Part 9 - Chania, Crete
Chania was the second port that wasn’t originally planned and which had been added at short notice due to the change of itinerary. That’s why we hadn’t had much time beforehand to look into any excursions. However, after a little research we were glad to see that this was another destination which was easy to explore on foot and without much planning. Market halls, narrow streets of the old town, a pretty, colorful port with many restaurants – all this sounded enticing and inviting and called to be explored afoot. Linda and Pete thought the same, so we were in for another fun day in good company.
This was Linda’s big day. It was her last official working day as a teacher and the beginning of her retirement. A few days before, we had approached Julie, the Guest Relations Manager, to see if there was anything we could do to surprise Linda on this special day. Julie was excited by the idea herself and had arranged for a bottle of champagne to be delivered to Linda’s room – together with a greeting card with best wishes for her retirement. I think we were as delighted by this friendly service as Linda. Thank you very much, Julie Sherrington!
In the morning, the Reflection docked in the port of Souda, a few kilometers away from Chania. But the transfer to Chania was exemplary and easily solved in form of a bus shuttle between the port terminal and the center of town. Tickets were sold at less than EUR 2.00 per person in the terminal building, where they also handed out maps of the town. Map, bus tickets, good company and the joy of discovery – we were all set for the day.
When we set off after breakfast, several buses were already waiting for us, and we could start the short ride into Chania without a wait. The stop in Chania was located directly in front of the market halls, an ideal spot to start a walking tour.
I’m sorry, I cannot not show you …. Even though, personally, I don’t eat much of the food on offer in these market halls and especially the smell of seafood triggers anything but joy in me, I just love the variety of goods, the bright colors and the often lovingly arranged stalls and shops. I love the lively, diversified and busy atmosphere of such markets. All this always inspires me to take loads of photos. This place was no exception...
At the exit at the back of the market hall we turned left into a pedestrian street with many shops. We hadn’t got very far, when Joe, whom we knew from our tour to Ephesus, jokingly lured us into a boutique as potential cutomers.
With this joke we all got into a conversation with the very friendly shop owner and actually bought a few things. We could even leave our purchases in the shop until we’d return on our way back.
The pedestrian street turned into a narrow alley, and the path between the shops of leather goods and pottery reminded us of the narrow aisles of a flea market.
At the end of the alley, a spiral path led up a small hill, from which we got a good view of Chania’s old town.
It wasn’t far to the old port. We walked along the street to the square in front of the big orthodox cathedral. Due to a funeral service, however, we couldn’t visit it from inside.
Opposite the big catheral, hidden between a few shops, we found the entrance to a little catholic church. You couldn’t guess from the inconspicuous entrance that it was hiding a beautiful courtyard and an actual church.
Before we reached the port, we turned into a side street and lookd around a little pottery.
It was time to visit the beautiful port. The port was built as a trading port under Venetian rule in the 14th century. These days it is a tourist attraction with many restaurants, shops and taverns. Therefore, the arc of the bay is lined with many colorful houses in Mediterranean architecture.
On the opposite side of the port entrance stands the “Egyptian Lighthouse”, often described as the “jewel” of the town. The lighthouse, 21 m (63 ft) in height, was built by the Venetians at the end of the 16th century, which makes it one of the oldest lighthouses in the world. In the 19th century it was redesigned under Ottoman rule.
After visiting this first part of the port, we treated ourselves to a refreshment in one of the taverns.
We then continued in the other direction along the bay of the port.
On this side, the Yiali Tzami Mosque catches the eye. It was built after the Turkish conquest in 1649 and was in use as late as 1923.
Intermittently used as a museum, its thick walls now host varying art exhibitions.
We continued to follow the promenade, from where we had a beautiful view of the part of the port we had just visited, and soon reached the part of the harbor for the sailing and fishing boats.
This was also home to the Venetian Arsenal – old shipyards dating back to the 15th century. At that time, the Venetian fleet dominated the Mediterranean. Shipyards were built at strategic locations to ensure the repair and equipment of ships. From once 23 halls in Chania, 9 are left today, which are partly used as exhibition and conference centers.
From here, we turned into small and winding alleys to return to the market hall.
On our way, we came across the Agios Nikolaos church, whose changing history is already visible from the outside. Built as a monastery by the Venetians, it was turned into a mosque by the Turks, and a minaret was added opposite the bell tower. After the Turks had left the island, it has been used as a christian-orthodox church since 1928.
In front of the church lies the large Spantzia square with inviting cafes and restaurants. The tables were filled with people enjoying the day in the shadow of the juicy-green trees, protected from the intense sunshine.
Continuing towards our point of origin, we walked through idyllic little alleys with shops, bars and cafes to return to the boutique to pick up our purchases.
We then walked through the market halls again, whose colorful goods were just as attractive now as earlier in the day.
In a little cafe we gave in to temptation and tried some of the sweet pastries and a delicious coffee before we boarded our return bus to the ship without any wait right outside the door.
Now it was time to celebrate Linda’s big moment. At the exact time when the morning bell would ring in her school in Canada, Linda popped the champagne cork on their balcony. We drank to this new chapter in her life and celebrated the moment with figs we had bought together with some Greek bread. “Happy Retirement, Linda!”
Later, enjoying the view of beautiful coastal landscapes, we continued our little party with a visit to the beautiful Sunset Bar. We didn’t want to get out of practice...
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