We spit on Crete!

IMG_0466Phtew! Phtew! We were hocking loogies all over the place in Crete.

Well, at least in Chania anyway. Chania is the second largest city in Crete, and is where our flight from Athens landed. Shortly after arriving, we endeavored to find out how to pronounce it by asking a local.

The best way I can describe it is: “Hock-a-loogie + ehnia.”

Khkhkhehnia.

To say it properly, just pretend there’s a hair stuck in the back of your throat and that you desperately need to bring it forward. After accomplishing that, just add a sweet li’l “ehnia” to it, and you’re pretty much a Greek. Or Cretan. Or cretin.

(I’m thinking maybe “ania” means “Thank God that hair is gone from my throat!”)

We make fun only because there are no words in English that require you to use so much of your throat, except for when you’re barfing while simultaneously telling your spouse that you’re gonna need a bigger bucket.

I’d be willing to bet my Viking heritage that most of our loyal readers have also never heard of Chania. But it is a significant tourist town of Crete, originally brought to our attention for the sole reason that our flight from Athens landed there.

To our surprise and delight, we found it absolutely charming.

IMG_0458It’s a seaside town with a ring of stores and restaurants fronting the harbor. The artifacts in this picture (not the old guy) provide evidence of the town’s seafaring ways, and are one of the first sights you see when you first walk into Chania Old Town.

IMG_0460A whole slew of restaurants await for prompt seating and a great view of the harbor. Almost every one of them is fronted by a pitchman encouraging you to come sample their offerings… other than a few that feature signs saying, “We won’t bother you!” Except I noticed they sort of bothered you anyway, as if the sign gave them some sort of reverse psychology permission.

IMG_0450A few musicians and other street entertainers provided for a jovial entrance into old town. This guy was playing some AC/DC if I recall.

IMG_0456It took a bit of work, but I finally got this light pole all straightened out properly.

IMG_0457So here’s Chania from the ocean view. As you can see, despite it being June, there’s snow on them thar mountains. We didn’t expect that in the middle of a Mediterranean summer.

IMG_0760They really do a nice job of making things cute and clean. It was this way all around Chania Old Town. The rest of Chania was just like any other town, but they really know how to cater to tourists in the tourist area.

IMG_0765If you see many pictures of Chania, one of them is bound to be one with this lighthouse prominently featured. It’s an iconic part of Chania. It was originally a Venetian lighthouse built around the late 16th century, although it’s sometimes referred to as “Egyptian” because it was built during a time where Crete was occupied by Egyptian troops.

IMG_0777Here’s a close-up, taken after a very hot fifteen minute walk around the harbor (the lighthouse is located at the end of a long protective breakwater that protects the harbor from the sea). During the Turkish occupation the lighthouse fell into disrepair. It was eventually rebuilt between 1824 and 1832, although they kept the original Venetian base. It was leaning badly due to bombings during World War II, but it was extensively renovated in 2005.

For some reason, taking one shot of something iconic is never enough. I’ve got dozens more if you want to see em! No? Okay, we’ll mush on then.

IMG_1581A tourist submarine is is on her way out of the harbor. We didn’t do many of the touristy things there, however; the town was charming enough all on its own…

…with sights aplenty and photo opportunities galore, including the Aegean Sea in 3D!

IMG_1348The Nazis bombed the hell out of Chania in 1941, especially Old Town. I think before that the town name was simply pronounced “Shania,” but the bombings rattled the residents’ fillings so much they couldn’t say the “sh” without sounding like they were hocking a loogie. I wonder if any of our Portuguese friends have ever heard the term “hocking a loogie?”

IMG_1593Apparently the Chanians pointed their cannons straight up to try and hit the German planes, but once they put them in cement this way, they couldn’t figure out how to put in the gunpowder and cannonball. No wonder Crete kept losing wars.

IMG_1595They do much better in peacetime, as evidenced by these clean and friendly promenades leading from the harbor.

IMG_1590Here’s a panoramic view of Chania from the seawall.

