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Get to know in depth the most important product of the Mediterranean diet, the olive. Get initiated into Cretan gastronomy and participate actively in the timeless, organic, traditional ways of cultivation, harvesting, processing, and consumption of its products. Delight in the opportunity to join the local producers and experts during the harvest, and learn about the historical significance of the olives of Crete, presented by an expert historian-archaeologist.
During this retreat, you will be spending the first and the last night at a very central three-star hotel in Heraklion, just five minutes by the old Venetian port, and five nights in a traditional guesthouse on the mountains of Sitia.
You will get the chance to experience the whole procedure of the olive cycle. You will harvest the olives of some traditional organic olive groves and enjoy the process of extracting the oil from the fruit. You will learn how to cook some traditional Cretan recipes using olive oil and you will collect some wild herbs. Depending on the days you come, you might experience the whole distillation process of Cretan Raki.
Apart from the olive oil, you will see different kinds of olives and you will get acquainted with the ways of processing them to delicious table olives, a food that resides in the heart of the Mediterranean diet. You are welcome to take along with you a quantity of newly-extracted virgin olive oil which you can use back home and the table olives that you will prepare!
This trip is organized with the help of the local producers and an agriculturist. During the trip, there are many various themes relevant to the historical significance of the products of Elea, presented by an expert historian-archaeologist.
After arriving at Heraklion Airport (HER), you will get transferred to a central 3-star hotel in Heraklion. A member of Petassos Travel's team will meet you there to give you a more detailed explanation of the following days, some hints about the city and later you will be offered an initiation to Cretan gastronomy by Petassos Travel's experienced foodist, followed by a welcome dinner. You will then have free time to wander around the city at night.
After having breakfast at the hotel, you get the car Petassos Travel have rented for you and drive towards the east where you will meet a specialized archaeologist who will guide you through the timeless culture of olive.
You will stop in memorable landmarks of the history and the culture of the olive, either on foot or by car through "Natura" landscape. You will meet the oldest and most respected lady of Eastern Crete, the 3200-year old monumental olive tree, and the ancient settlement that has its roots back on the 7th century B.C. where the earliest documented lever-and-weights olive press was unearthed.
According to the myth, the first olive tree was a gift given by the goddess Athena to the ancient city of Athens. Another olive tree was planted by Hercules in the ancient Olympia. According to the scientific evidence, the oldest edible olives in Europe were found in the Minoan palaces of Knossos, Phaistos, and Zakros, served in cups, and the cultivation of the olive in Crete goes back at least to the 3rd millennium BC.
Scriptures, symbols, constructions, and storage jars indicate the production of olive oil in Crete and its trade throughout the Mediterranean at all times ever since. However, the best witness for the timelessness of olive cultivation and culture are some among the thousands of olives that capture the Cretan landscape today: the ancient, monumental olive trees.
After a light lunch at a local kafenio, you will drive to the traditional guesthouse on the mountains of Sitia region in East Crete where you can rest.
Following your breakfast (Petassos Travel will provide you with a big breakfast basket for the time you stay at the guest house), you will meet the local producers and leave for the olive grove where the harvest will take place.
During the day, there will be a break for lunch and a few other pauses where an agriculturist will explain to you why the local produce prefer the traditional olive harvesting methods in contrast to the more modern ones. The olives that will be picked during the day will be put temporarily into sacks and will be transported to a selected oil mill nearby. At the end of the day, return to the guesthouse.
After breakfast, you will be taken to the olive grove once again to complete the harvest. After lunch in nature, you will all go to the olive mill where the olives collected so far will be crushed to extract the olive oil. After observing the whole process with all the explanations needed, the people of the mill will pack some olive oil for you to take home (up to 10 liters per person). Next, return to the guesthouse, have time for yourself and have dinner.
The day is free for you to explore this unique region. Petassos Travel will give you hints on the most interesting places of the region like Toplou monastery - palm forest of Vai - Palekastro - Zakros, and others.
Depending the period you come, Petassos Travel will try to arrange a night visit to a traditional "rakokazano" (meaning literally "cauldron of raki"), where you can watch the whole distillation process of Cretan Raki. Usually the distillations are taking place between October - November and if Petassos Travel cannot find one on a specific night, they will try to fit one within the days you are in the region, if available.
After enjoying breakfast, you will make your way to the fields where you will pick wild greens with some locals. The great reputation of one of the healthiest diets in the world does not owe its title only to the olive oil, but also to the consumption of great quantities and varieties of wild plants and herbs of the island, very special for their nutritional value and their wide variety of tastes. You will then go to the house and prepare your lunch all together using the wild greens.
After lunch break, you will get well acquainted with the ancient techniques of processing the olives, where these bitter fruits of the olive tree turn slowly into delicious proposals that can accompany salads, bread, rusks, cheese, or even roasts and casseroles dishes. Depending on the season production and the availability, you will make hondroelia (meaning fat olive), tsakisti (meaning crushed olive), stafidoelia (meaning olive with wrinkles), or psiloelia (meaning small olive). After the workshop, you can spend time at your leisure.
Once you have breakfast, you can enjoy your day freely. By night, you will return to the hotel at Heraklion where you will spend the last night of the trip enjoying the city vibes.
Following breakfast at the hotel, depending on your flight you are free to wander around Heraklion. You can leave your car at the airport before you leave.
The program of an excursion can be altered for various reasons (alteration of weather conditions). The final decision for the programmed activities depends on the safety of the whole team and remains at the discretion of the staff of each trip.
The basic travel provision in all of Petassos Travel trips is the presentation itself of each trips theme. This presentation balances between interactive seminar and leisure and is always made by a specialist (archaeologist, biologist, geologist, speleologist), and each traveler receives a printed-guide written for the trip itself (with texts, annexes, photographs, charts, and other details).
During the trip, Petassos Travel also uses other methods for involving you, such as slide-presentations, discussions and group work above the topics, hearings of special music, as well as tasting flavors related to the theme.
In case you do not wish to carry the olive oil or the olives on the plane, Petassos Travel can send them to you with a courier at an extra cost.
This holiday takes place in the mountainous region of East Crete in the municipality of Sitia. Crete is a very mountainous island, with an extremely diversified landscape and ground relief, which makes it very interesting and endless.
There, new discoveries and exploration never end. The great advantage of Crete is the possibility to visit very different areas in a very short time from the forest to the desert, from the big mountains to the fascinating sea, isolated but also cosmopolitan villages and busy cities, ancient sites with at least 6000 years of history, and modern technological centers full of institutions and universities.
On this wonderful vacation, breakfast, lunch, one welcome dinner, and various picnics are included. Most of the food Petassos Travel offer will be adapted to the theme of the trip, following the secrets of the most nutritious and flavorful Cretan diet, using products of local producers that Petassos Travel trusts. Kindly note that beverages (soft drinks) are not included.
If you have time, you are advised to visit the Archaeological Museum of Heraklion. You can also participate in a two-hour workshop of soap making based on olive oil nearby Heraklion, at an additional cost. On day 7, you may take a tour around the monasteries of the region.
Heraklion International Airport
Please arrive at Heraklion International Airport (HER). Transfer from and to the airport is included. Petassos Travel will pick you up from the airport.
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