Saturday, 24 May 2014

Strolling (Βόλτα)

I took my Nebraskan charges for a stroll through Hania today.

A Greek shopping experience cannot be complete without a walk through a street market. The biggest one in Hania is, naturally, the Saturday morning one, because people are more likely to do their shopping at the weekend. But a walk through a street market is also a leisure event for many of us. What's more, it takes you outdoors, and the Saturday laiki is located in the most picturesque area of Hania, in the old town, near the Venetian harbor. I got there a little earlier than my group, so I could buy 4kg of tomatos (€2.50) and 1kg of cucumbers €1), and get them back to the car before we went on the stroll.

The tour started off at the crumbling Venetians walls near the street market, which was our meeting point. The walls at this time of the year are full of caper bushes. Then we entered the street market, where I talked about the three different categories of sellers: producers (they sell what they grow), wholesalers (they sell what they buy), and non-food sellers (where you can buy cheap used/new clothes, bags, shoes, curtain fabric, etc). The market is very busy throughout the whole selling period of the day; there isn't a moment it isn't at its peak.

Apart from the regular fruit and vegetable offerings,

... every now and then, we'd stop and try some honey, cheese, olives and desert alcohol that the sellers themselves simply dish out to the visitors. They can tell apart the tourist from the local.

They bought a bunch of chickpeas to peck on while we were walking through the market,

... and they also watched the basket maker doing a bit of on-the-spot weaving,

... while some sellers proudly discussed their wares with the group.

The street market ends at Koum Kapi, where you can take a left turn and end up at the marina near the Venetian harbour.

There's a sponge seller here most days. Note the baskets in the photo - they are the same ones that the man above was weaving.

My Nebraskans enjoyed the harbour most of all, as can only be expected.

And I really enjoyed showing off Hania to them.

We also passed the site where The Two Faces of January was filmed (it's screening now in the UK).

And there were other lovely Greek things to look at apart from the food: they bought Made in Greece sandals, and we passed a unique jewellery store where we found the most exquisite pendants, all made in Iraklio, from shells and precious stones (for my next personal purchase, when I'm rich).

I know my Nebraskan charges were surprised by many things they saw here, but I was also surprised by one thing they told me: the soda/pop/soft drinks and ice-cream here have a better taste than back home, and they taste more natural because they contain real sugar. Come on, America, you can do better than that, surely!

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