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Crete 2021: Part 2

Updated: Mar 21, 2022

15th July:

For dinner, we went to another local establishment, this time just up the road in Heraklion. Ketiya and I planned to go together since she knew the way and one of the staff. In the end, we were joined by Brad, a rather socially awkward 40- something from North Dakota. He seemed rather innocent considering his age: very polite, timid, and kind of unsure of himself. He was harmless though, so there were no issues there. We ambled along aggressively nondescript side streets to reach our destination. And for what it was, it was cute. Kind of. On both sides of a narrow road were chairs and tables about half-filled with relaxed locals, talking that talk when neither of you are looking at each other, but still give each other your full attention. One old man was either very drunk or old or both and was dancing around in the street. He made the waitress uncomfortable when he tried to get her involved. Aside from him, however, it was very relaxed.

Ketiya’s friend unfortunately wasn't working that night, but even so, the dinner was fun. Brad went for some very adventurous spaghetti in a watery tomato sauce, that clearly was not a traditional order for the kitchen. I let Ketiya order for me, and whilst it was cooking, they brought out a huge Greek salad, some bread, and tzatziki. Brad had never even heard of tzatziki, which seems crazy to me as it's one of the three most important pita dips in Britain. The Greek salad was quite incredible. I've never tasted tomatoes like that before, they were so sweet and delicious. They were literally grown in the owner's back garden and can't have been picked long before we ate them, maybe even specifically picked for us. The onions had a kick, the lettuce was fresh, and the feta was hoovered up mostly by Ketiya without the slightest remorse. Then the fried fish arrived. I never did find out what kind, but it was roughly the size of a fish, and tasted of fish. They were still on the bone, so I got to play the fun game of ‘was that skin or a bone’ every time there was a crunch. Luckily there was a cat loitering nearby that was more than happy to help me finish what I couldn’t. In fact, after being informed by Ketiya that the cat was pregnant, I felt like I was doing a good deed, and not necessarily entirely out of embarrassment for not having finished more by myself. So ended yesterday.

Today, I woke up! I had been asleep and then I woke up! Such bliss is a rested mind. It let me actually engage more with the people around me at the hostel, which has been wonderful.

In the latter half of the morning, I went to visit Knossos, which has been on my to-do list for a very long time. Now that I was feeling fit enough to go, I only wasted a little bit more time before setting off. The bus was super quick; Heraklion just ends. You leave the city and within one minute you may as well be in the middle of nowhere, so little as their surrounding the palace. Just some tourist shops groaning under the weight of hats and 300 shirts hanging from the rafters. Quite fitting though, considering just how many tourists there were. It may as well have been a model UN. Somewhat disappointingly however, Knossos itself is titchy. I had expected big things! Labyrinths and minotaur's, and the most important archaeological sites on Crete, of the whole of Greece! But no. There's a little path you follow around the ruins and Victorian reconstructions, and if you aren't that interested in what is there to see, you can be done in about 20 minutes. You could run the whole route in around 40 seconds, probably. I cried right there in the throne room, so disappointed I was. Everyone was so embarrassed, they didn't know what to do. Finally, I was peeled off a column by security, and went home shortly afterwards. And that was the day I saw Knossos.

17th July:

Full disclosure: I didn't finish off the passage on Knossos until just now. Don't crucify me.


Okay, Full disclosure I was writing at a bus station and it was awkward writing on my leg so I stopped, don't crucify me. Luckily for me yesterday was pretty easy. I didn't sleep well again and so I spent the majority of it trying to sleep before I went out to meet with Elena, the lady from the gyro shop. Over coffee, she had a lot to say about the state of Greek orthodoxy (did you know that you can't go to school unless you've been baptised?), the poverty of the island after a specific man died who even now people wish was alive to save them, and told me all the swear words and their various uses. This included the full etymology of malakas (meaning ‘arsehole’). it's originally comes from the word pain. Make of that what you will. I discovered that there is actually a Cretan dialect that borrows from Turkish and is now used mostly by old people alone, and small villages in the interior. I'm already struggling to memorise even basic Greek, so I don't know that I'd be much of a Cretan student right now. I'd love to learn more about it though, find one of these villages and see how different it is. The world is so big and so small at the same time.

It turns out that Elena used to work at the restaurant we were having coffee at, and that her sister was still the chef, and her mother worked downstairs as well. I had met almost the entire family in the space of an hour. €5 for a jar [?] of iced tea is absurd and I'm not happy about it. I got more of an insight into Greek life back at the hostel when I ran into Raina [the owner] changing the sheets in my room. She's been working in her capacity as a hostel operator since she was 20, though technically she's a farmer with an olive Grove outside of Heraklion which she works at in the winter. Her son has a master's degree in engineering; he works for seven euro's an hour at the airport behind a desk and still lives at home. because there's just no money left in Greece anymore. Elina had much the same to say. She told me how all the children I see running around alone on the streets are gypsies, and that the gypsy population in Greece is given access to grants and financial support that the Greeks aren't given themselves. The same for the Albanian minority too. Shit’s crazy in Greek socioeconomics right now. To return to Renner, she essentially explained that Greece is a wonderful country to visit, but not to live. The hot days certainly aren't doing wonders for my writing either, my arms keep sticking to the page! Gross. No one needed to know that where did you include that.

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