Greece has always been on your bucket list.
We're from there and want to share it with you.
Join us in 2018 for a sustainable, authentic and unforgettable culinary & cultural adventure in Crete.
Our Exclusive Farm-to-Table Heritage Journey
In 2018, we're going to immerse 12 people in a microcosm of the world that is Crete. A diverse land, full of natural and cultural wonders - and yes, fantastic food. Food will be central to our journey through Crete. You'll meet some of Crete's unique people, hospitable and yet proud, wild and yet friendly, crazy and yet grounded.
Wait! We might just be describing ourselves here!
During our 9 days together, we'll participate in hands-on cooking classes using hyper-local ingredients, learn the secrets of traditional Cretan cuisine, share tastings at olive oil and wine producing vineyards, tour beehives and organic farms, stroll through local food markets, bear witness to thousands of years of history, and of course, introduce you to the best beaches and local restaurants of Crete.
Greenloons' founder, Irene Lane, who was born in Greece, has partnered with Washington, DC-based Baklava Couture (a renowned Greek artisan bakery whose family hails from Crete) and EventSprig (a celebrated events management company that spotlights sustainable agriculture) to create an itinerary that is an expression of our passion for good food made with sustainable and locally sourced ingredients, and travel that benefits local communities. We're working with our favorite travel providers to bring you the best of Crete.
Each day will focus on a different aspect of the island's culture, history, and culinary tradition, and each evening will be spent in comfortable villa accommodations close to the sea.
This is not your typical Greek island group tour. We've crafted an experience that will impact and stay with you for a lifetime.
Farm Visits & Tastings
We'll introduce you to the specialists that provide the olive oil, wine, and honey that is so ubiquitous in Greek culture. Each tour will include special tastings complemented with a traditional mezze, of course, because it's not allowed for anyone to travel hungry in Greece.
Family Heritage & Traditional Meals
You'll get a chance to visit Sfakia Village, where the founder of Baklava Couture's family hails from and learn about the area's fishing heritage.
We've arranged our experience around a series of traditional Cretan appetizer, fish, bread and pastry recipes so that you'll get full exposure to the secrets of our cuisine. You'll get to prepare stuffed vegetables, make farmhouse bread in a wood-burning oven, make cheese pies and more!
Beaches, Caves & Monasteries
You'll visit the beautiful beaches of Elafonissi, with its crystal clear waters and pink sand from the thousands of shells being shattered over the years, and the picture postcard perfect Falassarna beach along with caves and mountains of historical significance, and of course, monasteries that were built at dizzying heights centuries ago.
You’ll participate in a pottery workshop in order to explore the magical world of ceramic art. Learn from a local artist about the history of ceramic art, view his work and watch him transform clay into beautiful vases and other pieces. Then, after trying some local delicacies, you'll create your own ceramic work of art, with the artist’s expert guidance. Your creation will need a few days to dry and then be fired so that your completed work can be shipped to you at home!
As a group, we will be staying in a set of two villas, located in a picturesque sea village. The villas consist of traditional mansions whose renovation was completed with lots of love and passion from the owners. In these villas, the traditional way of life blends with luxury and modern amenities. Amenities include full kitchens, free wireless internet, swimming pool, a firewood oven, and fireplaces. The villas are surrounded by lovely Mediterranean gardens and views of the sea, mountains, olive, and orange groves thereby providing a calm and relaxing environment.
Planned Trip Itinerary*
Day 1: Welcome to Crete!
We will provide recommendations for flight arrival times into Chania Airport (kindly note that flights are not included in this package price). Transfer to villa accommodation and settle in, leisure time by the villa pool or nearby local beach followed by group introductions, itinerary review and group dinner plus your first cooking demonstration of traditional appetizer dishes by the group leaders.
Day 2: Sea, Mountain Hike & Eco-Village Experience
Ease into your first day with a visit to the island of Elafonissi followed by a short hike along a spectacular mountain gorge. We'll have a group lunch at an eco-village, some additional time to relax and finish our day with a special meal in the fishing village of Kolymbari.
