Charma Cretan Brewery: quality and passion in a great beer

Today we want to talk you about a special place, the result of its creator’s big love for the island and the beer: the Cretan Brewery of Charma Beer (in Greek: Χἀρμα).

We left home in a warm day and we arrived in about 30 minutes at the village of Zounaki, where the brewery is located. It occupies about 2000m2., surrounded by orange and olive trees. The day before the visit we booked on line (www.cretanbeer.gr) a brewery tour with beer tasting for 7€/person. It’s not necessary the reservation, but It’s better to do it if you have the possibility.

Next to the brewery, there is an area with a kitchen and a bar and a beautiful, large terrace where you can eat, drink, taste or only enjoy a moment of relax with an amazing view on the orange trees. During the brief guided tour, we learned a lot about the production of this cretan nectar. Above all, we have been struck by the brewing process that is as natural and as eco-friendly as possible.

The raw materials, for example, are of very very high quality and they often come from the local territory. The water for the production of the beer comes from the crystal springs of the Cretan White Mountains. The barley is largely greek. The beer that is produced is fresh, that is unfiltered and unpasteurized. For this reason, it retains all the nutrients from its raw materials as well as it has a very savory taste.

About the brewing process, it is environmentally conscious. For their heating needs, they use solar panels and burning olive pits, both great sustainable energy resources. For the cooling needs, they have installed a geothermal cooling system.

Thanks to the installation of brand-new, up-to-date equipment in 2015, they have optimized the water consumption necessary for the production of the beer, halving it respect to the traditional breweries. Actually, we have been amazed by this small and innovative business, we must say. The attention to detail, to the environment, to the quality and the customer are their distinguishing features.

At the end of the tour, we relaxed on the amazing terrace and we started our beer tasting: 4 fresh beer samples of 300ml each, accompanied with local Cretan mezedes (appetizers). The first tasting was the Charma Lager blonde beer, with its fruity and floral flavours… delicious!!! The second one was called Grape Ale or Wine Beer, because it is fermented with grapes from a neighbouring vineyard…really original! For the third tasting they served us the Pale Ale, an amber beer: the bitter beer lovers will be crazy about it! The last one beer that we tasted was a dark one, the Dunkel. Brewed in the perfect style of Munich, this beer revealed notes of chocolate and coffee.

So, this was our experience at the cretan brewery… did you like it? We think that this could be an “alternative” and funny way to spend a couple of hours during your holidays ;-).

Keep in touch!!

Frangokastello and the dawn of mystery…

Do you enjoy stories about valiant warriors and spirits restlessly wandering through the night? You do?? Then, you can’t skip this tale..

MONTAZ 04 HRAKLEIO.cdrWe set off in the morning, we cross the White Mountains (or Lefkà Ori) and we run along the well-known Imbros Gorge to reach once again the south coast, wild and isolated. At about 10 miles east of Hòra Sfakìon (or Sfakià), which we already mentioned before, you can find the beach and the castle of Frangokàstello, our destination. Once we get there, we decide to visit the charming Venetian fortress, dating back to the second part of the 14th century, which in English could translate as the Castle of the Franks. Castello ridThe majestic walls are still in excellent conditions, as well as the big south-west tower, which you can climb to the top to enjoy the view. While visiting it, we can’t help but thinking about the grisly battles that went on there and the fantasy stories we heard about this enchanted place..

Castello 2 ridAs a matter of fact, on the 17th May 1828, this place was once again the setting of another fierce conflict, led by the Cretan rebels (or Sfakians) and by their commander C. Daliànis, against the Turkish oppressors. The gruelling battle ended with hundreds of casualties, on both sides. According to a popular belief, at dawn on 18th May, you can still see the spirits of the deceased Sfakians parading in front of the castle, and they are called « drussolites » in Greek, which means « those who live in the morning dew ». As you know, we absolutely love the folk tales of Crete, but this particular one struck us for the air of mystery and supernatural. The fact that these « visions » have been attempted a scientific explanation won’t discourage us to go and peek the next dawn of the unknown! Basically, it is assumed that, in good weather and sea conditions, the so called « Fata Morgana » is taking place, that is an optical phenomena attributable to a sort of mirage. Castello 3 ridThis would ensure that the profiles of the warriors marching on the nearby Libyan coasts would reflect on the Frangokastello’s shores, which is insane if you think about it! Therefore, how can you not check in person? If you want to join us, be informed that Ryanair flies to Crete from the end of March :).

