Posts Tagged ‘ Sea ’

Crete: Discovering the West

Discover the west.

This was an organised excursion through thomson/first choice that I hadn’t really wanted to do beforehand, but after missing out on Phaestos and Gortys, I agreed to this trip. So after a whole day relaxing by the pool we set off on a trip to Hania via Souda Bay and followed by a visit to a small family business where they make olive oil, raki, ouzo and wine.

As the first stop, Souda Bay was possibly my favourite place of the day and I really had not expected that. It’s a simple stop and there is little point in staying there too long. It’s a war cemetery for the allied forces that lost their lives during WW2 on Crete. I believe there’s also a German cemetery further west. The immaculate and uniformed rows of headstones aren’t all labelled but a good portion are and there are lovely poetic red flowers blooming in and around them. At least they were blooming when I was lucky enough to visit.

From Souda Bay we continued west to Hania and,  I have to say, at first I was disappointed. I think the memories of Rhodes were far too prominent in my mind becausr I was expecting Hania’s Venetian fortress to be like the walls of Rhodes old town. Except they’re barely even still there. I was expecting the ‘brilliant’ shopping of Hania to resemble the winding atmospheric traditional lanes of Rhodes old town. Nope. Not that shopping on holiday excites me. It just didn’t look how I’d pictured it. I was picturing Rhodes!

Not wanting to shop or go in the museum (because all the books say Heraklion’s are better) we opted to wander around the harbour and find somewhere to have lunch. It might have been touristy and not 100% traditional but the lunch we shared felt pretty damn Greek to me. We shared a mixed grill and it was meatylicious! Plus we got to watch the world go by until we walked along the harbour front with all the Venetian facade buildings.

We did then spend a little bit too long waiting for the coach as did quite a few others. Which perhaps wasn’t made better by the final stop. I did find the methods for making raki and ouzo fascinating (I must still try raki) but it wasn’t essential and was not on the itinerary along with the twenty odd minutes that we got to spend at lake Kournas – it was a lake!

In the end I enjoyed the trip more than I had expected but in hindsight I might not do it again. The fantastically relaxed meal by the harbour could have been done anywhere and the raki making wasn’t good enough. Souda Bay was definitely worth a visit but could perhaps have been done on public transport. So, this Thomson excursion was a bit of a bust.

~ Persephone M

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Crete
http://www.hania.net/history.php
http://www.interkriti.org/crete/hania/chania_city.html
http://www.completely-crete.com/raki.html
http://www.thomsonexcursions.co.uk/

Greece: Crete

Crete was the second Greek Island I’ve so far been fortunate to get to visit and my third time in Greece all together as I started my obsession with all things Greek in 2009 on my honeymoon to Athens. The first island I was able to tick off of my wish list was Rhodes which I visited last April and the other week I spent a whole seven days in Crete.

I mainly travel to see the ancient sights and then other famous sights by default, so I picked Crete for Knossos and then decided afterwards that I also had to see the Samaria Gorge whilst there. I’d also wanted to visit Phaestos and Gortys (Ancient Roman and Greek sites, with Knossos being earlier still and Minoan), but the holiday company I was with weren’t running trips to either of them and other companies were but on the wrong days. I guess that’s the problem with picking one side of a fairly large island, and only visiting for one week if certain trips are only on one day of the week. There wasn’t much I could do about it other than rewind time, learn to drive and then hire a car out there although the winding mountain roads are bloody scary so it might not have solved anything.

Needless to say the inability to visit these two locations did put a little dampner on my trip and, along with the Knossos and Gorge trips, I also booked a trip to Hania, which I had not been fussed about.

We stayed in a lovely small-ish all inclusive hotel just outside of Rethymno town centre, although we did not make it into Rethymno itself (which in hindisght was probably an error, oh for more than 7 days!) even when we were told that the Olympic flame was passing through on our first day there! I’ve stayed in quite a few all inclusives now and like them for certain types of holidays. Holidays for me are either city breaks (Rome, Paris, Athens) where there’s a good public transport system, English isn’t uncommon and I can wander around on my own – or at least with my husband or friends. Then there are the beach holidays, the relaxation holidays where not every day is jam packed with places to visit and things to see. My husband prefers these, but after a holiday to Domincan Republic where we spent 14 days sitting by a pool, I refused to do a whole holiday of nothing.

