Sunday, August 31, 2014

Day 11- Crete (Chania), Greece





We ended up liking our day in Crete better than any of the other ports in Greece (and they were all amazing!). We teamed up again with our friends, Shannon and Justin, and booked a private tour with Taxi Tours of Crete - our guide was Anastasis and he was very knowledgeable of the island. His family owned olive orchards on the island and it was off season for them, so he does tours in his private car/taxi. Here is an olive orchard near the cemetary. This tree is an older tree, about 20-30 years old. I will quote Shannon because she recalled some great facts. Thanks Shannon!


 "We started by visiting the Commonwealth WWII cemetery. Chania was important strategically in the WWII because of it's excellent harbours and position in the Eastern Med". 


 "The Germans attacked on May 20, 1941 under Operation Mercury and were initially repulsed, but the Battle of Crete was the first battle where German paratroopers were used on a massive scale and it fell after 10 days."
 "The cemetery contains just over 1500 graves - of which 776 are unidentified. 5 of these are Canadian."
 Many soldiers from Australia and New Zealand are buried here. We also saw that nurses were buried here as well. (This photo also shows how close to the ship we were- no one was here).

We then went to a still functioning monastery. Of all the spiritual places we visited, this made me tear up. We were alone. It was a quiet place. Plants, fruit trees and kittens were around. It was just so peaceful.





                     See the gold angel wings? This photo does not do this dome justice.


 
                                         We had a nice drive along the coast.

We visited a park in Akrotiri with tombs commemorating their famous statesman Eleftherios Venizelos and his son Sophocles.

                                          We overlooked the city-
 "The park also showcases the Spyros Kayales. During the Great Bombardment of 1897, the Greek flag pole was destroyed, so this guy turned his body into a flag pole in order to keep the flag aloft.."





This church in the same park is much sought after for weddings and in the summer will often see 4 or 5 weddings in one day.
Shannon also noticed the doves cooing above (they were so loud we were looking for owls at first).

                                         Even the grasshoppers were feeling the romance~
                                          Back to the graves, sorry.
                                         The tomb of Eleftherious Venizelos About Eleftherious Venizelos
                                    Shannon says it well "This family is kind of the Kennedy family of Crete"
 Here is our guide Anastasis and his car is the black one just behind the police car, where they were just relaxing.

"Aptera - with ruins dating back Minoan times.
There are actually mentions of it on the Linear B tablets which date back to 13th and 14th centuries BCE
"



                                         Archeologists are actively working on this site.




                      The cisterns were very cool and birds lived in the tops and flew around.








                                         What the cisterns looked like from the outside.

 
                                        The former prison down below the Aptera fortress
                     We overlooked the US NATO base (What a great place to be stationed!)

                                 
                                          Driving to lunch we passed olive orchards.
"Apparently nice sized houses go for about 160,000 euros (about $237,000 CDN; $210,000 US) - not bad considering they were going 500,000 euros before the Greek Crisis."

"We stopped in a small village in Stylos for mezes (appetizers) and Greek coffee at a local cafe in the village square. The men of the village gather to talk about the news of the day. Karen and I noticed that we were the only women out and about. Womenfolk still stay at home and tend the household. Justin is enjoying his Greek coffee."


Shannon had an iced espresso. I am not sure what I am drinking, water I think?
I liked how the older men were waiting for their noon chess game and got up to give us their seat.The food was amazing.
"Dakos - barley rusk, soaked with olive oil, topped with tomatoes, oregano, myzithra goat cheese and served with olives. I hate olives but even I liked these. They are locally grown olives that are cured with salt rather than brined. "
                                         Here is Shannon with her iced coffee.
                                          Local goat cheese and honey
 Anastasis is explaining what we are eating and information about the town/life style. I like the men sitting at the next table, awaiting the noon chess game.

 The Greek yogurt with honey was amazing! The restaurant owner comes out and pours us each a shot of Raki. It wasn't like ouzo in that it did not have the licorice taste. It was more like an intense vodka? Anyway it is tradition to pay it forward. You are supposed to drink it then buy a round for the next guy. So we did. When in Stylos....do as Stylosians (?) do.
                                         The coffee was so good!
                                          The best lunch we had off the ship!

After the village we went into the actual town of Chania and the market to shop.

                                                                    Meat shop
                                                              Cheese shop
                                               Goat with goat heads for sale.

A great place to shop, but I hope people got to see more than this! And the fish "cleaning your feet" was just gross! Poor fish!
Unesco world heritage site. Old Venetian harbor.Known as "Little Venice".
 Our group. Shannon and Justin were on their honeymoon. We appreciate that they allowed us to join them. It was a great, relaxing, informative day.
Back to the ship for a final day at sea. 

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