Sunday, 22 May 2022

Our Greek Odyssey - Halepa & Rethmyno




 On Friday, still stuffed from all the food we'd consumed over the previous three nights, we bought a punnet of locally grown strawberries and ate them on the rooftop with Greek yogurt so thick that I had to scrape it off the spoon with a knife.


First on the agenda was a visit to an artisan leatherworker we'd passed on our travels the previous day, after all, we're from Walsall, a town famed for its leather goods since the Industrial Revolution. 


In addition to the most divine handmade slouchy bags made in a rainbow of jewel toned suede & leather, there were also earrings, plaited wristbands and leather wrapped wooden bangles he'd made from the offcuts and, of course, I had to buy a few of them.


After an iced coffee at the harbour, we popped into a travel agent to book ourselves a cultural day trip then walked along the coast road for three and a half miles to reach the area of the city known as Halepa, where the affluent citizens of the 19th Century built their grand mansions, away from the hustle and bustle of the old town. 




Halepa is also the brand new site for Chania's Archaeological Museum, which opened in April 2022.
  

Tony's reaction to the artifacts on display was the same as most people who visit Greece for the first time....I can't get my head around how old everything is. 


This stone sarcophagus is almost four thousand years old! Whilst we Brits were living in caves and daubing our bodies with woad, the Greeks were burying their dead in caskets like this, drinking from glasses and adorning themselves in exquisitely crafted gold jewellery.


The sack of coins was labelled The Price of Avarice as the wealthy family who lived in the house from which it was retrieved had felt the tremors of an impending earthquake but , rather than flee from their home to safety, made for the cellar to rescue their wealth first, being crushed to death moments later. 


The two thousand year old mosaics are still as breathtakingly lovely as they must have appeared when they were first laid and I could hardly tear my eyes away from the gold jewellery, adorned with cherubs.



















We took a slow walk back, stopping midway for lunch - at almost 3pm we were finally starting to feel hungry. We ordered Greek salads for Jon & Tony and a Cretan salad for me, accompanied by complimentary freshly-baked bread, tap water, beetroot & mint butter, a carafe of raki and a bowl of sheep's milk ice cream.



Back in Chania's old town we stopped at Platinas 1821 for a restorative beer. 


After showers, a siesta and a can of beer on the roof, we headed into town for the night.
  


We ended up in a restaurant set in a garden beneath the Byzantine city walls, run for over twenty years by an Albanian man, his family and four cats, one of which sat on my lap for most of the night, only moving when she smelt Tony's slow roasted lamb chops.


Despite the late night we were up bright and early the next day. Although she'd been renting out her rooms for 38 years Sophia had only been listing them on Booking.com for a year and, due to some mix-up, she'd overbooked our rooms so it was all change - we moved into Tony's room and he moved into a room on the ground floor - as we'd only got a small bag each, it was no trouble to pack and, of course, she presented us with a massive tray of freshly baked pastries to sweeten the task.


Leaving Sophia to clean the rooms, we walked across to the new town to catch the 9.30am bus to Rethymno, Crete's third largest city where you may remember, we spent three days back in 2020 (see HERE).

An hour and a quarter later and we were outside a cafe in the twisting city streets, enjoying an iced coffee and doing a spot of people watching.


Due to its proximity to the port, Rethymno is a lot more touristy than Chania, and at weekends huge swathes of cruise ship parties engulf you at every corner. There's loads of street hawkers peddling roses, packets of tissues and fake Rolexes but it's still a beautiful and atmospheric city.





Whilst posing by the Venetian fountain it occurred to me that I stood in exactly the same spot in the same dress, eighteen months earlier.












Although we'd visited before, we couldn't resist another peek at the Rethymno Archaeological Museum, beautifully curated, well-signed and again, full of mind-blowingly beautiful artifacts thousands and thousands of years old.
 

The museum shop is pretty incredible, selling replicas of some of the exhibits, including a life-size bronze statue of Apollo, sadly, well beyond our budget.


We hiked up the hill to the Venetian Fort. When we'd visited in 2020, at the height of the pandemic, we'd had it to ourselves. This time we had to share.

































Back in the old town, it was time for lunch; three beers, a Greek salad for me, chicken for the boys plus complimentary baklava, bread and tap water.