This is the smallest pool (freshwater), shaped perfectly for lane swimming, which is what I used it for. Would have loved one of the apartments that opened up onto it!

He “allowed” me three days of trips/excursions on this holiday, as long as the other three full days consisted of him sitting in a pool bar drinking as mauch as he wanted. We both like to be in all inclusives and not have to worry about where to find food at night, or how much money it will all cost. Although, in Greece especialy, I do like to branch out to somewhere else for at least one meal for a more authentic feel. Usually there’s at least one day of the husband sitting in the pool bar from as early as they open until I drag him out as the sun’s setting. In fact, more often than not as soon as breakfast is done, he’s by the pool drinking beer whilst I’m drinking water – oddly I seem to think that water is good for during the day when the sun’s hot!

We opted for the Greek night in the taverna (one night in the taverna free per week for AI), but the food wasn’t all that brilliant and I preferred the main restaurant.

The hotel we stayed in – the Aquila Rethymno – was different to other all inclusives that we’ve been to. Perhaps because it’s also half board, but there are no pool bars (a huge shock to my husband), but a very lovely beach bar, which was far nicer than any other beach bar we’ve been to. I put it down to a certain little bit more class than other AIs, just in that no one could sit in a pool all day long without even getting out to urinate. That being said there weren’t that many toilets outside so perhaps they should have ignored that. In the end I quite liked the slightly classier feel to the alcohol side of things. Yes, on our first evening I was a bit concerned with the guidance that even on AI, certain drinks had to be paid for in the restaurant even when they’re free in the bar. It didn’t include wine and in some respects should you be drinking spirits whilst eating your evening meal?

The sea was really rough, but there were people in it despite how the waves breaking easily kept knocking them to the ground.

The whole ambience of the hotel seemed nicer than most other places we’ve stayed in and I really loved the hotel. It’s one of the first that I’ve said I’d go back to, if I were one to re-visit a holiday destination, which given the things I wanted to see and missed perhaps I will. It wasn’t completely perfect but I’m not sure where is. For example, I found it kind of odd that the bedrooms were carpeted, but with people encouraged to not walk through the reception and hotel wet from swimming, bedroom floors aren’t likely to get wet. And the carpets made a refreshing change from the oft used floor tiles which are always cold on your feet no matter the climate.

The lack of bars during the day (the interior lobby bar doesn’t open until about 4pm) is made up with the fact that there are three outdoor swimming pools (one of which is salt water) and during the week we were there, barely had anyone in. The beach is part of the resort and not across a main road or a few blocks walk away and is private for the Aquila and whilst there is a main-ish road out the front if you’ve got a sea view room it’s barely audible – I had more problems from the noise of the birds waking me up or the bar music keeping me awake. And the noisy bar was my only real complaint and that was only because it was loud one night until 1am and I was up at 5am for the Samaria Gorge walk. Other nights it was just as noisy, but I slept through it or stayed up without caring, the night I needed to get ready for the longest walk of my life, I cared!

This is the view to the right from our balcony with the lobby beneath. Very nice place to relax but could be a bit noisy at night.

The balcony view to the left, the beach!

The food in the main restaurant was more than fine. Every dinner they had the same spaghetti option along with plain rice and then various other varied foods. I can be a bit picky with meat and there was only one evening where I didn’t want to eat anything other than vegetables (and spaghetti, which I could have eat every evening!). Breakfasts were the same every morning and the standard choices of bacon, sauages, eggs (fried, scrambled, boiled), beans, mini pancakes (with syrup) and the usual variety of croissants, cake and bread. It’s also standard because it isn’t “british” bacon or “british” suasages, but as with any AI it has to cater for all tastes and although I could have done with a proper fry up, I was happy to settle for mini chipped potatoes rather than hash browns. Lunch times were the only time I saw chips and both lunch and dinner had a nice variety of puddings – I love baklava! And apple cake! And the cherry cream cake thing they had! There’s also fresh fruit at every meal.

