In my shop you will find products from local producers: olive oil, honey, raki, olives, herbs, essentail oils and olive soap.
All products are produced in small businesses with respect for mother nature or they come straight from the farmer.
more about local products
In the rural area of Kournas you will discover a variety of flowers and herbs. You can make easy walks in and around the village.
The walking-path "Azilakas Street" will lead you towards the forest with a small river, very old oak trees and the "strawberry trees".
more about activities
In the center of the village Kournas you will find the local shop "Mandali", a place where you can smell, taste, feel and discover the real Cretan products. Barbara, from the Netherlands, opened this shop in 2016 with the aim of making the small traditional village a bit more lively and to support the local farmers.
In the shop, you can buy unique products from local farmers, craftsmen, artists, and manufacturers.
A unique product in Mandali is the famous original Dutch syrup waffles from the Amsterdam Good Cookies brand, the best, tastiest and crunchiest syrup cookie.
You will find one of a kind jewelry, postcards, paintings, candles, mandala gift cards and other small presents that you will definitely enjoy.
Also information about Kournas village, holiday accommodation, events and activities you can get at Mandali. Barbara will be pleased to help you to make your stay in Kournas unforgettable.
Inspired by nature and made from natural materials are the symbols of the unique artworks and jewellery in Mandali.
I am sure you will love the jewellery made of glass with shells and colliers made from Tagua nuts. The gift-cards, paintings and treasure boxes are all unique.
more about art
Mandali will be open at March 26-th
My name is Barbara, I am from The Netherlands and my husband and I spent a lot of our lovely holidays here on Crete. We traveled all over the island and enjoyed the beautiful scenery, hospitable Cretans, the delicious, healthy food and fine climate. We visited almost all major towns and villages, attractions and 'places-to-be "and every time we discovered again special places, we met lovely, exceptional people, and were impressed with all aspects of this beautiful island.
In the southwest of Crete, we organized some walking holidays and in 2010 my husband and I made our dream come true and we moved to Crete.
The beautiful green province Apokoronas had our preference and we found a house in the small traditional village Kournas, just 4 kilometers from the lake and only 5 kilometers from the north coast, with a kilometer long sandy beach.
I enjoy the life in the small village Kournas and during my work in tourism, I also noticed that tourists like to visit the traditional mountain villages. But sometimes these visits have some obstacles: where to park the car, what can you do, what is interesting to see there, etc.
So I began to think: the village Kournas might get more visitors and should become a little more "alive and kicking". Visitors should be given the opportunity to discover the daily village life.
With a lot of support (and hard work) from my husband in March 2016 my dream came true and my shop was a fact: "Mandali, local products and more..."
Looking for a name for my shop I choose "Mandali". This word comes from Mandala, it is in the old Sanskrit language and it means: circle, connection, community. The logo, the circle of live, fits it well, I thought.
"Mandali" also means a circle of people dancing together.
And ... I like to draw and color mandalas.And ... I like to draw and color mandalas.
I got an idea and with this idea, I got the chance to follow the study "Women Innovators for Social Businesses in Europe" at the ESA (European Sustainable Acadamy) in Drapanos, here on Crete. I learned a lot about starting a social business and slowly my idea became a plan and finally it became reality.In this way Kournas gets more alive and kicking and gives the local people the opportunity to share their knowledge, their talents and their stories.
I would start by opening a shop in Kournas where I can sell the local products, straight from the farmer and producer and I can give visitors and tourists information about Kournas: what to do, where to go etc. In the future I would like to expand the activities in cooperation with the villagers and organize cooking-courses, picking herbs, workshops Cretan dances, helping farmers with harvesting olives, pressing grapes, building a museum with tools, pictures and stories from yesterday etc.
In this way Kournas can again become "alive and kicking" and locals can get a chance to share their knowledge, their talents and their stories.
I am looking forward meeting you at Mandali at the "Story Table"
The local products with the "Kournas" label are coming directly from the farmers and small produducers in Kournas and surrounding.
