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Heidi's Diary of a Backpacker.
By Bus to Rethymnon...
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The Castle.
The Castle.

As I arrived to Rethymnon it was nearly noon and so very hot. I found a map from my LP's guidebook and started walking to the centre with my heavy and uncomfortable pack bags on my back. Even though I had a map it looked like I was lost as soon as I entered the old town. The streets seemed too narrow and too many compared to those marked on the map. I had put my book back in my bag so as not to look too tourist-like but I had to take it out again as I was having difficulty locating my hotel. Now I started to read the road names and soon I found the right alley. I had passed it on the wrong side at first and walked on. It had taken so much time but finally I found it. Olga's Pension is a small hotel but it's right in the middle of the old town. Since my stay in Rethymnon was going to be only for two days, I intended to stay close to all sites and "night life". I didnt want to miss a thing. My host at Olga's was very friendly and gave me a nice little room with tiny little balcony. The room was small but it had its own bathroom. Cost was 20 euros per night. Not bad for such a good location.

Minaret.
Minaret.

I was hot and tired but still I wanted to go out walking and getting to know the place. After refreshing a little I walked to the harbour and found a café to refresh myself with a big cold beer. My walk continued by the shore around the Fortezza and on to the bus station. I asked for timetables and a proper map. Next I found my way to the city park. I had heard about the wine festival held here in Rethymnon some time in July and since Im a wine-lover, of course I wanted to attend. To my great disappointment the festival didnt start until 20th of July. It was now only the 16th and in four days I would already be at Plakias on the south coast. No way did I want to miss the festival but a look at the bus timetables couldnt promise me an easy access by bus back to Rethymnon just for one evening. I would have to think this through later. From the park I walked back to my hotel and by now all those alleys and streets seem so much clearer. I passed my hotel again, this time intentionally and walked back to the harbour. I made a turn to the right now and passed the restaurants and cafés all lined up side by side and so many one after another. The waiters almost made my blood boil by their continual harassment and I almost ran through them. It was late afternoon and most of the shops were closed but now that I knew my way in the old town, I would return later.

Portoguora.
Portoguora.

 

 

On my second day in Rethymnon I got to know the Fortezza better. It's a huge place but not very well preserved. With EU's contribution the town tries to rebuild and restore it. From outside you can't quite get a picture of it but once inside you get to notice how very big an area it covers. The entrance fee is 2.90 euros and with that fee you also get access to some of the changing exhibitions in the area. The one I got to see was about Cyprus and the Turkish invasion in the '70s, but also about the Greek people who were missing or killed during the invasion. The view up from the castle over Rethymnon was spectacular. You could see the whole city from here. The area itself was mostly bricks and dust but it also had some very interesting dungeons, under ground caves and little churches. It was though a very hot place and the water I had with me wasn't nearly enough. Now I couldn't wait to get back to town and get a beer.

Fountain.
Fountain.

In the evening I walked down to the modern town of Rethymnon and found it very nice, but very busy. There were no ATMs in the old town so I had to make withdrawals while in the new part of the city. The centre seems nice with all the parks, but the traffic was awful on those 2-lane streets. Buildings were so much bigger and shops were like malls. It was fascinating in its own way but I do prefer the old town and its more peaceful and quiet atmosphere. That was the reason why I returned to the old town for dinner. After walking for a while without finding a place of interest to me, a place where waiters wouldnt harass as I stopped to view the menu, I found Kapilio. It was a little place with only few tables outside, I took a seat and asked for a menu. Here I didn't feel uncomfortable, so I stayed. The owner seemed very friendly and we chatted for a while. He told me that he and his wife were from Serbia and that their restaurant is not a traditional Greek restaurant. I couldn't help mentioning that only two nights previous I had my last Serbian meal in Chania. As I told him about the festival held in Chania, he told me that he had been invited to the festival too to make the food served there. This year however he had to refuse going because he needed to keep his restaurant open in Rethymnon. What a Serbian coincidence that was! Later I also met his wife and we all ended up chatting over a drink. It was such a nice evening and my last one in Rethymnon. Next morning I would be off to the south coast of Crete and to Plakias.