As Debs, my sister in law, had never visited Elafonisi, even though she had spent many a summer on Crete, we decided to go there on the Wednesday just gone. After leaving the main highway at Kissamos, the drive to Elafonisi is through some lovely countryside, passing deep gorges and fearsome drops to the side of the road. There is even a short tunnel through the rock wall to the side of a very deep canyon.
Dotted along the way are several roadside sellers with everything on their tables to do with raki and or olive oil. Raki adulterated with every soft fruit imaginable ! In its purest form the Cretan raki is called Tsikouthia, which is the fine clear liquid served after a taverna meal and usually on the house. Not that many people would want to pay for it.
Just before we came to our planned stop at Elos, we went into the small village of Topolia and to the side of the road was this amazing store of carved olive wood. We, like everyone driving through, just had to stop to take a look. The owner had recently moved his stock from a smaller premises in Elos.
The first thing to strike you is that the side of the road outside the store is covered in coins of small denominations. The owner said that he had no time for money only for living life in the moment. Of course the guy didn't show that same emotion when we came to pay for our purchases, or when trying to barter with him.
He was jewish and looked uncannily like Chaim Topol in his many film roles,. especially Fiddler on the Roof. The hat the beard the bangs etc. How strange, I thought, Topol in Topolia ! No photo as that would spoil the surprise when you go there, as, to visit Elafonisi is a must.
Some of his carvings were really good and Jacky, my wife, couldn't resist a couple of purchases, unlabelled, hence the bartering. Definitely worth stopping on your way to Elafonisi or the village of Elos which is famous for the Chestnut Festival in October. Elos is the centre of the sweet chestnut trade on Crete.