I am proud to offer you fair products with high quality for a good price. Offcourse you can taste and test all the products, so you know what you are buying.
Crete is famous for the thyme honey and this very tasteful honey you can buy at Mandali.
In Kournas we have several beekeepers who have their beehives in the areas where the thyme is blooming.
Like all the other local products you can also tast this honey at Mandali
The Cretan wines are getting more and more wellknown and also in this area you will see a lot of vineyards.
The Red and white wine are very popular, but in the hot summer people also drink the rose wine.
The most famous herb of Crete is the thyme, but there are so much more healthy and tastful herbs growing here. And not only for use in the food, also in a healthy tea it will taste perfect. Very special are the "Dictamos" and the "Malotira", the Cretan mountain tea.
Just outside Kournas, is the small farm "Lavender Way", where Gill and Derek cultivate the colorful and fragrant lavender.
They produce three types of organic, essential lavender oil and a refreshing aromatic lavender spray.
Looking for items to make the assortment in Mandali complete I have found some special products, made in small businesses here on Crete.
The olive oil "Kournas" is produced in the olive oil factory in the village. The olives ARE growing near the village and for the farmer and his family the quality of the olive oil is very important. They ensure that the trees and the fruit remain healthy in a natural way, without the use of chemicals.
The traditional drink raki is called "tsikoudia" on Crete and it is distilled from the residues after pressing the grapes.
It is a strong drink, it contains nearly 40% alcohol.
A good raki you can recognize by the taste and flavor of the grapes.
Many people find the raki too strong. But added with fruit, herbs or honey it becomes a delicious sweet liqueur and it contains less alcohol.
Mandali offers you raki liqueur with honey, with lemon, with strawberry, with peppermint, with anise, with almonds and with coffee.
rete is famous for its olives and especially in the area of Kournas you will see the olivetrees with the small type "Koronaika" olive. The "Kournas" green olives are preserved with salt, lemon and water and the black olives are pickled in salt.
Natural, handmade olive soaps and skin creams are made by the three ladies of the workshop Fisika in Tavronitis.
All products are handmade with natural ingredients, made with care and have an unique design.
The oliveoil "Patima" comes straight from a small family, who have their olivetrees in the area of Kournas. Like almost all the farmers in this area they don't use chemicals to keep their trees healthy.
This oliveoil is only available in a glass bottle. Like all the other oliveoils you can taste it at Mandali.
They are crunchy, sweet, big and they are famous: the Dutch "stroopwafel"
And now also on Crete, at mandali you can get these tasteful syrup waffles.
I am proud to have got the opportunity to sell you the one and only "Amsterdam Good Cookies", the brand produced by a small business in a village in The Netherlands.
Put the "stroopwafel" on your hot coffee or tea for a few minutes and enjoy!!!
Die Oliven "Manolakis" kommen aus Episkopi, einer der nahe gelegenen Dörfer Kournas. Die Oliven sind die kleine geschmackvolle "Koronaika" Oliven aus diesem Bereich.
At Mandali I offer you a wide selection of unique products from the skilful hands of local artists and craftsmen. Unique backpacks, decorated candles, paintings, jewelery, gift cards, wooden treasure boxes and other small gifts that you will definitely appreciate.
And if you are looking for a special gift for your friends and relatives, just don't forget to take home a little something for yourself as well.
hand made, original gift cards
with envelop, for women, men
and children. Colorful stones with painted mandala and nature motifs.
unique handmade paintings from a local artist, inspired by the beautiful beaches of Crete
made from Tagua nuts, the eco-ivory, every piece is unique. Colored and natural
small and bigger wooden boxes for your treasures, jewellery or diary.
Unique and beautifully decorated
Unique Cretan leatherwear, handmade by Babayianka
colliers and bracelets made from glass and inspired by the Cretan beaches and shells. Made by a local artist
unique, natural necklaces made from the wood of the mulberry trees
Using a good detailed map helps you to discover the real Crete. The walking and hiking maps from "Anavasi" also contain extra information for walkers.
