|Shopping on Crete...
Shopping on Crete is an experience not to be missed. Modern Supermarkets; Mini-Markets; Fruit markets; street traders; flea markets; and specialist shops for almost everything still abound around every corner in cities and towns. In the villages mobile traders, mostly driving pick-ups, declaring their wares through loud hailers or playing loud Greek music, ply their trade routes from dawn to dusk. Six days a week. And sometimes on Sundays. Fresh fish to fitted carpets - live chickens and rabbits to grow-on yourself - best vegetables and fresh fruit. Clothes for your back and shoes for your feet! This is the Cretan village version of day-trading, though stocks and shares are not on the menu.
This might not be everyone's idea of a holiday activity, except for gift shops perhaps, but with the majority of holiday-makers taking either self-catering or half-board packages, and even while eating out - general shopping for food and the necessities of life is now commonplace. Unlike the UK and the US, one-stop shopping is close to impossible here. Unless of course you count sitting in a village square and waiting for it to come to you! On the other hand shopping is far from difficult; more often than not much cheaper; and infinitely more enjoyable than anywhere else I have experienced. There are three major names in the supermarket business. The Co-op; IN.KA; and Marinopoulis. The latter two tend to be in the cities and towns, while, as in ancient Britain, agricultural co-ops still exist and still market their own produce often in local stores fronting their bulk operation.
|Don't Bring the Marmalade...
We have friends from the UK visit us regularly during the summer months. Some stay with us right here in Astratigos and some like to come on a package holiday and stay up here in Astratigos for just some of the time. That way they have their own place, complete with swimming pool, bar and servants to which they can invite us! They sometimes, in the past, brought English marmalade... In a cool-box packed with foodstuffs from the UK!
Cretan foodstuffs are second to none. Many are made right here on Crete using the freshest local products. In the main supermarkets the range is extensive and it is possible to buy almost anything. Jams; jellies; meats; salads; fish; fruits; olives; pickles; cheeses; vegetables are available as pre-packed; frozen; or the freshest and often cheapest local form at delicatessen counters. And the range is usually wide and includes, especially in tourist areas goods directly from other countries, including the UK. Like supermarkets anywhere else, they differ slightly in emphasis, each excelling in some areas their competitors do not, though even this differs according to where they are sited. IN.KA in our experience is highly competitive and gives excellent value for money with usually the cheapest wines; spirits and beers around. Marinopoulis carries first rate delicatessen counters and the range of cheeses is vast. It is difficult to quantify the Co-ops as they vary widely, but our favourite is Maleme Co-op, with it's very friendly and helpful staff and the best meat forever!
But in general the advice is easy, don't bother bringing the marmalade. You can probably buy the same brand here more cheaply and even if you can't, the local version will be at least equal and may well be better it. Branston Pickle and Hienz Soups are by no means unavailable. But British or Danish bacon is still the best.
|As a general rule carrying fresh foodstuffs to a hot country like Greece is not a good idea. At the present time at least meat and dairy products and possibly other food products from the UK are banned.|
Not far from any tourist residence you will find the Greek equivalent of your local village store. The mini-market. Open for long hours in tourist areas. These sell almost everything imaginable. From air-beds to food and drink; to postcards and newspapers; books magazines and souvenirs; toilet rolls to torches! Sometimes even local wine from the barrel. Things are perhaps a little more expensive than their bigger competitors, but they are often open longer and have the advantage of being right where you are. Don't be afraid to try them.
These small kiosks are ubiquitous! They are everywhere where you are and everywhere else in Greece as well! Their wares always include small items such as packets of sweets; chocolates and chewing gum; crisps; often chilled soft drinks and ice cream; magazines and newspapers. And tobacco. Cigarettes; cigars; pipe tobacco. Greeks must be among the most prolific smokers in the world and often smoke in areas where it is strictly forbidden with complete impunity. I read of one couple who asked their (smoking forbidden) taxi driver to stop smoking - he stopped the cab and ejected them without hesitation! Our English friends buy packs of 200 or more at a time - eyes glazed and muttering about how unbelievably cheap they are. I sometimes wonder if they actually smoke or if they simply can't resist a bargain! Peripteros will also usually have a telephone available - you ask to use it and pay at the end of your (very public) call.
|There is so much more to shopping on Crete. Specialist shops abound. Even the very old shops dealing with such exotic items as rope which we no longer often see in the UK. This site will be adding pages about shopping in general and the specialist shops in particular on a regular basis. Suggestions are welcome.|