March 24, 2022. 57°F/14°C
We were originally scheduled to dock in northwest Crete in the port of Heraklion, but high winds in that port redirected us to the cruise ship port in Souda Bay in the northwest instead (132 km/ 82 miles apart by land route). When I opened our curtains this morning, I was greeted by the site of storage elevators, something we haven’t seen since leaving Collingwood in December, where that town’s iconic elevators were visible from everywhere along the town’s shoreline. The difference here in Souda Bay is that these elevators, although smaller, are still in active use.
Our afternoon excursion was the included walking tour of the Old Town section of the nearest town, Chania, which shows not only Venetian but also Egyptian and Ottoman influences.
The island of Crete has been inhabited for 5000 years, with the Minoans already having a settlement and trading port here at Chania around 3000 BC.
The town boasts an Ottoman mosque (now the town’s convention centre), a Hammam (Turkish baths, now retail shops), Minoan ruins, and Byzantine churches. It is impossible to ignore history in Greece when you are surrounded by it every day.
At one end of the harbour is the Marine Museum (the red building below) housed in the Firka Fortress, which was constructed by the Venetians during the years spanning 1204-1669.
At the other end of the 14th century Venetian harbour is the 16th century lighthouse.
The two main churches in the old town are opposite each other at the main square: the Greek Orthodox church, and a Roman Catholic church hidden within what was once a Capuchin Monastery.
Before leaving the Old Town, I made one of the local jewellers happy by buying a silver necklace and earrings. He put the items I chose on a scale and priced them by weight, assuring me that he was giving me the price before the recent inflation in silver prices. I’m not so sure, but the struggling Greek economy really needs tourist dollars. Purchase justified.
We had a special treat tonight: dinner with the Viking Band vocalists Anna-Lyn and Jeffrey, whose performances continue to give us so much joy. (No, the stunning Ana-Lyn and I did not intentionally coordinate our outfits!)
It’s always special when staff or crew are willing to share a bit of their personal time and personal story with us. One of the things that surprised us about this vocal duo is that they were only “paired” by a talent agency in 2019. Listening to them, and watching their on-stage chemistry, you could easily think they’ve been working together forever.
To make the evening even more fun, and round out a fairly low-key touring day, Viking Band keyboard wizard Enrico Agudo had his second solo show, performing some of his favourite music by Chopin. Sadly, only Ted got to see it live. Shortly after dinner, the rocky sea got the better of me, so I watched the live-streamed performance while prone in our cabin.
Ted took the opportunity to extend his time with Ana-Lyn and Jeffrey by heading to the Torshavn lounge after the show and listening to them singing with the Viking Band.
Late tomorrow night we enter the Suez Canal, en route to our next port of call in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
NOTE: The “ch” in Chania is pronounced like the “ch” in the Hebrew toast to life, “L’Chaim!”, and not like the “ch” in charming.
Crete was another great surprise. Beautiful beaches, mountains, and lots of agriculture. The Palace of Knossos was fascinating. It was built almost 4K years ago and had running water and a sewer system. The bus ride to and from allowed us the see the island. If I had a dollar for every olive tree I have seen on this trip, I would be a millionaire. Have you decided where you will winter next year? This trip has had quite a few possibilities. We love your blog. Great job.
We were sad to miss Knossos, but opted out when we changed ports because of the much lengthier bus ride. Next time! We’re wintering in Mexico for the first time 22/23… new things to blog about!