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Monday, 29 February 2016

Feidias' story (Φειδίας)

We are experiencing beautiful weather these days, maybe too beautiful for the month of February. We long for rain, which hasn't come in a while to Hania, and this worries us for the coming summer when our water needs are increased in the very hot weather. While we are waiting for Μάρτης γδάρτης to come, we decided to enjoy the good weather at the weekend with a trip to the small village of Sfinari on the west coast of Crete in the region of Kissamos. A friend had recommended to us an excellent fish taverna in the area, where only fresh line-caught fish is cooked by a family of four brothers, headed by their father Feidias. It was a perfect day to try it out.

On the way to Sfinari. The small island in the middle of the photo is Pontikonisi ('mouse-island'), located close to 'insanely awesome Balos', which is hiding behind the mountain.

The west coast of Crete is appealing for its isolation and remoteness, combined with its wilderness. It's basically off the beaten track. We would not have gone there ourselves had it not been for our friend's suggestion (he is related to the owners). Feidias' taverna is located by the sea, but during the off season in the winter period, when the sea is not so alluring, Feidias and his family operate the business from a building located on the main road of this very peaceful village, close to their home, and mainly at weekends. When we arrived, we found one of his sons preparing hooks and lines, while another was in the kitchen cooking. As Feidias explained to us, their customers are mainly friends, and friends of friends, who usually phone them beforehand to tell them that they are coming. Apart from one other couple, we were the only customers in the restaurant. By the time we left in the middle of the afternoon, some more of his friends had turned up.

Feidias

"Please excuse me," Feidias said, as he took a chair from a nearby table and set it next to me, joining our table. He was curious to find out who our friend was that recommended his restaurant to us. While we were talking, in his sailor's song-song voice, he told us his story, a story that carries great relevance for the times we are living in.

One of Feidias' sons, cooking and serving in the restaurant. 

"My father was a fisherman. I became a fisherman too, and my sons have now entered the same line of business. From a very young age, I was always involved with the sea. That was all we had here, and this is what gave us our food. My father fished for a living. He sold his fish to the residents of nearby villages. When I was young, I told my father that I wanted to join a fishing ship. He let me go. There was little else to do in those days and you took your chances. I sailed to Africa where I spent many months. When I returned, I spent very little time back at home before I was on another boat. By the time I finished my sailing years, I had been to many places around the world. There isn't an ocean that I haven't sailed in..

Another of Feidias' sons, setting up fishing hooks and lines

"My last journey took me to New York. I was 19 years old and looking for luck. So I jumped ship. It seemed the most natural thing to do. I knew I was an illegal immigrant, and for the next 18 months, I feared the sight of any figure of authority that got in my way. In those days, there was a lot of work available in America. I had spent many years working in the sea, and this was my first job working on firm ground. I landed work in the textile industry, with a Jewish employer who had a clothing factory. I worked 16 to 23 hours a day. It sounds like a lot of work, but I was young, and I had no idea how hard I was working then. Everything seems so easy when you're young.

Feidias and his wife

"I worked and worked, saving money and avoiding the police. I was always worried about the police. I came so close to them one day when I was in a shop buying food. Some people came into the shop and attacked the cashier. I was caught up in the robbery. The shop owner tried to close the doors quickly but the mechanism didn't work. If the doors had closed, I would have been stuck inside the shop when the police arrived. I could hear the sirens of the police cars. Luckily, I managed to slip out the door just in time.


Feidias' wife is cleaning salty sea greens, Cretan seaweed, which is pickled and served in salads.

"The robbery made me think about going back to the safety of my island home. I had travelled to so many countries around the world in such a short time, but I never came across a country I wanted to live in. Eventually I found a passage on a ship, and left New York. My first job back home was to find a wife. I married a fellow villager at the age of 22 and had six children, 4 sons and 2 daughters. I opened the taverna 40 years ago. My children love their homeland in the same way that I do, even though they never took to the high seas in the way I did. They've never felt the need to leave. Things are different now - in my youth, the need to get away from our background of poverty was great. But my greatest desire all those years away was to return to my homeland. I may not have made as much money as I could have, but I have a better quality of life here. My family continues to live off the sea."

Octopus, sun-dried and grilled, slightly chewy with a soft interior
Marida Spicara smaris, a kind of sardine, lightly fried
Cuttlefish, grilled
Cod (European hake), fried
(plus the usual fried potatoes and fresh seasonal salad)
All the fish were caught by Feidias and his sons. The reason why we didn't order any calamari or shrimp is because they hadn't caught any at this time.

Feidias' story of his travels over the sea, his desire for self-improvement, and his eventual return home have a certain resonance with the major crisis that Greece is living through at this very moment. Whether the human convoy of moving people are refugees, economic migrants, or opportunists, they all share a common desire to live a better life, which may be found in another country far from their own. At the same time, we can't underestimate the yearning of most people in the world to live a quality life in their own homeland.

Most of Feidias' family still live in Sfinari. The ones that don't have gone as far as Kissamos town. They all fish for a living. Whatever fish are not needed for the taverna continue to be sold in the villages of the region by car. They will soon be moving to the premises of the summer taverna by the sea, once the summer tourist season kicks off. They will definitely be seeing us again some time soon.


©All Rights Reserved/Organically cooked. No part of this blog may be reproduced and/or copied by any means without prior consent from Maria Verivaki.

Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Movers and hotspots

The war in Syria created a refugee crisis, which turned into a migration crisis, which has now turned into a crisis of people continually on the move. I call these people 'movers': we no longer know if they are refugees or economic migrants or opportunists. The crisis has now reached the stage where Greece has become the largest concentration camp (aka 'hotspot') in Europe. As the weather improves, more and more movers will make the journey; there seems to be absolutely no way of stopping them from moving. Since they are using the sea and not the land to make their move, the only way to stop them from making the crossing from Turkey to Greece is to push them back into the sinking rubber dinghies they came in, and let them drown. It's a completely different thing to push people back into the water, compared to pushing people back behind a fence. The former implies certain death, while the latter implies a great amount of discomfort: hunger, thirst, squalor, homelessness - but not death.

The hotspot at Schisto, an industrial zone noted for its rampant poverty and Roma camps, just outside Athens centre (it was featured in the BBC's recently-broadcast travel documentary about Greece which I reviewed here: http://www.organicallycooked.com/2016/02/greece-with-simon-reeve-bbc.html).

One could say it is Greece's fault that this is happening. When SYRIZA seized power (it wasn't exactly an easy governmental transition) just over a year ago, during their campaigning they had specifically stated that they would 'open the borders to everyone' (see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l36y0pG4tlg - it's in Greek). Although the wall built on the border of Greece and Turkey has never been opened to allow the movers to come through, the movers have risked their lives to get to Greece (ie 'Europe' in their minds) with overcrowded unseaworthy vessels, wearing overpriced fake life-jackets made in Turkey.

