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The traditions of Zakynthos

Winter is here but on some days my thoughts embark on a direct flight to Zakynthos…its people and their traditions.

Many of you have asked me what I got from visiting Zakynthos. My heart melts when I realise these hardworking people never cease to care about their traditions and their culture. From olive mills, bee-keepers, weaving and sewing rugs, winemakers and fishermen, they all continue to tell a story, which started centuries ago on this island.

Poseidon’s profile

Therefore, when you go to Zakynthos, try to get closer to know them and their occupations. The Zakynthians are wonderful people, friendly and with no issues in welcoming you in their everyday life.

Definitely pay a visit to:

Aristeon Olive Oil Factory

You do find them in Lithakia Zakynthos, Greece.

This family business dates from the 18th century with the traditional animal movement press, part of which survives until today. You have to get a closer look and wonder at the magic of making olive oil. Also, you might like to know that’s one of the island’s oldest tradition.

Aristeon olive oil factory

You can also see the old tools and machines they used to harvest.

Times are changing and so do traditions

Years passed and the world has evolved. That’s why since 2008, they use a new eco-drive technology to process olives. It’s impressive to see an ancient olive tree, like 1500 years old. Just asking myself how many stories will this tree tell? Only if it could speak… and this is not the only ancient olive tree you’ll find on Zakynthos.

Traditional clothing

The museum is quite small and it’s free entry. But it’s a good tour to help better understand the process of making olive oil. We arrive here on a very hot day at lunchtime, you know, that part of the day when no matter how much you’ve missed the sun, you need to hide. It’s almost like playing hide and seek with a toddler, you being the toddler. As soon as we get close to the car park, we are welcomed and the host tells us a short story about the mill and what we can find inside. We have wandered around and at the end we are offered a free tasting session of the local olive oils, which they’re producing here in the mill, accompanied by their traditional bread. Yum!

We are delighted to taste some beautiful olive oil produced by grinding olives with garlic, with fresh oranges, fresh lemons or their organic olive oil.

Tasting session

They have a shop here where they sell their olive oil, homemade olive oil soap and body creams. I didn’t know what to pick first as I liked them all.

Olive oil shop

Callinico winery

This is the place where I start again to realize how much do these people have. And how willing they are to use the island’s resources.

Callinico winery

Even if Zante is not a big island, more than 110 different varieties of grapes do grow here. Therefore this winery produces different types of wine: Retsina, Verde, a very sweet dessert wine ( red and white) and many others that we’ve been offered to try inside the winery.  It’s great to know they do free wine-tasting sessions, anywhere else you pay for it. It’s free entry.

So, it’s a must while you are here.

Wine cellar

Great Ionian Earthquake

While still at the winery, we’re welcomed by a beautiful girl, who happens to be the fourth generation owning this traditional family business. This particularly winery has a very interesting history. They started producing wine in 1918 but the family got their actual business after 1960. Because in 1953  Zakynthos has been hit by the Great Ionian Earthquake which was actually a series of hundreds of tremors, shocks, and aftershocks, striking the region between the islands of Kefalonia and Zakynthos. Many people fled the island after that: some people temporarily moved to the capital, however, the majority emigrated out of Greece entirely to countries such as Canada, USA or the UK, leaving both the islands and their economy in ruins. The islands were reconstructed from the ground up over the following years under a strict building code.

A traditional welcome at Callinico!

I wonder, reflecting at this family…what kind of strong character does it take to want to stay here and to rebuild such a wonderful business after a disaster like that?! Despite everything that happened to these people, they carried on with their traditions and to this day, they make good quality wine.

Fresh grape harvest

Of course, if you are in full harvest season, you get the chance to see a lot of the winemaking process and all the equipment they use today.  Otherwise, just get yourself to the wine-cellar where the wine is aged and stored.  It’s small but it’s got history and also a story to tell.

Volimes, a Zakynthos signature

Volimes is located in the mountainous part of the island. I love this countryside area for representing so well what Zakynthos really is. A united community of hard-working people, strong-minded and nevertheless wonderful hearts.

The village’s economy is based on farming and agricultural products.

There are many gift shops and souvenirs with a wide variety of artefacts, beautifully handcrafted carpets, leather goods, bags, miniature turtles, ceramics, and even desserts made with honey and almond nougat (pasteli and mantolato). Even you can find local products such as cheese (graviera, myzithra), bread, honey, oregano, and many others. People here are making all of these over the winter and sell them to tourists in the summer.

