Wednesday, October 28, 2009

OXI Day - National Greek Holiday

October 28 is a national holiday in Greece, celebrating the day that Greeks gave a resounding "Oxi" (No) to Mussolini's demand that Italian troops be allowed into Greece at the beginning of WW2. The celebration starts in the morning with the school children parading to the town square, wearing white shirts and black pants or skirts, carrying the Greek flag. Their parade is led by drummer and cymbals. However, it is pouring rain again today, so they marched to the church across the street from our house, with church bells ringing and priests chanting and singing. We could hear the mayor's speech via loudspeakers, and the enthusiastic response of the children!! the celebrating by the adults will likely continue into the night with lots of drinking of raki, general partying, and maybe even shooting of guns as part of it all.

It's not just raining here (and has been doing for the past week), there are heavy downpours with hours and hours of thunder and lightening. this is a new experience for me... it rains a lot in the pacific northwest, but damn! it's been years since i saw this much sustained rain. we even had to get the heat turned on in our house, so at least if we venture out, we can come home and get warm and dry. the house seems very empty now (sigh) as C&K&A&Z left monday evening to take the very large overnight ferry to Athens, have an overnight there and fly out early this morning back to WA. and friend Tracy left early tuesday a.m. to fly home. it was delightful to have 2 weeks with them here and we had fun times. and now a week more... and i have hopes that it will include a few more sunny warm days. as many times as we've come to Crete there has never been heavy sustained rains like this! at least we are on the side of a mountain so the water runs down from here to the Aegean Sea.` `.,

one more week and i'll home in the oregon rain again.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

raki shots

Raki shots = tossing down fire water, the distilled remains of the grape crushing for wine making. it's harsh... but these 2 claim it beats trying to sip the stuff. i maintain that after the first couple of sips, your taste buds have gone dormant for the duration.

the "after" reaction.

thinking about another???

Monday, October 19, 2009

Hercules the kitten

a few nights ago this woebegone pitiful and starving kitten appeared on our patio and seemed to be terrified of anything that moved. so of course we put out a saucer of milk for him and he finally got brave enough to sample the milk... so we moved on to offering tidbits of cheese, yoghurt, left-over shrimp and we had him
hooked and he kept on coming back, tho still very skitterish. i named him Hercules because he is such a tiny, frightened little being that he needs a big, strong important name to grow into. he is kind of sort of beginning to let me get close to him. i don't know what kind of chance he has to grow up. Crete is the island of cats and there are many large territorial male cats around here that will guard their territory against any youngsters. hope he can live up to his name!!

rooster noodle dinner

the day after the Greek cooking class with Koula, Chris made for us the rooster noodle dinner. Zylie prefers naked noodles with a bit of ketchup, wanting nothing to do with dead rooster or anything else that had a mother.

it was delicious! Koula would have been proud!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

another Cretan cooking class

same cooking teacher, same location... this time Chris and Alex took the class... then Kate, Zylie and i were invited to enjoy the feast! and we certainly did! the rain started coming down for real just as we were setting the table and Toine put up 2 huge umbrellas and lit candles and we had lovely ambiance and a delicious dinner! there was a couple from Denmark and an Aussie/Brit couple, plus Koula's semi-son who is Greek/Canadian/French. after we cleaned up, Chris and I walked home past Liakoto, the Art Cafe, which was featuring live music tonight with
"Big Fish" in person. in contrast to our totally Cretan Greek evening, this rock and roll band was blasting out "Route 66"!! amusing, to say the least!!

that was last night. tonight Chris cooked up the main dish from his class... rooster cooked with noodles. it was delightfully delicious! he did very well... and Alex helped him!

