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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!


Where to? In the name of love


Love, love, love…

Everywhere you look it’s full of hearts, pink stuff, flowers, candles and lots of chocolates. It’s that time of the year when we get intoxicated with so much so-called passion. Wait a minute, don’t get me wrong…I have nothing against all of this. I just don’t like how commercial Valentines Day has become.

Who is to decide that all this stuff equates to love? And why if this is how love gets to be celebrated, it’s only once a year? I’m the least entitled to talk about the subject. That’s why I’ll better stop here.

But what do you do if you let yourself get carried away by all the commercials and the soapy dramas around you this time of the year?

And what if you decide you would like to surprise your other half? You haven’t had the chance to plan it or to budget for this.

Don’t panic! There are still plenty of things you can do. I would like to share some of them with you.


(Ready for a surprise tea party at the castle)

Home sweet home

I wasn’t thinking about staying at home but I wanted to see what’s around you that’s worth exploring.

England isn’t doing bad at all when it comes to romantic places. It’s true that the weather doesn’t help but no storm will stop two birds like you two.


I know many people born here, in Birmingham, that have never been to London? What?!…

I love London. It can be very sweet even if you go for a one day trip. Trains can be quite expensive but even so, you can find plenty of deals. At one point, Virgin had this offer for 5£/ticket to London. Of course, that’s not something you find every day. We have used National Express coaches a couple of times. They’re very comfortable, they have wifi, pretty cheap ( £20 return) and easy to book.

What to do?

  • Of course, pay a visit to Her Majesty at the Buckingham Palace. It was cool to see the Changing of the Guard. The garden in front of the Palace is prettier than any bunch of flowers you can buy for your sweetheart.


(What did I say? It’s the magic of the flowers)

  • Get lost in the Westminster Abbey. Actually, what is more romantic than being where seventeen royal weddings have taken place?
  • London Eye. You might not get to see everything in one day but from the top of this wheel, you can see most of the city’s landmarks. Situated on the South Bank of River Thames it guarantees you a nice walk and beautiful views.

There’s so much to see in London. The list is quite long and open to your preferences. Perhaps you’ll choose to take pictures next to your favourite Hollywood celebrities at the Madam Tussaud’s wax museum. Also, you might want to meet the old Big Ben at the Palace of Westminster (called Houses of Parliament). You’ll find many tourist points, ready to feed your hunger for more.


When I say Cotswolds is actually a very big area, I mean it. It stretches from the border regions of South Warwickshire and Worcestershire, through West Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire, and takes in parts of Wiltshire, Bath and North East Somerset in the south.


(I love the colours, it’s like therapy to me…)

Bourton on Water

I especially like Bourton on Water which is called the “Venice of the Cotswolds,” due to the fact that the River Windrush flows right through the centre of town. I love the old artisan village bakery here. Their cakes and pastries are delicious and you can have a seat in their riverside garden and relax with your loved one.

Stratford upon Avon

I have said it before but Stratford upon Avon is part of the Cotswolds too. What can be more appropriate for celebrating love than to spend a day in the home town of Romeo and Juliet‘s writer? It’s a beautiful drama. After all, Juliet wasn’t meant to die. She only drank that potion in order to avoid an arranged wedding. The potion only made her fall in a deep sleep and everybody thought she was dead. But the one who made the potion, Friar John was unable to deliver the letter to Romeo informing him of the plan. So, when Romeo’s servant brought him the news of Juliet’s death, Romeo was heart-broken. If you want to know more, you’ll have to read it yourselves, I don’t want to spoil it any more.

Still, Stratford remains one of my favourite places when it comes to romanticism. It’s got all the secret ingredients for a stunning day out. And one of the ingredients I’m talking about are the rowing boats. You can row past the Royal Shakespeare Theatre and Holy Trinity church and enjoy uninterrupted and unique views from the Avon river. Or simply take a peaceful trip to the countryside. If you can’t afford a fancy dinner, I suggest to get a picnic basket, stop along the river and fall in love again…and again.

Also, a very good thing is that you can come by train to Stratford and it’s quite cheap. So here you are, stop making excuses and go for it!

More about Stratford


The next one I’ll tell you about might be quite popular among you guys as a seaside holiday destination.

Even if it’s still winter according to the calendar, Barmouth remains as beautiful for me as it’s in the summer.