The spirit of the Zakynthos community

We have just arrived in Volimes and we’re trying to find a car park when this woman is waving at us as if she knows us. She speaks English and she’s welcoming us in her village, offering us some traditional honey roasted almonds, made by her father.

Volimes village

While chatting she’s inviting us into her house, where one of the rooms is kept as a shop. They hung up all over the place all these wonderful handmade textiles, like some amazing carpets, tablecloths, runners, napkins, and all sorts.

We got to meet her parents, beautiful people with a great sense of hospitality. They couldn’t speak a word of English but their faces were taking us back in time. That time where it was considered normal to offer a glass of cold water to a stranger on a hot day. Volimes was a real occasion to get to know the authentic Zakynthians.

If you’re dreaming of summer like I do and start making plans for your holiday, please consider this island as it’s a wonderful place, ready to be explored.

Until next time!


The food of Zante


Zante is the third biggest of the islands in the Ionian Sea. It’s been called the island of love and poetry…but what about Zante’s food?

Keep reading!


Me being greedy…

When it comes to Greece, especially Zante, please don’t make the mistake to opt in for an all-inclusive resort. Because nothing brings you closer to knowing their traditions better than the quirky tavernas and the amazing street food stalls.


No matter what kind of dietary requirements you have, there is something to suit you and your needs.

On the majority of the Greek islands, the house speciality is seafood, fresh grilled fish (swordfish is amazing), fried calamari and the most authentic one is the whole grilled octopus, which I loved from the very first bite.


Fried calamari as a starter or on its own…

Do you fancy salads?

Because of the Mediterranean weather, salads are a beautiful option in this area. Most of the vegetables are grown by the locals in their own gardens. You will know straight away because they taste quite different, I  think much better. They have all kinds of gorgeous salads like the classic Greek Salad (horiatiki) that consists of tomato slices, cucumbers, green peppers, onions, black olives and feta cheese. All of that sprinkled with their splendid island made olive oil and oregano. It’s impossible not to like! I personally prefer a richer salad with ham and their local yellow cheese.


One of my favourite salad

Gyros and Souvlaki,  family’s favourite.

Gyros is a fantastic Greek dish made of meat.
It is a sort of rolled pitta bread stuffed with meat, traditionally pork, chicken, or lamb, cooked on a vertical rotisserie, tomatoes, onions, fried potatoes and the typical tzatziki. It also can be served on a plate, not rolled. But I prefer the one you get on the street… One of these gyros usually costs only 2 euros. That’s a bargain if I’ve ever seen one.


A mix grill plate (souvlaki, chicken gyros, Greek sausage), pitta bread, salad and tzatziki.

Souvlaki is pretty much the same as gyros only that the meat is grilled on a skewer. You can eat it the way it is or in grilled pitta bread. I’ve noticed they have a vegetarian option too. Yummy!


My son waiting for his gyros.

Zante, a Heaven for vegetarians

If you are vegetarian, then Zante is the right place for you. Unlike other holiday destinations, you won’t starve here but in fact, you won’t be able to decide what to grab first.

The variety is massive, their speciality when it comes to veggie are these wonderful meatballs( no actual meat in them) made of courgette or aubergines. Suitable for vegans too. Also, the vegetarian mousaka is a must, you have to try it!

Almost all of the starters are suitable for vegetarians. Like the fresh bread and tzatziki, aubergine salad and buns, olives and fresh bread, hummus and many different kinds of salsa dip too.

Because they do love growing their vegetables here, a lot of the main dishes are pure vegetarian. Like stuffed peppers, stuffed tomatoes or aubergines. Also, let’s not forget about the stuffed wine leaves. The stuffing is made of rice, spices and fresh herbs.

This is the kind of trip that might make you want to turn vegetarian or even vegan, in that case, you have to be willing to explore their local cuisine and traditional dishes.

Zante, the land of pastries and cakes

I suggest you try some of their pastries as they are just as good as Greggs, if not better. It’s mostly puff pastry filled with different kinds of local cheese, spinach, ham or meat.

Also, their sweet pastries are delicious. I like the ones filled with sweet vanilla cream and powdered with icing sugar on top. They’re just mouthwatering! You find them early in the morning in almost any shop as the local bakery delivers them everywhere on the island. They are huge and they cost less than 2 euros.

