Archive for April 2008

Take A Guided Video Tour of Chania

28 April 2008, by

While we like to think our little videos and random photos are entertaining in their own right, they really don’t do Chania justice. For a great “tour” of our town, watch this video, called “Chania (Old Town and New City).”

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The camera follows the story’s protagonist, a little Greek boy riding all over town on a stolen bicycle (actually, he just borrowed it… it’s a sub-plot). As the boy takes his journey, the narrator describes the neighborhoods and important sites from the old town and harbor through to the newer city and surrounding areas.

Nearly ALL of the locations shown in the video are very familiar to us (it’s a small town). Hopefully it will give you a good feel for this incredible place we call home.

video capture showing our house in ChaniaIn fact, if you watch carefully, you can even see *exactly* where we live! At 6 minutes and 45 seconds into the video (nearly the end), the boy rides down an alley way (passing another bicycle parked against the wall) — that’s our street, and the house seen at the end on the left with the second-story balcony is directly across from our house (hidden behind some bushes). How’s that for a tour!

Easter Dinner with the Family

28 April 2008, by

A follow-up to our earlier post on Easter Sunday here in Chania. Wish you could have been here in person, but perhaps you can join us vicariously… here’s how it went down.

Dinner was a success, despite on-and-off rain all day that nearly put the kibosh on our barbecue plans. We finally caught a break by mid-afternoon, as the rain stopped long enough to allow for a fire to be lit. From there, the triumvirate of BBQ masters (Ata, Stephane, and myself) went to work, while Kristy wrapped up her cooking in the kitchen (which had started hours earlier in the morning).

On the menu this evening:

  • Something like ratatouille (but not exactly) consisting of fava beans, eggplant, tomatoes, onions and misc. spices
  • Barbecued chicken, marinated in red wine, lemon juice, oregano, and salt
  • Barbecued lamb/pork or maybe it was pork/lamb… we actually asked the local butcher for lamb (“αρνί” στα ελληνικά) but upon inspection it may have been pork. We settled on pamb… or lork.
  • Homemade bread (Kristy’s been baking A LOT)
  • τυρόπιτα – “tyropita” or little cheese pies… yummy
  • Dakos – dry bread husks, topped with lots of olive oil, tomatoes, and feta cheese
  • Eggplant wrapped around graviera cheese
  • and of course… plenty of wine and beer!

For dessert, we had coffee and fattened up on a box of sweets that Stephane and Ata brought – “super sweets” is more appropriate, I think; only the Greeks would take baklava (a pastry made with chopped walnuts and almonds, cinnamon, cloves, and phyllo dough, drenched in light syrup and/or honey) and cover that in chocolate!!!

A (surrogate) Family Tradition

As I’ve said many times, the best part about living out here is the quality hang-time (usually spent drinking and BS’ing – “boro boro” as the Greeks say) with friends who literally come from all over the world.

family portraitTonight, we had some fun discussing language and cultural idioms, and Ata taught us the Arabic names for several common vegetables (there will be an exam later).

And we explored weighty linguistic questions such as idiosyncrasies in how different languages represent the sounds animals make — just what noise does a cow make in French? In Arabic? Not “moo,” as it seems there is no international standard for “Old McDonald Had a Farm” – a topic that most certainly needs to be explored further. :)

We ended the night with a tradition we will try to repeat many times over our remaining time here in Crete – an official “family portrait.” Goofy exaggerated smiles (Stephane!), ugly sweaters, and embarrassing holiday hats are optional.

Greek Easter Sunday in Chania

27 April 2008, by

After 40 days of fasting and abstinence (if you are a truly devout Orthodox Christian), the Greeks celebrate the biggest and most important holiday of the year today – Easter Sunday.

The official start of Easter was at 12 midnight, marked by an ornate mass at the local churches. The ceremony is capped off and highlighted by a candle-lighting ceremony, complete with fireworks and gunshots vying for your attention during the “pappas” (priest’s) singing sermon.

We took some video (click the video to watch a bigger version on youtube…), though I was trying to be discreet so angles are a bit bad. It’s more about the audio – listen for the “pop pop pop pop” of gunfire and small cherry bombs exploding all around us!

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Through all commotion, the pappas kept singing, as did the nice little old lady (surely, somebody’s yaya) who kindly shared her candle’s flame with Kristy and I.

It looks looks like I get popped at the end of the video, but I was just klutzy and dropped the camera – nobody was harmed (that I know of!).

Time to EAT!

After last night’s noisy kickoff, the party continues for the rest of today: a big, fat, Greek day of eating, drinking, eating, eating, and more eating. :)

We’ll be barbecuing lamb, chicken, eggplant, and other veggies, and enjoying the company of Stephane and Ata, two of our fellow “out-of-towners” coming over for dinner. I’m sure we’ll have some photos to post later… maybe we’ll even do a “family portrait” – they had also joined us for Christmas dinner, so it’s becoming our own little tradition.

καλο πασχα! “Kalo Paska” = Happy Easter, from Chania, Crete!

Monks and Bells: 7:45am wake up call

25 April 2008, by

Monastery of Agios Nikolaos Nearby our flat is the orthodox church of “Αγιοσ Νικολαοσ” – Agios Nikolaos or “St. Nicholas.” It was originally an early 14th century monastery but has undergone many changes over the centuries, including being converted to a mosque during the Turkish occupation (lasting from 1645 to 1898) which added a minaret that still stands beside the present-day church.

OK – enough with the history lesson. The church also has a clock tower, complete with a carillon featuring large bells that are audible for quite a distance and most definitely heard quite clearly from our home.

The bells serve as our neighborhood’s timekeepers, ringing to signify the time. They ring every hour, on the hour, every day. At ten o’clock (morning or night), the bells are rung TEN times; at five o’clock (afternoon or early morning), the bells are rung FIVE times. You get used to it…

The bells are also rung for special events. Today is Good Friday, and the monks served up a special holiday rendition of the ringing bells this morning starting at 7:45am and lasting for 15 minutes.

So here now, for your enjoyment, is a short video shot this morning from our rooftop, featuring a sweeping 360-degree view of our local domain here in Chania, Crete, accompanied by those (frequently) ringing bells.

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Video Link: watch on my Picasa page for now. We are uploading a copy to youtube which will show above shortly (and will thereafter remove the Picasa video).

Update: The auditory experience has been repeated two more times since this morning, at 10:45am and again at 12:45pm. Lots of church faithful going to mass today!