A must have for walkers of the E4 path in the "Cretan Way". With routes, suggestions for staying overnight and a lot of background information
The Cretan knives play an important role in the Cretan culture. The knives are handmade by "Armenis" and have an engraved Cretan Mantinade (poem)
The postcards from Kournas and surroundings are unique and designed by Mandali
With the walkingbooks from "Discover Crete on foot" you can make a lot of walks in the province Apokoronas.
Handmade ceramics from one of the oldest potteries on Crete is now available at Mandali.
In the traditional mountain village of Kournas you won't see many tourist activities: there is no tourist office with organized trips, no car or bike rental, no souvenir shops, even a hotel you will not find here.
"What am I supposed to do," you may think. Well, nothing. You are allowed to "do" nothing in Kournas, just enjoy village life. Experience the tranquility, the space, the sound of the cock crowing and the music of the goat bells. Hear the music of the grocer to let you know that he is coming with his car and see the villagers enjoying everyday life.
In summer months, the daily life in the mountain villages of Kournas takes place mainly outdoors: around the house, in the garden, on the balcony, in the street or on the sidewalk in front of the house.
On the village square, on the terraces of the taverns and in the kafenions (village cafes) there are always visitors exchanging the latest news and gossip.
You are also welcome in the taverns, the cafe or on a bench in the square to find out how village life can be.
Kournas is a small village, where you can easily make a short or longer walk.
Just strolling through the narrow streets, walking criss-cross through the village or explore the village and surrounding area with a plan or a walking book. The choice is yours.
A map of the village and the area is available at Mandali and also a hiking booklet including two walks in Kournas is available here.
Once a week, on Wednesdays, you can take part in the botanical walk which starts at Mandali, on the village square.
The start is at 9:00 am and the walk takes about 2 hours.
You can sign up for this walk by e-mail, Facebook or by telephone.
more about the botanical walk
Just like last year, I will organize the Botanic walk once a week also this year. Every Friday you are welcome to come with me on a walk in the "backyard" of Kournas. The walk begins at 9:00 am at Mandali, on the town square in Kournas and we will be back around 10:30. The walk is suitable for children from ± 6 years.
With normal, sturdy shoes or sandals you can easily walk this route. Bring your camera and /or binoculars, and a bottle of water is fine because sometimes it can be warm early in the morning.
The price of the walk is € 8, - per person (children are always free) and this includes an "Amsterdam Good Cookies" waffle.
Sign up at Barbara by phone: 0030-6951337205, by email or by Facebook
We walk at a calm pace and stop at beautiful, unusual plants, fragrant flowers, ancient trees and spicy herbs.
Every season, every month, even every week, nature changes its color and its smell. That makes this herb walk so fascinating: we never know what nature will show us.
Often we encounter the goats and sheep on our path or we see and hear them on the mountain slopes. Birds of prey such as buzzards and vultures often fly above our heads.
The walk takes us slowly uphill and at the highest point, we have a nice view over the village of Kournas and the coast of the Almyros Bay. Through a narrow goat path we descend to the forest with ancient oaks, plane trees and "strawberry trees".
Through the footpath called "Azilakas Street," we walk into the forest. This trail is maintained by volunteers of Kournas and, if necessary, again equipped with handrails and "stair steps".
We walk in the forest high above and along the river "Sfakas" in which water flows almost all year round and a few times we will cross the small river. Until in June you will see many small waterfalls in the river, but in summer there is almost no water in sight.
The narrow path goes uphill and downhill and takes us along an old lime kiln.
Once we leave the forest we walk on the broader dirt roads past olive trees and vines back towards Kournas.
"Azilakas Street" through the forest
downhill towards the forest
tapping fresh water
In the small villages of Crete, you will find the friendly hospitality and proud tradition of receiving guests. The Cretans are known for their generosity and their friendly reception of travelers, guests and visitors.
