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Heidi's Diary of a Backpacker.
By Plane to Chania...
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Chania Seaside.
Chania Seaside.

Chania airport is more or less familiar to me; I have been here several times before, even though the last time I visited was five years ago. Nevertheless the terminal was still the same, it hadnt changed a bit. It was busy and crowded as always. I got my luggage after a long time waiting; I think my luggage was the last one to arrive and I had started to think that it was lost. Eventually it came and I got myself out from the airport. As it had taken so long to get my luggage and get out, there were no taxis available anymore. There is no public transport to town either so all I could do was wait for a taxi to come. After 15 mins of waiting one taxi came. There was an American man also waiting to get to town so we decided to share this being the only taxi. After dropping off the American, I asked the driver to take me to hotel Diana in the centre, but he hadnt even heard of the hotel. So I gave him instructions myself reading the map from my Lonely Planets guidebook. The ride cost 13 euros, which I consider quite expensive. It was by now getting late and I had plans to meet my friend in just an hour.

Chania Waterfront
Chania Waterfront

It proved relatively easy to find the hotel after all. My reason for choosing this very hotel right in the centre was that it was only a hundred meters from the bus station and just a short walk from the harbour and town centre. The location was not the quietest but that didnt really bother me. I could walk wherever I wanted and I was in the middle of everything. I had sent messages to my friend Vasoula and we had set a date to meet at 10 pm at the Agora. It had been two years since we had met last time and I was anxious to see her again. What a happy reunion we had! She had not changed a bit and it was so good to see her. We took her car and went for a ride so at the same time that she showed me the town we could also catch up with the latest news. We had a late snack at the harbour at Kounkapi, which is very popular area among the locals. She showed me the real nightlife in Hania, there were no tourists around there! I couldnt believe how many people there actually were in those seaside cafés and how many cafés there were. We also visited the park of Peace and Friendship for the Ethnic Festival. We decided to return there next day because we had missed most of the show that night. I was interested to see how people from Netherlands, Egypt, Albania, Algeria, France, India, Italy, England, Palestine, Romania, Serbia, Philippines and Finland have settled in Hania and Greece, as it is my dream to live in Greece too some day. There were more than 20 countries represented, playing music, dancing, showing films and also serving food every night for a week. This festival had already become an annual event and this summer was already the 4th festival.

Water side café
Water side café

The night was very quiet even here in the very centre of town, but early in the morning it became noisy as people were starting their work. There was also a construction site somewhere nearby. I couldnt get any more sleep after 7 am, so I got up and took a walk to the harbour. I had planned to do some laundry that morning, so next I had to find a laundry-mat. There were quite a few laundry-mats in a small area but it took a while to find one open already. I left my dirty clothes there and agreed to pick them up at 12.30. Two loads wash and dry cost me 14 euros. I continued walking to the harbour for breakfast and sight seeing. I chose an Internet café to have a toast and orange juice while checking my emails. I had successfully avoiding the computer related stuff for more than two weeks now, but this time I couldnt help it. As I left the café and continued my walk pass the Military museum, I found a train waiting in the parking lot. I had tried these sight-seeing trains in Platanias and in Finland, so I decided to try one also here. The ticket was 3 euros and you got more than your moneys worth. The train takes you all around the big centre and the only thing missing is a guide to tell you about the route and the sights. Still, it was a great way of passing time. Next I walked up and down the harbour and took a seat in one of the cafés for a drink. I got a message from Vasoula and we set a date for 2 pm at my hotel. I picked up my laundry and returned to my hotel. As soon as I had hung the clothes to dry I heard Vasoula honking the car horn downstairs and away we went.

Souda Bay Military Cemetery
Souda Bay Military Cemetery

We drove first to a hill outside town to visit the grave of Elefterios Venizelos and his son. E. Venizelos was a famous Greek politician and a very honoured figure even after his death. From the hill high above Chania, there was a great view over the entire town. With binoculars you can see even more and for much further. Next we drove to the monastery of Agia Triada near the airport. This was closed unfortunately as it was 4 pm. It would reopen at 5 pm but we didnt wish to wait. Vasoula told me that wine is produced there. On our way back to town we visited the WW2 cemetery at Souda bay. This site was very impressive and made me very quiet and thoughtful. There were so many young men buried there so far away from their homes. Mostly these soldiers were from Australia and New Zealand but there were also some English and Greeks too. I couldnt help feeling sad about this site. Vasoula then showed me her home and later introduced me to her parents and brother as they returned from work. What a beautiful home they have! We sat there and watched TV and later had a small bite to eat before leaving. We picked up Vasoulas friend Marianna on our way back to town. I was surprised to hear of Mariannas interest in Finland and Finnish people. She even spoke Finnish a little. I had a quick shower at my hotel before we headed to the Park for the Ethnic festival to get to know more about the countries. On this evening Serbia and Georgia presented their music and dance. Serbia was also serving a meal at the restaurant there. We watched the show and then moved to the restaurant for a meal. For 6 euros we got to taste real Serbian food. We had a sort of cheese pie, stuffed paprika, cabbage with pork steak, and some sweet pie with nuts and honey. All these were on the same small plate but still it was delicious. Later in the evening they started playing music, too and everyone was welcomed to dance. I returned to my hotel around 2.30 am and said my goodbyes to Vasoula and Marianna. We promised to meet again as I return to Chania in two weeks after touring the south coast. I would stay then just one night in Chania before my flight back to Athens.

Chania by Night.
Chania by Night.

Next morning I was up and ready by 7 am, I just couldnt sleep in that noise! I felt tired because it was way past 2 am when I had returned to my hotel and I didn't get much sleep. Today I would move on to Rethymnon but my bus was not due to leave until 10.30. This would arrive to Rethymnon in good time for me to look for a room in the early afternoon. I went for a walk and bought some breakfast too. I took a last few photos of Agora and the harbour then returned to the hotel. I returned the key, paid for my room and asked the landlady for a room on my return to Chania in two weeks time. This time I asked for a room on the backyard side since the street got so loud in the early mornings. She promised me to do something about it. My room here in Chania was so far the cheapest at 25 euros per night. I took my bags and walked to the bus station ready to start my trip to Rethymnon.

Chania by night, mosque of the Janissaries
Chania by night, mosque of the Janissaries

The bus station in Chania was crowded, its small area so full of busses people and luggage. First it seemed chaotic but soon it started to look more clear and organized. I bought my ticket from a booth and yet despite there being a big office not all tickets are sold there. The ticket was cheap, only 5.55 euro, for one way. Then it was time to go find the right bus. As I walked among the busses I heard announcements both in Greek and in English telling bus numbers and destinations. All busses were numbered and so it was easy to find the right bus. It helps to be sure though by checking the destination with the driver too. Its less than an hours drive from Chania to Rethymnon via beautiful landscapes along the north coast of Crete.