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April 25, 2006

Day trip to whatsitsname

Rethymno It already feels like an eternity since we were travelling every day, so on Monday we decided to have a day out. Our original intention had been to go to the village of Argyroupolis, but with everything pretty much being shut for Easter Monday, we opted for the safer bet of the bigger town of Rethymno.

Although with me buying the tickets we were pretty lucky to get there at all. For some reason I have an absolute mental block about how to pronounce the city's name, and all day claimed to be visiting Rithmino, Rethimnon, Rathmenoy, and all sorts of manner of anagrams and nearly-quite-right versions of Rethymno. Compared to this, whether Hania should have a 'C' or not was mere child's play. I'm fairly sure that in the bus station I did the equivalent of asking for tickets in the UK to "Manterchest" or "Birmhamming".

We reached the town around 9:30am, and the bus station is a little bit outside of the centre or the harbour area. Things didn't look too promising at first, as nearly everything seemed shut, but once we got into the more touristy areas most things were open.

We were spoilt for choice for somewhere to stop for morning coffee, so started dithering, but eventually settled on somewhere in the old Venetian harbour. I fancied a milk-shake, Claire fancied a snack to eat - and it turned out that out of the hundred-or-so cafes in Rethymno we'd picked one that did neither. So we both just ordered coffee, and then discovered they had another menu as well, and we could have had what we had wanted after all.

Lighthousegirls We have been in Hania for just under a month now, and haven't walked all around the harbour wall to reach the Venetian lighthouse there yet - so naturally we did that straight away in Rethymno as if it was the main attraction. I say straight away, but in fact it took a little while - the walkway was single-file only, and we were held up at every turn but a couple of girls who seemed to want to take a picture of each of them individually against every possible background on the walk to the lighthouse.

We then walked through the back-streets, and found them really charming. In fact, so charming, that we started reassuring ourselves that we had actually made the right decision to live in Hania and not in Rethymno. It was very picturesque - but, we conceded, picturesque doesn't also mean shops where you can buy furniture or electrical goods, or having decent local bus connections.

We stopped at a very pretty little Orthodox church and peered inside. Claire said "You can go in if you want".

"No it's OK, I always feel a bit awkward about going into Orthodox churches, because I'm not Orthodox" I explained.

"Not Orthodox? You're not even religious!" Claire pointed out rather accurately.

I don't know why though - I think it must be a familiarity thing. I'm quite happy to barge into any number of Western Christian churches, Protestant or Catholic, but I'm quite nervous about going into Orthodox churches.

We stopped for lunch at one of places outside of the old harbour - Kaliston - with a very congenial host. Every joke and trick in the book came out - announcing my milkshake as a "Whiskey cola - you're not driving are you sir?", and initially serving Claire an empty plate for her main meal. We got free shots of Raki to finish, although since we'd also both been bamboozled into have cheesy-garlic bread as a starter (when we'd thought he was asking which type of bread I wanted with my souvlaki), it didn't work out that cheap. We enjoyed it though - although we wished we had spotted the mistake they had made with their sign earlier - promising a four course set meal for €2 each instead of €24!

After lunch we walked around the coastline past the old fort to get back to the bus station. We didn't have to wait long for the bus, and as we drew out of the station I wished the city farewell - "Goodbye Rapunzel!"

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