In Kournas you can still experience the simple village life, here you will experience the real Crete. Here you can smell the fresh herbs, you can wander in the olive groves and taste the local products, from olives, olive oil to fresh fruit, wine and raki.
It seems as if time has stood still in Kournas: the men of the village are discussing the news of the day in the kafenion, the women ask each other what they will cook today and the children play safely in the street.
Who makes a walk through the village will see many old and renovated traditional houses. The narrow streets are wide enough to let pass a donkey. Cars drive on the new, wider roads. Outside the village you can still see the ladies who pick the herbs and wild vegetables for the daily meal.
Kournas is located 5 kilometers from the beach of Kavros (Georgioupoli municipality) and 4 km from the lake Kournas. Situated at the foot of the mountain Dafnomadaras (1680 meters) the village is safe at a height of nearly 250 meters.
In 1583 Kournas was already mentioned as a village with plenty of activities and the town has played an important role during the Ottoman occupation. In 1866 Kournas was the center of the Revolutionary Government and in 1897 the village was the seat of the Cretan Assembly.
Kournas is a small village that still has the traditional Cretan character: a small square with a beautiful view and surrounded by a tavern, a small supermarket, a local shop and of course the statue of a local hero. Mulberry trees and large planetree provide wonderful shade in the hot summer months.
At various places in the village there are beautiful views. You can see the Almyros Bay, the villages Georgioupolis and Kavros and along the countryside in the direction of Rethymnon you can see the villages Kastellos, Dramia and Episkopi.
Also the first mountains of the imposing Lefka Ori (White Mountains) are to be seen from Kournas. In winter and spring the white snow on the mountain peaks and the bluest sky gives us a spectacular panorama.
There are approximately 500 people living in Kournas and in the center you will find a small supermarket, a kafenion, a bakery, a ouzeri, a shop with local products "Mandali" a ceramics shop and three taverns. There is also a primary school, which is visited by more than 120 children from Kournas and surrounding villages.
Just before the center of the village you will see the community center with a large square and a stage where in summertime weddings, baptisms, plays and parties are being held.
Next to the community center there is the football pitch and a children's playground.
Across the playground is the olive oil factory, where every year from november, olives are being pressed.
The Greek Orthodox faith is very important in the life of the Cretans and the church and the many small churches and chapels are being maintained very well by the locals.
In and around Kournas there are 11 churches and the most special, and also two of the oldest Byzantine churches on Crete, are the Agia Irini and the Agios Georgios, built in 1200 AD.
On April 23 is the celebration of the name day of Agios Georgios Church and on May 5, the name day of Agia Irini is celebrated.
Kournas is a year-round lively village: in summer and in winter there is live music in the taverns, in September people press the grapes at various locations in the village and in October it is time to distill the "tsikoudia" (the Cretan raki) in the two "Kazanis"
On August 16 the Community of Kournas is organizing its annual festival on the square of the community center with a performance by the popular musician-singer Nikos Zoiidakis.
On August 29 the villagers celebrate the feast of St. John the Baptist, along with friends, family and tourists. On the terraces of the taverns "Babis" and "Kali Kardia" you can enjoy live music and dancing.
So, get on the bus, start the car, grab the bike or motorbike, put on your walking shoes and come to Kournas, you are welcome !!!
In Kournas are three taverns, where still the traditional Cretan dishes are cooked. From many miles away people come to enjoy the delicious home-made food. Also the locals are regular guests in the taverns, especially on Sunday, when mostly the "kokoretsi" or the "Anti Christo" is on the menu,.
In the summer months in almost all the villages you can enjoy the "panagiri", the feast of the village, And also in Kournas there is regularly something to celebrate.
Not only the villagers, but also tourists from the region come to the village to celebrate the feast.
So if you're in the area ... come over and let's celebrate!!!
