In the great world of tourism, there are two types of tourists: travelers who care about local populations and bourr….enfin travelers who don’t give a damn. And it’s the former that we’re addressing today, although of course, the latter can also listen in! The Cretans are incredibly welcoming, smiling and even generous people, so today, together, we’re going to discover these 5 things not to do in Crete!
1. Toilet paper, a major challenge!
The first thing you need to know, and you can’t escape it, is the question of toilet paper. Yes, you read that right.
In Crete, in some places and particularly in older housing, toilet paper is not flushed down the toilet, but into the garbage can next to it.
Why, you ask? The drainage system in Crete (and on some Greek islands) is not suited to dealing with toilet paper, and if you flush your paper down the toilet, you simply risk clogging it up. At first, this may seem confusing, even off-putting, but you’ll get used to it over time.
2. Is haggling an insult?
Another thing to avoid is haggling over prices. In Crete, unlike some travel destinations where haggling is a cultural norm, it’s not appreciated at all.
The Cretans have been experiencing a severe economic crisis for the past ten years, making their financial situation precarious. They often work more than 80 hours a week for minimal pay, and are heavily taxed on their earnings.
So if you try to negotiate the price, you risk insulting them. If you feel that a price is unreasonable, it’s better to change location rather than try to negotiate.
3. The power of a tip
Tipping is not obligatory, but let me explain why it’s a good idea to do so in Crete.
The Cretans work very hard, often without rest, and rely heavily on tourism for their survival.
Leaving a tip, even a small one, is a way of acknowledging their hard work and showing your appreciation. It’s a gesture of friendship that the Cretans will certainly appreciate.
Especially since, in restaurants for example, it’s very common to be offered both raki and dessert. A surprisingly generous local custom! So we’re counting on you to return the favor!
4. Gestures and signs of respect
When crossing the road in Crete and a driver stops to let you pass, avoid raising your hand in thanks. It may sound strange, but in Crete, this gesture is perceived as an insult.
It’s best to give them a nod or a thumbs-up to express your gratitude.
5. Water, a precious resource
Crete is facing a serious drought problem, and saving water is a major concern. In your hotel in Heraklion or elsewhere or your accommodation, be aware of your water use. Don’t leave the tap running unnecessarily, and take quick showers. It may seem like a small gesture, but if every tourist does the same, it can make a big difference.
Add to this the fact that tap water in Crete is not drinkable. It’s best to buy bottled water to drink. It’s a simple precaution to take to avoid any health problems during your trip.
In a nutshell!
Visiting Crete is an incredible experience. The Cretans are a friendly and welcoming people, and the island is simply beautiful. However, it’s important to respect local customs and show consideration for the challenges faced by the Cretans. After all, mutual respect is an essential part of any travel experience.
So remember, don’t flush your toilet paper down the toilet, don’t haggle over prices, leave a tip, be respectful with your gestures and save water. These simple gestures can help make your stay in Crete even more enjoyable and unforgettable. Bon voyage!