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May 06, 2006

Colin Barry

Kolimbari1 On Friday the three of us went for a day out to Kolimbari, or Colin Barry as we soon took to calling it.

It is about 25k outside of Hania, or 40-odd minutes on the bus. The buses are roughly every half-hour, so we ended up on the 10 o'clock bus. The bus follows the coast road, and took us the furthest west we have been on the island. We passed through Kato Stalos (where we nearly ended up living), Agia Marina, Platanias and Maleme, which formed a pretty much unbroken line of tourist development with tavernas, apartments and souvenir shops on either side of the road. Typically, just as this gave way to the middle on nowhere, the bus shuddered to a halt, the conductor called out "Kolimbari", and we were there.

Our guide book described it as a place that "appeals to those seeking a quiet, relaxing holiday". Well, they weren't wrong. There really was very little there. We walked down towards the sea from where the bus dropped us off, passing Crete's "Fishing Museum", which looks like a relatively new building development.

Kolimbari2 It was very cold, and we all needed a "comfort break", so we headed to find a taverna that was open. The sea front didn't really have a main promenade, you just sort of headed down side alleys from the main street and found yourself on the beach. We settled on a taverna, and had some quick coffees. The sea was extremely rough, and whilst we huddled indoors the waves were crashing against the outside of the taverna, constantly coming over the walls and spraying anyone foolish enough to be trying to sit outside.

After coffee we walked through the town and made our way to the Gonia Monastery. It was really very sweet, with a beautiful old church which housed a large number of icons and two beautiful side chapels. There was a museum there with an additional collection of icons, but it was near closing time by the time we arrived, so we didn't bother. To be honest I think Claire had more than her fill of icons during our trip around Europe.

We headed back into town and picked the Argentina Taverna as a place that looked nice, and seemed to promise some good fresh fish. Well, it turned out to be a very odd choice. We sat down and waited, and nobody came. We started wondering if it was actually open. The doors were open wide and all the tables were set - but there was no sign of any waiter or waitress. There was a bloke in the room with us cleaning out a fridge unit, and we could see people moving around in the kitchen, but nothing happened. Claire got up and helped herself to the menus, clanking past chairs as she went to draw attention to us, but still nothing happened. After another five minutes we got up, and very noisily left, hoping that might attract attention. The guy in the room with us didn't even turn around. Very odd.

We ended up having a really nice lunch though, in a taverna on the sea-front, opposite where we had first had coffee. Suitably stuffed, we made our way back to the bus stop, and were really lucky that we didn't even have to wait five minutes before our return bus arrived. The trip was €2.60 each way, which was really good value. We liked Kolimbari, but it was the kind of place that was far too sleepy for us to have moved to. The more we move around Crete, the happier I am that being on the outskirts of one of the bigger cities here is just the right place for us.

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I've enjoyed reading your stuff. I lived in Hania in 84/85 with my to-be wife and we loved it. We lived in K. Mitsotakis street (if you know it). We were there for about 3 months then suddenly began speaking and understaqnding enough Greek which made a fantastic difference to the quality of our life.

Good Luck with everything. It's a great place to be - we're going back for a holiday this summer.


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