The first party is on April 23, when the name day of St. Georgios is celebrated in the church with the same name in Kournas. The Papas (priest) of the village is also called Georgios, so you understand that this festival will be celebrated in a good way. After the service, everyone is welcome at the square at the church where the tables and chairs are already in place with the blessed bread, pilaf rice, meat and wine.
On August 16, the annual village-festival is celebrated with a live performance of the famous musician and singer Nikos Zoiidakis. On the square next to the community-centre there is room enough for the hundreds of guests who celebrate this party until the early hours. Like at most of the parties, you can enjoy your meal here and taste the local wine.
Two weeks later, on August 29 the villagers and also many tourists, celebrate the name day of St. John. The festival begins with a service in the church of St. John in the "backyard" of Kournas. In the evening the main street in the village will turn into a big party with plenty of food and drink and of course music and dance.
On the village square you will find the tavern "Kanarina", run by Nikos and Maria Kokolakis; a little further, past the square, you will see on the right side the tavern "Kali Kardia", run by Andreas Anagnostakis and here in front of you are welcome at Babis in his tavern "Babis".
Just beyond the village square, next to the bakery Polenta you will find the ouzeri "Aetofolia" and a little bit more uphill on the same road you can visit the village cafe, "kafenion" from the Piperakis family.
So in Kournas you do not have to be hungry and your thirst can be quenched in many places.
For more than 25 years Maria and Nikos Kokolakis run the tavern "Kournas", better known as "Kanarina". And equally long every summer tourists come back here to greet the family and enjoy the Cretan cooking of Maria and the meat from the grills, Nikos' speciality.
Sometimes the terrace is spontaneously used in the summer months as a dance floor for the famous Cretan dances.
An ouzeri is a cafe where people enjoy a drink whith a small snacks. You may know them: rolled grape leaves, olives, small cheese biscuits, sausages "loukaniko", etc. The ouzeri is run by the family Dramilaris and has the name "Aetofolia" (Eagle's Nest).
Just like the kafenion is this the place where people tell eachother the news, talk about the daily business and share their experiences.
The tavern "Kali Kardia" is a famous name in Kournas. Together with his wife Evangelia, Kosta Anagnostakis opened his tavern in 1959 and from far away people came to Kournas to enjoy the traditional Cretan dishes and many delicious homemade specialties such as the "galaktoboreika" and "Kokoretsi".
Since 2013 Kali Kardia is run by Andreas Anagnostakis. Together with the support of his partner Melina and friends the old days revive in Kournas. On the menu are delicious, healthy Cretan dishes, including the "Kokoretsi" (only on Sundays), homemade appetizers and the famous "Salad Kali Kardia" and the lovely desert "galaktoboreika".
Friday night is dedicated to music: local and regional musicians are playing on the terrace in summertime and in the wintermonths they perform in the tavern.
Usually the performances start after 21:00, so you have time to enjoy your meal with musical accompaniment. And of course on those nights people will be dancing the wellknown "Cretan dances".
For several years the tavern "Babis" is located in front of "Kali Kardia" and lovers of the traditional Cretan cuisine are here at the right address. The delicious "Salad Babis" and on Sunday the "Antichristo" are just some examples.
At the entrance of his tavern Babis has set up a small museum with special ancient utensils, the Cretan flag, a large pedigree and much more. During the quiet winter months Babis is making the Cretan cane, the "Katsouna" which is still used by the shepherds.
Tavern "Babis" also organize live music in the summer months and these parties often last until the early hours.
Over 35 years ago, there were as many as 11 kafenions in Kournas! The last decades a lot of villagers left the village and the kafenion of the Piperakis family is the only one that remained.
But it is not just only a kafenion. It has a wine cellar, a small mini market with the major daily necessaries, it is the "post office" of the village and here are pressed many thousands of kilos of grapes in September. The wine from Piperakis is loved and served in many Cretan restaurants and is even exported to many countries all over the world.
The owner of the kafenion, Dimitri Piperakis was formerly the mayor of Kournas, so he knows almost everything and everyone.
