We visited the area of Agios Nikolaos last September and we realised that besides the beautiful town of Agios Nikolaos, there is a lot more to see and do in the nearby villages. We got really lucky to find someone to suggest visiting the village of Kritsa.
Right before the village we stopped at the church Panagia Kera to admire the superb frescoes and in particular the depiction of Saint Francis of Assisi and we were amazed by the atmosphere. We were told that the village had many churches of architectural interest that were worth visiting, such as Afentis Christos (Lord Christ), Agios Georgios (Saint George) with frescoes of the life of the Saint George and Metamorfosi tou Sotiros (Transfiguration of Christ) whose frescoes date back to the 12th and 13th centuries. Given that the distance was short we decided to visit all of them. We also visited two museums, the “Rodanthi” Museum of herbs and plants of Crete and the Folk Museum of Kritsotopoula, a small yet interesting museum. Another interesting place was the local olive oil cooperative and the women cooperative where we tasted some exquisite handmade traditional pastries.
Another suggestion was to visit the nearby village of Kroustas. So, the following day we came back and visited the village and the ancient city of Lato which was really impressive. We sat at a traditional tavern and tasted eftazimo (also ftazimo) bread, handmade traditional skioufihta pasta, mizithropites (traditional Cretan cheese pies) with local honey and almonds, the area is full of almond trees. We ate quickly and left in a hurry because we did not want to lose the guided tour on honey and eftazimo bread which we learned it contains chili pepper and chickpea flour. They told us to try it warm with honey and so we did! We bought both honey and eftazimo bread. As we wandered around the narrow alleys we were really impressed by the women who were sitting outside their houses knitting and chatting and greeted us warmly. We did not want to leave so soon and so we sat in a traditional cafeteria (kafeneio) and had coffee trying to get the feeling of the life of the locals.
They also told us that Prina, another nearby village, is very famous for its honey. The village connects to Kroustas with a trail which crosses the forest. Unfortunately we did not have enough time to hike the trail or any of the other hiking trails in the area for that matter. However, I hope that in our next visit we will have the chance to do it!