Friday, October 16, 2009

a trip to Rethymnon

several days ago (i'm losing track of time and when we did what... not that it makes a lot of difference) we went to Rethymnon, which is the 3rd largest city in Crete and is probably my favorite. it's about an hour away and we went so that we could go to the farmers' market. we never did find the market and ended up wandering the streets and shops of the old town. that was actually just fine with me. we can get all the fresh vegetables and fruit we want at the supermarket in Vamos. (not to be confused with the likes of Safeway or Fred Meyer as there are 2 shopping aisles, they cut up chicken and lamb carcasses on the big butcher block at the back of the store, the cereal shelf has 1 each of 4 or 5 different cereals, you can buy the local wine and raki in recycled liter plastic water bottles... also local olive oil... just not like supermarkets in the U.S.)

i know it will be a sad day for Zylie when she is too big to ride on her dad's shoulders, which gives her the perfect vantage point!

we found Stella's Kitchen for a meal (and WC) where Jim and I have eaten and spent a night in her pension. i ordered the Cretan breakfast which was omelet with feta and tomato, Greek coffee, yoghurt with honey.... and was just perfect!!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


it's a dark photo, but Spiros has climbed up on a chair to refill a container with the local red wine which they serve. they also attach a tubing to the spigot and do the refilling by releasing the clamp. not high tech, but it works!

everyone here misses Jim, and ask me with a kind of puckered look on the face... "Jimmy??" like they are afraid i'll say he's sick.. or worse... or maybe i ran away from home without him. so, they are always relieved when i say he stayed home to harvest his grapes and make his wine. relieved... but don't quite understand it.

Spiros and Nikos who run the taverna, agreed to a photo as a hello to Jim.

and Alekos who does the grilling sends his hello. He is from Georgia (as in Russia) and has been here for several years. he was a professional wrestler there and asked Chris if he was a wrestler, then gave him a big ole bear hug.

and aren't they all going to be surprised when Jim shows up here next Wed.???!!

family and other critters

Chris, Kate, Alex and Zylie arrived monday a.m. after spending a lot of time touring around western Crete trying to find the road to Vamos! it's wonderful to have them here!! they over-lapped one day with Judy and she got up at still-dark-o'clock for taxi ride to Hania airport.

Kate gathered up a bunch of the snails that hang out around here and we had snail observation for awhile. then went to Bloumosifi taverna for dinner. as always, there were many cats and kittens hanging around looking for handouts. animals of any kind are Zylie's bliss in life... so a tiny kitten which ended up crawling into her lap was perfect... for both of them. her daddy looks pretty happy about the kitten, too.

Chris's reintroduction to raki seems to be going well. he's been throwin' em back with a Mythos chaser. bravo... your dad would be proud of you!!

life is good and all the sweeter with this branch of the tribe here to share it with!!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

see next post for details of cooking class...

the feasting table with zucchini fritters and dolmades.

Patty .. our friend from Holland who has been living in Crete for a few years.

tzitziki and kalitsounia .

Elena, Toine, Tatiana and Aristotle.

our class after enjoying our work.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Greek Cooking Class

Judy and i took the class here in Vamos, which takes place in the reclaimed ruins of an old olive oil factory. Koula, the cooking teacher, has published a book on cooking in Crete and has an incredible extensive cooking experience. it's a hands-on learning with a feast at the end. my most favorite (hard to choose) dish for both making and eating is kalitsounia, a small pie filled with mizithra, a soft cheese, then fried. we learned how to make the dough and do it all! also, made dolmas, zucchini fritters, greek salad,
tsitziki, and rooster cooked in a pot with pasta. there were 8 of us in the class (4 from LA, 2 from Holland plus Judy and me). here's Judy chopping up something. did you know you can grate a whole tomato (rather than chopping) and you end up with the tomato skin left whole.. really! then we finally sat down to a fabulous meal, drank a lot of wine and raki, and had a great evening!!

here's Koula.... and the Greek salad and the site of the class, Fabrica.

Friday, October 09, 2009

hania harbor

We took the bus to Hania on Wednesday. across the street from the bus stop, we noticed a kitten who'd been locked inside the taverna the taverna the night before. she looked quite pleased with her place on the table sitting in the warm sun!