In summertime you are welcome to the cozy terrace for a cup of Greek coffee, a beer or a glass of house wine. During the winter a wood stove warms the kafenion and this is the place to be to hear all the news and adventures.
In the area of Kournas you will find much more for an unforgettable holiday and the most interesting items you will see on this page. Also some more general and useful information on Crete you will find here.
If you have questions about certain things or if you want some "inside information" about something, just send me an email or a message on Facebook and I'll try to help you.
If you want to discover more in and around Kournas and if you want to enjoy the village life here: book your next holiday in Kournas. Spread through the village there are beautiful cottages available: for singles, for couples, for groups of friends or for large and small families.
I have collected some links for you and who knows, maybe we'll meet in Kournas this summer.
Two apartments, traditionally built and beautiful decorated. With splendid views and situated in the centre of Kournas.
A beautifully renovated stone house with traditional elements and modern decoration. On the terraces you have a splendid view on the "backyard" of the village .
The Villa is beautifully renovated in a traditional style and offers you the tranquility and idyllic surroundings you are longing for on a unforgettable holiday in Crete.
The island Crete has so much to offer you and I can imagine it is difficult for you to choose: what to do, where to go and what to see. I will try to help you by giving you some links to websites with good information about spectacular excursions, nice experiences, special places and much more ...
It is very easy to discover Crete on your own. In a lot of places you can rent a car or motorcycle and plan your own discovery-trip. Also with a moped you can make beautiful tours through the small villages in the area.
A spectacular experience is the day-trip with Georgioupolis Safari.
Your driver Stelios let you discover, smell and taste the real Crete.
This day will become unique and unforgetable.
On the internet you can find a lot of information about Crete, the beautiful nature and special places to visit, but some websites deserve extra attention and that is the reason that I would like to share these most remarkable and extensive websites with you.
A lot of information about Crete and the mainland of Greece is Greeka.com, with a lot of pictures and a helpfull community.
Checkincreta is a very comprehensive website with beautiful pictures and a lot of information about Crete.
The website Cretanbeaches is a complete travel guide for Crete, with an up-to-date travel app.
Beautiful pictures and a lot of information about the special and endemic flowers of Crete you will find on flowers of crete
When you love wild herbs and a rough countryside, you have to visit Babis and Janina in their workshop-tavern wild herbs of crete
Not far from Chania you can visit the Botanical Park, where fruit trees, herbs, medicinal plants and flowers are growing like in paradise
On the website incrediblecrete you will find information about Crete and also recipes and a cultural agenda.
To promote tourism on Crete there were made some very beautiful movies about Crete and some of them even won prices on the Tourism Film Festival
One of them I can show you here. When you watch it on You Tube you will discover the other special movies about all the aspects of beautiful Crete.
If you want to spend a realxing day on the water, you can book a boat-trip with captain Georgios on his yacht "Aphrodite"
You can swim, snorkel, relax in the sun, visit caves and try to catch a fish.
At Adventure Bikes in Georgioupolis you can rent a bike, make guided adventurous bike tours (1/2 day or whole day) or you can enjoy hiking tours. Your experienced guides will make your day unforgettable.
For a sporty day out, please contact Nikos bicycles in Kavros.
He has for you a bike with many gears and a handy map with routes in the area.
You always dreamed of an exciting beach ride, a mini-safari or a riding holiday? Zoraida Horse Riding can offer you various riding trips. Even beginners or non-experienced riders are welcome.
At the stations of Talos Express you can discover the nature and culture of Crete by travelling with the little train.
You can visit the lake of Kournas and also the villages in the area.
Every Wednesday you can join the botanical walk in the area of Kournas.
I hope the information on this page is usefull for you and I hope you will have got some inspiration for your next holiday.
I wish you a lot of fun preparing your holiday on Crete and If you have questions, I am here to help you.
Also suggestions, additions or interesting information are always welcome.
From oktober 22-nd Mandali is closed during the winter season. In spring 2018 I hope to meet you in Kournas.