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March 27, 2006

Early morning in Hania

20060327bWhen we reached Hania's old Venetian harbour for the first we stood on the corner for twenty minutes or so, just taking it in turns to have little exploratory walks, and watching the sky gradually lighten as dawn arrived. One of the bars was already open, so just after seven we plonked ourselves down in Cafe Remezzo for a drink and a bite to eat for breakfast.

After having imagined it for so long it was hard to believe we were here and that our travels were over. For a long time at work I had a picture of the harbour as the desktop wallpaper on my computer, and to suddenly see the scene in front of me for real was a little surreal.

However, we didn't have an ideal start to our Hania experience.

We'd got off the bus from the port at Souda and dumped our stuff on the pavement. Whilst we were sorting ourselves out I noticed one, two, three, four, and more, dead cockroaches on the pavement. O-Kaaaaay. We got our kit back on pretty quickly, and started to head for the Venetian harbour. We found it quite difficult to orientate the map in the dark, as it was still pre-dawn, and we struggled to find any street signs.

Eventually, having got on the right track, the inevitable finally happened. Having travelled through all of the ice and the snow, and through all the going up and coming down steps, for the first time in the whole of our travelling, one of us fell arse over tit whilst wearing their backpack and carrying all their other gear.

To add to the comedy, rather like Didier Drogba in the penalty area, I went down in instalments, with all the grace of a new-born baby elephant. I'd tripped over the last of a small flight of steps that projected out into the pavement, so was fortunate enough that I was able to break my fall on the higher steps. I wasn't hurt, and although Claire wanted to get the backpack off me and make me have a rest, I stubbornly insisted that we press on and get to the harbour. In truth I think if I had taken the backpack off at that moment I wouldn't have been able to face putting it on again.

We crossed the road, walked a little way down a street, and then we found ourselves at the harbour. It was fenced off with chains marking it as 'No Entry' to cars, which Claire deftly walked around. I, though, chose to step over them, thinking to myself "I must be careful not to trip over these" at exactly the same moment as my trailing leg got enmeshed in them, and I nearly came crashing down for the second time in five minutes. I have to say I was just exhausted, and my legs were a dead weight.

We felt much better sitting sipping our coffee in the warmth of Cafe Remezzo. Entertainment was even laid on for us - a couple of pigeons got stuck inside, and were hurling themselves at the plastic sheeting that formed the walls of the outside bit of the cafe. They were doing so right above the table of one of the cafes four other customers, and she was sent scurrying as the birds fluttered in a panic all around her. It was then we noticed that a little cat had managed to climb up one of the awnings, and was additionally stalking the pigeons from above.

It didn't turn out to be the relaxing drink we wanted for long though. Firstly an entire party of teenage schoolchildren descended on the harbour. We guessed they had maybe also arrived on the early morning ferry. Anyway, they were let loose, and like sheep all thirty/forty of them decided to sit in the same cafe - ours. The noise level upped considerably as I'm sure you can imagine. Just as we were getting used to that noise, a bunch of guys arrived and started digging up the pavement on the corner with a pneumatic drill. And then another guy started emptying all of the neighbourhoods used gas canisters into a van. And then a sewage truck arrived to start suctioning out the content of the drains. By now we could barely hear ourselves think, but Claire managed to convey that it was just like the start of an episode of spoof science show "Look Around You" on noise pollution.

Which didn't make the ideal time to phone the place where we were staying - as we could barely understand what the man was saying. In the end we understood that someone would meet us at our apartment, so we should go there. I'd already found it on one of our scouts around the harbour and the surrounding back-streets, so we gathered up all of our possessions, and headed for our new home.

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A lemon tree of our own

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