Travelblog 2007-1

Saturday, March 3, 2007
Weather: about 4°C and rain / about 15°C and sunny

Today we are finally going to Crete. We had to wait a long time for it, but finally. With all the time that has gone into the house, we can finally go to Crete after a year and a half. At eight o’clock Wim would pick us up and he himself was early. But we still had some stuff to clean up, so a little after eight we left. On the way we made two more stops, smoke break and coffee break. We had plenty of time. I had told Wim that we had to be at Schiphol three hours in advance, instead of two. I have known him longer than today. Two hours before that time, is check-in at ten-thirty. And if I let him keep three hours, we can just manage. And indeed, at a quarter past ten we were at Schiphol. First we exchanged tickets. We still had the tickets we wanted to use in November. We just had to exchange those for the right ones on the day itself. After we had the right tickets in our hands I felt a lot better. And everything was going well. The hand luggage check is strict. Hardly anything is allowed as hand luggage. Not even labello. At tax-free you can buy anything, but at the gate they check again. So no bottle of water. The plane left, very Greek, half an hour late. Nobody knows why, but nobody cares. At five o’clock we were in Athens. There we had to wait until 6:45 a.m. before we could check in again. Strict controls again. René even had to show his shag and the chewing gum had to be put in the bin. We were also searched. But everything goes pretty quickly and neatly, so no problem. At a quarter to eight we arrived in Crete. The suitcases took a while to arrive, but that is also part of the deal. Irini came to pick us up because Yorgos was smoking outside. We went straight to the center of Heraklion for a bite to eat. Only Yorgos had forgotten that neither of us loops fish. And then a fish restaurant is not such a good idea. Can happen. So we drove on to a kind of shoarma joint. Only with Greek food. We took Sakanaki, ham/cheese rolls, peasant salad, bread, for Rene and me pork chops with fries and for Irini and Yorgos lamb chops. And cola and beer. We were so full. We also caught up quite a bit right away. Although I paid a lot of attention to Irini. She gets less attention at home now that her little brother has joined us. She loved it! In the car she fell asleep with her head on my lap. By the way, Yorgos has a new car. A Toyota RAV4, black, four-door with a sunroof. Beautiful car!!! He took us straight to the apartment. Tomorrow, if all goes well, two bicycles will arrive and we should come for coffee. Yorgos then wants to take us to a winery afterwards. This one has open house and makes high quality wines. I am curious. Once in the room, 103, we immediately unpacked the suitcases and I wrote this report. A little more Sudoku and then a good night’s sleep. It was a busy day.

Sunday, March 4, 2007
Weather: about 22°C and sunny

This morning we got up at eight o’clock. I slept wonderfully. The apartment is quite cold, despite the air conditioning. But these are also not designed for winter guests. Although you can’t call 22 degrees winter. After washing and dressing, we put the gifts in the bag and walked to the family for coffee. On the way we bought two sandwiches, pin money and looked around. At a little before ten we got to the house and were also finally able to see Nikos. What a beautiful little guy! Big blue eyes and dark blond hair.

At noon we (Yorgos, René and I) drove with a cousin and Aristo to the wine exhibition. So it was not a winery we were going to. But a kind of fair of all kinds of wine companies. The fair turned out to be in a hotel. First we were already in the wrong hotel in the wrong place. We were at Creta Maris in Chersonissos and we were supposed to be at Candi Maris in Heraklion. Only thirty kilometers difference. Haha. René and I got excellent help from a woman filling out the papers and we got a red batch. For wine lovers. Businessmen got a blue one. We tasted several wines. Especially rosé. Very tasty. We explained that rosé is becoming very popular in the Netherlands. And that white wine is drunk less. Both the winemakers and Yorgos found that very interesting. After the fair Aristo, Yorgos and we drove back home. After a cup of coffee and some food, Katerina dropped us off at the supermarket behind the church, Ariadni. We didn’t know it yet, but it is much bigger than the Spar. A little shopping and then back to our “home”. There a friend of Yorgos turned out to have delivered two good bikes. We tried them out in the afternoon. We cycled to the excavation and then back again. They are good bikes. Along the way we suddenly saw a meadow full of cows. A really crazy sight. You see here otherwise almost only goats. These cows were even black pied! Back at the apartment we read, did some puzzling and watched TV. For dinner we had a plate of tomato soup. There is one TV station that broadcasts English-language movies with Greek subtitles. This way we can still follow something and it is good for my Greek. With our legs under a blanket, a bag of chips and Coke Metaxa, we watched the movie “Archangel.” Daniel Craig starred in that. Then we read a bit more and around noon we went to sleep.