 
We walked off our lunch with a wander around the harbour before catching the 4pm bus back to Chania.




After showers and the customary beer on the roof, we found a cool bar within the bombed-out ruins of an ancient Venetian house followed by a superb dinner at The Well of the Turk, a restaurant we'd loved on our last visit.







Tony was particularly excited to find Patatas Bravas on the menu, a dish we'd devoured almost daily on our trip to Alicante back in March. For the full menu click the link HERE.




It was a fairly early night for us, we'd a coach to catch at 7.30am the following day. Our Greek Odyssey continues....

42 comments:

  1. Oh I so want to go to Greece! I can feel myself physically unwinding just reading your post. I'm with Tony. It's impossible to believe the age of those artefacts - so well preserved. Some uncharitable folks might say that life for some Brits hasn't changed all that much. ;-) Aside from the incredible culture, I spy a cool car amongst your photos and some beautiful - and now very familiar - earrings. xxx

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    1. You really do need a Greek holiday, I hope you can squeeze one in eventually and see those incredible artifacts for yourself. Walking through Walsall yesterday morning we witnessed a scrap between two pissed-up women at 8.45am - I think you're right about many Brits still being cave dwellers!
      That was one seriously sexy motor, I was dying to see who owned it! xxx

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  2. Thank you for bringing some light and sunshine into my life today.

    I was planning to work in the garden - but it is raining, the clouds are so low I have a light on next to my desk and it's cold. ☹️

    I love all your posts, but it's the ones like this which give me itchy feet, stir up wanderlust.

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    1. I wish I could have brought home some of that heat and sunshine, Jayne. I've forced myself to have bare legs and go without a jacket since I got home but I might have to cave in soon! xxx

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  3. Another lovely post. Chania certainly is beautiful. I have enjoyed tagging along again!

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    1. Thanks, Carole! Chania is stunning, we loved it the first time we visited but with that snow-capped mountain backdrop, it was astonishing! xxx

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  4. How absolutely lovely!
    I adore the leather jewellery. I still have the Walsall leather bangle I got on one of my trips to see you 🙂 xx

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    1. I'd forgotten the Walsall bangle - happy days! I would have loved one of his bags but ar £120 I'd have been scared to get it dirty! xxx

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  5. I know not the same, but when we were at the British Museum, my daughter kept track of finding the oldest things as she was so amazed. The Museum visits in Greece have to be a must. The food all seems so incredible but to have in the settings you describe, so wonderful.

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    1. I'm fascinated by old things. There's an Egyptian straw sandal in Birmingham's Museum and Art gallery that's 4000 years old, I still can't get my head round that no matter how often I visit it! xxx

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  6. Beautiful photos! Thanks for sharing :)

    Abdel | Infinitely Posh.

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  7. Love this and so nice Tony is coming with you. Thanks.

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  8. Just marvellous. The museum artefacts are astounding. All the food is so fresh-looking. We ought to be able to grow and make similar in this country but unfortunately, our preoccupation for having perfectly round tomatoes on our plates prohibits us! (Film tip for you 'The Worst Person in the World' but you'll have to subscribe to Amazon Prime Video and watch it through the 'Mubi' free trial deal....yes, a bit of a faff but it's an outstanding film).

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    1. Thank you! It was hard to tear myself away from those exhibits, Jon said he was starting to get potted out with the amount of ceramics on display, I'll have to take Keith Brymer-Jones with me next time.
      Thanks for the film tip, if you enjoyed The Worst Person in the World I know we will! I shall hunt it down. xxx

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  9. Greetings from Miami, Florida, USA! Have been a fan of your blog for years! Love it and love your travel posts...so informative and such beautiful photography! If you're ever in my part of the world, I would love to be your personal tour guide! Have a wonderful day!