Spiaggia 1 ridWe momentarily leave behind the stories of ghosts and warriors, and we head to the adjacent beach named after the same castle. If you like tranquillity and wide spaces, this is certainly the perfect place. The sandy coast is big and often half-empty, despite the meagre gatherings of beach umbrellas. The water is beautiful and crystal blue as always, with the sea floor slowly fading, making it welcoming for anyone to swim, both for the water temperature and the easy access.  Spiaggia 2 ridWe stayed there a long time; this beach has proved to be authentic, relaxing and far from the mass tourism, and yet unknowingly surrounded by an unusual melancholy. The reason might be the importance upon it of this ͞controlling figure͟ that is the fortress, or maybe the wild vegetation that surrounds it… Either way, this is a place where you can totally relax!

Kali KardiaIn addition to that, a little distant from the beach, you can find some typical taverns, tucked away among the hills. We opt for the pretty « Kalì Kardià » (« Good heart »), a small white and blue building, with a terrace sheltered by a canopy made of vines and completed by the intense singing of the cicadas, ever-present in the hot Cretan summer. The white moustached host smiles at us and invites us to sit, and then he brings delicious traditional dishes: Cretan salad (with his own personal touches), baked potatoes filled with goat cheese, and the typical half-moon shapes of filo pastry stuffed with tasty local herbs, the « kalitsounia ».

Spiaggia+Castello RidAfter lunch, we let the breeze coming from the Libyan sea caress us a little longer, and we slowly head home, once again enriched with ancient stories and traditions, and with new nuances and sensations.

 

 

Stavros and Kalathas: Akrotiri’s beaches

It’s not the first time we talk about the peninsula of Akrotiri on our blog. For example, the time we were at the Seitan Limani beach or “Devil’s harbor”, the beautiful zigzag inlet… do you remember? Or during our trip to the three wonderful monasteries of AgiaTriada, Gouverneto and Katholikò. Well, we have to admit it: the area we considered important only because of the airport has revealed itself to be an unlimited source of beautiful surprises!

MONTAZ 04 HRAKLEIO.cdrA couple of days ago, we explored another couple of lovely coves that this rugged Cretan spike offers: the beaches of Kalathàs and Stavròs.

DSCN2380 Let’s start from Kalathàs: you can easily reach it in less than half an hour driving from Chanià. A gold sandy shore, crystal waters with wonderful blue shades, and beach equally divided into a free area and an equipped one… a definitely enchanting place! To be more precise, there are two beaches: a very small one and another larger one, provided with bars and beach umbrellas. The water of Kalathàs is very shallow, and it’s possible to reach the islet in front of it with only a few strokes. So, we spent our Monday morning in this quiet spot of Akrotiri… the week started slightly differently than it used to when we lived in Vicenza ;-)!

DSCN2401Around lunchtime, we hopped on our car and headed north, to Stavròs. It’s a short journey, about 10 minutes, completely immersed in olive trees and the typical mini grapevines of Crete. We knew that there were two beaches here as well, both very beautiful. Considering that it was really hot that day, we decided to spend the afternoon in the one that we heard to be the windiest. Besides, we had heard about an “alternative” tavern in this bay and we decided to try it out for lunch.

DSCN2405The sign said: “Ηλιοβασὶλεμα– Sunset: Greek, French and Arabic cuisine”. Anxious to try this place, we arrived there, parked our car and first of all we admired the view of this gem called Stavròs. Very few people, an absolute peace, clear and grainy sand which becomes stones on the foreshore, a wild landscape and a turquoise sea constantly caressed by the breeze…stunning!

In the middle of the beach there was the Sunset tavern, a wood cabin with the roof made of palm leaves and, listen here people!, the kitchen was set up in an old and wonderful caravan! Oh, we go nuts for this kind of things! The atmosphere of the place was very hippie, like its eclectic owner Malika, a French lady with curly hair and always barefoot! We really liked the place, therefore we took a seat and asked to order food. DSCN2402Malika brought us the menu, one of the highlights of this place: two small, rectangular blackboards written by hand with chalk, bound together by two zips! In this way they created an original menu, which is also ecological and updatable all the time…respect, guys! The content of the menu met our expectations too: together with the classic Greek and Cretan specialties like dakos (barley donuts with fresh tomato, feta, onion and oregano), baked eggplants andfresh fish, the menu that day offered also a delicious hummus (a middle-eastern dip made of blended chickpeas, tahini sauce and garlic), vegetables couscous and oriental rice… a nice mix, we were in for a treat!