Armed forces checking movers' documents, in order to enable them to leave the hotspot to continue their journey to the Greek border so that they can continue to walk through Europe by crossing into the former Yugoslavian republic of Macedonia.

But this is all by the by now. The fact is that these people would have made the move, whether via Greece or another country. While the movers keep coming, Greeks will continue to let them through. We'll feed, clothe and house them (that part is the least of the ordeal that both the movers and the Greeks face), but that's about it. I know it's not what the movers expect, but it's one of those things that are at the same time both right and wrong. We just don't have the heart to push them back into the water and let them drown. Heaven forbid we ever acquire such traits. The bottom line is: What would the world prefer to see? Lesbos-style movers, or Lampedusa-style?

Many new movers arrived on Tuesday morning in Piraeus harbour (Athens) after traveling from the Greek islands (notably Lesbos) where they originally entered Greece/Europe. If they want to avoid going to a hopspot, they make their way to the centre of Athens to Victoria Square.

Greeks are doing both the right thing and the wrong thing by allowing them to land on Greek soil, and other countries are also in their right not to allow them to pass onto their soil, which again is also wrong. In both cases, the movers find themselves in relative safety. What they will do after they arrive in Greece or hang around the Greek border is quite predictable: if they aren't permitted entry into another country by legal means, they will find a way to do it illegally. Look what happened just under two years ago in Crete (see http://www.organicallycooked.com/2014/04/trapped.html). After those movers arrived here, most of them left the area by various illegal means which aren't reported in the press - they did not wait for official help.


Trapped in Idomeni (a Greek border town), since the former Yugoslavian republic of Macedonia is stopped allowing Afghan movers through the border.

Unlike the Brexiteers of our times, Greeks don't fear immigration at all. I don't know if it’s fair to say this, but the truth is that Greeks no longer care so much about the origins or intentions of these movers, because it is an accepted fact now from all parties concerned with the European migration crisis that the movers don’t actually want to stay in Greece. So we know that we will see them go eventually, whether by legal or illegal means. We don’t mind helping them, because of our innate trait to share things with others. Greeks regard foreigners as exotic: foreigners could be a guest, host, stranger or friend, before they are regarded as a nuisance or an enemy. We still see the 'xenos' in a similar way to the ancient Greeks. So no one really worries much now about seeing these people in our country. We all know they don't want to be here. They want to go somewhere else, and that's what they will do. They aren't tourists coming here for a sunny holiday or to see the sights.

The humane way that Greece has treated the movers is really quite incredible, considering that other European countries have now taken on fascist elements in their politics:
"Going against the current of the rising xenophobia in Europe, many Greeks are mobilizing for the refugees who are flocking to their country. Thanks to the mobilization of the radical anti-racism left, even the influence of the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn is declining."  http://www.liberation.fr/planete/2016/02/16/en-grece-le-probleme-n-est-plus-le-racisme-mais-la-pauvrete_1433818
While Switzerland and Denmark are confiscating movers' possessions; Poland and Hungary refuse to take in any movers; the former Yugoslavian republic of Macedonia built a barbed wire wall overnight (what for? to pander to the EU's fancies? the movers don't want to stay in their country either); a Belgian mayor insisted on passing a law saying that feeding movers is illegal (like they do for seagulls, to stop them from coming); Sweden is rejecting close to 100,000 asylum claims; Austria is allowing in just 80 movers per day (100,000 have made the crossing in less than 2 months); Brexiteers base their belief that Britain will be better outside the EU on immigration fears together with the mistaken belief that we can be independent in a world where borders are now a figment of the imagination; Germans are voicing their fears of the islamificaiton of Europe;, in Greece, we are collecting food and clothes for the movers, building pre-fabricated housing to shelter them, and as yet, there has not been heard one single claim that movers are raping Greek women.

The teenager is accused of attacking the woman at a migrant centre in Belgium. Many right-wing protesters (pictured) took to the streets after the Cologne sex attacks, which they blamed on the influx of migrants
This photo appeared in the British Daily Mail today. In another Daily mail article published today, a headline reads: "Taxpayers [in the UK] face bill of millions to tackle EU migrant crisis: Demand for refugee fund after arrivals soar to 102,000."  

In a very recent article (dated 11/2/16) in the Grexit-leaning (and generally speaking not-very-pro-Greece) Guardian, a highly leftist activist bandies about the racist Golden Dawn cliche by stating point-blank in his article:
"In austerity-ravaged Greece, the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn terrorises immigrants." http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/feb/11/economic-crisis-europe-far-right-left-alternative-austerity
The writer clearly stereotypes Greek politics, without considering that Greek politics has evolved in so short a space of time. The simple truth is that we no longer hear many news stories of this type. Golden Dawn has 'evolved', just like Syriza has, because they both needed to. Golden Dawn has virtually disappeared from the streets. Greece has been and is still being billed as a racist country, but our reaction to the movers flooding our country is far from racist.

Last night's Greek TV news was as one would expect dominated by stories about the moving people, showing scenes of confusion and abandonment. I listened to one of the movers speaking to a reporter as he waited at Idomeni (the Greek border town at the border between Greece and the former Yugoslavian republic of Macedonia), presumably hoping that the border would eventually open. Many of the movers speak very good English, and I heard him say something along the lines to the following:
"Thank you for your hospitality. You have been very kind to us. But we don't want to stay here. We will go to Germany. We will go there no matter what, and we will have a good life. We cant stay here. We must go."
If I have one reservation about the movers, it's their final intentions. The movers seem to want to live in a Western European city where they will be given a job and a home. They fail to understand how unreasonable their demands are. Not everyone in Europe is able to have what they want, yet here we have a very large group of people who - in the mind of the average European (and Brexiteer, because they don't feel European, they feel British) - have not paid their dues in order to be able to live in such comfort.


Listen to the movers speaking (in very good English) about their present ordeal in Greece - this video was filmed yesterday. 

The movers are city people, and they want city breaks. They don't seem to understand that since they have chosen to move to another country, it isn't up to them where they will be placed. They need to understand that their present needs are different from their future desires. If they are offered something like a chance to live and work on the land, they should be prepared to take it. If not, this is where the racism will start, and they will have started it themselves.

The fact is that they can indeed stay in Greece, in a similar way to how 1 million refugees from Asia Minor were incorporated into a much smaller Greece in terms of territory in 1922-3. The Asia Minor refugees were given land on which they could build a home and feed themselves. Greece is still underdeveloped in many parts of the country, and there are many abandoned villages, especially in Crete, where is so much unused land. It's already being done in some parts of Spain and Italy (see http://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/feb/23/jobs-refugees-godfather-corleone-sicily-mafia-cosa-nostra).

