Sunday, December 07, 2003

This time last year contd...Day 4

Rest Day. We are not going anywhere today. In trying to avoid expensive hotel operated tours, we have spent way too much by striking out on our own. Moreover most things are closed being off-season. A slept till noon. We did however, manage to get up around 7.30 and manage a sumptuous breakfast (and then A went back to sleep). Took a bus to Iraklion and ate at a tavern. The food was tasty but extremely greasy. The tavern was a bit dirty. But it seemed to be very popular. Poshly dressed hip people sat next to farmer types. After lunch A decided to get a haircut and a shave at the barber’s next door. I roamed all around and walked into an ‘Agora’ (market). The shutters were rapidly being downed by the stall owners since it was 2pm. Some of the shops were eerily like those in Calcutta - scarfs, plastic toys, buckets hanging from the shutters, like those that can be found around Deshopriyo Park or in the erstwhile Gariahat Boulevard.

A and I walked to the old port and on the venetian wall jutting out into the sea. At first it seemed we had the whole place to ourselves. Just a few cats. Then we spied a few old men, a solitary jogger, a young couple cootchie-cooing. We walked up to the first look out point and then I climbed up a steep flight of stairs onto the wall itself. A suffers from vertigo, waited below. The view was great but so the gusts of wind were so strong that I felt I would be blown over any moment. But descent proved tricky. There were no banistairs and steps were very wide apart and narrow. Got stuck there till poor A had to come up and lead me down. What a fine pair, the two of us!!

Nothing of note happened except a tiny black shaggy dog chased cars up and down the busy avenue barking its tiny head off. We bought a small terracotta plaque – an etching of the famous cretan bull fresco from a shop. The shopkeeper, a pleasant chap did a bit of very high speed selling while an old and very cretan lady sat in solidly in a chair in one corner of the shop and ignored us completely.

Day 5

Our 2nd anniversary. We stayed in. It was bright and sunny. We decided to walk around the surrounding hills. But half way through, the skies darkened ominously and we quickly returned. Spent some time on the beach. Didn’t I mention it before? Our hotel was on edge of a beach. This beach was dirty and most unimpressive.

Went for lunch at the Jeep Safari place. They are a travel agency cum hotel cum supermarket all rolled into one. I took a ‘gyros’ – found it OK. Just OK. A didn’t think too much of his moussaka. We have tasted far better ones. Two enormous ladies from our hotel were the only others there. The owner had an enforced air of joviality. He put on some local tunes – lovely, lilting melodies.

Spent the day lazing around. Due to bad connections, it was only in the afternoon that first my parents and then my in-laws rang to wish us happy anniversary! Dinner and walk. Slowly but surely, we are growing a distate for this sumptuous buffet at the hotel: One we cannot resist, yet one which we can’t digest.

Day 6

A short trip to Iraklion also sometimes pronounced as Herakleon (or Heraklion) to check our email. But we found the sun shining bright and hot and so we rushed back to our hotel (meaning we took a bus which got us back in 40 minutes) all the while praying it would stay hot. A changed into his swimming trunks and ran into the sea. Very bravely I think, since it was chilly. He took a couple of dips and came out. He cut his knees on hidden rocks and dismissed the beach as horrible.

Took a walk in the afternoon along the road which wound in and out of the hills. These hill were dotted with sheep. We passed very close to one of these, at which, all of the sheep stopped grazing, turned as one towards us and started bleating. The walk was very pleasant. Huge empty roads and rural sounds, an odd house here, another there, mostly brand new, brightly painted and uncannily like one we might find anywhere in India. On our way daily to Iraklion each day, we passed houses with partly paved tiny front porches that have a few straggly plants, used tyres, dusty old scooter and one can be forgiven if one forgets that this is Crete and not India!! Only the people look different.

After our dinner and walk, we are now watching an English movie on cable. Tonights is The green line – starring Tom Hanks. I have also taken to reading the Gideon bible – the hotel copy. Have begun with God creating the world, Adam and upto Noah and the flood.

A located a pharmacy at Iraklion and bought a packet of Laxatives.

Day 7

We spent the whole day, our last at Iraklion. Did some cursory shopping and then went to the Fish Tavern overlooking the old port. It was charming with checked table clothes, brightly painted chairs but full of fat cats. A got extremely panicky and wanted to cancel the order and then wanted to have the food packed. How can you pack grilled fish? And then a waiter solved our problem by seating us indoor where the cats couldn’t enter. No magnificent vies though. A took a platter of grilled mixed fishes. I settled for grilled prawns, sprinkled with olive oil and lemon juice. We took a long slow walk back to the bus stand. On the way, I looked up to see a house full of beautiful potted plants when I saw a theatre with a Harry potter sign. HP 2 was showing. I dragged A to the theatre and bought tickets after the lady behind the counter assured me twice that the movie was in English. It was a very pretty theatre, small but very curiously designed. There were hardly any seats upstairs where we were. Only two rows, crawling with kids giggling, changing seats, throwing pop corn at each other.

A is taking a bath while I write this. After this dinner. A had settled our bill at the counter since we leave for the airport at 5.30 tomorrow. Hurrah!

Day 8

Waking up early is taxing for me since I get up much before and keep checking the time! At the airport, nothing interesting happened except that most of the passengers kept waiting while the ground staff had already announced "now boarding" for our Paris bound flight in English. We understood and made our way while the rest kept huddling to themselves even though they saw up leave!

Arrived to a very cold, dark, grey Paris. But with happy thoughts of our own plain home cooking and the comfort of our own WC!

Back home, as we sat happily over a cup of tea, we cast our thoughts over lessons learnt:
- 'Promos' might not be a great ‘deal’!
- One must carry a small electric kettle with one(for the all important morning beverage)
- Two back to back trips aren’t all that great! No matter what the promos say!

The End!

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