snowy, icy olive branch

Greek olive groves were hit with a once in a decade storm in some areas in early January 2017, including freezing rain, sleet, and snow on Cretan olive trees on January 8, the day before the long Christmas vacation was to end. Chania students got an extra day of vacation, even where roads were clear. That was unusual near sea level, but you can find beautiful snow in the mountains any winter, so why not visit Greece then, too? Every season is a beautiful season here.

Toplou Monastery compound viewed from above

If you are in northeastern Crete, deviate from the beaten track between Sitia and Vai Beach to visit the Toplou Monastery, where religion and culture intermingle with history and tradition. Toplou offers striking scenery, an impressive fortress, rare books and engravings, Byzantine icons, and the monastery’s own local wines, tsikoudia, and olive oil.

11 blue olive oil tasting glasses, an apple on a plate at the left, bottle of water back right

Terra Creta in Kolymvari, Crete, Greece offers a 3½ hour seminar on olive oil quality and organoleptic evaluation (olive oil tasting) for visitors, chefs, and other related professionals. The seminar is led by Eleftheria Germanaki, international olive oil competition judge, agronomist, and head of the certified organoleptic lab in Rethymno.

An incomplete, introductory sample of noteworthy sites to visit

Summer 2020: If you are planning for this year, please contact the businesses that interest you to check on their current schedule, which may differ from other years. Some are open as usual, while others are offering tastings but not tours, and a few may not be able to welcome visitors.