Through my eyes

living my life without regrets

Thursday, June 08, 2017

GREECE: Crete - Spring Time Vacation

Lots of Trees In Bloom
Greece in spring time; budding trees, the sheep have lambs. We wore a light jacket during the morning hours; the temps were not hot yet. For 3 plus weeks we lived on the Island of Crete and lived like Cretans. Through Airbnb we found an apartment in Heraklion, the capital city of Crete. Our 2nd floor apartment slept 5 so the 2 of us had plenty of space. There were sliding glass doors from every room to a long balcony that had a table and 2 chairs. Everything was within walking distance 
Apt. Living Room
 of 3 minutes or less: The super market, a bakery, a butcher, a green grocer, etc. The bus that took us in 15 minutes to downtown Heraklion stopped in front of the apartment building. The fare per person, one way, was Euro 1.20. How can you beat this price and convenience for a one-way trip of Euro 2.40 for both of us, when a taxi would set us back 12 Euros? We had found a perfect setup. We did our own cooking. The apartment even had a new washing machine (with instructions in Greek so the landlord helped us) and the landlady left us cookies, muffins, eggs, coffee, sugar and cream when we arrived. 
Long Balcony, Runs the Length of the Apt.

Ah, Greece!  You have not lived if you have not lived in Greece for a while. The tempo of life is different here. The people are friendly, albeit a bit reserved because, obviously, we were tourists. We did stand out in the neighborhood. Folks sat and had their coffee and watched us wander past. The supermarket checkout girls knew us after just 2 visits. The bakery personal tried their best English on us. We slept in as late as we could in the morning. Easy to do, the neighborhood was very 
Apt. Elevator Only Big Enough For Two With Groceries
 quiet. Parking is at a premium but we had no car, so it did not matter to us. Sundays, people went to church, we watched them go. There were lots of mopeds and motorcycles buzzing around, some are in a terrible state of repair but they ran. They were used as transportation, 2 or 3 up, getting from point A to point B. 

Local Vehicles NOT Well Maintained
The area we lived in was a bit hilly, so true walking was a workout. We tried it, it was not fun. We tried to blend in as much as we could. This was not supposed to be a sight-seeing trip but a recovery from our India/Nepal/UAE sojourn. I used most of my time writing the India blog. The Wi-Fi was good enough to be in touch with people, so we were up to date with the latest news. 
We had all the conveniences of the modern world yet living in Greece is somehow different; heating the apartment for example. There was no central heating installed. Each room had a portable electric heater and what Greeks do is heat only the room they are in. When you are in the kitchen, you only heat the kitchen. When you are in the living room to read, you turn off all other heat, but keep the living room toasty. You go to sleep, turn off the heat in the living room, but it’s OK to lightly heat the bedroom if you like that. Where ever you are, you heat the room, but let the other rooms stay cool. 
Mix of Old and New In Heraklion

The water heater for the kitchen sink had a switch on the wall. To do the dishes, turn on the water heater, it heats the water almost instantly, since it is electric. Then, after you are done, turn it off. Want a shower? Not a problem, same thing, turn on the hot water heater and take your shower, good hot water comes out of the pipes. When you are done …. turn off the water heater. In the beginning it was a bit strange, but we got used to it. It makes total sense when you think about it.  It saves lots of energy and resources living like this. 
Lemon Tree
We met some people to just chat with; one was a ‘taxi’ driver. Well, he had a sign in the trunk of his car that he could just put on top of his car and then instantly he was a taxi driver. He would not work in the winter, but when the tourist season starts around April 15, he would be a taxi driver full time. It works for Greece. To take a taxi you ‘argue’ the price before you get into the car, then that is the fare you pay, the fare you agreed to. It is a simple but effective way to go about Crete, using a taxi …. but, it’s expensive. 
Prices at the supermarket were equal to prices paid anyplace in Europe. No real bargains, milk, eggs, bread, meats, fish, olives, cleaning supplies, whatever you can think of in a supermarket is available. Beer and wine was also available here. The problem was I could not read the labels. Almost everything is exclusively written in Greek. No Latin script is used. I tried to learn, but my brain seems frozen into the Latin Script. 
Our Afternoon Ritual, Cappuccinos In the Neighbourhood
Between getting to know the neighborhood, finding our way within the city, learning the bus routes, cooking with strange, new ingredients, having our afternoon baklava from the bakery and a cappuccino at the corner coffee shop the time flew past.  I am really good at letting life take me for a spin; to just drift along the river of life and watch other people do their thing. I can do this for days, weeks, even. The Greeks we saw seem to be good at this, too. Even the local priest was seen having his coffee, sitting on the bench with other men, just shooting the breeze. 
While we were in a large city (Heraklion is the 4th largest city in Greece), the immediate neighborhood seemed like county living. The rhythm of life is not as frantic as NYC. While busy enough during the day, it really quiets down at night. On Sunday mornings I felt like the only man on earth, sitting on the bench near the bus stop. There was nobody around. It was even too early for the church goers to show up at 7 AM (up early to get to the airport). Yet, I liked living like a Greek for a while. The world troubles, the Trump politics, the Wall Street race, the Money Talk all but disappeared. 

We lived in Greece for almost a month, maybe you would like this kind of living, too.
Yes, I would recommend giving up your ‘normalcy’ and becoming Greek for a few weeks. Airbnb might be a good choice for you to find a different point of view in this world.

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