A swim before breakfast and then we were on our way to Hania, the original capital of Crete. On the way we stopped at Armeni where there is a Minoan cemetery only discovered by a farmer in his olive grove in 1977 - small to very large graves dug along a stepped path into the stone hillside a little like the early tombs in Egypt in the Valley of the Kings. On for picnic lunch at Gerani a very small beach frequented by locals, only a parking area, a small church and one tavern. We watched a couple set up their umbrella on the rock break wall; man in front with towel, wife behind with umbrella and bag stumbling over rocks - man found spot for umbrella! A little diversion to possibly see fortifications at Kamili, unfortunately still used by Navy so no access - Di would not let me climb the wall to photograph inside! Filled the little 206 Peugeot when gauge was at about 1/8 (Euros 62 that's about Aus $90, must be a large tank for a very small car)! Yesterday we could not proceed up a steep concrete drive in first gear, Di said "change down", wish I could have, reverse may have worked!
Arrived Hania mid afternoon, accidently drove illegally through the half of the old city walking streets, the streets have timed entry but by the time we noticed there was no going back - no cops luckily there are few cops. We parked easily and had a good walk finding our accommodation in Hotel Nostos recommended from Lonely Planet. The hotel features on a post card and is a renovated 600 year old Venetian building, great little hotel with access just behind the harbour front taverns, some rooms and the deck face the harbour. After settling in we hada walk around town found a place for dinner, Di was quite exhausted and wanted to go back to the hotel until I found the tourist markets, I can report that after an another hour on her feet she is much recovered!!!
18/6/10 It's so nice we have decided to stay in Hania for four days. Today we set off to reach the western end of the island, fairly sparsely settled with lots of plastic green houses on the flats farming tomatoes etc with olives on the hills, there are plastic watering pipes running everywhere sometimes over the road often on the kerbs.
Kissamos was a small town with a port at the western end and then from there we drove right to the western coastline to the ancient site of Falasarna - very wild scrubby country and rough rocky coast. However there are some good beaches with yellow sand and after our lunch of spicy Greek sausages at one new quite smart taverna, with a 100 metre timber boardwalk to its umbrellas and chairs, we set off to a small beach between low rocky outcrops, beautiful clear water, very safe as there is no tide or surf. There was a gentle breeze off the water so we stayed, swam and read for a while.
For dinner we went out to a recommended restaurant, Portes, very close to our hotel in the old town. The owner is an Irish woman who has been here for 17 years. We had snails about 30 of them, small zucchini flowers with a tasty stuffing and local meat balls with a litre of house wine. This was followed by complimentary small bottle of raki and dessert - all very good! There was music on the quay to go to sleep by!
19/6/10 Saturday started at the Naval Museum where we managed to stay for two hours as there was a good historic movie of recent Greek history. It was from 1897 to 1947 and showed all the major conflicts from the war of independence from Turkey through to the end of WW2 and their civil war.
After lunch on our deck went to the Arsenal a very large stone buildings with walls 3 metres thick where once Venetian warships would come for repairs. The building has now been taken over as an Architectural centre with lecture halls etc, a great job of restoration and reuse. We were invited to go into one of the lectureson Architecture and City Planning. The first was in English, the second in Greek however we were given headphones with live English translation. Back at the hotelwe had a few words with the new receptionist who spoke very good English. She actually comes from Earlwood and goes back every year. We watched the Aussies play soccer which was very disappointed with the ref giving our best player, Harry Kewell,a red card for nothing! The replays were repeated many times showing the ref's mistake.
Greece is still very different from the rest of the EU: the smoking rules are not enforced apart from aircraft and high speed boats; roadside speed cameras have never actually had cameras installed in them; drivers regularly massively exceed speed restrictions; double lines appear optional (I now regularly overtake over double lines);museums and galleries all have ticketing machines like at railway station in Sydney but have not seen one working as there is always a person to check tickets!