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


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#21 Ray

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Posted 14 February 2007 - 11:53 PM

This is an interesting topic to which I feel I have a contribution.

We live in a global world. I can see this in the UK. In Inverness near where we lived we watched the tiny shops die as Tesco and Morrisons took over all the sevices provided by the smaller shops. Higher business taxes constantly hurt as Tescos became not only a food supermarket, but a financial, optical, electrical, stationery and whatever else centre. It was slightly out of town with huge parking. Everybody used the supermarket. The town slowly died, the shops became charity shops, estate agencies, building societies and so on. Now there are no butchers, bakers or greengrocers or much else for that matter. I cared, but not many others it seemed.

I first came to Crete just over forty years ago. I lived here then and I have visited many times since. Now I have retired and Crete was my first destination. I wasn't going to live my last few years in Scotland with the rain, the darkness and the snow. Currently and for the past year or more we have rented a flat in a busy village around 20 Km from Hania. (So are we west-enders when to me the only city with any real and unforgettable character is Hania? Before I lived near Iraklion.)

Either way there was no future much in Scotland, so we came to my beloved island, and I say that with a great deal of qualification. Is it perfect, no. Is it better than Scotland, yes, so much so that I can barely describe how much. To be honest Crete is around 50 years behind the UK in regular commerce. Not in technology, but in the way people do things here. Most is still government controlled, Olympic Airways even, OTE, IKA whatever. The land is full of leftovers from the Ottoman times - not such a terrible thing actually. If you live here you need to know greeks, cretans, have cretan friends. It matters a lot. Here there is the favour regime. I bought my greek car with the help of a good cretan friend, it saved me around 3000 euros. I deal with IKA with a cretan friend and it works. We rent an apartment from cretans and we are building our house with cretan builders. It is proceeding very fast to our design and we are happy with that. We have nothing to do with developers and we are not restoring some old rain filled stone property. Modern cretan building is superb, less superb are the new stone built houses that foreigners desire because they are pretty, perhaps they resemble Cotswold building, who knows, but here they are really cheap. I know of no Cretan who has bought one, they refer to them as xeni spiti. Foreigners houses. Same can be said of the many pink cubes that are sold on to foreigners. It is sad, they are no cheaper.

Here too there are supermarkets, mostly french based, Champion etc, and the dutch based Lidl. We use them for certain items. Currently Lidl has excellent californian wine at 2.17 euros a bottle, great we buy that. Also their toilet rolls are cheaper. Champion is handy if you need a bottle of milk. Ninety percent of the time we use the local shop in the village that has a huge amount of stuff, much of which you have to ask for. The local butcher is superb and personal as are local vegetables, eggs whatever. We never buy oranges, lemons, grapefruit or mandarins since we pick them off of trees and our Olive Oil crop this year was 66 kilos. Too much, but how astonishly brilliant it is, we could not buy better.

But it gets better, there is the pretty good market in Hania on a Saturday, but sneakingly we nip over to Mires on the Messara Plain on Saturdays and buy there. It is incredible. A huge market with all that we could ever need and more. We spend the rest of the day pouring over Gortyn or Phaestos or even the beach at Matala. Roll through Iraklion in the evening - the long way home and shop a little more, nothing is expensive unless you want it to be. Argue about the price, it is invariably reduced and the service is superb.

Overall I prefer Crete by far. Yes there are problems, but cretans can sort those problems and the result is good, I understand that living in Cornwall has its delights and its problems, as does living in Crete, but I prefer the options here. I can get through them.

Ray

#22 Wim

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Posted 15 February 2007 - 02:54 PM

What a nice well balanced answer Ray and so are you stories :D

Wim B)
True is that adage: "He who yields to rule by wooden heads, becomes himself a fool."

#23 Pam

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Posted 16 February 2007 - 12:20 AM

Thanks, John, Tim and Ray for a civilised debate. Sorry I intruduced the locals shops/supermarkets issue which is probably not that relevant - to be honest the main reason I don't use supermarkets is that I loathe shopping in them and as I work full time prefer to use my limited leasure time to do shopping locally and it doesn't bother me it costs a bit more.

Like Tim when we're on holiday we prefer to eat local food - that's why we go away. However, I'm sure when we live in Crete, we'll want a change to Greek food, and I need to research where I can get proper Indian spices etc so I can cook our favourite dishes - which I cook here, but can get the ingredients easily.

Ray, the Mires market sounds great - we'll be in Pitsidia/Matala end March and end May, so maybe if you're doing the market pop down to Matala and meet up for a drink. We may well pop up to the market ourselves - the Messara area is currently our favourite part of Cret for retirement, so be good to do some research.


Pam & Bob

#24 Tim

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Posted 16 February 2007 - 12:40 PM

I readily endorse Ray's comments about Mires market, it takes over much of the main route through the town resulting in passing traffic going in all directions - great fun in itself. B) We would aleays try and visit when we stayed in the area. This is how markets used to be - and long may they continue. The displays of local produce are magnificent, there to pick up and inspect, none of this shrink wrapping and labelling masking what they are trying to sell.

#25 Ray

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Posted 16 February 2007 - 03:48 PM

What a nice well balanced answer Ray and so are you stories

Wim


I am still writing them Wim, but on my own website.

Ray