Monday, 14 April 2014

As Easter approaches (Πλησιάζει Πάσχα)

Here are some springtime images of urban and rural Hania, taken during the weekend, for you to savour as you think about your next holiday in Greece, or reminisce about your past ones.

Lazarus Saturday
The presence of family-oriented Northern European tourists on their sunny break was very visible in the town last weekend. We passed a couple with a child, all wearing socks with Birkenstock sandals. We then saw another couple with a child, all looking quite patchy red, especially the man, who was wearing shorts - it's still a little cool here! His shins were the colour of beetroot-coloured water. My daughter made a comment that she could smell suntan lotion in the air, while my husband commented that it had been a long time since he saw such pale faces streaming out of the airport where he was waiting for a fare...

Red roof tiles, stone walls, blue shutters, all under a blue sky surrounded by green trees - this classic Greek image happens to be an old school building in the town centre. These buildings have been reinforced against earthquake damage.

The Venetian harbour, with the lighthouse in the distance. I will never forget my friend's reaction while visiting me in Hania in summer about 20 years ago. I was living with my father in the town centre at the time, so we walked from there through the rather untidy concreted and highly urbanised area of Hania, towards the Venetian harbour. From the hot dusty streets of the town centre, I turned into Halidon St, which is full of tourist shops. You walk down here to get to the Venetian port. The sea is not visible from the top of the street, and you actually have to walk quite a way down before you sight it. My kiwi friend who had been living in London at the time was getting a little agitated (too many people, too hot, not used to sweating profusely, etc) and she was showing a bit too much impatience for such a short walk..Suddenly she saw the lighthouse (you kind of see it before you see the sea), and again very suddenly, she saw the Venetian harbour, and she just about fainted from the beauty of all that imagery coming into view all at once without any warning...

I can imagine the group of friends who had been sitting here enjoying the sunshine, in this narrow lane in the old town...
... right below the minaret, which was probably last in use about a century ago, before the population exchange between Greece and Turkey. 

Greece beckons...

Palm Sunday
The good weather allowed us to clear our orange orchard of tree trimmings. We spent the morning in the field, sapping up the very warm weather.

In the orange orchard, we've also planted a few fruit trees -this one is a nectarine tree. The orchard is surrounded by olive groves, all owned by the extended family.

Since we fenced off the property, there has been less 'traffic' passing through, which has all been beneficial for the naturally occurring flora of the grove. I also found the field full of honeybees. (As long as you don't bother them so that they do not get agitated, they do not cause problems.)

Although Palm Sunday is traditionally celebrated with a fish meal, we had to find an easier option as we were away from the kitchen. The fire from the burning wood doubled up as our cooking fuel.

As we left the field, the sky darkened slightly. By the end of the day, it was raining. That's springtime Crete - the weather is variable. But the rain is highly desirable in an agriculturally rich area like Hania which has a dry run for at least three months in summer.

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