Crete – An Aegean Odyssey 2020

SMALL PERSONAL CULINARY AND CULTURAL TOURS OF CRETE

COME AND HAVE AN AFFAIR WITH ME ON THE ISLAND OF CRETE, GREECE!

Crete changes people and they return again and again and again!

 

“The most amazing holiday ever”.
Mary-Anne Lines. September 2019

“Our tour of Crete was a very well organised and a very enjoyable insight into Cretan history, culture and food and we would highly recommend the tour to anyone who asks.

“We joined Francesca Muir on her tour of Crete – An Aegean Odyssey in September 2019 and from the moment we arrived we had such a fantastic time that it was very hard to leave this beautiful island.

“From Agios Nikolaos to Chania, each day provided a new adventure in discovering this amazing place. Fran provided a well thought-out tour and everything ran smoothly. Each of the meals provided gave us a new taste of Cretan food, from breakfasts overlooking the beach in Agios, to lunches in monasteries and wineries, and dinners in some stunning locations. Highlights included a cooking class in the mountains and a Minoan feast prepared by Jerolyn Morrison, an anthropologist, archaeologist and potter with an expertise in Minoan cooking and food. We also swam in the beautiful crystal waters of the Aegean Sea, visited museums, olive farms, quaint little villages and much more.

“All our local tour guides were fantastic as they shared their great knowledge and passion for their specialities. We were guided through Gournia, Spinalonga and Knossos, monasteries, wineries, and a walking tour of Chania and Kritsa.

“We would travel with Fran again in a heartbeat. She is extremely passionate about Crete and it certainly showed on our tour. Our hotels in Agios and Chania were great locations, the food amazing and the small group tour suited us with the pace very relaxed and not rushed, which allowed us to enjoy the pleasures of Crete as we discovered them.

“Prior to the tour we had visited Athens and Santorini. Fran also provided wonderful information on where to stay, where to eat and what to see in these locations, which was invaluable to the overall enjoyment of our whole trip.”
Deirdre and David Lee. 2019

“Both my wife and I declare that our trip to Santorini and Crete was one of THE most memorable trips we have enjoyed over the years. The level of enjoyment comes from the excellent organisation by Francesca Muir.
The skill Francesca has in knowing the local places and people and the language was amazing. We received the best tables in restaurants and the best attention – all because Francesca spoke the language and opened doors that would be difficult for any ordinary tourist. She is a natural and with her personality and knowledge she is THE BEST person to show you her beloved Greece.”
Tom Sweeney. 2008

“I am writing to thank you for the wonderful Greek holiday we had that you so expertly organised. From the moment we touched down at Santorini airport to the time we left Crete, it was perfect. We loved Crete for the food and wine and places of interest that you showed us. A particular favourite of mine was Spinalonga, the old leper island near Elounda, so laden with history and sadness but a must for visitors. I also was in awe of Knossos, the old Minoan ruins, also another must see. The cost of the holiday was very reasonable thanks to you getting the best bargains available. I highly recommend you to anyone thinking of going to Greece as your knowledge is spot on and I look forward to doing it again with you.”
John Tilbrook. 2008

“If you want to travel with a small group to Crete, have fun, eat great food, enjoy a relaxed itinerary and sometimes do the unexpected, Francesca Muir’s tour must be your choice.”
Diana Curtis. 2018

“Travelling with Francesca to Crete was a life-changing experience – her knowledge, passion and insight into  Cretan life made our trip one our family will never forget.”
Celia Harper. 2015

 

Crete – An Aegean Odyssey

5-18 June 2020
&
4-17 September 2020

Make 2020 the most memorable yet, and join me on a small boutique tour to the island I call my spiritual home – Crete, Greece.

My affair with her began more than 30 years ago and I’ve been in love with her ever since, for she changed me forever. She leaves an indelible print on people and I have yet to meet anyone who is not equally besotted with her and all she has to offer and who promises to return – and they do, time and time again.

To this end, I take small personal tours on a journey into the heart of the Cretan people and their culture, as we explore the island’s culinary depths. We visit traditional villages where the locals live as they have for centuries and almost travel the length of the island where you can see first hand the snow-tipped mountains, deep gorges, fertile valleys and sublime beaches snuggling up to azure seas.