Why this place? Because the majority of accommodation places are practically on the beach. You can get a cosy room with a sea-view in a lovely cottage. Who cares if it rains? All you need is the one you love, a cuppa and very large windows from where you feel like you’re on top of this world. With it being winter, not many people dare to adventure to the beach. But trust me, it’s worth it.

On a clear day, the view across the Lleyn Peninsula is breathtaking. I do recommend walking over the Barmouth Bridge to get a different view of Barmouth.

Again, it’s possible to get here by train. The train station is in the heart of Barmouth. You can walk to most of the hotels and cottages from there.

Thinking of escaping abroad?



For years it’s been described as “the city of love”, as the best place to impress and the place to be when you are deeply in love. Right…

It is a beautiful city indeed but it might be too much for some of us. Who knows how bad you want to escape, maybe you barely found somebody to babysit the kids and you dream for an oasis of peace and relaxation. Paris is nothing close to that. It’s very crowded, it’s unnecessarily expensive and you need time and patience to get the most out of it. Therefore, a weekend in Paris is not something you might be keen to do. You could leave it for a bit later in life when the kids start going to camps and you have more time. The reason being that there is so much to do and see and you might regret that you had to queue for most of your time there.




Paris on a rainy day…feat. L’Arc de Triomphe


No matter where you choose to go in Italy, you’ll probably find it to be one of the most romantic countries you’ve ever been to.


Maybe you decide to join the Venice Carnival, which is the biggest party of the year and it’s happening now in February. Don’t forget to dress up! The most popular outfits are traditional costumes of 18th-century lords and ladies. But Venetian masks have an extensive history and were once worn throughout the year to hide people’s identities. The amazing food they cook, the language…aww, sweet language. Italian is the most beautiful language I’ve ever known.

Of all the major Romance languages, Italian retains the closest resemblance to Latin. The struggle between the written but dead language and the various forms of the living speech, most of which were derived from Vulgar Latin, was nowhere near as intense or protracted as in Italy.


If you ever wondered where does Pasta Bolognese come from, this is the place. The authentic recipe is far from what people are cooking here in England. I lived here for a year when I was a student. I had the chance to meet an 87 years old local who was cooking Pasta Bolognese at least once a week. It was something like a ritual. Every morning he was going to the local market to choose his favourite beef, not mince and then he did everything at home( chopping the meat, the herbs). After that, everything was slow cooked for a couple of hours. The smell of it was absolutely gorgeous.

Piazza Maggiore

One of my favourite places in Bologna is Piazza Maggiore, a place where people used to gather in the 15th century, where they used to hold markets and also Giardini Margherita. Why? I like Piazza Maggiore because it is surrounded by the most important buildings of the medieval city and its history at every corner. Giardini Margherita because it is the most romantic city park I have ever seen. The garden has a surface of 26 hectares and many exotic trees (cedars, pines, horse chestnuts, sycamores, bald cypresses, English oaks, a Sequoia). Both of them are free to visit. Therefore, you’ll only have to worry about where to stay (you can find cheap accommodation for about 50 euros per night). And recently, I’ve searched the web and have seen really low price flights. Also, you don’t have to worry too much about food. Everywhere you look you can find amazing woodfire cooked pizza. A huge one is between €5-€7, so let’s say £5. My favourite one is Pizza ala Salsiccia ( Italian sausage). It’s really really good, trust me.

Now, I can tell you about more places I’ve been to in Italy as we managed to visit a big part of it. My conclusion is that you can’t fail with Italy, no matter what area you’re going to.

More and more…

We lived in Turin for a year, when Christian was a baby. I find it to be amazing. It gives you a chance to get really close to the true Italian taste.


Christian in Turin (Parco Valentino)

We were by the Italian seaside in Rimini and Ravenna. Or try “la dolce vita” of the Tuscany Region. This part of the world really left a mark on me. Everything is pure beauty. Their culture is to celebrate and appreciate life. It’s all about art, love, music and wine. What’s not to love about that?!

If you decide that just being at home in your garden is the right place for you to be in, that’s wonderful. Just don’t forget love is in you and it can be everywhere and anywhere. Also keep bringing joy, smiles and blessings in your other half’s life. It doesn’t cost you anything to be kind.

As always, see you in my next post!