Monday, March 5, 2007
Weather: about 18°C and partly cloudy

This morning we got up at eight again. For breakfast a bowl of yogurt and later Rene bought another baguette. At ten o’clock we were with Yorgos. At first we thought he wasn’t there. Neither car was there. Then Yorgos called out to us. He was there after all. I had to make coffee myself in the kitchen. Women’s work, haha. So searching in all kinds of cupboards. But I succeeded. We arranged to meet at eight o’clock tonight. Yorgos is coming to pick us up and then we will go somewhere to eat and drink. After we cycled back, we went for a walk on the beach and did some shopping. The beach was deserted, of course, but there were almost no shells or anything like that either. That remains strange. Dutch beaches are very different in that respect. We were quite tired from all the walking. I tried to read, but my eyes kept closing. So I set the alarm clock and got some sleep. Then cleaned up and waited for Yorgos. He arrived at a quarter past eight. First he wanted to visit the restaurant to see how it was doing. The garden is still a disaster, he said. He had planted roses everywhere, at the restaurant, but also at the apartment. But they still have to grow properly. After looking at the restaurant, we drove to Old Malalia. Yorgos saw that someone had died, because there were posters on the electricity poles. We put and notice in the newspaper, here they do it this way. The village is also not that big. For example, there appeared to be only two restaurants open in Old Malalia. We went to Spiros’. I believe the name was Stravros & Elizabeth. The food was good, but westernized. Not really traditional. For example, there were radishes and caper apples in the salad. It’s not supposed to be. Also, the potatoes were spicy. But it was tasty. We had dolmades (stuffed cabbage leaves with meat and rice), soutsoukakia, tzatziki. Greek salad, grilled cheese from Cyprus, meat, bread with garlic, grilled mushrooms, red wine and for dessert confit fruits with Greek yogurt and raki. After dinner, it was almost noon, Yorgos took us to the apartment. Just when we were almost there, he asked if we wanted to sleep already. To which we both said no. Yorgos turned the car around again and we headed toward Heraklion. A man is playing this week, but Yorgos doesn’t know exactly which day. So it could be that we were driving in that direction for nothing, which later turned out to be the case. This man doesn’t play until March ten. And another man (more modern music) plays March 8. So back to Malia again. Better another time. Yorgos had a great time tonight, but did explain that he can’t do this every day. And we understand that, they are busy fixing everything up and of course he wants to enjoy his little family. Back at the apartment I went straight to sleep. By now it had already been one o’clock.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007
Weather: about 22°C and sunny

This morning we got up an hour later. It is vacation, of course. After showering, dressing and having breakfast, we first went to the village to find sunscreen. We both got quite sunburned. Especially me, of course. My neck is even redder than the polo shirt I’m wearing. We couldn’t find a sunburn at first. It’s not the right season. Sunscreen won’t be in stores for another month at the earliest. At the pharmacy they did have sunscreen. At the apartment, we saw Yorgos again. He was working in the garden and painting. The walls on the west side had suffered from moisture, so they are fixing them up and now impregnating them. We packed some things (drinks, camera and sunscreen) and went to Sisi on our bikes. Up via the rocks and back via the road. In the process, you also have to go a bit via the main road. Pretty spooky. They drive really fast there. But everything went well. Made many pictures of plants. Even of bulls!

When we got back to the apartment, Yorgos was gone, but Aris was there. He was now painting. We sat in the sun for a while reading. Since we were getting hungry anyway, we went to the Spar and bought croissants filled with chocolate spread. Then we cycled through the old part of the village. We still haven’t found Diana’s house or Katerina’s school. When we got back to the apartment, we did some puzzling and reading. And then we slept for a while. It is so cold in the apartment! And under the blankets it is nice then. At six o’clock I started cooking dinner. Spaghetti with tomato sauce and meatballs. But I hadn’t thought of butter or oil and we didn’t have any salt either. It was hot, but not great. Just getting something else in the village seemed like a better idea anyway. So around 7:30 we went to Revolution. There it was nice and warm. And after two cups of tea and two double espressos, we were nice and warm again, too. Then I had red wine and René had cola-metaxa and metaxa only. René had another pita gyros across the street. That remains very tasty as well. Such a rolled up sandwich filled with Greek yogurt, Gyros, tomato and fries. Around eleven o’clock we went back. I went to bed almost immediately, where I left in no time. I didn’t even hear René come in again.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007
Weather: about 18°C and sunny