My understanding is that although the Greek government doesn't have the funds needed to help the movers, I'm sure that other states would help my country if only the movers themselves showed a willingness to stay in Greece. In fact, I would rather see them in my country than in Turkey, or wandering around fascist fear-mongering states. But they have to want to stay. If they don't want to stay, I cannot feel anything for them.

What will happen to the movers if they aren't able to move on after all? No one really knows. They wont stay in Greece, that's for sure. They'll keep in moving, perhaps even returning back to where they came from. They know Greece is a poor country - they can see her poverty in the way they are treated, and perhaps in the chaotic conditions that they are met with on arrival. One thing is certain: The crisis of the human convoy looks like a Greek problem, but this is not true. It is a pan-European crisis. If the movers haven't reached you yet, they're bound to be coming your way soon.

By stopping them from entering other countries, they may get the message, that they are not wanted there, or anywhere else for that matter. And this just might stop them from continuing to move. And then, defeated, they may move in reverse, going back to where they came from. That's why whatever we do is both right and wrong ay the same time. It's only right to let them in, and by keeping them out, we are telling them that they can't stay here. There is nothing for them. And so they will go, and the flow of the human convoy of movers will eventually stop. Until then, Greece will continue to let them in. Eventually, they will stop coming. At least, that is what we hope.

All photos published yesterday in protagon: for more photos, see http://www.protagon.gr/galleries/psyxes-pisw-apo-syrmata-44341062208

©All Rights Reserved/Organically cooked. No part of this blog may be reproduced and/or copied by any means without prior consent from Maria Verivaki.

Tuesday, 16 February 2016

Greece with Simon Reeve (BBC)

The month saw the screening of the much-touted BBC documentary about Greece with Simon Reeve. The videos were uploaded to youtube as soon as they were shown, which I found strange, as the BBC doesn't usually allow their copyrighted works to be shown freely on the web. (They've been taken down now, no surprise there!) This is how I got a chance to see them. The two-part documentary was really quite OK in most ways, and I must say that SR showed great empathy for Greece and the Greeks, but some aspects of the issues raised on the show seemed to miss their global relevance, perhaps showing a tad of the extreme side of Greek life. Sensationalism does sell, after all. Here are my thoughts about the documentaries.

PART 1
>
I was really surprised that a such a big melodramatic deal was made in the first part about the sponge diver's loss of income - shouldn't the trade be banned in the first place, given its over-consumptive nature? Seriously, the Mediterranean Sea has been raped enough and has become sick and almost barren. The sponge diver needs to diversify, so to speak. As for his home island (Pserimos) which has 30 people living on it in winter, I'd be interested to know what he and those 30 or so people do to preserve their lifestyle on an island that relies heavily on another island (Kalimnos) for food (and possibly water) supplies - we can't expect everything to be handed to us by the government. I wouldn't expect life to be so stagnant and unchanging for future generations. We need to think more seriously about being more self-sufficient.

I'm not surprised SR chose to an island that has seen an influx of migrants. Refugee tourism has brought Hollywood actors and high-profile artists to the island in recent times. But SR visited the area before people started drowning in the Mediterranean Sea. So his visit there is already dated in terms of when the show was made public. Yes, the situation looked surreal with the tourists and refugees virtually side by side, and the mainstay economy of the island - tourism - could be affected. But from SR's conversations with some of the refugees, it is uncannily obvious that from early on in the refugee crisis, they were being somewhat 'misinformed' about what they will find on the other side. The border is free, the Afghan boy says. This myth is now being debunked by the returnee migrants from Germany, who decided to be repatriated to their homelands. The Euronews TVchannel showed Iranian and Afghan migrants at a German airport, discussing why they were disenchanted with Europe - they thought that they would get a home and job immediately on arrival to Germany, but they had spent six months in a camp by the time they decided that they would leave. This link alludes to what followed: http://www.wsj.com/articles/some-migrants-in-germany-want-to-go-home-1453672274 . By the way, tourism numbers on refugee hotspot islands were generally not affected by the refugee crisis in 2015 (the aviation authority publishes stats at the end of every tourist season), although it's likely that these islands will suffer in terms of prebooking numbers for 2016.

Concerning Cretan gun culture, the shots are being fired against the BBC's handling of this issue: http://www.candianews.gr/2016/02/08/412673/ I live in Crete, we have guns in the house, but there is just no way that we view guns in the way described in the show! SR mentions that holding a gun is not part of his culture - tell me about it! The gun-toting priest is an 'aberration' similar to the choice of the suburb of Exarcheia (Athens) to 'see' how Greek people are feeling. SR picked out places with 'action', in the same way that he chose Kiffissia for its wealth. All capital cities in the world have their rich suburbs and poor suburbs. But even a 'poor' person can live in a wealthy suburb. Greek poverty today is not about not having enough money to survive - it's about the rapid impoverishment suffered by people whose lives took a 180-degree turn in such a short space of time. As for that 'scumbag' who didn't want to be filmed - excuse me? Whatever this young man believes in, isn't it a global right to demand privacy? He couldnt see where SR's camerapeople were pointing, so he assumed that they may have been filming him too. As for the curses made by the young man and his friends, SR did not realise they were empty threats; Greeks make them often - just like the death threats that were made by the gun-toting priest.

It's interesting to note that one of the farmers SR spoke to in Crete mentioned how the mountain-dwelling Cretan is ταλαιπωρημένος - meaning 'very tired, very weary, afflicted by troubles'. He did not show the vehicles that were used by the farmers to get up to the mitato (mountain huts). I bet it's the kind of car I can't afford to own myself. Their 'weary' life is very prosperous. Whereas once a Cretan farmer would walk 18 km a day and drive 2km, nowadays, the average is 2km of walking and 18km of driving.

SR was shocked to see children working on the landfill site. No mention was made of the cultural background of these children. They were Roma, not Greek. Of course, all children are children, and we mustnt discriminate between cultures. But I'm sure that SR would be equally shocked to hear that some children of traveller people (the euphemism for gypsy-Romany) probably also dont go to school, like these kids, and are probably raised in not-so-sanguine environments. The container town that he visited is simply not Greek. It does not represent how 'real' poor Greeks live. But no mention was made of the Roma in the show. It was all Greek to SR.

