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July 30, 2008

Multi-lingual Iraklio

Although Iraklio is now more urban and concrete then many of the other cities on Crete, it has still played a role in the island's amazing history. In the 800s it was known as Rabdh el Khandak under Muslim rule, then as Handakas under Byzantine rule. In the 1200s Venice took control of the island in the aftermath of the 4th Crusade, and the city became known as Candia. When the Turks arrived in 1648, Candia held out inside the fortified walls for a siege lasting 21 years. Probably as a result of that battle, in which the attacking forces...

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July 28, 2008

Nothing is sacred

Heraklion is a much bigger, noiser, more built-up and, dare I say it, grubbier city than Chania. It feels much more 'functional' than 'resort'. It is the little things that make it seem more urban - and one of those is the graffiti. Although you get a lot of graffiti all over Greece, and we've spotted plenty of stuff in Hania, it was noticeable that in Heraklion that even taboo things like monuments, statues and churches have been vandalised.

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July 25, 2008

Not the Natural History Museum

If we had a success with one historical museum in Iraklio, our other attempt at visiting one would in Internet geek circles be described as an 'Epic FAIL'. We wanted to visit the Cretan Natural History Museum, which are guide book said was due to open in a new building mid-2005. We figured giving them 3 years leeway was fair enough. Not so. The approach to the old ΔΕΗ building on the harbour front was a building site. The road was being relaid, and technically was closed, although that didn't appear to be stopping drivers using it as a short-cut...

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July 23, 2008

Popping into Pagopiion

On our Saturday night in Heraklion we had a big mixed sea food platter by the sea front. We then headed back into town to check out a bar called 'Pagopiion' described in our guide book as the most original bar on the island. It is situated just off the main square of the St. Titus church. We had a couple of drinks sitting outside, and, although they came accompanied by some interesting nibbles, we didn't really see what all the fuss was about. Until we went in to visit the toilets. It was gorgeous inside, with really elaborate decoration,...

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July 21, 2008

The Crete Historical Museum in Iraklio

For our latest trip to the UK we flew for the first time with EasyJet from Heraklion. We blew whatever money we had saved by spending the night before staying in the Lato Boutique hotel near the harbour of Crete's capital. Apart from a comedy trip up-and-down the wheelchair access ramp, the stay was very nice indeed. They do an excellent buffet breakfast, and there is hi-speed wired internet access in the rooms. The view from our balcony covered most of Iraklio's harbour front. We got the bus from Chania on the Saturday morning, and arrived at around lunchtime. Our...

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July 18, 2008

Chania's German War Memorial - then and now

I've been looking for some time for an original photograph of the German War Memorial that stands near our house. We spotted some in the Naval Museum in the Old Chania Harbour, but I've just found a very clear photograph in a book. The book in question is 'Documents From The Battle And The Resistance Of Crete' by George I. Panagiotakis. Apart from the Germaniko Pouli picture, there is lots of documentary evidence of the terrible time that the people of Crete endured during World War II. There are some brutal pictures of Nazi massacres and executions, as well as...

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July 16, 2008

Moni Gouvernetou, and not Moni Ioannou Erimiti

Moni Gouvernetou is about 5 kilometres away from Agia Triada, and a lot less welcoming. Actually, when we got there it appeared to have closed for lunch and we couldn't get in. We walked around the perimeter fence, which revealed the buildings to be a lot less attractive and much more run-down than Agia Triada. Some of the views out to sea over the peninsula were spectacular though, and worth the climb. There was also a memorial to people killed in the Second World War. Moni Gouvernetou also serves as the starting point for a trip to the third destination...

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July 14, 2008

Moni Agias Triadas on Akrotiri

On the last day of our friends visit we paid a visit to a couple of monasteries. I believe this was a clever ploy on the part of Claire to ensure that I actually went along, rather than making some excuse about "it being six days since I'd done any work and actually I was going to disappear somewhere with my laptop if nobody minded". We set of for the Akrotiri Peninsula, which is pretty close to us, but remains relatively unexplored since we don't usually have a car. Our first destination was Moni Agias Triadas. This is an absolutely...

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July 11, 2008

The ghosts of Frangokastello

One of the things that had attracted us to stay at Frangokastello last year was the ghost story attached to the castle. The Hora Sfakian region has always been a thorn in the side to whoever was trying to conquer and occupy Crete, and the fort was originally built by the Venetians in the 14th century, and later used by the Turks. The most famous rebellion occurred in 1828, when Hadzi Mihalis Dalanis and his 400-strong band of Cretan rebels lost a bloody pitched battle at the fort, but took twice as many Turks with them. On the anniversary of...

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July 09, 2008

The (rocky) road South

Last year, when Claire and I took our road trip around Crete, I seemed to be blogging about it bit-by-bit for months. Despite that, I never quite reached the last day, when we stayed in Frangokastello at Flisvos Apartments, which are literally on the beach. It is a beautiful place, and so this year we took our recent guests there for a day trip. It was partly because it has a nice beach, partly because it has a castle, and partly because of the spectacular, if terrifying, drive. The journey from Chania to Frangokastello means taking the main road south...

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A lemon tree of our own

  • The journal of a British couple who left the UK to set up home in Hania, Crete.
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