This morning we got up at 8:30. Aristo appeared to be there right after that. There was still a scooter and Aris’ car, but we didn’t see Yorgos. First we biked to the center, got some water, because that made good progress. When we arrived at the apartment, both brothers were there. We had some coffee and then walked to the center. We want to go to Heraklion today, by bus. €3.50 per person, one way. That’s one euro more expensive than last time. But still cheap. In Heraklion they appeared to have refurbished the center quite a bit. New sidewalks and streets and much of it car-free. We strolled around nicely, but didn’t buy anything. We just both had Gyros at a food stall. So we already have dinner in. Around a quarter to three we went back to the bus station. The bus was already there and it was well full. The bus also drove off fairly quickly. Few stops along the way and a lot of schoolchildren on the bus. At a quarter to four we were in Malia. At the supermarket we bought some breakfast stuff and some chocolate to nibble on. When we arrived at the apartment, it turned out that two neighbors were burning garbage. Everything was blue with smoke. So no reading in the sun this time, but quickly inside. Now it is nice that there are no smoke detectors, because they would have definitely gone off. A moment after we were inside I heard noises. Yorgos was also there. He wants to have dinner with us tonight in Old Chersonissos. We have eaten there once before with him and Katerina. It is very authentic and good there. At eight o’clock he came to pick us up. And indeed a little after eight he was there. We ate and drank and talked wonderfully. This kind of kafenion is really our thing. At the beginning of the evening I was the only woman. Later a whole group came in and there was also a woman among them. But it didn’t matter to me. It was very cozy there. We ate several mezes. Tzatziki, patties, keftedes, dolmades, soutsouka

kia, something else in terms of meat, bread, peppers and later octopus. We tried that, me too, but no we didn’t need that. The gentlemen had beer and I had wine. When we wanted to pay, we got raki with Greek yogurt and candied cherries. Very tasty. So we ordered that one again. Even I liked the raki! In total we now only lost €33. That is no money at all. The three of us eating and drinking so much and then only having to pay that. But Yorgos thought this was a normal price. At Stavros’ they were way too expensive. He found it ridiculous that they dared to ask €3 for a bowl of fries.
On the way back we stopped at a pub in Malia. A pub where only foreigners come. Epsilon. We were just inside and who appears at our table, Mike. He hasn’t changed a bit. He still drinks too much. We had already told that to Yorgos, but now he saw it himself. After some chatting and drinking, Yorgos brought us back home. By now it was already one thirty. Not long after that, we went to sleep.

Thursday, March 8, 2007
Weather: about 17°C and partly cloudy

This morning we did just get up at eight. We have to get to work today. We promised to help paint today. Yorgos had asked us yesterday if we could. Sure, no problem. So after our breakfast, we were waiting outside with a mug of coffee. But Aris and Yorgos were not so smooth today. At a quarter to ten the first of them appeared. And by then we didn’t have paint. It came even later. It also had to be thinned, because this way the gentlemen found the paint much too thick. It was almost eleven o’clock when we could finally begin. Yorgos wants to make one wall in each bedroom red. It is a difficult color to paint, red covers badly. And at first we only had a block brush and a small roller! And a small container for the sauce. So the first two rooms had to be done three times. After we did the second bedroom, Aristo finally brought us another larger roller. And when we did the wall in the first bedroom for the second time, Eddy also came and brought us another bigger tray. We ended up doing three rooms. The last one once, with a big roller. The other two, twice. The second time with the big roller. Both of those rooms, because of that small roller, will probably have to be done one more time. At five o’clock we stopped. The brothers probably would have wanted to stop earlier, but we continued doing it. Since we had only started at eleven o’clock, we had not made much progress, in our opinion. Yorgos wanted to go to the music tonight, but he’s not sure. I just assume not. In fact, he was feeling rather tired. After René took a short nap, we went to Spiros (Stavros) to get a bite to eat. Aris had gotten pita sandwiches Gyros around 2:30, but that’s not enough for the rest of the day. First we went into the village for cigarettes and I bought a jacket. We brought that back to the apartment for a while and then we walked to Spiros. It took us a while to find it. We came walking into the village from a different side. And there are so many narrow streets. Once inside, we ordered a Tzatziki, a Greek salad, lamb chops and chicken breast. The meat was not good. So we won’t go there again. I’d rather eat Gyros sandwiches for the rest of the vacation. After dinner we went to Revolution. Meanwhile, Katerina had called to say that Yorgos wasn’t feeling well and she thought it was because of last night. She sounded angry. Well, can happen. So we had the rest of the evening to ourselves. We spent it sitting on a bench at Revolution watching TV. They are already starting to recognize us there. We are no longer stared at like that. At 11:30 we went back to the apartment. Then we went back to sleep.