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    1. Hello Martha and thank you so much for the lovely comment! Jon has always wanted to visit Miami, I might have to take you up on that offer one day! xxx

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  10. I feel totally relaxed after reading your post and seeing all those beautiful photos!
    Those earrings and leather wrapped bangle are gorgeous and the perfect souvenirs to remind you of your trip. As for the artefacts in Chania's Archaeological Museum - and those in Rethymno's - they are simply mind-blowing!
    That photo of you wearing that orangey red dress with the deep blue sea as a backdrop is stunning, while another favourite is the row of terracotta pots against the oxblood red shutters! Thank you for letting me tag along and gently ease me into holiday mood, even if our destination isn't quite so exotic! xxx

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    1. Thanks so much, Ann! I'd have loved one of those gorgeous bags but the earrings and bangle were a decent compromise! I'd been very restrained and had saved that dress to wear especially in Crete, Tony couldn't believe how many people stopped me and told me how beautiful it was, the brilliant blue light seemed to compliment it perfectly! xxx

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  11. Evening Vix, so glad you are back and posting! I so need the tonic of your posts at the mo. Now you know I keep changing my mind well here is a new favourite photo alert... the one of you in the red dress with the beautiful view behind you! I agree with Polyester Princess - stunning but then really how can you choose one from all these beautiful shots. I bet showing Tony around made it all fresh for you and Jon again. These travel posts are just divine. Shazx

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    1. Hello Shaz! Lovely to hear from you, I hope all's well with you. I could never tire of looking at that view and would have happily sat on that bench forever if I hadn't have been so hungry! xxx

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  12. So glad you had a fabulous time. Lots of glorious colour and all those ancient artefacts be still my beating heart. The jewellery always fascinates me...pieces which are as wearable today as the day they were made. Arilx

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    1. Thanks so much! You would be in your element in the museums. The jewellery is beyond amazing, I can't believe how intricate and beautiful it is. xxx

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  13. I'm loving these travel blogs (in fact love your blog in general) ,feel like I've been there with you as I've wanted to visit Crete since reading Natural Born Hero's by Christopher McDougall, really looking forward to the next post.

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    1. Thanks so much, Adrienne. I've added Christopher McDougall's book to my book list! I hope you get to visit Crete soon. xxx

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  14. Your post takes me back! I loved our trip to Creta and Chania and Rethymno is particular. We took it mid-late May as well but used bicycles for transportation. They have lovely flat-ish roads for this. At least it was that way several years ago. Chania is amazing, I hope to return there one day. The mosaics and the museum are so beautiful, it’s awesome you liked it too. It’s good to see the place blooming these days too.

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    1. I saw quite a lot of people cycling, the cycle paths in Rethymno are particularly good, a lot better than the ones we have at home. I hope it isn't too long before you travel back to Greece and this time you'll be taking Ada Maria! xxx

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  15. very athmospheric in every corner and at day and night! but you were very busy - no lazy beach days in sight :-D
    the museums sound stunning indeed - well worth more then one visit. and - again - food........
    xxxx

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    1. I know - only two visits to the beach in a week which means we have to go back and rectify that soon! xxx

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  16. What an amazing adventure and your photos are glorious! So much to see and do - can see you did not waste a moment!😊Love that Tony is enjoying it so much too! x

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  17. And now I fancy a Greek salad for lunch!
    A lovely read in a grey rainy day xx

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  18. Any time I have visited Europe, I have had the same reaction as Tony about how old everything is, and that is just major cities like London and Paris. Your photos are wonderful and convey a real sense of place. Glad you had such a wonderful time and Tony enjoyed his first taste of Greece.

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    1. It's hard to get your head around how civilised the Greeks were especially things like the wine glasses and the intricate jewellery. xxx

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  19. I like the sound of Sophia! What a wonderful experience you're giving Tony; he looks suitably impressed and very happy; as do you all. The weather looks great and I'm loving the all the wonderful flowers and planting; I spotted bear's breeches in one of the photos. The new archaeological museum looks wonderful. Loving the leather earrings and leather covered bangle. The food sounds and look so delicious; one would be tempted to visit for the food alone!
    xxx

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    1. Tony absolutely loved his first visit to Greece, it was like travelling there for the first time seeing his reaction to the colour of the sea, the sunsets and the wonderfully hospitable Greeks. I was very excited to spot he bear's breeches running riot, I think ours has gone mad this year, I've counted at least six spikes! xxx

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  20. Oh the wildflowers really are something aren't they! What a shame you couldn't get the life size Apollo (could you have snuck a cannon ball into your bag?) but the leather earrings are fab :) x

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    1. The wildflowers were incredible, I loved the profusion of Bear's Breeches! xxx

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  21. Wow, that Price of Avarice story is a good one!

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Lots of love, Vix