This was the villa that we stayed in, up on a hillside in Chania. The day that we arrived the woman who was waiting to hand us the keys was helping a goat deliver its kid by the roadside. A lovely introduction to the rural life of Crete.
In the guest book, among the usual platitudes, were two comments that stood out.
‘Every morning at 4.00am a blackbird woke us up, tapping at the window.’
It did the same to us as well. Not just tapping either, but rapping. Knocking hard. At 4.00am-did I mention that part? Every morning on the dot. I couldn’t fathom out why. There were no insects on the pane that he could have been trying to gobble up. And he couldn’t have been attracted due to being fed by guests in the past as the window was on the landing and did not open. Poe, anyone?
Soon again I heard a tapping somewhat louder than before.
The other comment was:
‘What is the creature in the roof?
What a great premise for a story. I still haven’t written it.
Trying to eat as healthy as the locals do. When in Rome. Or rather Chania. That black and white cow cuddly toy does not belong to me, honestly.
When tasting the air of Rethymnon, who can fail to be inspired? Strolling along the Venetian harbour at sunset we were all transformed into poets and artists, as the locals tried to sell to us their own created arts and crafts.
We went to the ruined 6th century church of St.Titus, but did not cater for the idea of siesta time. It was closed, but we could view the still standing apse from the rear.
Returning back to the villa we stumbled upon the war cemetery of Souda Bay. Our stay on the island coincided with the anniversary of the Battle of Crete in World War Two, and there had been an earlier ceremony there, many graves festooned with wreaths and flowers. The one that remains in my mind was a British one with a bouquet left before it, a card explaining that these flowers were from a woman who was making the visit on behalf of her Mum who had never been able to. Then, the touching line:
To the Dad I never met but have never stopped loving.
From one grave to another: standing at the grave of Nikos Kazantzakis, in Heraklion.
He was the author perhaps best known for Zorba The Greek and The Last Temptation. Although his writing style has dated, I like his books and have read several, my favourite one being known to us as Christ Recrucified. The Last Temptation was made by Scorsese into the film The Last Temptation Of Christ which was condemned by both the Vatican and the Church of Greece. Kazantzakis responded:
“You gave me a curse, Holy fathers, I give you a blessing: may your conscience be as clear as mine and may you be as moral and religious as I.”
A good comeback, I think. The inscription on his grave reads:
I hope for nothing. I fear nothing. I am free.
The villa at night.
Despite family screams caused by hand-sized, zebra striped spiders, it was great to sit outside beneath the stars. That place remains the best viewing place of the heavens that I have found myself in.
My daughter and I-our last day on Cretan soil.
One of the many brown eyed local women gave us a charm bracelet for her on account of her bright, blue eyes. “Those blue eyes. We call them crazy eyes!” I got the impression, although they were smiling and appeared friendly, the bracelet was actually some kind of talisman for warding off the evil eye. The magic wasn’t particularly strong-It broke on the flight home.