The covered market in Mousouron Street in Chania has local produce coming out of its ears. Fresh olive oil, locally-made cheeses, thyme-flavoured honey and bottles of raki are all available for a song. It’s open Monday to Saturday between 8am and 1.30pm, and later from 5pm to 8pm. In Agia Marina, meanwhile, you can stock up on similar items in the souvenir shops on Main Street.
Skridolf Street in Chania Town is known as leatherworkers’ lane, thanks to the number of leather shops that show their face here. Pick up handmade handbags, purses, shoes and sandals for between 30 and 100 euros. Skridolf leads on to Halidon Street – one of Chania’s busiest – which stretches down to the harbour. The little shops here sell take-homes like Cretan honey and chunky ceramics.
Jewellery shops are part of the furniture in Chania. It’s common for goldsmiths to design and make their own pieces from scratch and items will set you back anything from 100 euros to a couple of thousand. You’ll find some of the best shops on Chalidon Street near the harbour. While you’re here, pop in to the Cretan House Folklore Museum – the shop inside sells handmade rugs and delicate embroidery if you’re after an extra-special souvenir.
Chania doesn’t scrimp on the traditional restaurants. The low-lit old town takes the lion’s share of the best ones, though. If you need a starting point, you can’t go far wrong with Zambellou Street. In Maleme, after-dinner drinks are served up in the cafés on Maleme Beach Road and there’s a similar scene in the centre of Gerani village. Anyone looking for more than a frothy coffee, though, should catch a taxi to the bars and clubs in neighbouring Platanias.
The old harbour has the monopoly on Chania’s nightlife scene. Head to Kondilaki Street and Soumerli Street to find live music joints and cocktail bars, or make your way to Enetiki Tafros Street to find clubs hosting live DJ sets. The sleepy-looking village of Agia Marina is a bit of a dark horse when it comes to after-hours action. You’ll find cocktail bars and karaoke joins beside the beach and on Main Road.
This hunger-busting dish is so popular in Crete that newlyweds have it at their wedding breakfast. It’s made by boiling rice in stock and mixing it with butter. Depending on where you are in Crete, you’ll get different meat or vegetables in the dish. In Chania, it’s traditional to include chicken and lamb.
You might be able to buy Boureki all over Crete, but nowhere does the dish quite like Chania. On this part of the island, the vegetarian dish of potatoes, courgettes and cheese is wrapped in filo pastry and served as a packed parcel on top of fresh Greek salad.
This dish looks a bit like porridge, but its appearance is deceiving. Its recipe is complex, but the basic ingredients are goats’ milk and flour. It tends to be served piping hot as a side dish in restaurants, but some Chania locals like to spread it on bread or pour it over their chips.
Fennel grows wild in the Chania area, so it’s a regular on seasonal menus. Two fennel recipes that crop up a lot are octopus with fennel and red wine sauce, and cuttlefish with fennel and mint. Fennel pies called marathopites are a popular fast food, too.
In most Cretan villages, there’s a local who’s licenced to produce Tsikoudia. The clear spirit is made from the skins of grapes and it’s knock-your-socks-off alcoholic. Most locals keep a bottle on ice in their freezer, and sip it slowly with dinner.
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