A friend asked me what I thought of the bit where the priest mentions WW2 in connection with the economic crisis, and says something to the likes of 'Merkel and Shaueble can't forgive Greece for hindering Hitler's plans'. What was said by the priest shows how much he has confused historical events. The idea of the Germans taking over Greece is part and parcel of the conspiracy theories that Greeks often create, which adds to their delusion in their (mis)understanding of events. Germany is not trying to take over Greece: Germany is simply trying to get back (some of) the money it gave to Greece in the form of loans with signed contracts. there are many Greeks who think that Greece should not pay back those loans and they tend to mix up what happened in WW2 with the present crisis. But the two dont go together at all. The war was a terrible time and yes, Greeks were treated harshly by Germans during the 1940s, but this has little to do with the leniency that Greece was treated with in the 1980s when they first started taking out foreign loans. We generally dont like the idea of Germany telling Greece what to do with our economy, and Germany has hinted in many ways how Greece must change tact in this respect, but that doesnt mean that Germany wants to take over Greece. There are a small group of people who even think that Germany should come and run some aspects of the Greek economy, given the incompetence of our government at this time. No one can doubt this - this particular govrnment, no matter how loveable they are with our tie-less prime minister, or how much more desirable they appear given the conservative opposition's track record for similar brutality when it comes to lowering budget costs, SYRIZA cannot hide its incompetence.

PART 2


SR discusses the lucrative Greek shipping trade, saying that rich shipowners have become richer while poor dock workers are poorer because the work has diminished and they are being run out of their jobs. But the jobs were lost well before the crisis, due to way globalisation has changed trade, and because of cheaper outsourcing. On a personal note, the video shows the ANEK ships from the Chania-based company at the ship graveyard in Perama, KRITI 1 and LATO - boy, has my family 'done' those two ships in particular, until they were FINALLY pulled out of service. SR probably doesn't know that ANEK, a once thriving company, got in financial trouble due to mismanagement of funds. Whereas ANEK's ships exclusively took us to Athens (because they scared away the opposition by providing a lot of freebies to their most important customers, mainly truck drivers shipping fresh produce up north, and allowing them to accrue debts, coupled with over-hiring staff, especially φίλοι of φίλων, if you get my gist), ANEK now works with BLUE STAR ferries (I returned from Athens using one of their ships last Sunday). When mismanagement has completely scratched off the surface, it digs down deeper, rotting the core.

SR mentions that he will be going to the Peloponnese, but I think he barely touched on the area. The Peloponnese is a main producer of olive oil, fruit and veges, like Crete, so the Peloponnese is our competition, and since they are connected to the mainland, they have the upper edge. SR (who says he loves Greece) chose the strawberry industry of the Peloponnese to showcase modern slavery in Greek agriculture. He shows the tents in the fields where the migrants live: isn't this similar to the problems faced by strawberry pickers in the UK, which were also highlighted in the tragicomic novel by Marina Lewycka "Two Caravans" http://marinalewycka.com/caravans.html? SR then makes the gravest of errors by comparing Greece with Bangladesh, tut-tutting that he's seen better living conditions in his travels there, completely omitting to mention that modern slavery involving desperate immigrants is in fact a worldwide problem, especially rife in all developed countries. And then he asks a migrant what happened to him once: "They pulled out guns?" SR sounds astonished to hear this. This is so staged: he makes no mention of the #bloodstrawberries scandal (see http://www.organicallycooked.com/2013/04/blood-strawberries.html ). The topic was treated as a crisis subject in Greece: the Bangladeshis say they get 22 euro a day in takings from a hard job, but one worker says he has been there 16 years. The low pay does not urge him to leave, obviously. Immigrant workers are undocumented migrants, so they are in a country illegally; it's a lose-lose situation.

I seriously wondered at this point if SR's boss (BBC) wanted to showcase the negative aspects of Greece using distorted truths. For example, he says that the Peloponnese is a prosperous European farming community: no it isn't - it's just a prosperous GREEK farming community. Greek agriculture is seriously underestimated by our European partners (mainly due to transportation difficulties). The human rights worker on the strawberry farm tells us that Greeks have moved away from farming jobs over the years. Yes they have, that's why we need migrant workers, because we are too busy doing 'higher level' jobs, or trying to start up businesses of on a 'higher' level than picking fruit. That's why we don't go back to these jobs unless they are family-oriented (eg picking olive oil from one's own fields, for one's own supplies). These jobs are seasonal, whereas the popular startups that are now trending are for work all year round. Fruit picking can still be regarded by some as a middle class way for white people to get experience in getting their hands dirty. It's seen as a temporary in-between kind of job, not a permanent lifestyle choice.

SR is also very deviant in his narrative: he gets on a train in the Peloponnese and goes to Thessaloniki, and you think it's the same time period. But it's summer in the first documentary and at the end of the train journey, he's wearing winter clothes at an OXI military parade on October 26 to be precise, on St Dimitrios' feastday, the patron saint of Thessaloniki...  So the first part of the documentary was clearly filmed in summer, while the second part was filmed in autumn. (At the end of the video, I confirm this: SR finds himself at an olive harvest, work done in autumn in the north of the country - in Crete, the olive harvest goes on in winter too, because of the warmer climate). The tanks parade is a good moment for SR to allude to the SIEMENS affair (where Greeks bought stuff which they didn't need from Germans who gave their clients bonuses for choosing them - Siemens had money to burn).

"Look at this," SR says, "the bars and restaurants are full!" Yes, they are Simon, because you are in Thessaloniki on October 26, which was a Monday in 2015, and a holiday in Thessaloniki due to the patron saint's feastday (hence Thessaloniki had a 3-day weekend then!) and two days later there was a national holiday (OXI day on October 28), and many people would have used the opportunity of the 'light' week to take a day off on Tuesday, hence they had a 5-day weekend. So no, it wasn't that Greeks find austerity hard to live with as SR suggests, that had anything to do with the full bars and restaurants in the town; it was St Dimitrios feastday, a holiday in Thessaloniki, and people were out treating friends and family. SR knows nothing about the meaning of γιορτές. And when he's in the bar, he says, "Look, they're throwing flowers!" Well, we throw rice at weddings, and leave the tomatoes, eggs and yoghurt  for protests - everything has its place!

SR says he's seen a lot of poverty in Greece but Greeks seem rich enough to enjoy themselves, but he doesn't realise that entertainment prices have gone down over the years. Seriously, just 5 euros for a pot of flowers to be tossed at the singer? It cost more in the heydays! This parody of the pre-crisis period may help explain what I am talking about, especially in the following verse:

"Στων μπουρζουάδων τα events και τα μασκαραλίκια
(At the masquerade parties of the bourgeoisie
αποζητάς να βρίσκεσαι με όλα τα καθίκια
(you seek to find yourself among the assholes)
μα ξέχασες ξυπόλυτη πως μάζευες ραδίκια.
(but don't forget how, barefoot, you once foraged wild greens)"

Greeks know very well that the good days are over. But that won't stop them from enjoying life, never. "I'm slightly hammered," SR admits. "It doesn't take much to be honest," he adds. Is he alluding to the English alcohol problem?! In his moment of truth, his inner German tells him to save money, while his inner Greek tells him to party while you can, and his inner Greek wins...

