Time in Crete: The time in Crete
is GMT+2; i.e. two hours ahead of British time. Clocks change on the same night
everywhere in Europe,
so this is always the case. If it is 6.00 in Britain, it will be 8.00 in Crete.
Laundry in Crete: Anyone who doesn’t like hand washing their clothes can
find launderettes in the bigger cities and resorts. They can be ridiculously
expensive in some of the holiday resorts, though. You can expect one wash to
cost anything between €4-12.
Public toilets in Crete: There are not many public toilets in Crete. Bus
stations have a WC, and you can always use toilets in bars, restaurants
and hotels. It’s very important to remember to put used toilet paper (and other
sanitary products) into the small bin provided, and never into the toilet –
Cretan wastewater pipes are very thin and easily blocked.
Post Crete: The Greek Post has one of the worst and slowest services in
Europe. A postcard or letter to another country may make it in three days – or
three weeks. Villages do not have postmen, and people must travel to the local
post office to pick up mail.
Units on Crete: Greece uses the metric system. Wine and other drinks are
often listed in kilos rather than litres on menus. One kilo is equivalent to one
Crime on Crete: Crete is a peaceful island, and things do not get stolen
very often. This is a big plus about holidaying in Crete, as opposed to Spain or
Italy. Be careful with drugs – you can get sent to jail for days, months or even
years even if you only have one joint. The Greek prison system is not one of the
most comfortable in the world. Helpfully, there are special tourist police; they
speak English, and some German and French, and are useful for disputes.
Public holidays in Crete: Here’s a list of some of the most important
holidays throughout the year:
• 1st of January (New Year)
• 6th of January (very important orthodox holiday)
• 25th of March (Independence Day from Turkey)
• Easter Sunday (the most important holiday of the year, when even ferries are
not allowed to sail)
• Easter Monday
• 1st of May (Labour Day)
• 15th of August (Assumption Day)
• 28th of October (Ochi Day, the day when Greece said ochi (no) to the Italian
invasion during World War II)
• 25th and 26th of December (Christmas)
Luggage Deposits on Crete: Only the big bus stations in Chania, Rethymno
and Iraklio have luggage deposit services. You can ask in tavernas and bars if
you can leave the backpack or suitcase for a while after you have had a drink or
Souvenirs in Crete: Souvenirs are often leather goods, pottery,
jewellery, olive oil and backgammon boards. Leatherwear is quite cheap – you can
buy it in the famous ‘leather street’ in Chania town centre. Ceramics are often
in the Greek national colours of blue and white. Gold and silver jewellery can
be cheap, but you really need to know about prices in the first place. Not
everything is handmade, even if they tell you that. Olive oil, the most common
souvenir or present to take home, is better bought in small country shops than
the souvenir shops. Backgammon (tavli in Greek) played on Crete in all bars.
Chess is also pretty popular these days. In Chania, thre’s a shop which sells
only tavli and chess boards, along with pieces. The export, possession or buying
of antiques is strictly forbidden, and those breaking the laws face high fines
and prison sentences. The national drink of Crete is raki, and a bottle of that
is the best souvenir for many. Cretan honey is also a popular, tasty memento.
Map of Crete
Supermarkets on Crete: Food is cheap in the markets and shops that
specialise in a certain kind of food (i.e. butchers, fishmongers, grocers and so
on). Supermarkets with packed meat and sausages can be up to five times more
expensive – a typical tourist rip-off. Packed cheeses, sausages and meat is
always more expensive than at the counter. Convenience foods like frozen pizzas
can be more expensive than getting a meal in a restaurant! The cheapest
supermarkets by far are the German chain Lidl with about 20 shops around the
island in 2017. You can find Lidl on Crete in the bigger cities, but also in
holiday resorts like Chersonissos, Platanias, Platanes and Agios Nikolaos. Alcohol is bit cheaper
than in Britain,
and cigarettes in Greece are in 2017 €3 to 5 a packet. The kiosks (Periptero in Greek) are useful;
open almost all hours they sell just about everything: cigarettes, drinks,
sweets, newspapers and more. You can no longer buy cigarettes from bars or in
Smoking on Crete: Greece is one of the final bastions of smoking left in
Europe, and smoking is normal in restaurants, bars, and many other places. This
can be unpleasant for many tourists, who are not used to this anymore. Greece
has the biggest smoking population of Europe – unsurprisingly, the dubious title
of highest rate of lung cancer in the EU belongs to Greece.
Opening Hours in Crete
Shops: In tourist resorts shops are
open seven days a week from 8am through to 11pm or midnight. In cities, shops are open
from Monday to Saturday from 8am-1pm and 5-9pm. Many shops remain closed on
Monday, Wednesday and/or Saturday afternoons.
Banks: Banks have very short opening hours, from around 8am-2pm
Monday-Friday. There are 24-hour cash machines everywhere, though. Most tourist
use a ATM to get cash in Greece nowadays. You can also pay with credit cards in
many shops on Crete. Often accepted are Visa, Master Card and also Maestro
Post Offices: In the countryside, post offices are open from 7am or 8 am - 2pm
Monday to Friday. In bigger cities they are sometimes open longer and – rarely –
open on a Saturday.
Museums: Museums are often closed on Mondays, though bigger museums (e.g.
The Archaeological Museum Iraklio) are open on Mondays during the summar.
Those carrying international student cards (ISIC) can often get half-price or
even free entrance. Some museums are free for everyone on the first Sunday of