Day 3: Culinary Traditions
Get to know the Cretan people a bit by understanding their connection to the land and food. A wild herb and beekeeping tour, honey tasting, visiting the oldest olive tree of Crete and of course, enjoying our first formal cooking class are just a few of the activities planned.
Day 4: Pottery Workshop
Participate in a traditional pottery workshop (maybe make a cup or plate as a souvenir of your experience) and stroll through the village's other craft shops before taking guided visit through the ancient city of Eleftherna. The day concludes with a group dinner in the village of Kalyviani.
Day 5: Free Day (Options include a Private Sailing Tour, Private Cultural Tour of Knossos Palace & a Culinary Tour of Rethymnon Old City) - Additional Costs Apply
Day 6: Fishing & Bakery Tour in Sfakia
Get to know the roots of the founder of Baklava Couture. We'll board a fishing boat to catch what's available, enjoy some beach time, have traditional fish soup, and visit a local bakery for a guided tour and tasting.
Day 7 - Be An Eco-Farmer for the Day!
We'll learn more about sustainable farming in Crete by cooking local traditional Cretan dishes, making cheese and baking bread. Then, we'll enjoy the fruits of our labor under a shady pergola that overlooks the farm.
Day 8 - Chania Pastries, Markets, and Music - Oh My!
After a morning visit to Falassarna beach, we'll go to a traditional pastry shop for tastings, demonstrations, and a hands-on pastry-making class. Then, we'll have a market and city tour of Chania followed by some leisure shopping time. This will be followed by our farewell dinner at the old port, complete with live music.
Day 9 - Departure
Parting is such sweet sorrow, but there will still be some time in the morning to swim before your flight. Check-out time is 11:00 am but we can store your luggage longer if needed. The last airport transfer will leave at 5:30 pm (17:30).
* The itinerary is subject to change depending on weather factors and local circumstances. Please read conditions below.
What’s Included & What's Not
We've done all the thinking so you can just enjoy the experience.
- All Noted Activities and Entrance Fees; Optional Activities on Day 5 will have a separate fee
- Full Board Meals (alcoholic drinks are not included)
- Local Guides & Driver (with comfortable 20-person coach bus or 9-person mini van transportation, airport transfers)
Also included, Greenloons will be making a donation on the group's behalf to a local social enterprise, Hand Picked, that believes in the inherent value of supporting local communities sustainability. Our donation will ensure that local farmers are fairly paid, tourism activity providers respect local natural resources, and cultural experiences are authentic.
Price does not include:
- Airfare (we will meet at Chania Airport)
- Optional Activity on Day 5 (Free Day)
- Travel or medical insurance, immunizations, passports, or visas
- Baggage fees
- Personal expenses
- Alcoholic beverages aside from wine tasting activity
- Guide gratuities
Your Trip Leader & Your Local Guide
Irene Lane, a founder of Greenloons, is an Athenian born Greek-American. After completing her MBA in International Finance and being in the corporate world for twelve years, she founded Greenloons while completing her Certificate in Sustainable Tourism Management from George Washington University. She has a wealth of knowledge to share about the social, economic and environmental impact of sustainable tourism and is excited to be sharing her homeland with you.
Yannis Sampsonidis was born in Thessaloniki. After beginning his studies in Civil Engineering, he found a different calling to study the eastern healing arts and conducts educational holidays in nature. Within the travel industry, he is more than just a "guide", but instead, sees himself as a caring host focused on providing sustainable, authentic experiences.
Crete is the largest and most populous of the Greek islands, 88th-largest island in the world and the fifth-largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, after Sicily, Sardinia, Cyprus, and Corsica. The island forms a significant part of the economy and cultural heritage of Greece while retaining its own local cultural traditions (such as its own poetry and music). It was once the center of the Minoan civilization (c. 2700–1420 BC), which is currently regarded as the earliest recorded civilization in Europe.
Crete is isolated from mainland Europe, Asia, and Africa, and this is reflected in the diversity of its fauna and flora. As a result, there are many clues to the evolution of species found on the island. There are no animals that are dangerous to humans on the island of Crete. Indeed, the ancient Greeks attributed the lack of large mammals such as bears, wolves, jackals, and poisonous snakes, to the labor of Hercules.