I learnt a few things about the bears used in circuses from SR's choice of topics about Greece, although I'm not sure quite what he was trying to highlight with them. SR possibly picked this topic to discuss animal abuse in Greece. But this has changed too, and in a big way. (See http://www.organicallycooked.com/2015/04/agia-marina-donkey-rescue.html). And the fact that we still have bears in Greece shows that biodiversity is protected not just by sheer luck, but because we do not exploit nature in the way that the rich north has done. For instance, the fact that we still have bears in Greece, while the UK's bears were wiped out long ago must say something about nature being allowed to take its course. Somewhere in my reading, I learnt that Greece has the greatest rates of biodiversity in the whole of Europe, precisely due to its low 'protection' levels for nature - nature is left to its own devices, and it can thrive in this way, as with the sheepdog example that SR mentions.

The mine engineer in the coal mines of the north mentions cold temperatures of -20C which means that SR is probably in Ptolemaida - why SR doesn't mention place names is anyone's guess. He does this consistently in the second part of the documentary. Check this photo: http://www.zougla.gr/assets/images/1643418.jpg - we see this exact scene in the video. But not once does he mention that he is in Macedonia. I wonder why? Is it because he's trying to avoid reference to a place which can be the name of a part of Greece or the name of another country, at least as the UK uses the term? I can't really answer that. When the earth was being blown up at the coal mine, we hear SR say "That's a bit worrying with Greek health and safety being what it is". Well, that did not stop him from becoming a modern day Icarus when he used a paraglide-bicycle in Iraklio in PART 1 of the documentary (see PART 1). Without being an expert, I'd say health and safety is quite rigorous on work sites of this nature in Greece; when accidents happen (and of course, they do, like they do everywhere), it's because someone was lax about following the rules.

SR seems to know all the sensational topics in Greece. For example, cremation. When he visits Mt Athos, he 'finds out' that you can't be cremated in Greece. But he is already dated on that one - you will soon be able to be cremated in Greece. Since the death of the Greek actor Hatzisavvas last year who wanted to be cremated ( see http://www.protothema.gr/culture/article/532492/minas-hatzisavvas-stis-12-i-kideia-tou-sto-exoteriko-tha-metaferthei-i-soros-tou-gia-apotefrosi/ ), the issue has come back to the fore, and even in a place like Crete, the idea was voted in by a majority ONLY YESTERDAY (!!!), while the church expressed its objections and took a backseat view http://www.haniotika-nea.gr/sizitisi-gia-dimiourgia-apotefrotiriou-sto-dimotiko-simvoulio-irakliou-antitheti-i-topiki-ekklisia/

Μt Athos is pretty much out of bounds for me, so I can't really comment on the no meat, no women rules of the area. I know enough homosexuals who have visited it. 'Nuff said... (See http://www.organicallycooked.com/2012/01/way-we-were-greek-girl-in-london.html ). I have no idea about the breakaway church on the peninsula who are being chased out of the area. No females, right? Won't be long, then... SR tells us that the monks have learnt to cope with just the bare necessities. If they are getting things smuggled in to them, I'm sure some luxuries will be finding their way in with those bare necessities. The north does really good sausages... As for that quip by the monk: "Orthodoxy without Greece can survive but Greece without Orthodoxy cannot survive", keep in mind the bullshit that the gun-toting priest from Crete said about nationalism in the first part of the BBC documentary (see Part 1 above) - these priests are just speaking for themselves. The church is pretty much losing its pull. If it really wanted to stay in power in the minds of the average Greek, it would have offered to pay property taxes. Since it doesn't, it now has to find a way to come to terms with its being sidelined. Same-sex cohabitation has been voted in, and cremation is on its way. Greek Orthodox priests fear that their public-service salaries will one day be cut. They know they are nearly over.

SR's final foray into Greek culture is a village in Thrace where we see only Muslim women wearing headscarves. Thrace is in fact two parts of a prefecture stuck in two different countries. SR chose to show the 'extreme' side of the Greek part of Thrace. There's plenty of Greekness about Thrace too. Whereas Western Thrace is in Greece, Eastern Thrace is in modern-day Turkey. During the population exchange of 1922, the Greek Thracians in the eastern villages left, but the Turkish Thracians on the western side remained. This is because of the Treaty of Lausanne, an agreement that allowed some Muslims to stay in Greece and some Christians to stay in Turkey. The Muslims remained in Western Thrace, whereas the Greeks stayed in the Constantinople of the time which is of course now called Istanbul. My Greek friends from Eastern Thrace are mainly to be found in America these days (see http://www.organicallycooked.com/2011/11/saragli.html ). The Muslim women doing a Greek lesson are actually speaking Greek very fluently, albeit with an accent. But regional dialects still exist all over the country. Cretans are regarded to speak Greek with a heavy accent, as are Mitilineans (see the video here: http://www.ekathimerini.com/205800/gallery/ekathimerini/community/we-know-what-it-means-to-be-a-refugee-say-lesvos-grandmothers ) People living in border areas are nearly always multi-lingual. My son's fencing instructor for example speaks Greek, Serbian and Bulgarian, having grown up in the Greek border town of Florina in Macedonia, Northern Greece. "When we're bored, we go and have coffee with friends in Belgrade," he joked to me the other day.

I liked SR's analysis of the Greeks being proud and strong willed and not getting mad about being told what to do. This is the reason why Greece is in such a bad state at the moment. Greeks know there is a 'better' way, but they aren't patient enough to go down that track. Modern Greece is indeed a young country, as SR mentions. Returning to the land is bringing Greeks back to their roots as they try to adapt to the changes that have been forced on them. But SR spoils it for me at the end of the video when he starts his condescending spiel about Greece's future. It's that do-gooder quality of the north European which gets to me. Everyone thinks they have the right solution for Greece without asking the Greeks if that's the solution they want for themselves. No more foreign intervention please: as Greeks, we've had enough of it.

Overall, I think SR did manage to show the Greek people's accumulated anger and their desire to see things change. But it's a show after all, and some extreme aspects of Greek life have been sensationalised. That's what sells, after all.

©All Rights Reserved/Organically cooked. No part of this blog may be reproduced and/or copied by any means without prior consent from Maria Verivaki.

Monday, 8 February 2016

The multicultural layers of Hania (Τα πολυπολιτισμικά Χανιά)

A tour of the multicultural layers of Hania within the old walls

The tour has been specially organised for MAICh students, in conjunction with the MAICh Students Council.
Date: Sunday, 12.15pm, 7th of February, 2016
Meeting point: AGORA
Guide: Your English teacher
Carry an umbrella in case of rain - the tour will not be cancelled.


