We were up at nine this morning so that we could get ready and get out to go to Rethymno to see the Carnivale parade in the city! Everyone has been telling us for weeks that we really, really need to not miss this while we are here and that the kids will love it. We have been making quite an effort to make sure that at the very least we do not miss this as this is really a once in a lifetime opportunity as the Carnival parade here in Rethymno is supposed to be one of the best ones in the area. Rethymno being an old Venetian town has a lot of big Carnival tradition stemming from that.
We were not just awake but we managed to get out of the door, into the car (not blocked in this time) and on the road by ten and in no time we were in parade traffic in Rethymno! It is a good thing that we already know our way around the city a little or this would have been very difficult as an introduction to the lay of the city.
From barely into the city from the west side we were caught in traffic that almost did not move. We were seeing people parking on the west hill on the road leading into town and walking in. Now we understood why. If we managed to find a place to park we were going to be trapped in the city until the parade was over!
We did surprisingly well and navigated the city and managed to dive down a side street on the east side of the peninsula, get to the water front and find the marina parking. We went into the paid parking in the marina area and just paid for parking there rather than scrambling to find free parking somewhere in the city. We were sure that there was a lot of free parking to be had but the stress of finding it and the difficulties that it was going to present just seemed foolish. The paid parking was safe and easy.
We got out of the car and walked through the old town and down to one of the main streets finding where it was roped off and ready for the parade. We checked the time and it was a quarter to eleven in the morning! We had actually done so well that we were in place, ready for the parade more than two hours before it was set to begin! We surprised ourselves here, trust me.
We were so early that we could not just wait around for the parade. The kids would be pretty pissed and done with the whole affair if we waited for that long. The girls had seen a small playground as we drove to the parking area at the marina that we set off to look for. We actually found it and the girls spent a good hour on the swings, slide and merry go round. Crete has been rough on them for not having access to playgrounds and they are sorely being missed. So this was a really nice opportunity for them to get to enjoy some time on one and to work themselves up to being ready to just relax and watch the parade and to have some lunch. Dominica and I enjoyed the chance to just sit for an hour.
By the time that we left the playground the bars and restaurants along the parade route were really busy. We walked all of the way back to where we had first seen a pizza place when we had first emerged onto the parade route from the old town and found that they still had a table out by the road that was empty. So we ran in and ordered a pizza and some coffee and planted ourselves right up front along the route with a table, food and beverages about an hour and a half before it was time for the parade to begin. Total score.
Lunch was good, we took our time with it as we wanted to stay in this spot throughout the parade. Once the parade got started we actually ended up giving up our table and moving up to the rope so that we could really see everything. Liesl and Luciana sat at my feet and eventually Dominica came up and joined us, as well.
I was very diligent about taking pictures throughout the parade and over the course of it managed to get just short of four hundred pictures and quite a bit of video footage. Liesl and Luciana sat at my feet for the whole parade, they had a great view of the whole thing.
Because the girls were adorable and right up front where the parade could see them tons of the girls in the parade would come over to them and pull them into the parade to dance. They had an awesome time! A boy, maybe nine or ten, came and sat beside Liesl and they spent an hour at least hanging out with each other watching the parade.
One of the parade teams coming by stopped, danced with Liesl and then gave her a mushroom cap to wear. She loved it. The boy that she was sitting with would repeatedly steal it from her and make her try to find it or get it back. They were very cute.
The parade was very long, it went on from two and by closing in on five there was a lot of the parade left to go. Throughout the parade it was getting darker and gloomier and for the last half an hour it was starting to sprinkle and, sadly, it was cold rain coming down. After that, it turned from spinkle into rain into rather heavy rain with the streets starting to fill with water.
Towards the end of the parade Luciana just could not take the noise and the activity any more and wanted to go to sleep. She made Dominica hold her for a while and then I held her for a while. Probably, in all, we might have held her for the last hour of the parade. This added heavily to our exhaustion. We were in physical pain from standing and holding her for so long by the time that everything was done.
We held out as long as we could, we did not want to have to miss any of the parade but what started out as “doing a good job dealing with less than ideal weather” turned into “utterly ridiculous to be standing on in these conditions.” Dominica and the girls were trying to stay under umbrellas but that was doing very little to keep them dry and I was absolutely soaked through, even before we left the parade route. We had to eventually cut and run with a lot of the parade left. But at least we were some of the final people still out watching the parade and even the parade itself was giving up and breaking down from the amount of water coming down. Very unfortunate that after weeks of almost no raid we get a serious storm during the small window of the parade!
We ran for the car but it was rather a long distance. We were all quite soaked by the time that we got to the car. We just sat in it running the heat for a while to dry ourselves out and to let traffic clear as the city was crammed with people trying to leave the city and the rain was making traffic that much worse.
It was around six when we got back to the house. A massively successful day! Our first time really going out and doing a Greek event. We feel very accomplished and happy and exhausted. Up early, out the door early, full day of playing, eating and Greek and Orthodox cultural events, weather battling and safely home again. A full day, for sure.
Much of the evening was spent getting pictures and videos of the parade uploaded for people to see. I had completely run through a battery on the Nikon AW100 and then had to ditch it and switch to the iPhone 5s for the last bit. The GoPro, sadly, had its batteries die before we even got started and the charger was not to be found quickly and we had to do without it.