To get initiated into a manhood, the Indian boys have to go through the rites of passage. Likewise, to get a slice of the Cretan spirit, regardless your gender and age, you have to be inaugurated by shots of raki - the Cretan local spirit. Raki is a fuel, a vital element to ensure the smooth transition of unknown visitor into a guest and even a friend. Raki is the drink that lifts your spirit and therefore it wouldn't be the exaggeration to say - it is a Cretan holy fire drink.
The idea is deeper than that - raki is part of the eternally burning fire that keeps the Cretan spirit, zest for life and vitality alive. The Cretans are willing to share it with you and to pass on this fire to you, to initiate you. Than, leaving this island you might become one of those initiated ones, the ambassador of the island, the carrier of Cretan vitality, like the runner carrying the Olympic light, for the next stretch of your life ... till you come back to Crete to fill it up again.
To be offered a shot of raki is a ritual that suggests the hospitality, friendliness. Raki is distilled from grapes and entails the very essence of Cretan climate, mountain sea breeze and sunshine. However plain, brusk at times Cretans might appear when met atthe airport, the candid and genuine warmth and hospitality envelops you as you delve in the depths of the island.
So where does the raki come from? You find raki distilleries or so called 'kazani' all over Crete - they are almost in every village. After the harvest of grapes and the wine making, the 'moesta', the remains of the grapes have to ferment for 6 weeks, after which the distillation of raki can begin. Kazani or raki distilleries start working around mid October and are active till Christmas. Distilling raki anything but technical - it is a social gathering, opportunity to get together and have a celebration. Families come with large barrels with moesta to making raki. Especially at night it is nice in the raki factory or kazani: with the music, food grilling meat and lots of fun. Everybody is full of anticepation for the first drop of raki! Actually you hear in every factory the same: my raki is the best of Crete. Raki should not be confused with rakia from Turkey, that tastes the same as ouzo. Greece is the land of ouzo, Crete is the island of the raki and it tastes very different then ouzo. If you have a cold or the flu, warm raki with honey is a good alternative medicine!
What is a kazani night? Participating in kazani night might look like some kind of unsolicited paganistic Cretan night fire ritual - 'raki' makingis a ceremony and only few consecrated and blessed ones can take part in raki-makers, family and friends. As it appears watching the whole process, the kazani masters and raki 'gurus' are performing archaic, almost primordial ritual to bring out the grape-fire-water out of aged grape residues (that, after wine-making have been preserved from 2 weeks up to one year)
When it comes to 'kazani' tradition, it's a "man's man's man's world" … and ‘raki’ (the spirit) is the king! Lots of preparation for Cretan parea and kazani masters to bring out warm, fresh, virgin raki that refreshes your body, purifies soul and strengthens the friendships. ...but, for sure, it wouldn't be "nothing, nothing without a woman or a girl"... Don’t worry overdoing is almost nonexistent and its not to be compared to the drinking habits of vodka.
Having traveled for over 30 years, since 6 years now, I have found the whole world in one of the most fascinating and unique places on earth – Crete. It is a diverse, rich and inspiring island which even after so many years does not stop surprising me - its rich history and unique traditions, its people, the delicacies of Cretan cuisine, its landspace and its stunning nature. Here I reveal some of its secrets.
I see Crete through turquoise - pink glasses.
Skip the group tours, leave your rental car at your hotel and ask Joseph to accompany you on a private tour to these great spots on Crete. We did "Mystic & Rustic Crete" and "Birth of Europe". If you are a first-time visitor he will suggest an itinerary and if you have special requests he will include those. Without Joseph we would not have known about the local culture or the history of the area nor would we have met and chatted with the local people... Read more
"A great tour and experience"We spent a full day with Joseph visiting Chania, Rethymnon and an olive oil farm and we had a great time. Crete is huge so you have to make choices unless you spend a week there. We arranged this tour with Joseph discussing our options and time. Joseph was very flexible with the itinerary allowing us to customize our tour and experience the highlights of some very nice towns. Joseph was very knowledgeable and answered every question. We would definitely use Joseph again to visit the other parts of Crete that we could not get to in this visit.
"Crete showed by Joseph is unique"The experience with Joseph showing us around Crete was absolutely unique. He is Greek and speak very good Hebrew. I don't think we would had seen and experienced half of what we did with him if we'd be on our own. He told us a lot of interesting stories about the Lassithi plateau and the area. His effortless ability to chat up with locals and involve us into conversation (with some translation, of course) was amazing. Funny enough these encounters led to further invitations (for a coffee and local drink - raki). Later on, he took us to an absolutely authentic tavern in a mountain village...
"The secrets never die" Das erste Mal haben wir Joseph Batis mit einer kleinen Gruppe in Chania in einer Fischtaverne kennengelernt. Er sprach Deutsch, Hebräisch, Englisch, Griechisch und soweit ich es richtig vernommen habe auch Spanisch. Ich habe die Gelegenheit genutzt ihn über unsere Ausflugsziele zu befragen. Seine Hinweise und seine Kenntnis haben uns in die Welt von Kreta innerhalb kurzer Zeit eingewiesen. Wir haben Joseph für einen Tag engagieren können um uns zu begleiten. Joseph hat über 30 Jahre in Deutschland gelebt. Seit Jahren führt er private Reisetouren auf Kreta...
יוסי מסיורים בכרתים ויוון, הוא מדריך.... מקצוען, בעל יידע נרחב איש לבבי וסימפטי, טיילנו בשנה שעברה... היה פשוט מדהים כיף... כיף... כיף... ממליץ בחום למי שמגיע לכרתים ויוון להשתמש בשרותיו המעולים. תודה יוסי על הסיורים ,האוכל, הטברנות, היה תענוג גדול ! ! ! מאתנו: אורי אילש, אלי גנט, יגאל גרינשטיין, נטלי גרינשטיין, אור גרינשטיין
כל מי שעתיד לנסוע לכרתים או ליוון, אני חייב להמליץ על חבר יקר, מדריך מעולה, אדם חביב ונעים הליכות שידריך אתכם בכרתים בעברית, אנגלית וגרמנית, מה שתבחרו.... ל- Joseph Batis אתר בו תוכלו להציץ במה שיש לו להציע לכם כולל תכנון הטיול ומלונות וכו' הציון שנתנו לו 10+ שווה מאוד... ביקרנו במקומות שבחיים לא הגענו אליהם בכרתים ! לחצו על השם וכנסו לאתר ! בהצלחה.