A Family Journey Through Tradition: Routes of Amari
A great one day-long tour of Rethymno should certainly include a day in the mountains. You can combine booth a morning city tour with an afternoon visit and then finish the day with an adventure in the mountains of Crete, among the many things to do in Crete with kids, Amari is always a good idea. Enjoy an authentic Cretan afternoon at the base of Mount Psiloritis, but wait, don’t just fancy a lazy afternoon wandering among olive trees, especially for kids.
Natural Crete for kids
Our schedule includes a close encounter with Cretan traditions. Lambro’s, the owner of taverna Aravanes, receives us with a pantagruelic lunch of local delicacies. An impressive table, abundant and inviting. Aravanes is no ordinary place, it faces the magnificent views of the Amari Valley. We see impressive peaks, wild goats and a wonderful blue sky.
Kids soon exchange food for baby goats and all kind of games in the open. Sitting at the table, no matter how appealing, is a reluctant decision. It’s a rather hard task to keep them focusing on lunch when playful baby animals are less than a stone’s throw away.
Tastes of Amari
Dishes of grapes and glasses of wine open our lunch, followed by all kinds of dishes of the Greek tradition: gemista and moussaka; meats and vegetables, cooked in a different fashion, to end with a terrific home-made galaktoboureko. Fragrances of local herbs surround us. They are drying, spread on a table next to ours. It’s inebriation.
All around us… nature!
For kids, instead, running in the wild, playing with animals, maybe even falling inside the goat’s trough sound better! Dirty pants and genuine joy is all you need to spend a great day, and it’s all I see through their smiles. They are the leading characters of the day, everything is there to awaken their curiosity and live a completely different lifestyle, close contact with nature in every possible way.
Time to get a close up to life in a traditional village. The kitchen calls for bread time. A huge wooden container full of flour and there they go, hands on the dough and strength! Let’s make this bread thing!!! A family journey through tradition.
Secrets of Thronos
Kids leave the dough to rise and we pay a visit to the village. Thronos is a jewel of Byzantine memories, little mountain houses st unveil their mystery when we see how they look like from the inside. Deceivingly small doors hide wide spaces and fresh walls made of stone. A welcoming wooden kitchen and internal patios that one would have never imagined.
Fruits, herbs, colorful nature and olive trees along the path here and there. We even pick some and eat them on our way to the most sacred place, the tiny Church of the Assumption.
The small sanctuary is in the middle of the village of Thronos, surrounded by stunning views of the Amari valley. The name of this settlement relates to the episcopal seat of Byzantine origins (Thronos mean throne, seat in Greek).
Traces of the mosaic floors of the basilica can still be seen in the courtyard of the present church. Its only Gothic entrance is normally closed, but Federico, the youngest of the family is granted the ancient key to open the door and visit the magnificent old interiors of the building. An emotion he will treasure for long. This church strongly links to the collective memory of the Amari region and can be visited getting in touch with locals.
Distilling Cretan hospitality
The walk goes on along the paths of the village until we finally reach a place I’ve been wanting to visit for long, a raki distillery. A hospitable family welcomes us as longtime friends. They’re gathered near the fire while freshly made raki begins to flow out of the cauldron. A fire that’s also used to cook inviting pieces of meat. We make our toast and slowly walk back to the taverna, our home for the day. It’s time to bake.
Bake your own bread
Back in our taverna, the kids feed the goats and cuddle newborn rabbits. Soon after, we go gathering wood to feed the fire. Picking the right pieces and throwing them in the oven proved a hard but fun task.
It’s time for patience, for the oven to reach the right temperature and for the dough to finally go in. The days the family bake their bread are a feast in the village, friends gather in the taverna to help, but also to share a piece of freshly baked bread and even to take a loaf back home
An inviting fragrance invades the place. The sun sets casting a reddish tone upon mount Psiloritis. A magic, peaceful view. The children take their bread out of the oven and the joy of eating their own food is incredibly rewarding. It teaches them that hard work and patience are the main ingredients to taste best results… in bread and in life too.
We take a few loaves home as well as secrets, memories, and treasures from our day in the mountains, we take home friendship and lessons, we take back home the taste of hospitality, our best day ever ends, sweet baked memory will last forever.
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