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June 30, 2006

Another trip to Rethymno

Rethymnocastle On Thursday I took a little trip out to Rethymno. We have been trying to get some cheap air tickets for Claire to come back for our visit to the UK, and found a deal with a travel agent based in Rethymno. I guess the price advantage was somewhat negated by me having to make a day trip there, but there you go.

I got Claire's usual bus to work with her, but when she got off I stayed on. The buses are very efficient on the island, but they really need to put an extra bus between Hania and Rethymno at 8:30am. It always ends up jam-packed leaving hordes of tourists who can't fit on frustrated and stranded at the side of the road.

We'd noticed this particular travel agent on our previous trip to Rethymno, because it advertised cheap flights to the UK and we'd taken down the number. I found it again easily enough. Well, I say easily enough. I found it, and then announced I had arrived in Rethymno by falling over. Amazing to think I got all that way around Europe without so much as a slip, yet have crashed to the floor in Crete with alarming regularity. Must be some abnormal gravity effect of having moved nearer the equator - that is my excuse anyway!

This time the fall was quite spectacular, and after her initial concern would have had Claire rolling around with mirth I'm sure. I managed to step into a pothole in the road, go over on my left ankle, and then in trying to re-balance myself, I tripped over the kerb with my right foot. This sent me crashing into someone's shop window, which gave them quite a shock I should imagine.

The travel agents were really helpful, but couldn't confirm the booking because the UK office wouldn't be open until 11am our time. So I said I would come back later on.

I headed off to sight-see Rethymno on my own - which felt very sad when you think how used Claire & I are to travelling everywhere together.

Rethymnocastlemosque I first headed to the Venetian Fort on the headland. It was €3.10 to get in, and has some utterly spectacular views across the harbour, the town of Rethymno itself, and the inland of Crete. It also has that crazy thing that some Greek monuments have - some areas are roped off for your safety, whereas other areas are absolute death traps and you can easily plunge into the depths of the castle, or fall off the side. There isn't much left of the buildings except a mosque and a little chapel, but it was very peaceful up there.

Rethymnoart Inside one of the few remaining buildings there was an exhibition of artwork from Rethymno's Contemporary Art workshops. The age range of the students varied, so there were some very good serious pieces, and also some quite crazy children's art.

My next stop was the archaeological museum. This was €3 to get in, and I have to say a bit of a let down. It is only one room, and the collection is nowhere near as comprehensive or varied as that at Hania's equivalent museum. According to our guidebook it is meant to have the Lion of St Mark that used to stand as a symbol of Venetian rule on top of the entrance gate to Rethymno - but if it was there I didn't notice it.

I then visited the Nerantzes Mosque. You can't enter the mosque as it is now used as the municipal music conservatory, but it used to be a Venetian Church before being converted to a mosque by the Turks. The minaret dates from 1890 and is currently being restored - or posibbly just propped up, there didn't seem to be anybody actually working on it. I did get to have a quick peek inside the mosque though, as one of the side-doors was open, but since I was already disturbing some kid's piano lessons I didn't get to take any pictures, although I did hear some quite badly played music. Bless.

My next destination was to have been The Centre for Byzantine Art, which promised both exhibitions and a terraced cafe - however it was shut. I retraced my steps back to the Rimondi Fountain, and stopped in a cafe called Galero for a drink. I still had an hour to kill, and I'd pretty much seen everything I wanted to see, so I hung around there for a while, then took a roundabout route back to the travel agent. Everything went swimmingly there, until I nearly walked out without paying - but Claire has her ticket OK, and I got the bus back to Hania at 13:00, job done.

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