IMG_1575Here’s a view of the seawall.

IMG_1589You gotta admit it’s a pretty little town.

IMG_1568Here’s our view from the top of the hotel (really more of an Airbnb).

IMG_1565And here’s what we did up there. As far as you know.

IMG_1562As with so many places in Europe, old meets new everywhere you go.

IMG_1563And the sea meets land.

IMG_1560And the man meets woman. So if you don’t think we’re happy as hell being able to do all this traveling and stuff? Of course we are! These are our expressions before we put on our happy faces for the camera!

IMG_1350Horse carriages await tours around the town. We almost did that, but for no good reason we kinda missed it. Oh, well, maybe we only missed out on some horse farts.

IMG_1335I thought this salad bar was a little odd, and was glad we didn’t eat at whatever restaurant it was a part of.

IMG_1336Purple is one of my favorite colors. This tree (and my wife) is magnificent. I think she’d look good in purple hair, but I haven’t been able to convince her of that yet.

IMG_1343I thought of my son and his wife when we saw this store offering nothing but honey and honey products, because they raise bees in the state of Washington.

IMG_1342Honey is a big thing in Crete (so I’m not sure why this mannequin looks like the bees got put inside his hat). There are a ton of small shops and roadside stands around the island offering either honey, raki, or ouzo, the last two effectively being the national drinks of Crete.

IMG_1344The history of Crete goes back to the 7th millennium BC, preceding the ancient Minoan civilization by more than four millennia. The Minoan civilization was the first civilization in Europe and the first, in Europe, to build a palace.

After the Minoan civilization was devastated by the Thera eruption, Crete developed an Ancient Greece-influenced organization of city states, then successively became part of the Roman Empire, the Byzantine Empire, the Venetian Republic, the Ottoman Empire, autonomous state, and the modern state of Greece. (Per Wikipedia.)

IMG_1354A good view of the charming seafront.

IMG_1332A panoramic view of the charming seafront.

IMG_1357A great view of a car in a gas station.

Actually, this is the little Fiat we rented to get around Crete. I’m posting it only to tell the tragic story of our car rental return. We rented from a small company called Autocandia (I fully expected them to have a small bowl of candy in the car, but came away very disappointed). Anyway, everything went fine until our return, when our tragic saga begins.

When we rented it, I was told that upon returning the car, I should drop Carolyn and the luggage off at the airport and return the car alone. I wasn’t sure why, thinking maybe they wanted to rape me without listening to a bunch of caterwauling from my wife? Well hey, the term “greekstyle” had to originate for some reason!

Despite my aversion to being, ah, greeked, I followed the instructions, and found myself in a line with no employee behind the desk in front of it. Apparently, their only other employee had called in sick so the remaining employee had to both man the counter and pick up people at the airport. Why they couldn’t use the same van that was to shortly later take us to the airport so she could be behind the counter, I have no idea, although the full story may provide an answer to that.

IMG_1325Anyway, finally after about a half an hour, a harried employee hustles into the small office and starts processing people. One rude man butted in line ahead of the rest of us, a circumstance much more common in Europe than in the US. I complained, but the employee just shrugged.

But the real tragedy of this sad story had nothing further to do with me. It is all about the two couples who were made to walk all the way to the airport with their luggage, simply because they didn’t follow the instructions. The walk is a good 20-30 minutes, and it was very hot. So there they were trudging to the airport, and the van taking us only had one other passenger in it besides myself. Once I figured out what was going on with these people who had shared my pain in the Line Without an Employee, I pleaded with the driver to let them in… it was certainly no skin off my back to let someone else ride, and there was of course plenty of room. He steadfastly refused, saying they were only contracted for one person per rental, and no luggage.

Crazy stupid. Just bad humanity. I felt very sorry for them, but that’s the lesson of the day: When a small car rental company tells you to jump, you ask how high!

But in between that and our initial visit to Chania, we explored Crete and had a great time. More of that to follow!

 

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