Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Saying Goodbye to Chania

Chania town square on Greek island of Crete

My sister, Martha, and I were very happy to have this week in Chania.

I really do like Chania. It's a waterfront town, and just the size that I like, about 60,000 people. It's not fancy, and even the most touristy areas are not irritating. We've spent a few different days there, just running errands and eating out, no real sightseeing. It's a good place, much better than where we are, which is pretty much deserted this time of year.

Not that we regret staying where we are, that fabulous view has been wonderful to wake up to every morning, and that tortuous ascent up our mountain has allowed us to eat whatever we like when we go into town. It's all win, as far as I'm concerned.

Here is some of what we've seen, both in town and our journeys back and forth.

We had to stop in at a Vodafone store today because the sim cards we got in Athens both locked us out. Weird that they both did it, but it left us without data once we left our home wifi area. We really wanted our Google maps, and Google itself, for our drive around the island that's coming up. So that was our first stop. By the time we got out, it was lunchtime, and we went back to our favorite spot on the water.

We chose a different restaurant this time, one that had clear plastic hanging all the way to the ground
Waterfront dining in Chania on Greek island of Crete.
to protect diners from the wind. It was blowing even harder today than yesterday, there were actual waves in the water. This restaurant wasn't noticeably fancier than the first one we'd tried. If anything, I'd have said it was less fancy, but it was almost twice as expensive. Still not outrageous though.

Strangely enough, even in a resort type area, the prices are still pretty low.
But I'm finding a pattern in the menus of these restaurants. They are huge, many pages thick, with mouth-watering photographs. It's really hard to resist the food with photos like that to tempt you. Especially desserts. At least, in my case.

After lunch, we walked around a bit, looking for Old Town Chania. But it's just kind of spread around, not really a unified neighborhood. Still, one church seemed to be the centerpiece, and we found that.

It was closed, but located in a really nice garden square, and the outside was photogenic enough. We particularly liked the front gates and bell tower.

There were interesting things just found randomly in the neighborhood. Some kind of ruin, and a building with rooms for rent that reminded me of the architecturally interesting French Quarter. Other parts of the neighborhoods were just very picturesque, again like the French Quarter, but somehow brighter.

Then we checked out the marina. The harbor was protected by a stone wall.

Afterwards, we went looking for a pharmacy, but it was naptime. Most of the stores seem to adhere to the same schedule. They open from around 10:30 to 2:30, then everyone goes home and has a big meal, then it's siesta time. The stores open again from 6 pm to 9 pm. So we went to the grocery where we stopped the other day.

Along the way, I spotted a sign for a public bathroom. The steps seemed to lead underground. Hmmmm....I'm a bit conflicted about that. Great to have a public restroom, not sure I'd go underground, in the evenings, anyway.

We also hit the Old Market, which is an enclosed shopping area with local produce and other shops. Still a little touristy, tee shirts and that kind of thing. But I thought the building was pretty cool, and there was an amazing little cafe inside.

Saw a great little pink 4 wheeler with a couple of happy young girls on it. This is the kind of thing that just seems typical of the area. The people are so nice, and they seem happy. With the bright sunshine, and it is super bright, it just gives the whole town a very pleasant vibe.

Compared to that, where we are seems almost creepy, althought they do have some nice places. But nothing's open! There is a very nice hotel/apartment building that isn't quite ready for the tourist hordes yet. A sign shows what it will look like, but we saw the guys working on the back area that faces the beach, and it's a good thing they've got another couple of months.

Then there is the little putt putt course on our road that we pass every day at the bottom of our mountain. It's very cute, but it isn't open either. And since the sign is in English, you have to figure it's geared toward tourists, as well.

Oh, and talking of things we pass every time we come down the mountain, there is a huge gaping hole in the middle of the road from some kind of construction they're doing. The workers are gone by the time we come home, but they are very nice about letting us pass in the mornings as we make our descent. But we have to climb over a big ass pile of rocks, so I'm grateful we only have to do it one more time. Tomorrow morning.

So that's pretty much it for Chania. We are spending Thursday in Knossos and Heraklion, and I hope to have some exciting news from there when we return. Then we leave early Friday morning. Very early. Like 6:30 or 7 am, I think. Bags are already packed. But I'm really glad we had this time here. Not only was it lovely waking up to that view every morning, but we spent enough time in town that we really feel like we came to know it.

It's been a mostly pleasant experience, and those mountain treks won't soon be forgotten. All in all, it really does feel like we've lived in Crete for a week, rather than visited it. And I like that.

But it's back to the zoom zoom tour soon. Because this is really just meant to be a quick overview...if you can call three months a quick anything. It's a mixture of trying to see things we haven't before, and trying to determine where we'd like to linger if and when we return. So it's 1, 2 or 3 nights in each place. Just long enough to get an idea of what places are like.

Still, this week in Crete is what I'd envisioned as possible while working remotely. Working 4 days a week, maybe getting out for a couple of hours, and spending 3 off days out and about town or moving on. So if I find a similar position, which I fully intend to do, I know now that it's possible. But that's months down the road, so I'm not even gonna worry about it at the moment. Valuable info, though, and stored away.

Anyway, next up is treasure hunting in Knossos. Full story, and results, tomorrow. The excitement is barely contained.

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