I fully intended to wrap up this Golden Circle saga in 2013 and begin 2014 with a fresh assault on your literary sensibilities. In my own defense, however, may I point out that even failing this objective, I am still way ahead of George Lucas and his announced twelve Star Wars episodes (coincidentally, the number of posts in this series). Come on George, pick up the pace!
Regrettably, all my good intentions to wrap this up in 2013 went decidedly south, not unlike my ambitious New Year’s resolutions . . . and yes, I do realize it is only January 7th, thank you very much.
My last port of call before returning to Civitavecchia was perhaps, in some ways, the most surprising of all. I’ll be honest, after scintillating Sicily, awe-inspiring Athens and exhilarating Ephesus, my expectations were not very high for conventional sounding Crete.
I opted not to do a structured tour and instead decided to hop a city bus that took me to the old part of Chania. I set off with high hopes of buying one of those Uncle Si Robertson growing beards. You can imagine my disappointment when one of the locals on the bus pointed out (with uncalled-for disdain I might add) that we were going to Chania, not Chia. Having already sprung for the bus fare, I decided to make the most of my day.
I noted upon stepping off the bus that we were in front of the Agora, a huge, cross-shaped, indoor public market. Reassured that I could always find directions back to this massive building and thus the bus stop in front (under no circumstances does one want to view the sailing away of one’s cruise ship from the dock), I decided to set off with nary a compass, map or any intelligible plan of attack . . . sort of the way I have approached my entire life. The second picture above is a concession to my fellow lovers of Greek olives!
Resisting for the moment the urge to sit down in one of these comfortable looking green chairs and let Chania pass me by, instead of visa versa, I continued to amble down narrow streets lined with quaint shops and various eateries.
The pictures below represent a nice study in contrasts! The first house I took note of on my walk through this charming city had alabaster white walls and second story windows set off by black wrought-iron railings. It had beautifully carved wood doors and was classically framed by small trees. As you can see, it was the picture of orderliness and care. Not so, the second house. May 20th, 1941 marks the day the Germans started aerial bombing attacks which rained down significant damage upon the Old City. I don’t know for sure if this second house was left as it now appears as a testimony to that destruction but I suspect that to be the case.
The bloody Nazis were very adept at wreaking havoc and raining down destruction. Their meteoric rise to prominence, which thanks to God and the US military flamed out in a few short years, is one of history’s saddest chapters. Sorry, that is more than enough time devoted to those sadistic miscreants.
On a more uplifting note, I am rather certain that there are guardian angels in heaven whose sole responsibility is to guide the steps of clueless travelers as they wander aimlessly through strange surroundings. In spite of the fact that I headed north from the Agora for no particular reason it was only a short time before I stumbled upon the most picturesque part of the city, the Venetian port of Chania. From a strictly utilitarian point of view, it was never very viable as a port being small, shallow and vulnerable to north and west winds. (Strangely, I also have been called small, shallow and susceptible to just about everything but that doesn’t need to be explored here.) Crete is, in fact, a fascinating destination and I hope my travels permit another and much longer visit in the future.
To close out this series on an amusing, some might say disgusting note, any idea what is going on here? For the record, these are not my feet dangling in the water. Actually, this is touted as an excellent form of exfoliation. To quote the poster, the Garra Rufa fish have an enzyme in their saliva called diathanol which has healing properties.
So how did I spend the last couple of hours in my last port of call on the Golden Circle odyssey? See for yourself below.
It is the quest for moments like this which motivates all of us who restlessly wander the wide world. We ask only for a few priceless moments to pause, to reflect, to drink a local beer while we drink in the incredible surroundings and to pretend for a brief span we haven’t a care in the world. Such moments are not just gloriously lived but gratefully relived whenever we rummage through the corners of our minds.
As we come full circle (pun intended) and move on to new adventures, I would love for you to take a moment and share your thoughts through a comment on this post. I know full well that everyone has not been blessed to travel as widely as I have. I write these words in the hopes of giving you a small taste of the experience and inspiring your zeal to see as much of this amazing planet as resources, time and the grace of God permit.