Friday, March 9, 2007
Weather: about 17°C and partly cloudy

This morning we got up at nine o’clock. Both of us were still bothered by yesterday’s food. It was really bad. Right after getting up, I got a text message from Katerina. She will be back home at one o’clock and asks if we will come then. I reply that we will see her then. First, after breakfast, we go watch hunting. René’s watch has broken. The pin is out. And he is tired of this watch anyway. Maybe we can find something in the village. But we can’t find anything for René. So we cycle straight on to Hersonissos. Via the road along the beach. At least as much as possible. Sometimes we have to follow the road next to the main road. In Chersonissos we take a ham/cheese croissant. By now it is almost noon, so we turn around. This time we want to follow the road next to the main road on the other side of the road. But that sometimes stops altogether and then we have to cross the main road itself. Dangerous, but there is no other option. We are too early for Katerina, so we first go into Malia itself. There we each buy a bookmark. For only €0.50 each. We reach Katerina at one o’clock, but she had been delayed, so she arrives an hour later. That doesn’t matter, I still had sudoku puzzles in my bag. We get juice and several cookies right away. She keeps wanting to put more things down, but she really doesn’t need to. We could have even gotten hot food, but it’s too early for that. At four o’clock we go back, through the Spar to the apartment. She is still consulting with her mother for tomorrow. We want to go to the gypsy market then. She will let us know later by text message if she is coming with us. At the apartment we meet Yorgos. He wants to go to a kafenion with us tonight. Around half past eight he is with us. That ends up being more than half an hour later, because first he had been somewhere else. We go to Old Chersonissos to a restaurant. Near the fireplace we eat tzatziki, garlic bread, salad of the house, snails (Yorgos), souvlaki and paidakia. Along with wine and at the end a glass of raki with yogurt and candied fruits and apple with tangerines. The three of us spent €40. Not expensive and good food. At eleven o’clock we are ready to go home and we do. Straight to sleep. Tomorrow René and I go to the market. Katerina can’t come with us. Her mother can’t babysit. So we go by bus.

Saturday, March 10, 2007
Weather: about 16°C and cloudy / about 20°C and partly cloudy and strong wind

This morning we got up at nine o’clock. The market lasts until about two and the bus ride takes an hour. So still plenty of time. First breakfast and a cup of coffee. We’ll just have to ask the bus driver or conductor where to get off for the market. I know where the market is, but not the nearest stop. Going back is another story entirely, we’ll see. The conductor says we just have to get to the bus station and then change buses. But it’s not that far from the bus station, so we decide to walk. Soon we see people walking with plastic bags. And right after that market. At the market we buy two table runners, one tablecloth, four pairs of socks and a necklace with semi-precious stones. That necklace I take apart so I can use the stones differently. After the market, we walk to downtown. There we buy another watch for Rene, a new belt for both of us, a calendar, four bookmarks, four Greek stickers, two posters and a book by Nikos Kazantzakis. After eating we take the bus back. After leaving everything in the apartment, we go to the supermarket. The last groceries (drinks). The weather is strange today. At first heavily cloudy, but warm. At the market a few drops of rain. Then semi-overcast. And later cloudy again with a strong warm wind. That wind turned into Sirocco. Since everything upstairs was loose because of painting, everything began to flap. So we closed everything. One vase was already broken and the rubbers had come off one door. One billboard downstairs had fallen over, but other than that the damage was not too bad. At 7:30 (we ate soup at 6:30) we went to Revolution. A chick who is slow and stupid works there on Saturdays. She had dyed her hair blond, which suits her. At eleven o’clock we went back to the apartment. Good night’s sleep. Tomorrow the last day of vacation. Monday doesn’t really count, because we leave here at a quarter past seven.

Sunday, March 11, 2007
Weather: about 19°C and partly cloudy with a shower in the evening

Slept in a little this morning until 9:30. I was awake a little earlier, so I took a shower right away. We are about to have coffee at Katerina’s. We don’t have to do any more shopping, so we can go her way right away. But first we are going to check on Yorgos, who is still painting. He doesn’t do it with the French stroke, but with the Greek. The result is the same. At Katerina’s we chat for a while and eat some sandwiches. Then we take the road parallel to the beach back to the apartment. On the way I finally managed to take a picture of the flowering mimosa.