THE BUS RIDE! this is an experience of a life-time.... and i always go with the devout hope that i will come back in the same condition in which i left. the public buses are actually quite substantial Mercedes Benz and look like tour buses.. but then there are the roads which are narrow, windy, many hairpin turns, and on-coming traffic includes huge cement trucks and construction trucks, cars which are no real threat to the bus as they move as far off the side of the road as they can. did i say that Vamos is high up in the rugged foothills of the White Mountains. where i was sitting on the bus i could see the driver in a mirror. after i saw him talking on his cell phone with one hand and navigating with the other, i tried really hard to not look in that direction again! we got there safely ( didn't need to reach for the Depends)! and enjoyed going thru the huge market which covers at least a 1 block area. there's lots of stuff to please tourists and Judy bought a few things for her grandkids. one aisle of the market is devoted to fresh fish and cases of meat (and carcasses of lamb, rabbits, chickens which you can buy whole or have the butcher custom cut for you). there are also fresh fruit and veggie stands and a few places to sit down and order food and drink. and even in Oct. there are still quite a few tourists milling about. outside of the market and down the street, are some narrow streets/alleys with many little shops selling lots and lots of leather goods (sandals, belts, purses etc), jewelry, table linens, more touristy crap. esp. at the jewelry shops there are very aggressive sales people. i've learned not to stop and browse there or i'll have someone trying really hard to sell me something!!

from there we went on to the harbor, a very interesting place... tavernas, g
lass bottom boats going out for an hour for 10euros (we didn't). we sat at a table on the sidewalk and had wine and eggplant salad and watched the world go by for awhile. there was an old man standing at the edge of water throwing out his fishing line over and over. finally something got the big piece of bait off his hook and he gave up and left.

during the Venetian times in Crete, they built a huge wall around the city to keep their enemies out. parts of the ruins of the wall remain out in the water and around the "old tow
n" parts of Hania.
it's a facsinating city, full of traffic and honking of horns, lots of people and busy-ness. i'm convinced that driving in Greece requires attitude and lots of it.... you gotta get out there with attitude all revved up... no place for the timid!

the bus ride home was quite nice... instead of going straight down the highway, the route went up into the hills and thru several small villages, winding around til we got back to

last night we went to the Greek Cooking class. i'll put up photos next time i have a connection.

you can check out the temperature here in western Crete in the right column above the links.

Monday, October 05, 2009

more adventures in Vamos, Crete

It is almost midnight here and i'm on the patio under a full moon. Life in the village is starting to quiet down, except for a few heavily testosterone-enhanced teenagers still racing their old cars and motorcycles up and down the main street! Judy and i went to the beach in Kalives today. still a fair number of tourists around, but the season is winding down (thankfully!!)

the photos here are from a grape crushing a few days ago at Elena and Toine's. the crusher was borrowed from a friend, the grapes were from their yard and from friends. this grape juice will be fermented for a few weeks, then distilled into raki (fire water). I may still be here for the raki-making party... sure do hope so because that's a real event!! also at the crushing (or smashing) was Berend, another Dutch friend, a Brit couple (ex-pats living in a nearby village) and Tatiana who came with her young son, Aristotle.

i'm hoping the taverna does not shut down the wireless before the pictures are loaded.... anyway, there's more photos on flickr... link in the right-hand column.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

happy in Crete

Judy and i are here, our lost luggage was delivered to us the day after we got here, and we are happily settled into our house. Elena who runs the rental office really chose a wonderful house for us! it appears to be recently renovated, is spacious, patio at front and one side with lovely plantings and big Greek oil urns. and it's next door to the taverna we love. they even had live music there last night, so we had Greek music with dinner.. mmm!

we sort of sometimes have a wireless internet connection here... when they have it turned on at the taverna.

have spent some time walking around the villlage, meeting up with old friends, stocking up on essentials from the "super-market" ( luscious tomatoes, fresh bread, coffee, wine, raki). Judy and i have decided we don't want to cook, so will snack along all day, then go out for dinner.

sometime soon i'll spend some time at the taverns where i'll have a good connection and can get photos and words on the blog