Island Trails and Culinary Traditions with Kostas Vasileiou and Dimitra Panagiotopoulou

Overview

The ruggedly beautiful island of Crete, renowned for its wild mountain trails, strong traditional culture, and ancient civilizations, is also celebrated for its cuisine. Unique local ingredients, from mountain herbs to farm cheeses, give the food of Crete an unforgettable flavor, and its wines carry the distinctive island terroir. On this southernmost of Greek isles, we’ll get an insider’s perspective with expert Trip Leader Kostas Vasileiou, an accomplished cook and winemaker himself. Daily hikes will bring us above the gleaming blue sea on the south coast and into the soaring Lefka Ori (White Mountains) of the interior. Kostas will introduce us to friends all along the way—shepherds, farmers, taverna owners, and the people who create the island’s signature dishes. Between hikes, we’ll enjoy cooking lessons and demonstrations, wine tasting, and an understanding of the landscape as each local dish teaches us about the physical terrain and microclimate of this island realm. Crete is the legendary birthplace of Zeus and home of Europe’s earliest civilization, so we’ll also take in splendid antiquities, including the labyrinthine Minoan palace of Knossos and the Roman city-state of Gortyn, with its impressive theatre. This is the perfect adventure for hikers, foodies, and anyone who is intrigued by the proud, unique culture of a sun-flecked island on the southern edge of the Aegean.

Itinerary at a Glance

Days 1-2, Oct 21-22, 2018
Heraklion / Farm Lunch / Wine Tasting / Knossos

Explore the Archaeology Museum and Knossos and the great palace of mythical King Minos, with its legends of the Minotaur. Our first taste of traditional cuisine comes at our home-cooked farm lunch outside Heraklion, followed by wine tasting at Lyrarakis.

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Dasy 3-6, Oct 23-26, 2018
Kapetaniana / Mt. Kofinas / Koudoumas / Gortyn

We hike up Mt. Kofinas and into the remote Salamias Gorge, and explore the Roman-era site at Gortyn, with its grand theater. One hike brings us to seaside Koudoumas Monastery for lunch with the monks and an atmospheric roasted lamb dinner inside Anthony’s Cave, a Minoan sanctuary. At our village inn, we’ll help prepare the filo (pastry) pies for our delicious dinner.

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Dasy 7-8, Oct 27-28, 2018
Anogia / Mt. Psiloritis / Shepherd Lunch

Moving to the wild interior mountains and the hill village of Anogia, our hikes bring us up Mt. Psiloritis (8,056’), home to a sanctuary linked to Zeus, and to a typical mitato (stone-built shepherds’ hut) for lunch with a shepherd, including fresh-made cheeses from his goats. At dinner, we’ll be introduced to the making of traditional stifado, cinnamon-and-clove scented beef stew.

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Dasy 9-11, Oct 29-31, 2018
Arkadi / Kallergi Mountain Refuge / Chania

We visit the beautiful Arkadi Monastery en route to lovely Chania, known for its 14th century Venetian harbor and waterfront restaurants. Our last view of the mountains is at our lunch in the Kallergi Mountain Refuge in the White Mountains and we depart on Day 11.

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Highlights

Highlights

Discover Crete on hikes throughout the island’s beautiful coastal and mountain trails
Taste (and learn how to prepare) a delicious bounty of Crete’s traditional cuisine, famed for its fresh local ingredients
Enjoy rustic inns in traditional villages on the coast and mountains, meet local chefs, farmers, and winemakers
Visit the famed Minoan palace of Knossos, walk through the vast Roman ruins at Gortyn
Hike to the top of Crete's highest peak, Mt. Psiloritis (8,056’), with its Zeus cave

Details

Length: 11 days
Cost From: $5295  
Arrive: Heraklion, Crete
Depart: Chania, Crete
Lodging: 10 nights charming inns and hotels
Meals: All meals included except 1 dinner (B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner)
Activity: Cultural Adventures, Hiking / Trekking, Culinary
Trip Level:

2-4 hour hikes most days across moderate to steep terrain; city and village exploration on foot