Anoula’s travel notebook.
You can divide the year in Crete into two well-separated terms : From the beginning of April to the end of October and from November to March.
The first term is the touristic period when everybody is busy to run his business : coffee shop, restaurant, night club, hotel, souvenir shop… April is the month when the first low cost charter flights are landing on the island of Crete and, July and August reach the biggest number of tourists as you can imagine. It is the period of mass tourism in Crete but it also exists more serene moment, like in September, it depends on if you are more an Ibiza-like or if you prefer calm and nature.
As I used to live in Crete, I could experience the transition between the two periods : between the moment I still was a simple tourist and, after that the tourists completely disappeared, the moment when I was entirely part of the decorum.
During the second term, from November to March, everything is empty, no more tourist, just Albanian, Bulgarian, Russian seasonal workers, and people like me, stay on the island. This term is essentially devoted to the olive crop. Almost every family owns olive trees, even if teenagers are not keen on helping their parents, all the members of family and friends play their parts at that moment.
Be careful, because during this period many touristic infrastructures are closed, museums too. The rythm of the Crete Island slows down.
Before the olives are collected, in October-November, the Cretan people celebrate Kazani, families and friends get together in a kind of barn where they distill grappes to make Raki which is a strong alcohol and a Cretan specialty.
According to the season and thanks to the Cretan temperate climate, there are different fruits crops, mainly of citrus, vegetables, without forgetting grappes in order to produce the famous Cretan wine which is 4000 years old. Finally, The island of Crete has an important goats and sheep livestock which is meant to produce wool, milk, cheese (mmh, feta cheese!) and meat.
As to industries in Crete, they are almost non-existent, except those which are in charge of transforming and exporting agricultural products, despite of that, and thanks to tourism, there is only 5% of unemployment on the island of Crete, half less than in the rest of Greece.