Crete has its own distinctive Mantinades poetry. The island is known for its Mantinades-based music (typically performed with the Cretan lyra and the laouto) and has many indigenous dances, the most noted of which is the Pentozali.
Cretans are fiercely proud of their island and customs, and men often don elements of traditional dress in everyday life: knee-high black riding boots (stivania), vráka breeches tucked into the boots at the knee, black shirt and black headdress consisting of a fishnet-weave kerchief worn wrapped around the head or draped on the shoulders (the sariki). Men often grow large mustaches as a mark of masculinity.
Last, but not least, the food of Crete. Our friends at Uncornered Market have developed a nice introduction to its culinary customs many of which you will bear witness to during our journey.
- We will respond within one business day with your booking form and payment instructions.
- A 3% fee will be added to all credit card and PayPal payments. Checks, of course, are accepted with no fees.
- This is a small group tour so space is extremely limited. Registration is on a first-come basis.
- Reserve your space by sending a deposit.
- Once you’ve completed your deposit, be sure to check the email you used for a booking form from Greenloons.
- Your spot is NOT guaranteed until we’ve received both your payment and booking form.
- Final payment is due 90 days before departure. A final invoice will be sent to you, by email, shortly before the due date.
Can I pay by credit or debit card?
- Yes, however, a 3% fee will be added to all credit card payments. You can use Paypal to reserve your spot with a credit and debit cards, however, please email us first, otherwise, we will not accept payment.
Can I send a check?
- Yes! And you’ll save yourself the 3% fee. Please make payable and mail check to Greenloons, 1934 Old Gallows Road, Suite 350, Vienna, Virginia 22182
- You can notify us that your check is in the mail by emailing info (at) greenloons (dot) com.
- Whether or not you receive a partial refund depends on how far in advance of the tour you cancel. Our refund policy is covered below and in also outlined on the registration form that you’ll receive. We try to issue refunds within 2 weeks. If we are traveling when you cancel, it may take longer than two weeks.
- If you cancel your booking, it will result in the following charges:
- Within 60 days of departure: No refund.
- 61-90 days prior to departure: 50% of deposit is refundable.
- More than 90 days prior to departure: Loss of deposit.
- Deposit and trip payment transferable to new signup.
- Airfare is not included. Before purchasing your airfare, please check with us to ensure the minimum number of participants has been reached to operate the trip. Arrival Airport: Chania (CHQ). Please arrive by 15:00 (3:00 pm).
- Trip ends at 11:00 (11:00 am) on Day 9. Please book your flights for 14:00 (2:00 pm) or later.
- Read the CDC vaccination recommendations for travelers to Greece.
- For this particular trip, single occupancy is available in a limited capacity and for an additional supplemental fee. Please inquire.
- Although this is an active trip that will involve some short hikes, walking over rocks, sailing, hands-on cooking and lots of tastings, no physical preparation is needed. However, please let us know if you have any physical limitations or food allergies that will prevent full participation.
- A suggested packing list will be provided.
YOU EXPRESSLY AGREE THAT BY PURCHASING A GREENLOONS TRIP, YOU ACCEPT, AGREE, AND UNDERSTAND THAT TRIP DETAILS ARE SUBJECT TO CHANGE. The itinerary is a general guide to the tour and region and any mention of specific destinations is by no means a guarantee that they will be visited or encountered, nor does it form part of the contract between the client and the operator. Although the itinerary has been curated with care and details are provided in good faith, we may make improvements that stem from weather changes, local factors, past travelers’ comments, and our own research, to name a few examples. Ultimately, our goal is to provide you with the most rewarding experience. Nevertheless, to ensure the most accurate itinerary, it is strongly advised that you review a final copy of your itinerary a couple of days prior to travel, in case there have been changes that affect your plans. You also accept, agree and understand that there are inherent risks associated with physical activities you may participate in. Therefore, you expressly acknowledge and assume responsibility for such risk and that you alone are responsible for your decision to participate in such activities.