I created this in the main restaurant with the plain and bolognaise sauce, sweetcorn from the salad bar, meatballs and pureed garlic from the side. It was scrummy!

For once I didn’t over indulge completely on food, which might suggest that they didn’t have enough yummy choices for me, but I was actually pleased. Nothing jumped out as being authentically Greek, but AI never have to me so it wasn’t a problem. I got the real taste and flavours of Greece on the excursions I did, more of which later!

~ Persephone M

Tsunami – Poem

As the waters recede rapidly,
A calm falls over the scene,
Not a birdsong or a dolphin call,
Is piercing the silent, salty air,
Revealing the smaller life,
The crabs and the baby fish,
All scuttling around for life,
Taking with it the grains of time,
Slowly, slowly, retreating reality.
And then…
The calm is broken,
The serene scene is shattered,
The peace is hacked to pieces,
Tumultuous churning invades it all,
Rising higher and higher, reaching,
Climbing up to the sky,
As blue meets blue,
Waves and waves,
Rolls and rolls,
All fighting their way to the top,
To the air and life.
Until…
Boom!
Crashing down on the peaceful shingle,
Destruction in its path,
Eardrums shatter,
Salt rains down death,
Forcing air from lungs,
And the feet from the ground,
Can you swim, it seems to echo,
Can you survive the plummeting?
Will you regain your balance?
Will you be whole when you do?
It’s too late now. Ha-ha!
An entire ecosystem destroyed,
Left in its beaten state until…
Only time can heal it.

© Persephone M 16th January 2012

A new poem in this new year!

~P x

Memories of Last Year and to Make this Year

I booked my early summer holiday last weekend. After spending the week after Christmas trawling through my holiday guides, buying a few more and picking up brochures, I set my mind on Crete. I then decided on something a little different for my Monday Memories category because there’s not much about my recent travels (or older travels) on here.

Apparently I went to Crete when I was very little – far too little to remember, although we do have photos of me on a wind-surfer with some man. Don’t ask!

It’s quite exciting really – I’ll be able to cross off another of my Greek Island list and some more ancient Greek sites. For my honeymoon, my husband and I went to Egypt and Athens for all the sites. After the amazing Athens, last year I picked Rhodes and I was so impressed.

Rhodes old town is a Medieval town dating back to the Knights of St John and is technically too “late” for the time periods I love, but whilst there I was stunned and fell in love. People still live in the tiny homes built originally hundreds of years ago with the thinnest “roads” I have ever seen. It’s mainly all cobbled and the rows of buildings are strengthened by arches across the roads. It’s a fantastic thing to see, made even more crazy looking by the lack of cars aside from some very custom built ones.

Street of the Knights in Rhodes Old Town

The moat is dry, but there are still bridges and gates leading into the town and it’s not hard to imagine it in its heyday – a true fortified city. I was lucky enough to have two afternoons free time to wander around and only got caught in a bit of rain once! There are some older sites hiding in there, too, but most of it in the main town got built over and people still live there so they can’t go excavating. The museums were a bit of a let down, but were a distraction from the rain.

One of the bridges and gates into the city - possibly St John's

Before we went out there, I had already booked an afternoon and evening trip to Rhodes Old Town and a morning trip to Lindos to satisfy my “ancient” needs. Lindos is this amazingly tall little town, which at the bottom has windy little thin blocks of shops and homes again. Similar to Rhodes Town, it’s very odd walking around it in these narrow little lanes which to the inhabitants are main streets. It was a lot like little market areas here, but their town!

The overview of Lindos village from the acropolis 125m above it. It was among one of the most sacred sites in the ancient world.

Part of Lindos is from the Knights era, including the steps up it. I have to admit that I don’t mind being up high, but I don’t really like getting up there and walking the sometimes smooth steps with no railings and only a stumble away was a bit scary. Eventually you get up to the top and through the more “modern” areas to find yourself at the top and presented with the acropolis. It was that stuff that I went for!

Just some of the stairs leading up to the acropolis at Lindos

We went in April, over Easter, and so the weather wasn’t amazing – rain and cloud on and off. But, what this also meant was barely anyone there so photos of popular sites with no one else in and not having to struggle with the high summer temperatures and trying to climb to the top of anything. The pool was a bit chilly, but I was happy to sit and read after I got my trips sorted out.

