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If you would like to bring some Crete-specific souvenirs home from Crete, here are some places where you might look. Merchants don’t bargain on Crete, so the price marked is the price you can expect to pay. The one exception is that a merchant sometimes might give you the choice of paying either by credit card or in cash, and if you pay in cash, the price is reduced.

Decorative Plates, Greece. Lachlan Ross, Pexels
The Swallow

The Swallow

At village center
Gavalochori
Mera
At village center
Gavalochori

Gavalochori

In Gavalochori itself, you have two options One is the shop called The Swallow that is on the main square and is run by Monica van den Bosch, who also owns Gavalianos Kafenes (better known as Monica’s Taverna). Here you can find pottery, jewelry, cards, prints, and local products. In the summer, The Swallow is generally open Tuesdays through Sundays between 10:00 a.m. and 11:00 p.m. On Mondays, it is usually closed but may be open in the evenings.

The other option in Gavalochori is Mera, owned by Melissa Rallis. You will find this shop if you look down the street that runs past the Elpida kafeneio in the main square. You’ll see the Lourakis Mini Market, and Mera is just past it. The shop features handmade items from Greece and elsewhere, including handprinted linen dishtowels, clothing, jewelry, cards, pillows, and much more. During the summer season, Mera is open every day except for Mondays, 10:30-2:30 and 6:30-10:30. The shop is open into early November and is open again the week before Christmas. Melissa is happy to come to the shop by appointment anytime if you want to find a gift. Contact her at +30 69865 09452 or mera53@icloud.com.

Kokkino Chorio

Not too far from Gavalochori on the edge of the village Kokkino Chorio (Κόκκινο Χωριό) is the Tzompanakis Glass Factory, which offers handmade artistic creations far different from what the tourist shops in the beachfront villages are offering. The glass pieces here are made out of recycled glass from bottles, and you can easily spot the factory by the mountains of bottles outside of it. You’ll find vases, platters, bowls, wall sconces, and overhead lights that make great souvenirs or even wonderful wedding gifts for those at home. In the summer, the glass factory is open Wednesday through Saturday, 9:30 a.m.-4:00 p.m. In the winter, it is often closed or its hours are more variable. Check before you go at +30 2825 0 311 94.

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Chania

In Chania (Χανιά), you have a number of options. One is the Municipal Market of Chania, also known as the Agora, in the center of the city between the Old Town and the New Town. It was completed in 1913 and was inaugurated by Cretan’s native son Eleftherios Venizelos, who served multiple terms as the prime minister of Greece and for whom the airport in Athens is named. The market was modeled on the covered market of Marseilles and is built in a cross shape, and you can enter from any of the four doors at each of its wings. This market sells vegetables, fish, meats, and cheeses as well as tourist souvenirs such as herbs and spices, olive oil, olive-oil soaps, and dishtowels, and the prices tend to be reasonable. There are also a few cafes offering local food. Unfortunately, the market was closed for renovation in January of 2022 and is not expected to open until the end of 2023. When it opens again, the hours are likely to be Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays, 8:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m. and Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays, 8:00 a.m.-9:00 p.m. The market is closed on Sundays with some exceptions before Christmas and Easter. 

In the Old Town of Chania, there are many shops selling typical tourist items, but mixed in among them are shops selling handcrafted items such as jewelry and pottery, unique clothing items, curtains and tablecloths, and various items made from olive oil or olive wood. The best street for such shops is Zambeliou Street, which is located at the base of Halidon Street, which stretches from the Skalidi shopping street to the harbor.

One of the streets in Old Town, Skrydlof Street, is known as Leather Lane because it used to be the home of shoe and boot makers. The shops here sell a variety of leather goods that are made on Crete or in Greece, including purses, briefcases, billfolds and wallets, belts, and sandals. There is a connection between leather and Gavalochori: The tanning of leather was a common occupation in earlier times, evidenced by the number of underground cisterns that have been found where hides were left to soak for three years before being made into leather. 

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