We have not seen a cloud for the last week and the temperatures have been in the mid thirties (celsius), a tad warm but that was what we looking forward too.
Our flight from Edinburgh to Heathrow was just like the reality show “come fly with me” which featured life for Easyjet ground and flight staff. We were not flying Easyjet but got to evidence the sort of moronic behaviour that enabled a TV show to be made. We have marked that as (hopefully) our only “flight from hell”. Luckily it only lasted one hour.
In contrast, our flight to Greece was very pleasant. A little late getting away but once across the English channel the clouds disappeared and we had a fabulous views of; the Alps, Adriatic Coast, Macedonia and finally Greece.
The ATM machines are largely deserted and things seem pretty normal but there are certainly not the crowds I would have expected for this time of the year. You hear the odd vehicle mounted megaphone blaring away which I expect is extolling the virtues of one or other of the political parties related to their upcoming election on 20 September. We will get to see that in action.
After nearly a week here, it appears that the country has not changed that much (since I was last here), it still has that unkept feel about it. As you wander around, the finishing touches and maintenance you see further west are often missing and there is now a (very) liberal adornment of graffitti, especially in Athens. But for all that it is so different to the rest of our travels to date and that is all part of what is already making it a great destination for us.
In our wanders around Athens we found ourselves gravitating to the areas where the locals (especially the older generation – like us) seemed to spend very extended periods consuming coffee and engaging in animated debate. People watching is so fascinating, we came to the conclusion that despite being in a large city, in these neighbourhood areas everyone seemed to know everyone else. It was the World where Facebook probably plays a far lesser role. Life seems to amble rather the rush along. Unfortunately, the price Greece will pay for being part of the Euro and having these financial bailouts is that they will probably have to forego some of that lifestyle and learn to “enjoy” the faster paced life of the rest of us (lucky them). I suspect that is probably going to be a painful adjustment for in the hot summer heat a fast pace is the last thing on your agenda.
Greece’s other problem, the refugee crisis, seems to be getting shunted up the road / rail line. There was no evidence of it in central Athens but when we went out to Pireaus to catch the boat to Crete we got our first taste of what will no doubt be more and worse as we hit Kos and Turkey. As we walked to the ferry we passed a procession of the latest arrivals from the Islands off the Turkish coast. They had no possessions with them but were all extremely happy, no doubt to have finally hit mainland Europe. While escape was complete there appears to still be many further obstacles they will face. It seems that Greece processes them which means whether or not you get refugee. Beyond that, it appears to be a free-for-all with no structure or plan to get them from the dock at Pireaus (or the border in Turkey) to their final destination and that is where the opportunity arises for the traffickers. I suspect we will see a lot worse before we reach Istanbul.
Ruth has found another Venice, the little alleyways of Chania are packed full of irresistible goodies and she has wasted no time in getting around them all. However, the heat is my friend, with the afternoon temperatures trying to push through 40c it does tend to limit the amount of activity around the place, as I sit here at our own outdoor table in our shared narrow alleyway, there is little foot traffic passing along the main lane. Everyone seems to have retired to somewhere cooler.
Each residence has a table and chair(s) outside so you get to know your neighbours. Ours are refugees from the Scottish summer.
It is a pretty place, early morning is great for a bit of walking, cooler and with few people around. During the afternoon, we noted many indulge in a spot of madness by lying on the nearby beach roasting in the sun, I guess there is no point in holidaying on Crete if you do not return to the office sporting a suitable tan. I suggested to Ruth that the reason for such insane behaviour was that Northern Europeans were banking vitamin D for their coming winter but she assured me that vitamin D works on a use-it or lose-it basis.
The ferry trip south was a pleasant experience. Rather than sleep on deck, we decided that we would opt for a little more comfort and get a cabin, it came with the bonus of air conditioning. I had great intentions of getting up early to watch the approach to Crete but Ruth woke me and advised “we are here”. By the time we disembarked, the wharf was deserted, the passengers had gone, the buses had gone, there were fortunately still a couple of taxis nearby that no doubt hung around for stragglers like us so they got to enjoy our business.
Rather than getting lost on Crete we thought we would indulge in a new activity of locking ourselves out of our accommodation. We were sitting out in the alleyway last night, along with a few cats and dogs that seem to make it their home. Ruth mentioned that we should shut the door in an effort to optimise the performance of the air conditioning. I duly obliged but as soon as ithe door snapped shut I knew that the key was still in the wrong side of it with no handle on the outside. The host does not live on site, we had no phone and it looked like a long (but warm) night outside was on the agenda. I tried a few nearby doors in vain, an English couple offered us their mobile phone and a shopkeeper recalled that she had the contact number somewhere. We had diligently closed all of the windows but I wondered if we had closed ALl of them.
There were panels in the door that you can open when the door is shut. I tried pushing one just in case we had left it unlatched. Someone is keeping a watchful eye on us, it was open and I was able to put my arm through and unlock the door.
In our wandering around Chania there was something other than the rain and cold missing, seagulls. In the UK and Ireland the sound of the gulls was with you constantly when close to the sea. In Corwall they had hit the local television news with reports of gull attacks coming in constantly; someones turtle had been last seen in the clutches of a desperate gull, someone else’s dog had been killedby a gull. People were all but requesting armoured vehicles for tranporting their chilren to school, it was gull paranoia. Here in Chania I have not seen a single seagull, it is quiet and safe to be by the sea.