Non-stop in Crete!

We had a hectic time in Crete staying with our friends Colin and Sally at their house in Almyrida outside Chania.
We arrived at 6am on Thursday morning on the ferry from Piraeus, the port for Athens. The overnight journey had been calm and uneventful, fortunate for us as the next two days were stormy with high seas.
We all took the bus into Chania. It made an unexpected detour through a village called Vamos, meaning we took an extra hour to reach Chania just in time for lunch.
A very busy place and full of tourists even though it’s October.

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Our visit to the Naval Museum in the Venetian harbour provided a good understanding of the island’s history. We saw exceptional wooden models of ships of all ages. One floor is dedicated to the terrible story of the Battle of Crete in 1941 and the subsequent nazi occupation.
There we came across Major General Bernard Freyburg VC Commander of the New Zealand Forces in Crete. He is buried at St Martha’s on the Hill which is walking distance from our home in Surrey! That’s him on the right!

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On Friday we went to the ancient city state of Aptera above Souda harbour where we had arrived. A ruin now it was significant as far back as the 5th Century BC, not surprising considering how it still dominates the harbour, bay and surrounding countryside. According to finds in the cemetery this site was inhabited in the 18th Century BC. There are huge water systems dating from later Roman occupation together with typical Roman plumbing.
Excavation of an amphitheatre is underway. There seems to be a lot more to discover, it will be interesting to follow progress.

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We lunched at an extraordinary, almost surreal, place where the owner has indulged his fascination with stone to great effect. Later some of us ate cuttle fish which is not the chalk like object your aunty put in the canary’s cage!
Saturday found us lunching on delicious fresh trout at Argyroupoli springs followed by a visit to the ancient village of Lappa, nearby. It’s a bit touristy now but retains the old village layout, ancient church and Venetian buildings plus a well preserved fresco from a Roman bath house.

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That evening we walked to nearby Plaka for dinner and to watch Australia beat England in the Rugby World Cup. Fortunately we know the rules as the tv commentary was in Dutch or maybe Afrikaans!
On Sunday we took a short walk along a lovely path to an abandoned village – possibly the original, ancient Almyrida.

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Then into the hills to a traditional taverna where we ate what we were given – a delicious Sunday lunch. Our genial host at the taverna is also custodian of the tiny, ancient church of Agios Nicolais in the square outside. The interior is completely decorated with frescos which a contemporary inscription confirms to be more than 700 years old. Their condition is amazing.

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On the way back to Almyrida a visit to a World War 2 German lookout reminded us again of the darker side to the area’s history.
Phew, in between all this we relaxed, swam in the pool and enjoyed spending time with good friends.
In the next post we’ll tell you about our trip together to Loutro!

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