This temple ruin is from the the third century BC and is just outside of Rhodes main town.

The other amazing thing about it being Easter was how the Christian people there celebrate it. We didn’t get to see any of the Good Friday or Easter Sunday processions, but on the second day in Rhodes Town, we were greeted by palm leaves strewn across the archways and fantastic paintings on them.

Just one of the images used with palm leaves.

Unfortunately for my husband, the hotel had a second trip that we didn’t know about until we got there which did the other coast of the island. Now, this took me to Kameiros which I had read about and was determined to see. It was a trek of a day, travelling between many many little towns (which really showed how the inhabitants really live) up and down into hills (didn’t help my headache), but I loved it. I consider myself quite fit, but walking to the top of that hill so I could look down on the remains of the ancient city, did take the puff out of my lungs!

Ancient Kameiros was possibly destroyed by a large earthquake in 142BC

I loved so much about the island of Rhodes – the view from my balcony of the sea beating down on rocks, the little walk to a rocky outcrop for some “rock-climbing”, to the ancient and slightly newer sites, the food and the quietness of being off season. I’m so glad that I’d already set my heart on visiting more Greek islands and my fingers are crossed that Crete can live up to the memories of Rhodes.

The lowest point on the Western coast - Monolithos and a sheer drop!

I’ll be in another all inclusive hotel, just outside of a little town which apparently has a nice harbour (Rhodes Town harbour) where I can perhaps try and eat an authentic little Greek meal because AI isn’t always that great. I don’t need a beach that’s swimmable, but one that has character and something unique about it – picturesque – is important. Funky chairs in the bar area is always fun and the sites of Knossos, Phaestos and Gortys could easily rival Lindos and Kameiros. Lastly, Crete has some of the best flora and fauna, I’ve read, so maybe I’ll even persuade the husband to come walk a gorge with me. What’s even better is this year I’ve opted for May – trying to balance the quiet of April with a bit more of the sun from July/August.

Less than four months to go!

~ Persephone M

Layers – Poem

Living high upon high, in a castle made of old, the sun glitters more,
There are gold flecks, trailing out across the hills just for them.
Living in their splendour, they want for nothing and don’t know pain,
Nor hope, nor light, nor the pressure from living beneath.


Living boxed in by concrete, pretending it could be silver, the sun’s faked,
Artificial food colouring pumped into the hydrogen-helium mix.
Until it builds and they’re wiped from their pitiful, elevated existence,
Easing the pain from their exhaust fuelled coughs and bloody sputters.



Living on the sea, riding the ups and downs, the sun reaches most,
Helping and aiding, guiding life along so nothing is a problem.
Hard work and toil, with a lump of luck, tans their skin until dark,
Hope, light, pain and pressure is a constant for them for now.



Living on the land, the green or the grey, occasional sun sputters through,
Nothing is handed out, nothing is taken for granted, yet their eyes see all.
Living for themselves, for the fakers and the golden, they still see hope,
And light and goodness. For now.



© Persephone Muse 16th November 2011

Remember

The soldier stands sentry over the poppies.

Are the residents just part of a smug-faced crowd?
And this lion watches over the dead with no grave and the dying day.
The Lion watches over the dead with no grave.

The harsh sea which has taken so many lives and, yet, is reborn itself everyday.

Just my little project in honour of Remembrance Sunday and every single service person who has ever given any part of their life to the defence and protection of freedom and this country. All titles are taken from poems recently posted here in honour of the day and can be found at my flickr account. For more information on the Portsmouth Naval Memorial, see the Memorials and Monuments in Portsmouth Site.

Thank you,

~ Persephone M

Morning Rays

Morning Rays by PersephoneM
Morning Rays, a photo by PersephoneM on Flickr.

I promised and so I deliver!

Via Flickr:
The sun soon after rising across Playa Car beach in Mexico. Caught just right behind the trees and the “rays” coming onto the walkway.
My first revealed image from the lovely holiday I have just come back from. Taken with one of my new cameras!

More to follow,

~PersephoneM