Tuesday. GT2 Day Ten. Aptera, Crete, Greece.
Hard to believe that we are ten days in to the trip now! Already one third of the way through it. We have done a lot already, but it is just heating up. So much left to do. But a lot more of Crete before we do anything else.
We all slept in a lot this morning. Dominica got up maybe at nine, showered, but went back to bed. I got up finally at a quarter till ten! I was awake a little before that, but did not want to get out of bed. Both girls were, obviously, still asleep. I didn’t get the best night of sleep, at four thirty in the morning I was awoken to Madeline and Emily screaming because there was a centipede right over Madeline’s bed (it was busily eating the remains of another centipede that Madeline had killed apparently) and I had to go kill it for them. So while that only took a minute, it was pretty disruptive to my sleep. How they saw a small centipede on the wall at four thirty in the morning is what I want to know. Had they been asleep, no one would have noticed.
Our plan for today is to explore Xavia (Chania), our local city. Xavia is the second largest city on the island and has some cool history and supposed to have an amazing old town.
I am excited to go check out the archaeological site at Aptera, which is just past the Cretan Corner where we ate two nights ago. Aptera was the biggest of the western Minoan cities and has been inhabited for 3,500 years! It has Minoan, Hellenistic, Roman, and Ottoman ruins. Pretty cool. So neat to picture people living here for all of that time. It doesn’t get too much older than this, especially not in Europe. This predates pretty much everything. And it wasn’t just “people living here”, but it was a walled, bustling city pushing four thousand years ago!
I recorded a little bit of commentary video this morning which I hope to have uploading while we are out for the day. Yesterday I showed that about eight minutes of video from the Lumix takes roughly twelve hours to upload. I kicked off the YouTube uploads before one thirty, and they ran until after two in the morning. That is pretty brutal for us to keep everyone updated. I had to wait on even starting Flickr uploads until after two in the morning and it took hours into the night (while I was asleep.) Thank goodness they didn’t fail or this would truly take forever. And to speed things up, I often do uploads of other stuff, like to Instagram, from wifi connections at restaurants and stuff when we are out so that we are getting double bandwidth to get more uploaded. It’s a challenge to keep everyone up to date.
We tried to wake the girls up at a quarter after eleven. Normally Emily has been awake long before now. Apparently Crete is slowly taking a toll on her. She has been getting up a little later each day.
Twelve fifteen we finally got in the car and drove to Xavia. It is only about fifteen minutes, a very easy drive. However coming from our house the way there is really odd with lots of back roads. Hard to believe that that is the approach to the city.
We had to drive around a bit looking for a good place to park. Eventually we found a municipal spot by the Venetian harbour that was three Euros and twenty for four hours. Not too bad.
We walked around for a bit. The sun is rough today, and it was hard to figure out where we wanted to go. It was so hot. In the nineties, for sure.
We found a little restaurant, The Kostas, and ate there. They listed a veggie burger and some stuff that the girls thought that they would eat. I ordered the veggie burgers (which come without a bun in the plain patty Greek style), Dominica could not get that because it was made with onions (and, it turns out, a lot of carrots, too) so she got the “refreshing salad”. Madeline got chicken “on the spit” which turned out to be a huge portion of chicken on the bone, not something that she normally wants to eat. Emily got a tuna salad with the most cucumbers I have ever seen in a single place.
Lunch took a while before we were hot and did not want to move too quickly from our shady spot, and because the restaurant had a tour group come in just before us and went from a sleepy little place to suddenly having about forty customers and were struggling to feed everyone.
After lunch we walked the narrow, winding old streets until we found the old market. The Chania market is both a large open market building, as is common in these old cities, with loads of stalls selling souvenirs, food, local items, clothing, etc. with a few restaurants mixed in. The streets around the old market are an outdoor market area with loads and loads of shopping. This was pretty much what we were looking for. So we explored both the indoor, and the outdoor markets. All of the girls have some things that they are looking for.
Dominica’s big item that she wants is a Greek blue opal necklace. She decided that she was going to get one while we were on Santorini when she saw them in the shops in Fira. But, of course, we knew better than to shop for them there. We have been planning to look for that in Chania for days now. It seems like the place most likely to have them, while not being expensive for tourists. The girls are looking for postcards, hats, and clothing.
After more than an hour of shopping, Dominica finally found a promising shop. She ended up finding an open pendant shaped like Crete and a silver chain for it. And instead of the one to two hundred dollars that we expected to pay on Santorini, the pendant was only thirteen Euros here!
