Today was a bit of a non-day… we had to make our way by bus to Iraklion to take the bus to Chania, a 3 hour ride away. We had originally booked 5 nights here in this area of Crete (not really realising just how huge the island was) and when we tried to book a Samaria Gorge tour the woman told us that it’s better to do the hike out of Chania, as it’s only an hour bus ride from there, rather than 4 hours from Iraklion. So, that made that decision easy! I’m glad it worked out like that, actually because we had run out of things to do in this area anyway. Plus, we got to hang out in Chania, a really cute little city, with lots of restaurants, shops and history.
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Our last breakfast in Koutouloufari. The woman who owns this bakery is Dutch, so we had pancakes. I had the little tiny silver dollar ones. *Almost* as good as Paul’s pancakes, but not quite… Deb had an apple pancake that was more like a crepe.
***WARNING!*** Not for the prudish or easily offended! Yes, they like their phallic symbols here in Greece. These things are everywhere! They have cigarette lighters shaped like them, paperweights and l’objets d’art. No, I did not purchase one… (Deb’s insisting that I make sure you know she didn’t buy one either!)
We made it to Chania at about 3:30. We got to our hotel to discover a note that said “Call (a phone number) I’ll be there in 15 minutes.” Great. We don’t have a phone, and we weren’t sure if the note meant he’ll be back in 15 minutes, or he’d get there within 15 minutes of our calling. So, we sat there for a few minutes thinking he might be right back. Finally Deb went to the corner store across the street and the guy let her use his cell phone to call him. Then we waited some more. The Greeks definitely have their own version of what a few minutes means. It’s not the same as a Canadians. Finally he arrives and we grumbled a bit and he gave us ice cream bars. That sort of made up for it.
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Chania is a really picturesque city and has so much interesting history! It’s been inhabited since the Neolithic era, and was home to the Minoans, then the Dorian Greeks who came from the mainland in 1100 BC. It was under Byzantine rule until the Christians were defeated by the Arabs and were exiled to the mountains. In 961 AD the Byzantines took over once again and fortified the city to prevent another attack from the Arabs. After the fourth crusade in 1204, the Venetians took over, and that is the style that is most evident in this city, especially in the harbour, which is aptly named Venetian Harbour. In 1645 the Ottomans took over and the city was under Turkish rule. They converted churches into mosques and built new mosques, hammams and fountains. In 1878, the Pact of Halepa was signed and the Ottomans went back to Turkey. By the time the population exchange happened in 1922 there weren’t any Turks left in Chania at all. I feel like Greece is the perfect place to end this epic journey, because it’s linking all the little bits of information I’ve learned and the things I’ve seen in the past 5 months and is all starting to make real sense. I knew that Greece and Italy had a lot of historical connections, but had no idea of how involved Turkey was in that history as well. NOW I understand a little better why the Turks and the Greeks are both so adamant that their baklava is the best (and the REAL one.) It’s long standing rivalry.
Maybe the ugliest beach towel I’ve ever seen?
One of the new mosques built by the Turks when they ruled the city.
Very Venetian looking. Well, maybe not quite as ornate, but Venetian nonetheless.
This is as close as we got to the elusive wild Cretan goat called the Kri-Kri.
Some of the old fortification walls.
An ice cream cone eating an ice cream cone. Would that be considered ice cream cannibalism? Just saying…
Cat of the day. She might not be the most beautiful, but she was by far the friendliest. She was one of a bunch of alley cats that were getting into the garbage bins, and when she saw me coming she just dropped whatever it was that she was doing (eating garbage) and came over for some good kitty loving. I swear, if I lived her I’d wind up running an animal shelter… I just know it. We named her Oscar, because she was in a garbage bin.