Some things to know before we start:
Crete is first mentioned in the Odyssey by Homer in ancient Greek poetry:
"There is a land called Crete in the midst of the wine-blue sea,
a beautiful and fertile land, skirted by the sea; in it are many
people, innumerable, and there are ninety cities.
Language with language is mingled together. There are Akhaians,
there are great-hearted Eteocretans, there are Kydones,
and Dorians in their three clans, and noble Pelasgians." [Homer, Odyssey 19, lines 172 - 177]

- in ancient times, Chania was known as the Minoan town of Kydonia
- before Christianity, Crete is conquered by the Dorians, an ancient Greek tribe, ca. 1100 BC
- Roman rule: first Byzantine period, ca. 320-820
- short period of Arab rule, ca. 820-840
- the Byzantines regain control of Crete, ca. 840-1204
- Venetian rule: 1204-1645
- Ottoman rule: 1645-1830
The Greek Revolution takes place in 1821 but Crete remains under Ottoman rule.
- Egyptian rule, by order of the British: 1830-1840
- the Ottomans regain control of Crete: 1840-1898
- Crete is an independent state: 1898-1913
- Crete becomes part of the Greek state: 1913

The society and/or the population of Crete has also been influenced by the following factors:
- arrival of refugees from Asia Minor after the population exchange: 1922-23
- Nazi occupation: 1940-1944
- arrival of repatriated Russian Greeks (Pontians): 1980s
- arrival of Eastern European immigrants after the fall of communism: 1990s

Multicultural symbols are found all over the island, but our tour will stick to the urban part of Hania that is located within the Venetian walls

A - Agora (= Market)
(meeting point)
The Agora was built at the beginning of the 20th century (1911) when Crete was an independent state. It was built on the external part of the old town walls built under Venetian rule. Parts of the walls were demolished at this point to make way for the urban plans of the town for new roads and buildings. (Old buildings of historical importance began to be protected from demolition since 1960.) The Agora marks the new part of the town which began to be built outside the old walls. Before that, the area outside the town walls was regarded as countryside, and rich Haniotes built villas here, most of which are still standing, and have now been converted for use by the public in a variety of ways. The idea for a covered market in this area came from the food sellers of older times who congregated here to serve the needs of the townspeople. Thus, the use of the site has not changed over the years - it was simply formalised in a covered market when originally it was an open-air informal market. The building of the Agora was based on the Halle Puget, the covered market of Marseilles, a neo-classical building built in 1666 and modelled on a Greek temple.

The Agora has always been a meeting point for Haniotes. Mileage to and from Hania which we see on maps and signs is calculated from this point. The market still has an old-fashioned feel to it. It is centrally placed, and it is here that you will find all the traditional Cretan food products: cheeses, rusks, herbs and spices, meat, fruit and vegetables, and of course olive oil. The Christmas tree is placed here every December. Chania was heavily bombed during WW2 when the Nazis occupied Crete, but the Agora was lucky to survive intact, whereas many other buildings in Hania were totally destroyed.

B - Minaret of Ahmet Aga
The minaret on Hatzimihali Ntaliani St is one of the two surviving minarets in Hania, a remnant of Ottoman rule, which lasted longer than in the rest of Greece. In Ottoman Chania, there were 33 minarets in total. Its prominent presence in the town is a clear reminder of the cultural layers of the town's history. The buildings of former conquerors of the island were not always demolished by the new conquerors. People simply built over them or changed the use of the building into something that suited the society at the time. The area of the Ahmet Agha minaret is known as Splantzia, which formed part of the Muslim quarter of Hania during the Ottoman period. Splantzia remains to this day one of the more mysterious parts of the town because it has managed to combine in a harmonised way all the elements of the civilisations that have passed from the island over the centuries. It is inhabited by a wide variety of people: Greeks - both from Crete and other parts of Greece - and migrants, who are mainly Muslim, as well as 'itinerants', travellers and bohemians who come to Hania and stay for a reasonably long period of time, before leaving again.

Across the road from the minaret, we can see a former Catholic monastery for monks built during the Venetian period, which was turned into housing during the Ottoman period. Twenty years ago, it was bought by a very famous Greek hairdresser who worked in Paris. He has transformed the building according to European standards by keeping the Venetian and Ottoman features. The exterior of the building tells us nothing about what the building looks like through the doors - most of the old buildings in the town have very deceptive facades!

Hatzimihali Ntaliani St (named after an 1821 Greek War of Independence hero) is now a pedestrian zone which is very popular as an entertainment venue among the locals. The street also houses Steki Metanaston, the Immigrants' Corner, which gives out information, food and clothing to immigrants who need help. It also organises Greek language classes for beginners. Migrants in Hania are often Muslim, so the area links them with former times. The whole street exudes a foreign air, that doesn't seem to be related to the typical Greek standards of the town.

C - Minaret of Hugar Tzamisi - Agios Nikolaos Church
The church of St Nikolas has a very multicultural history. This church was originally a Catholic monastery from Venetian times, built in the 13th century, probably on an already existing site of another church. It was considered the most important church in the area. When the Ottomans conquered the island, it was turned into a mosque, specifically for the use of the Turkish military. Today it is a Greek Orthodox church dedicated to St Nikolas. It is the only church in the whole of Greece that has a bell tower on one side and a minaret on the other, linking two very different cultures.

The Hugar Tzamisi minaret was considered the most important in the town during the Ottoman era, which is why it has two levels. This minaret was also called the leaning tower of Hania in modern times because it was ready to fall! After prompted calls for its renovation, the minaret has now been restored and is a very distinctive landmark.
It was a very nice day during our walk, and as we passed by the cafes, people looked at us and wondered where we were coming from, since our students are a varied bunch, they all speak foreign languages and some of them wear traditional dress from their own cultures. Some of the shop owners came out and greeted them, as I explained where we were coming from. Generally the town knows about MAICh and its work, but our students don't go out as a visible group so this outing made an impact on the town!
The square where Agios Nikolaos is situated is dedicated to the 1821 Greek war of independence. It has a very old plane tree which has played a historic role. Greek war heroes were hanged here by the Ottomans. There used to be a Turkish kiosk on the square where important Muslims would sit and drink their tea. Unfortunately it didn't survive in modern times. There is also a Turkish hammam underground, no longer in use in modern times, which the Muslims used for washing before they entered the mosque. On the square nowadays we see one of the oldest charity organistions of Hania which started off by helping lonely old people, and has developed in modern times to helping the poor and needy. There is also an old Venetian church on the corner of the square dedicated to St Rocco, who was considered the saint that guarded people against the bubonic plague. This shows that Crete did not remain unaffected by the plague.

BYZANTINE WALLS* 
Like many Mediterranean towns, Hania is a walled town. Walls were built by the various conquerors to keep out enemies. The first walls of Hania were built during Byzantine rule to strengthen it against Arab invasions, using materials from other ancient buildings in the area. The walls were also inhabited in modern times, but people were removed from the area for the walls to be restored and to become a historical monument. The walls of the town were extended under Venetian rule, as the town grew bigger. Both walls are still visible in some parts of the town today. 