After the pleasant lunch we spent the afternoon chilling at Stavròs beach, enjoying the hot sun of July and the refreshing, transparent waters of this rugged, silent rocky bay… what a dream!

And also this day was over, leaving us with sweet memories… And if you enjoyed our Monday in Akrotiri, leave us a comment!

Talk soon!

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Balos: welcome to the awesome show…of Nature!

DSCN1922Those who follow us on Facebook have already seen that our dear friends Laura and Carlo, from Vicenza, are here with us in these days.

Being good hosts, we had to show them the beauties of the island, so yesterday we took them to visit our favourite beach, Balos.

Despite having already visited it, I have to admit that it’s easy to be touched by this spectacle of the nature. And we also realised that the pictures don’t give justice to it, as its beauty is so perfect that the camera inevitably takes away a bit of this perfection and even a piece of soul… The only remedy is to come and see it live, don’t you think?

Taking the National Road towards west, after 40 minutes driving we arrived at the entrance of this protected area, where a lady in a kiosk asked us for a 1 euro environmental fee per person, as requested by the city of Kissamos for the clean-upand safeguard of Gramvousa peninsula, a natural area of priceless beauty and value, where Balos beach is located. This unique landscape hosts about 400 species of plants and over 100 species of birds, as well as cute animals, such as the Mediterranean monk seal (whose origin is here) and the loggerhead sea turtle, which comes often to visit these shores.

DSCN1984After the first stop, we started going up a steep scenic route that endedafter 30 minutes in a car park. We parked our car and got ready for a 40 minutes’ walk until our destination, Balos.

The route started quite flat among the mountains and the bushes of Mediterranean scrub, and then changed in steep stairs down to the beach. The funny thing is that for the first 10 minutes you don’t realize where the path is taking you, as you are surrounded only by rocks and shrubs. And suddenly, the paradise shows itself before your eyes, catching you by surprise: the Balos lagoon in all its beauty and its countless shades of blue…Nothing less than many Caribbean beaches!DSCN1935

Luckily, at 10am the beach was quite empty. We rented four loungers and two umbrellas, and for the whole day we enjoyed the warmth of the late May Cretan sun, which it didn’t seem strong due to the breeze blowing in that area, but we definitely noticed it later on our skin:-D

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There is only one small bar on the beach that sells sandwiches, drinks, coffee and ice-creams.

Obviously, the steep stairs we took downhill in the morning, would have become a hard climbing in the evening! But it was totally worth it! And it was an excellent way to burn your lunch ;-)!

In any case, since we love to give away information, the laziest ones would like to know that you can reach Balos also with one of the many cruises leaving from the port of Kissamos (about 30 minutes west of our house) in the morning and coming back in the late afternoon, at the total price of 25 euros. These cruises have got pros and cons, and we are about to explain why.

The negative aspect is that, arriving by sea, you miss the amazing view of the lagoon (see cover picture in our blog!) enjoyable by walking the path we took yesterday. The positive aspect, on the other side, is that the majority of these cruises stop at very interesting Gramvousa islet, to the right side of Balos. DSCN1924There are many legends around it; according to some people, Eolia (Gramvousa), king Aeolus’home, god of the Olympus, was the island where Ulysses stopped for a month before going back to Ithaca. It is important to consider also the historical aspect, since the presence of an unassailable Venetian fortress of the 16th century, built as a protection from the Turks, and from which you can enjoy a very pretty view. And obviously, let’s not forget the legends about pirates (always our favourite!). Indeed, after Gramvousa was firstly freed by the Ottomans, thousands of Cretan people and revolutionaries settled on this piece of land in the middle of the sea. Due to the critical conditions of that time, soon the island became a stronghold for pirates, who were ransacking any boat sailing there. According to legend, one of their treasures is hidden inside one of the many caves in the island…we love this kind of stories!

To sum up: perhaps because we have a weakness for this magical place, or because we came back after one year, or probably because it’s much better when you share it with your best friends, but yesterday was one of those days you don’t easily forget!

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