Emily found a slushy stand, and we three found gelato which we had before returning to the car. It was a full four hours of lunch and shopping in Chania. Time to head home. That was all that it took to feel tired. This entire week is the same hot sun, day after day. We wear out quickly.
On the way back home, Emily wanted to stop at the Sweet Corner in Souda for more of her favourite chocolate cake. This is, I think, the fourth trip for her there. So we swung in since we go past it on the way back to the national road. Dominica bought a range of things, including some savory stuff for breakfast, and Emily bought all of the chocolate cake that they had. We bought so much that they threw in some free bread for us.
We came back up the hill to our house in Aptera. Madeline pretty much went straight to bed. Dominica stayed up to read and eat for a bit, but was totally in a “shut down, no talking to people” mode. So Emily and I, by six in the evening, were the only people left to do anything and wondering what we were going to do. Way, way too early for us. Dominica ended up going to lay down for a nap and slept for a few hours, too.
Emily and I walked over to the hotel across the street where we had heard that there was a pool bar. We had checked it out with Madeline two nights ago, but it was closed. This time we walked around a bit and got a better view of the hotel and realized that there is a restaurant inside. So we walked in there and talked to the owner. She said that the pool bar is closed (probably just until it is summer) but that we were free to order from the hotel’s indoor bar and take anything that we wanted out to the pool and were free to use the pool. They were super nice. But we were hoping for a bar with people hanging out, not just the two of us drinking at a hotel bar by ourselves.
We figured that since the sunset light was good, we should do some pictures by the pool. So she threw on a new outfit and we recorded a series of travel interviews to put up on YouTube. Then we went to the pool and spent half an hour doing a photoshoot there. However, we discovered that the sun sets behind the mountain here, so by seven thirty it is already decently dark. The direct sun of the sunset does not hit the house. So our lighting plans did not work out as well as we had hoped.
While we were doing our photoshoot, Emily noticed that the little cat that is part of the pack always hovering around the house had something in the drive way. It was Dominica’s cheese pastry off of the kitchen table! I had no idea that Dominica had left food out, she has been super careful this whole time to tell everyone to always have food in the fridge, freezer, or microwave so as not to attract insects or animals because of how the windows and doors are always open here. So I never imagined that she would have left a cut in half pastry sitting on a plate on the table when she went to take a nap. So the cat just walked into the house, jumped on the table, grabbed the food, and hauled it out to the driveway to enjoy.
After our photoshoot, I took a little time to take a refreshing shower. Then Emily and I drove down to the corner, really it is close enough to walk but Emily did not want to walk back up the hill after going out for drinks, and we went to the Aptera Taverna to hang out. It turns out that the whole village was doing the same thing, it was packed. So was the taverna across the street. And the Cretan Corner in between was pretty busy, as well. There were easily over a hundred people out for dinner and drinks on this little, sleepy corner in the middle of nowhere. So crazy. This is nothing like how it was when we lived in Prines.
Emily got some of the local white wine, which she really liked. I got some raki. We split French fries as a snack. Our next door neighbours from number four up on the hill came down and ate just two tables away from us, too. We really liked the venue, it was super quaint and nice and friendly. What a great little village this is. The one thing, though, is that essentially the entire restaurant was Brits on their holidays. I didn’t see any locals hanging out anywhere. I assume because there are no locals, not because they didn’t go to these places. Aptera has turned into a British holiday village with all of the construction being for ex-pats and vacationers so there are basically no homes anywhere for Greeks to live here and that takes away from the experience a lot. It is a gorgeous location, and the people and services are great, but you do not really get very much real Cretan experience because you are essentially in a multi-owner, outdoor, loosely connected, village scale hotel. When we were in Prines, we were literally the only non-Greeks in the village. Totally different experience.
Emily tried a sip of my raki. It is definitely not for her, she is her father’s daughter.
We hung out until around eleven and came back up to the house. Emily went straight to bed. I worked on getting media transferred so that people can keep up with us. We are starting to fall behind on uploads because we take so much media every day and the Internet here is not fast enough, even working around the clock, to keep up with even the just “moment to moment updates” of our travels! So my top priority is Instagram updates, mostly those I am able to do while we are out and about so that I do not have to use the Internet at the house. Then Flickr is the next big thing, because that stores all of the valuable pictures that are the top priority for later. That I am pretty much able to update during the night so that a day’s worth of photos are online by the next day. Then YouTube gets whatever I am able to upload, which came take quite a long time, as we get only about ten minutes of footage able to be uploaded in a twenty four hour period!