And let’s not forget about the sweet baklavas. Either with walnuts or pistachios, they are a good way to finish your meal. As a particularity that makes them different from the Turkish ones is having cinnamon in their composition.


Kataif is another greek dessert, made in the shape of a birds’ nest from a shredded crispy dough. I’m not entirely sure about the recipe but I can taste a lemon syrup, loads of honey and walnuts.

In almost every taverna, they offer you a local digestive drink, it’s like a sorbet made of limoncello ( an alcoholic drink made of freshly squeezed lemons).


Kitsch style…

I have to mention that while most of the places in the food industry here kept their traditions and originality, others( not too many but still painful to watch) turned out to be a complete kitsch or fiasco( call it how you like). I believe that the economic crisis they went through has pushed them to desperate solutions.

What can be worse than a greek kitchen serving and advertising English fast food?! (baked beans, sausages and nuggets..basically things you’re trying to get away from on holiday). I know many of you would say they are doing that just to welcome the English tourists. But with such a fabulous cuisine that they have, the fresh ingredients they use, how can you go for all that frozen or canned food? A big no from me…it doesn’t convey what Zante really is about.

Zante, a river of wellness…


Another blessing of this island is its olive trees, as they produce a lot of olive honey.

I am amazed by Zante’s treasure. A 24/7 all-natural spa, no wonder the locals are so beautiful. Inside and out.

Everywhere you look, lemon and orange trees are smiling in the sun. Loaded pomegranate trees and golden, juicy figs are waiting to be plucked. And last but not least, the vineyards that produce one of the sweetest wine I’ve ever tried.

I hope you enjoyed hearing about this Greek haven. Until next time!


All on board!!!…a family experience


Get ready for an amazing family experience!

As you might have guessed so far, I’m not a fan of writing reviews nor do I try to promote companies or businesses.

But after yesterday’s experience, I’ve decided I must rethink my ways. The reason behind that is not just so you get inspired by my posts but actually to able to make better choices when it comes to travelling. Because, oh boy, I know how painful it is and how stupid one can feel after having a bad experience.

What does it mean to fly “low cost”?

Let’s see what Wikipedia defines as being “low cost”…”A low-cost carrier or low-cost airline (also known as no-frills, discount or budget carrier or airline, or LCC) is an airline without most of the traditional services provided in the fare, resulting in lower fares and fewer comforts.”

I thought exactly the same thing, no fuss, no such thing as big expectations and you’d probably expect poor customer service too.

Let me tell you that yesterday I was surprised and completely over the moon with Jet2.


Family oriented…” please take me on board!”

First and foremost, the planes seem to have more leg room than other low-cost airlines. I could actually feel my legs after landing, so that’s a first.

Let’s start with the beginning. As soon as the gate number was announced, we went there expecting it to be a long and boring process. To our surprise, we were met by some very friendly faces. Everything happened so quickly that we started to wonder if maybe we have priority boarding. I did actually check, we didn’t haha! Then my son insisted to get loads of pictures for one of his friends, who’s passionate about planes. I was actually scared of this, thinking of how many sour faces ( as we Romanians call them) I’ll have to deal with. Guess what? I couldn’t see one sour face for the entire flight, what with everyone in holiday mode.

Did you say “cockpit”?

I was so impressed to see that they have given my son permission to visit the cockpit and have a chat with the captain. Any child’s dream, right? C’mon now! How would you feel to be a 7 – 8-year-old kid and to have many dreams, one of them being that you and your friend would pilot a huge drone one day and then someone brings you closer to that for a minute?

Thank you Jet2, thank you, Captain Dan, for being so kind and patient.


And that’s not all…every single member of staff have been friendly, helpful and welcoming. It might be cause of their bright red uniform? I don’t know. All I know is that we had the greatest start to our holiday and I’m completely grateful. I would definitely fly with them again.

What about before that?

Before we get on the plane, we find ourselves at the Birmingham airport, looking for a place to have breakfast. The choice is overwhelming, believe me! But as soon as we have passed the security checks, we find a friendly place to be in Pret a Manger . Very chatty and friendly staff, good and fresh food and a feeling of ” we do understand you have a long way to go”. Yes, this is how I would describe it best. If you do go in, ask for the charming Victor…lovely character. Massive thank you to him.

As always, see you in my next post!