Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Monday, September 28, 2009
The rocky hillsides are covered with vast amounts of olive groves and goat herds -- many herds chose to lay in the roadway or at its side; it wasn't unusual to make a hairpin turn and find ourselves looking eye to eye with one or two goats. The silence of the hills was broken only by the sound of their hollow tinkling goat bells.
We stumbled across the Rethymno Tourism headquarters about 10:30 a.m. Sunday morning and found they had set up cocktail tables outside their building decked out with white table cloths and at one end of their courtyard they served tea and cookies and on the other end poured glasses of wine and appetizers. Inside tables were set up like a cruise ship buffet -- including the carved watermelons -- and all of which were Cretan specialities.
Another table offered brochures and information about the prefecture (county) of Rethymno. Staff members assured me this was an annual celebration and one it appears taken quite seriously. Back 'home' in Hania, we didn't get a chance to visit the tourism center, but noted two huge fireworks displays over the bay at nightfall.
Speaking of tourism, the Europeans are not paying heed to 'staycations' like Americans. This northwestern end of Crete is full of tourists, they are filling restaurants, spilling out on to the streets -- a fellow guest at Lefka Apts. tells us there are 15 flights a day from Norway to Crete. . . .tourism seems alive and well here - no wonder such spectacular celebrations.
Friday, September 25, 2009
Easy Jet with its cheapy flights to detinations throughout Europe was proudly announcing Starbucks was being served on board. It was: in instant packets. You could choose medium bodied and receive a tube of Columbian instant or strong and get the Italian instant and a cup of hot water. The cost 3E per cup. Starbucks hot chocolate - another powdered packet was 3E per cup and Tazo tea 2.50E.
We tried to buy instant packets at the Starbuck's in Chania, but the clerk said it hadn't yet arrived. . .he had only been shown packets by folks stopping by hoping to replenish their stock as we had been (we bought ours at Houghton in Kirkland).
As for Easy Jet, our aircraft was an Airbus - modern and comfortable.
On a final Easy Jet note, those of you who followed the packing know that we opted for the Rick Steves' travel plan: take carryon liquids, lighten the load, bring the bag with you no need to check it. . .it worked well on British Air but Easy Jet has a one bag limit carry-on and that bag could be a purse. . .so 16 pounds (about $25) each carryon bag later, our suitcases were checked. . .and I carried on the tiny liquids in a plastic bag in my purse; Joel carried the Netbook. The good news though is I get to buy all sorts of olive oil beauty items from hair masques to foot creams and for a fraction of the price I would pay back home!
Thursday, September 24, 2009
Saturday, September 19, 2009
Thursday, September 17, 2009
We also use http://www.venere.com/ which offers accommodations ranging from luxury to cheap places. Another favorite: http://www.greeka.com/
We usually double check http://www.tripadvisor.com/ to see what other travelers might have said about the place. While opinions can vary widely, if a place gets high ratings many times, we don't hesitate to book it. Such is the case with the Lefka Apartments we have booked in Chania. Trip Advisors comment that they couldn't believe a place was as good as that described by other travelers until they arrived and experienced it. We will report in after our arrival.
We also found on our last trip to Greece that people do wait at the ferry dock with hand-printed signs advertising rooms for rent at incredibly low prices. . .so armed with our web sites and sense of adventure, we are holding fast to the plan to have no reservations in Greece and no set island destination other than our first week in Crete (and that is because we knew we wanted to further explore Crete and would easily fill a week or more doing just that).
Thursday, September 3, 2009
Actually as the departure date nears, we have added a stop to our return, so we know where we will be for the first week (Chania, Crete) and the last five nights. We've included 5 nights in Paris to our return routing, thanks to Mr. Marriott and those loyalty points that lured us in to a timeshare purchase two years ago. (http://www.marriottvacationclub.com/). We will fly from Athens to Paris on EasyJet, the cheapie airline for $73E p/p. (http://www.easyjet.com/).
As for yesterday's bombing in two Greek cities (one at the Athens Stock Exchange) . . .we are still heading to Greece, as of this writing. The BBC reports that the bombers called a local newspaper alerting folks to the bomb and allowing police to seal off the area before it detonated. Couldn't help but wonder if they used the news tip line?
Jackie took the photos on this post in Naousa on the north coast of Paros, an island in the Cyclades. We took the public bus ($2.40E) from where we were staying to this once-fishing-village, turned somewhat touristy-fishing village.