The attractive and sizeable village of Kalives on the northern side of the peninsula has the usual array of tourist shops clinging to the seafront. Among the more unusual is a cooper’s workshop, making traditional iron-bound barrels, some of the smaller examples of which are sold as souvenirs in adjoining wine shop – the full-size versions will be used in the traditional, small-scale winemaking operations which go on throughout the island in the autumn.
There are numerous tavernas offering tourist food or, in a number of cases, “traditional Cretan” fare.
We counted ourselves lucky to find ourselves in one of the villages longest-established tavernas, Koumandros, which was established in 1865 and where traditional food really is traditional.
The taverna is run by Stelios and his wife, Aspacia, assisted by their three children, Eva, Yiorgos and Iosaphina, who work under the watchful gaze of their forefathers including the founder of the family business, whose portrait adorns the wall.
Koumandros is a place to eat, not somewhere to go for frills – the tables are basic, taverna standard; so too are the chairs – but the food is excellent. We enjoyed a huge Greek salad, topped with home-picked oregano and accompanied by a delicious wholewheat bread, followed by fried aubergines, shrimps (as the Greeks always call them, actually full-size prawns) and chicken cooked in tomato and olive oil sauce.
From the tables at the far end of the room, there is a fine view of the river just before it reaches the sea, featuring an unusual hotel bar made from a small fishing boat.
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