Right after us, Katerina is also at the apartment. She doesn’t like the red color yet, I believe. But it’s on for now. So tough luck. I like it. It makes the room warmer. Katerina leaves after that. I don’t know if we will see her again. After all, we haven’t made any arrangements for tonight. And we probably won’t. We have to get out at four o’clock tomorrow. This morning Yorgos had called the man with the bikes. We don’t need them anymore and we wanted to know what the cost was. We had a lot of fun with them. The rest of the day we hung out at the apartment. Aris came to get us, he had seen a hedgehog across the street. He had never seen it before. But the hedgehog turned out to be rolled up and later it was gone. Around three o’clock the sky turned completely over and a little later it started to rain softly. Even then it wasn’t really cold. But it did make us not mind going home so much. We agreed with Katerina that we would come for a drink tonight. Around seven or so we headed to the pita Gyros joint across from Revolution. First we get a bite to eat. I take a chicken souvlaki and Rene orders Gyros. For him it turns out to be a pita Gyros, but that doesn’t matter. It is very tasty. And they are very busy with delivery and take-out. While we eat it starts to rain again. We sit under a shelter and wait for the shower. It’s not raining very hard and the temperature doesn’t even drop that much. It is, I think, still something like fifteen degrees. When it is dry, we continue walking to the Loukakis family. Yorgos was supposed to have course until nine, but Katerina is there. Yorgos finished even earlier and appears at their house not long after us. Katerina doesn’t want to know that we have already eaten, she makes pizza, sausages, patties, and a bowl full of cucumber, tomato and salad. We do our best to eat something anyway. Rene and I drink Coke, but according to Yorgos, it really needs bacardi in it. He doesn’t drink regular coke at night with friends. At half past ten we really want to go back to the apartment. We have to get up at four tomorrow. Katerina did not drink anything, so she takes us back by car. We say goodbye to Yorgos and get into Katerina’s car. At the apartment we then say goodbye to her. Aristo will take us to the airport tomorrow with the Lexus. We decide to pack the rest the next morning. For now, let’s get some sleep.

Monday, March 12, 2007
Weather: about 13°C and partly cloudy / about 15°C and partly cloudy

Got up at four this morning. I quickly get into the shower and René goes for a smoke right away. Then he dives into the shower. A quick breakfast and then the rest of the stuff in the suitcase. At five o’clock we are ready. We put the suitcases at the gate. And we walk outside to look around. At a quarter past five Aris is already there. He is early! He has to pick someone up from the boat at six. He is coming from Athens to interview for the kitchen. When we are just in the car, Aris gets a phone call. The boat is earlier. So step on it. We drive to Heraklion at 120. Normally it is 90 here. At a quarter to six we are at the airport. There we check in first. The suitcases are first weighed and labeled at the counter. Then we have to take them off the belt ourselves. Then we have to walk with our own suitcase to the scanning machine, where someone will scan the suitcase for its contents. If all goes well, you get a sticker on your label and the suitcase itself continues on the belt. Now first, time for a cup of coffee. And it is strong, we are used to strong coffee, but this beats everything. We each need two bags of sugar before the coffee is drinkable. Then we go through the inspection. That’s kind of a do-it-yourself today. We have to decide for ourselves what to put in the container and what not to put. Even if you squeak like that, you can still pass through. They don’t seem to feel like checking. Because it is so early, the stores are open, but there are very few staff. We buy two CDs, one with bouzouki music and one by Nikos Xilouris. After that, we just head toward the gate. Everything runs on time. We arrive in Athens on time. We don’t have that much time there. We arrive at eight o’clock, at ten to eight-thirty we already have to check in for the next flight. So we just go to the toilet and then on to the next gate. Apparently it is very busy in Athens, because we leave half an hour late. When we are waiting in front of the runway, we also see nine planes waiting behind us. A traffic jam!!! Of planes … it doesn’t have to get any crazier. Apparently, the pilot got everything he could out of the plane, because we end up landing at Schiphol twenty minutes early. Then we have to wait again for our suitcases. When we walk through the doors, Wim is already waiting for us. We walk straight to the car. On the way we stop again at HaJe. For a cup of coffee. But also for something on the side. For the gentlemen a bologna on bread. And for me two croquettes on bread. The food on the plane wasn’t great this time. And Wim also liked something. At half past two we were home again. It is over again. In six months we can go again.

For the rest of the vacation photos see HERE