ANCIENT KYDONIA 

Chania was originally an ancient Minoan settlement, and the town's name was Kydonia which means 'quince' in Greek. The Minoans lost power once the Greeks conquered them. Crete was first conquered by the Dorians, who are the ancient Greeks, around 1100 BC, which is when the island became Greek.  Kydonia was mentioned in the Odyssey of Homer, which gives it some significance. A glimpse of the Minoan settlement is visible in Kanevarou St, where some excavations have revealed old houses from this time. Hania has been inhabited continually for more than 5500 years, making it one of the oldest towns with continuous habitation in all of Europe. 

NEORIA 
The Neoria are the old Venetian shipyards that were used in the winter to repair ships. During Venetian rule, there was a need for closer presence of the Venetian navy in Crete so Venice built shipyards (the Italians called them 'arsenali'; in Greek, we call them 'neoria'), docks where ships were repaired during the winter. The first two shipyards in Chania were completed in 1526. A total of 20 shipyards were built in Hania over the years before the Venetians left. During the Ottoman occupation, the shipyards fell into disuse. Only 9 survived - 2 at the entrance to the Venetian port, and the 7 that are joined together in arches. During the Ottoman period, they were used predominantly as storerooms, and in modern times, some have been converted into entertainment and exhibition centres. The buildings in this area the old Venetian shipyards used to extend into the sea in older times. When the harbour was extended under Ottoman rule, the neoria were no longer in the sea, and the buildings became storage sheds.

STAFIDIKI
The visible history of some buildings in Hania remains only in their name, as it does with the music cafe-bar Stafidiki. In the past, all the grapes that were not eaten or used to make wine were brought to Stafidiki, the Union of Grape Growers of Hania, where they were dried and turned into sultanas/raisins. Raisins were very important in older times, before sugar became more common, because they were used to sweeten foods. Before 1900, Greece's top export product was raisins. When sugar became more commonly used worldwide as a sweetener, the Greek raisin economy collapsed. So the government banned the use of sugar in the confectionery business and grape syrup (called stafidini) was used instead. Stafidiki was based on the site of the old neoria (shipyards) and operated from 1929 to 1965, when the law against sugar was repealed. After that, the grape drying businesses moved to Iraklio, which was a more central area in Crete. The capital of Crete was also moved from Hania to Iraklio a few years after that, in 1971. Stafidini is still used in confectionery and wine making.

D - Koum Kapi
The area of Koum Kapi is known by its Turkish name which is still in use even today, meaning 'sandy gate', since it is located near a sandy beach. The area was used in the past for the homes of the Halikoutes. These people came from Africa - no one knows exactly where they were from - and they were forced to leave the island after the population exchange in 1922 according to the Treaty of Lasusanne. They were mostly working as boatmen, porters and servants at the Venetian harbour, and lived at Koum Kapi in rough huts. They got their name presumably from the way they spoke - the locals didn't understand what they were saying, so they just called them something equally meaningless.

Η ιστορία της πόλης των Χανίων
Halikoutes at the harbour - this photo hangs above the water fountain in the MAICh restaurant.
Koum Kapi has always been known for its small humble dwellings. Today, it also houses smart, trendy cafeterias on the beachfront. We call Koum Kapi the Greek people's harbour, because the foreign tourists stick to the area of the lighthouse. An open-air theatre is located near the old Venetian walls of the town which is used in the summer for culture and entertainment events. The walls and the buildings seen in this area were built by the Venetians, but some remnants of the Byzantine and Ottoman features are also still visible.

E - The two oldest Neoria

The Neoria (Venetian shipyards) at this point are the two oldest in Hania. They are also the closest to the harbour. More were built on the other side of the port. Up until the 1990s, people lived on the top part of these two shipyards, but the houses were cleared away eventually because they were considered illegally built on archaeological sites of great importance. One of the two shipyards has been renovated and is now the Chania Sailing Club's headquarters.

LIGHTHOUSE - FAROS**
The lighthouse is the symbol of Hania. The Venetians conquered the whole of Crete in 1212. They made Chania their base, and decided to build a new town by extending the walls from Byzantime times. The Venetian harbour was built in stages, and it isn't all natural. But it wasn't until about 1595 that the Venetians began to build a lighthouse, built into the natural rock. When the Venetians left and the Ottomans came, the lighthouse fell into disrepair because the Ottomans preferred to use Souda harbour in the east and not Hania harbour in the town. In 1830, when the Ottoman Empire fell, the English decided not to make Crete a part of Greece, but they gave Crete to the Egyptians instead. It was under Egyptian rule that the lighthouse was renovated. But it did not have its original form - the base of the lighthouse remains Venetian, but it now looks more like a minaret. It is one of the oldest lighthouses in the whole of Europe. It was extensively renovated in 2005. The remains of the old guard house in the middle of the pier used to house a cafe until just recently.

The seven neoria cluster can be seen in the middle of this photo, which was taken from the point where the two oldest neoria are located, before the beginning of the pier leading to the lighthouse. 

F - The Old Customs House (Palio Telonio)
The Customs House (located between the cluster of seven neoria and the Great Arsenali) was built in one of the neoria on the harbour to extract tolls and taxes for imported goods which were brought to the island by ship in older times. It was used as an exhibition centre in modern times, but in 2006, it suffered damage due to a big earthquake in Hania, and has since been under renovation, when it will eventually open as a theatre. Earthquakes are very common in Hania, but they are generally not very destructive since their epicenter is in the sea. If they occurred more often on the land, all the old buildings in the town would not have survived. The greatest damage to the town's buildings was during WW2 under the Nazi occupation, when the town was bombed.

The Great Arsenali (Megalo Arsenali)
Next to the Old Customs House, separated by a car park, is the Great Arsenali. It began to be built in 1585 during Venetian rule. Because it stood on its own and the walls were thicker than most other buildings, it was known as the 'big' shipyard. The second floor was built during the Ottoman period. It has had various uses over the years, and is now home to the Centre for Mediterranean Architecture. It also acts as an art gallery. (This is where MAICh will stage the 2nd photography competition, "on the subject of Intercultural Encounters" - your photos will be displayed here for the public to come and view them.)

G - Hasan Pasha Mosque
Τhe Hasan Pasha Mosque is also known as Yali Tzamisii, which means 'seaside mosque'. It was built in the late 17th century, in honour of the first Ottoman commander of Hania, Küçük Hasan. The design of the building is based on the plans of an Armenian architect. It continued to operate as a mosque until 1923 when the population exchange took place. After that, it has had various uses, but it is mainly used as an exhibition centre in modern times. The mosque is architecturally unique in the Mediterranean - the domes on the mosque in this arrangement do not exist elsewhere.

