (I have nothing, apart from children, in the UK.)

Tim,

I had no intention of starting a "supermarkets versus local shops" debate, perhaps I should have just asked "Do you practice this in the UK?" I never have said that supermarkets are a positive influence. I just said that they seemed unstopable. The answer is in the customers hands.

Re the Dutch satellite installer. The forum to which I think you are referring is mainly patronised by potential immigrants to Crete, if their main concern is where to get a satellite installation or where to buy Colgate toothpaste who are we to argue? Incidentaly, I no longer contribute to that forum as it seems dominated by the "west end mob". I have already posted on this forum my thoughts on what they are doing to North West Crete. It was not complimentary. Having said that, it is sometimes difficult to escape your roots and if people find comfort in being among others who feel the same why should that bother us? I think that you are right, many of the British in Crete could do more to integrate. Having said that, unlike the UK you cannot get utility bills in 30 different languages and Cretan schools will not teach children in their native tongue. The Cretan schools do not consider it their duty to teach immigrant children to speak Greek!

Tim, I have no arguement with you, as someone else said in another thread, we both have the same destination, we are just each taking a different route.

John
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#18 Tim

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Posted 13 February 2007 - 03:04 PM

Hi John

Didn't see it as an argument, just a friendly debate. I think, on this forum, we can disagree with one another on some issues here without resorting to slagging one another off . I am happy to be called upon to defend/argue my point of view and I will willingly listen to others do the same. Sometimes I might even change my mind!

I apologise if I was a bit touchy on the supermarket thing. For the last three years I have been campaigning with many others to stop a supermarket being built adjacent to our estuary. Our planners and local politicians repeatedly ignore the views of the locals, as expressed in many consultations, the largest petition the town has ever seen etc etc. You have to wonder why they are so persistent!!!

It did occur to me that the needs of residents and visitors may be quite different in many ways, Crete is your home, you are not on holiday, your situation is different. I know from previous postings that you do intergrate- and are not to be confused with the "west end mob" - never heard that before. Mind you I do also know a good few in that area who do integrate and do so willingly as part of the attraction of Crete.

Let us not be afraid to differ here (another reason I go to Crete- to experience something different to home) but let us show we can do so without insulting one another as sometimes happens elsewhere. If I gave offence I apologise.
Tim B)

#19 Retired in Crete

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Posted 13 February 2007 - 06:38 PM

Hi Tim,

Firstly I took no offence, as I hope you didn't, so no apology needed. It is usually me who gets accused of provoking arguements, I have been known to defend my position a little too robustly on occasions!

Make no mistake, I love Crete and the Cretan people and share many of your sentiments, but, as you say, my situation is a little different. I don't look at Crete through the eyes of a visitor, as well as all the wonderfull things that we all appreciate, I see the "warts" as well. I see the poverty (by UK standards) that many Cretans live in, hence my stance on the container terminal, I see their disregard for the environment that we live in on a daily basis as they drive past the green bins to dump their rubbish in the countryside (and in the track on which I live). I also see, but cannot condone, the treatment of animals. (I have edited out six lines which detailed two examples of this - as not suitable for this forum). I cannot agree with this, yet if I am to live here I have to accept that different cultures have different values and, after all, it is the difference in Cultures that makes Crete such a wonderfull, fascinating place. I suspect that I shall never be bored!

By the way, I bought an English newspaper today and read an article about benefits being cut to immigrants to the UK if they did not make efforts to learn English. In Greece you have to have contributed to IKA (Greek National Insurance), ie worked for one year before you are entitled to any benefits. I have to say that I agree with this policy.

John

PS Can I now apologise for my rambling and going completely off topic - sorry!
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#20 Tim

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Posted 13 February 2007 - 08:27 PM

John
You add some interesting comments to this debate. I think there are fewer here who have the rose tinted spectacle view that can be found elsewhere, but is doesn't harm to air the concerns.
Many of the Cretans I have got to know has been through using their services, often rooms. I now know many of these folk well, well enough to engage in real debate with them, to talk about what concerns them. I have also spent a lot of time (but not enough) with our webmaster Yannis talking about many things, and a few other friends.
I decided not to move to Crete because, for all that I like about it, there are things that I do not like. There are many reasons that influenced our decision to move within the UK rather than outside. Personally I couldn't manage the heat all summer. I also got an insight into Greek politics and the Greek Church and did not like eveything I saw. (The Greeks don't have the monopoly on less than perfect institutions though!)
The observation about poverty is one I recognise, and one of the reasons why, as per first post, I would rather spend my few quid with such locals.
Have to go now, off to a meeting to try and prevent our estuary having that supermaket!!