I am not a tour guide. I am a tour concierge and I ensure that your trip is seamless and stress-free and I employ professional, fully-accredited guides along the way. My tour will give you a very personal insight into the island that lies at the heart of the Mediterranean Diet and is considered the cradle of civilization, thanks to the ingenuity of the Minoans.

I believe the best way to get to know a place is by immersing yourself in the local culture, meeting the locals who will regale you with stories about their history and lives, and wherever possible, getting off the well-worn tourist tracks. Though we will, of course, visit the Minoan Palace of Knossos and the island of Spinalonga, which was the site of the last leper colony in Europe.

Crete – An Aegean Odyssey promises traditional, simple, home-cooked food using the freshest, locally grown organic produce. It’s about food cooked and shared with passion and joy from recipes handed down through the generations.

We will taste fresh local cheese straight from the shepherd’s cooking pot … sample monastery wine and olive oil made by Venetian monks … sit high over the water’s edge as we feast on seafood straight from the azure seas below … savour home-made Cretan sausages in a taverna on the roadside.

Every day will be delicious.

Every day will be different.

My tour is for 13 nights and 14 days and limited to eight people only to ensure a very personal experience. For the first week, we stay for seven nights in the port of Agios Nikolaos in Eastern Crete with rooms overlooking the tiny “bottomless” lake – Lake Voulismeni.

Highlights in Eastern Crete include:
a day in the ancient mountain village of Kritsa where age-old traditions such as pottery, leatherwear, lacemaking and weaving are still carried on today.
spending time with a shepherd as he milks goats and makes fresh cheese.
• cooking and eating a traditional Minoan Feast cooked in traditional Minoan pots with Potter, Anthropologist and Archaeologist Jerolyn Morrison.
• a day tour into the mountains to learn about the local and Minoan history.
• catching a local fishing boat for a walking tour of Spinalonga Island – the last leper colony in Europe.
• visiting a traditional Cretan olive farm where we will make local pasta.

On the eighth day, we take a bus trip across the island to the Old Port of Chania (pronounced Hun-ya), western Crete. We travel via the capital, Heraklion for a guided tour of the Minoan Palace of Knossos and the Knossos Museum. We will then enjoy a delicious Cretan lunch in the heart of the capital before continuing our journey.

In Chania, we will stay on the Old Port in a unique modern hotel housed in a building built by the Venetians during the 13th century.

For the next week, we explore beautiful Chania with all her little alleyways and lanes and the mountains of western Crete.

Highlights in Western Crete include:
a day trip to two of Crete’s most famous wineries for a wine tasting and lunch.
• a trip to a modern olive oil factory and the oldest olive tree in the world.
• visiting an ancient village in the White Mountains to learn the secrets of the Cretan Diet, participate in a hands-on cooking lesson and indulge in a sumptuous meal in an old disused olive press.
a day trip to historic Agia Triada for a tour of a Venetian monastery, lunch and wine tasting. 
• discovering the hidden delights and the history of Chania’s famous Old Port.

In case you are wondering, I do NOT:
walk around with a flag held up high so you can find me amongst the throngs of tourists
eat at touristy places where the food is so-so and the service equally so, nor do we eat at high-end restaurants serving modern Cretan cuisine
take large groups on a package tour
run a manic whistle-stop schedule where we spend more time in transit and queues than actually at the locations
get you up at the crack of dawn to watch a pomegranate-coloured sun come up over the bay (unless of course, you want to).

I can promise you:
tomatoes, cucumbers and potatoes that taste like no other!
an inside view into Cretan life and food
plenty of free time to swim, shop, explore, walk, sleep
• 14 Cretan breakfasts; 7 lunches and 7 dinners and more home-cooked food than you can imagine
endless Cretan hospitality and generosity (called filoxenia – a friend to strangers)
• a visceral experience that will stay with you forever.

Cost €5,200pp / Non-refundable deposit of €700pp. 

Places are strictly limited to 8 people.

Please note: If these dates don’t suit you and you have a group of 6 – 8 people then let’s talk about the dates that do suit you!

If you want to extend your trip, once you have paid your deposit, I can help you with information regarding staying in Athens and Santorini and your transfer to Crete.

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact me.

[email protected]