H - Frourio Firka

Τhe Venetians erected various military buildings to strengthen the town against attacks. This fortification was originally called Revellino del Porto and it was used for firing cannons, around the middle of the 16th century, to prevent any hostile risk to the port. It was completed a few years before the Ottomans took over Chania in 1645. The building was designed to house the military and to store ammunition. In the middle of the courtyard there is a large vaulted tank which gathered rainwater.

During the Ottoman occupation, the Revellino was renamed Firka, which means barracks, and we still call it Firka in modern times. The vaulted shooting sites were used as prisons during the Ottoman occupation until the years of the Greek civil war. Until the end of the 19th century, under Firkas Fortress was the “Kerkelos”, the great iron ring to which one end of the chain closing off the harbour mouth was attached. The other end was attached to the lighthouse. The corner tower of the fortress symbolically hoisted the Greek flag on December 1st, 1913 when Crete formally became a part of Greece. The Turkish flag was hauled down for the last time and the blue-and-white flag of Greece was raised in its place, where it has waved proudly ever since.

NEA HORA
Nea Hora is located west of Firka. It was the first western suburb of the town to be built outside the old walled town, ie the original 'old town', to accommodate the growing population around the turn of the 20th century. Before that, Nea Hora was where the Jewish and Muslim cemeteries were located. By this time, Hania had mainly a Christian population. Nea Hora is now a highly congested residential area with many apartment blocks, and some hotels. It is very popular among tourists since it borders the coastline and has a very pretty beach with safe waters for swimming.

I - The old Jewish quarter
The Jewish community of Crete was never very big. It was always less than 1000 people. When Crete was conquered by the Ottomans, many started to leave the island, going to West Europe. In 1913, when Crete became a part of Greece, there were less than 400 Jews in Hania. The Jewish synagogue was originally a Catholic church. It fell into disrepair, but was renovated in the 1990s through personal and community efforts by various members of the Jewish community that now remains in Hania.

The Jewish people of Crete were killed during the German occupation in WW2. Most of them were transported off the island by the Nazi occupiers in 1944. They were put on the Tanais, a ship that was transporting prisoners of war to Athens, which would later take them to concentration camps. A British torpedo sank the Tanais, mistaking it for a German ship, in this way tragically killing the island's pre-war Jewish community, together with many other Cretan prisoners who were also on the ship.


J - Archaeological Museum - Catholic church - Cathedral of Hania
During Venetian times, the building that is presently the Archaeological Museum of Hania was the largest building in Hania. It was used as a monastery and church at that time, changing use to a mosque during Ottoman rule. Under Cretan rule at the turn of the 20th century it became a cinema, the Nazis used it during WW2 and it became a store room until it was converted into a museum in 1962. The museum is set to move away from the town soon, and the building will once again be available for use in a different way.

The Catholic church of Chania has been operating since 1879. A monastery for monks existed on this site since 1566, the first Catholic monastery in Crete. It was renovated to its present day in 1991. Catholic Easter usually falls on a different day from Greek Orthodox Easter, but when they fall on the same day, the Catholic and Orthodox church across the road celebrate it together.

The Cathedral of Chania existed before the Venetian period, and has had a changing history according to the rulers. During the Ottoman period, it became a soap factory. It was given back to the Christians in the mid-1850s after the son of a Pasha was saved when he fell into a well. The Cathedral of Chania is considered the most important church of the area, and its patron saint is the Virgin Mary. The town celebrates its feastday on 21 November. A building resembling a hammam can be seen on the left hand side of the square, which is now used as a clothing store. Across from the cathedral, the dome of the Catholic church is also visible. This gives a multicultural look to the general area.

Our tour stops here. I hope you enjoyed it. Come back and explore the area on your own, using this guide, which was written using a variety of Greek and English sources on the internet.



Something to think about: Nothing is stable and everything changes. How do you think these buildings will be used in the future, in a hundred years from now? 

Some extra information passed on to me via a reader's email:
The impressive  fortifications of Chania with their moats (what we often refer to as the Venetian walls) were first built by the Saracens that were marauders from Salonica which at the time was ruled by the Saracens. They named  Chania  ’Rabd el Jebn” i.e.  Castle of cheese because of the cheese shape of the acropolis at the harbor! 

**The lighthouse in its present form was built by Egyptian Mohammedans in the form of a minaret around 1830. The British had nothing to do with the passing of the administration of Crete to the Egyptians,  as at the time Egypt was a vassal state of the then Ottoman empire that at the time decided to call on the Egyptian Army to subjugate the unruly  people of Crete, who were constantly revolting against the Turkish administration.

©All Rights Reserved/Organically cooked. No part of this blog may be reproduced and/or copied by any means without prior consent from Maria Verivaki.

Thursday, 4 February 2016

The cabbie, the lawyer and the farmer (Ο ταξιτζής, ο δικηγόρος και ο αγρότης)

(Strike action is taking place on a national level today in Greece.)

A cabbie, a lawyer and a farmer, decided to protest against the government's decisions concerning the reforms in social welfare. They joined the street demonstrations and helped put up barriers on the road to block it.

"I've locked up the taxi today," said the cabbie. "Our union's representative has put two cabs on standby for emergency use only."

"I've locked up the office today," said the lawyer. "The judges aren't working either, so the courts will be locked up and all cases will be delayed."

"I've been on the street all week," said the farmer. "I helped set up the road blocks and I'm making sure no one uses the road."

"Hang on," said the cabbie. "The street markets were operating all week, weren't they? You might have been better placed closing them down instead of continuing to sell your produce while you create a bit of havoc on the road, don't you think?"

The farmers' revolution in Hania is taking place on the blue dotted line. 
As all roads eventually lead to Rome, and Hania is a small town, drivers simply use detours. 

"Good point," said the lawyer. "None of the olive presses closed down either, did they? You haven't achieved a work stoppage, you're just here making your voice heard while your work continues."

The farmer got angry. Since he had nothing to add to the conversation, he just spewed forth a few curses.


*** *** ***
I heard from my husband that a small skirmish broke out, the police calmed the waters, and most people left. By the time I saw the road block, the police had also left. Half a dozen farmers looked to be 'guarding' the area, having placed olive branches (it's olive trimming season in Hania at the moment) on the eastern part of the road block, and old car tyres on the western part.


Everyone has a right to be angry about the way things are working out in terms of the Greek economy, but we don't all suffer in the same way. Special interest groups continue to demand to be made an exception to the New Order. If their demands are met, this will result in similar inequalities that existed before the reforms were tabled.

Some people just don't want to play their part; either we all pitch in, or we continue as usual, which needs to be outside the EU and the EU€.

©All Rights Reserved/Organically cooked. No part of this blog may be reproduced and/or copied by any means without prior consent from Maria Verivaki.