January 3, 2015: Walking to Rethymno

Dominica got me up around nine thirty this morning.  My job today is to get suited up and hike the nine kilometres that it takes to get from our little village to the city where the car rental place that we were told about is located.  It was getting close to noon when I finally was ready and actually set out to begin my long walk.  The girls were still very, very asleep when I set out.  They are not adjusting to Eastern European Time in any way at this point.

It was cold today but not as bitterly cold as yesterday.  Very overcast, though.

I started walking north.  Thankfully the road to take is super simple.  We live on the road that turns into the main road of Rethymno (Google calls it Rethimno incorrectly, and the real name is Ρεθύμνης according to the city’s official page.)  From Prines the next village is only about two kilometers, if that.  That was very fast.  I was there in a matter of minutes.  I found two markets very quickly but the only ATM was all the way on the far side of the village so it took me a while to get there.  I stopped in the first market just to look around and see what there was so that I would be prepared for later.  At the ATM I loaded up on cash.  This was the emergency “must do” task of the day.  No matter what else there had to be cash or we had no means of getting groceries of any sort and we are very close to being out of food at this point.  There is almost nothing to eat.

It started to drizzle by the time that I was at the very first village.  It is going to be a very wet day.

The next village was quite close again.  More markets and bakeries.  Lots of little businesses and tight streets.  Each village was down the hill towards the shore.

After the second village I had a bit of open walking as I came into highway intersections and needed to walk on the E75 which turned into the city’s main drag.  I got to see a lot of the city coming in this way.  I have a pretty good idea of what the downtown area is like.

By this time it was a light rain.  I had a light fleece and my baseball cap but nothing else.

Rethymno old town
Rethymno Old Town

On the east (the far) side of downtown I turned north to go into the old town.  I am so glad that I did this.  There was a lot to see.  This is one of those awesome, ancient European cities with a very old part of town to wander and get lost in on a sort of peninsula sort of thing to the north of the main city.  It was a really gorgeous walk and I hope to be able to bring the family down here to do some exploring soon.  Lots of neat stuff around every corner.  I even stumbled on the shop that made the loukoumi in Athens!  I had read the box and knew that it was made on Crete (after I had bought it) but that I stumbled on the actual shop that made it on my first time out was pretty surprising.  And that I recognized the name walking past it on a tiny little back street in the Rethymno old town too!

I popped out at the top end of the marina on the east side of the peninsula only knowing that the car rental place was supposed to be along the marina somewhere.  This ended up working out really well because I got to walk the entire “strip” along the waterfront where all of the restaurants and high end shops are.  It was hopping, even for a Sunday afternoon in the rain with it being pretty cold.  The restaurants were very busy and there were people everywhere.

Scott Alan Miller on the Marina of Rethymno, Crete

I finally got through the line of restaurants and found the car rental place, Greenways.  But when I checked the door, it was locked!  Oh no!  Nine kilometres of walking and I really wanted a car in which to drive back home.  There was a number on the door but I tried calling it and just got an automated message in Greek that I could not understand in any way.  I was texting Dominica and sent her a picture of the phone number on the door and somehow she manage to get a hold of someone and found out that the person who was supposed to be managing this branch today was out sick and since they usually go all day without getting any customers at all they were leaving it closed.  Since I had walked in, someone drove in to meet me there.

I ended up renting a rough shape but serviceable (thus far) Kia Picanto in blue for $900 total for the next three months.  That’s pretty cheap for an all inclusive car with unlimited kilometres (there is only so far to be driving on the island), insurance, taxes and everything.  We were pretty happy with that.

The car was out of gas when I got into it so I had to fill up on the way out of town.  I stopped at a BP but it was closed. This was a little scary, I don’t know enough of the area to be driving around looking for petrol stations on my first time driving in the country and my first time driving this kind of car (which, by the way, is insanely difficult to drive and literally painful because of the long throw clutch) and not knowing the area at all.  This could be very bad, very quickly.  Thankfully the next, and only other, BP station was open and I got the car fueled up.  Crete (and maybe all of Greece) is a “they pump it for you” country, unlike Spain.  You have to get used to this in every country.

The drive back home was quick and easy.  It was still raining but not hard.  It was nearly four when I got back to the house and parked by the church down the street.  I had meant to stop at the nearest of the larger markets on the way back but I did not see it and was nearly to the house at that point so just went home before going back out to find food.

Dominica and I tried walking down to the two markets in Prines and found both of them closed!  Uh oh.  Not good, we have no food.  I jumped in the car and drove through the next two towns and all of the markets were closed so I went all the way to the outskirts of Rethymno to go to the big German Lidl store there and… yes it too, was closed.  This is bad.

I texted Dominica that as I was heading to the Lidl that I had seen someone come out of the corner store and told her to run down there and see if they were open now.  So she dashed down there and I raced up to Violi Charaki where I had seen a high end bakery and pastry shop still open as I drove by.  Thankfully they were still open and I ran in and got two loaves of bread that looked amazing.  Dominica texted me that she had gotten into the corner store and needed me there right away as she had no money.  So I dashed out and up through Atsipopoulo to Prines and ran in to shop with Dominica.  I made great time.

We got to talk to the owners of the shop a little bit.  They asked about us as they had seen us two days in a row now and there are very few people in Prines.  We said that we were going to be living here, and just behind the market, for the next three months.  They were very excited and welcomed us as the new villagers.  The wife of the owner ran back and made us a plate of Christmas cookies and New Year’s Cake for us to take home, too!  Everyone here is so nice.  We are loving Greece for sure.

We went home with eighty Euros of groceries and are no longer in a panic.  We have enough food so that Dominica can do basic cooking, at the very least.  And we have a car and money now, as well.  Now we can relax.

I was starving by this point.  No food, whatsoever, for me today and a lot of walking done.  Liesl was awake but Luciana was not up yet!  The jet lag has really gotten her.

Dominica made tortellini for dinner and we had butter on some of the amazing bread that I had found.  After dinner we just relaxed.  I have a terrible sinus infection that has really caught up with me today and I am very under the weather.  All four of us bundled into the living room and we played video games all evening.  I finally got a chance to play a bit of Fallout 3.

Dominica reached out to the people from whom we are renting the house about the radiators that have not been working.  They walked us through how to use the radiators and kept telling us that we just needed to flip a switch and that no tools were needed and we could just not figure out how this could be.  Dominica even watched a lot of YouTube videos to try to figure this out but no luck.

We tried an experiment this evening in Dominica going to bed around two and me offering to sleep in the girls’ room if they would go to bed early.  The girls said that they were excited and would go to bed early.  Luciana was especially keen on the plan.  But once we had to go to bed around three and they had to actually try to fall asleep it ended up in arguing and a fight and Luciana stormed out and tried to sleep with Dominica then tried to sleep on the couch downstairs and eventually kicked me out and the girls slept in the loft and I went back to my own bed.  They ended up staying up for many hours which is a real problem.  They are going to sleep through tomorrow again.

Dominica and I have to be up at nine tomorrow because the owner of the house is coming by to look at the radiators.