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Sunday, June 30, 2019

My Frugal Greek Vacation -- Crete Day 2 and 3, Chania

My second and third day of my Cretan vacation have been so wonderful, but been busy, so I've combined them into one post.


The one thing that I can say about the city Chania is that it literally exudes charm. 


Every place has been more picturesque...



Than the next...


Just walking around the city...


Gives you a serene feeling...



And you want to drink it all in...



It seemed like I was talking photos every other second...



Since it was all postcard worthy...



I got to meet Vera's friend Marianna, and we're going to be spending more time together today.



Every trip I go on, I like to do something that is specifically unique to that place, even if it costs more money...


Vera, knowing how much I enjoy water, booked us tickets on a glass bottom boat...




With a guy who came highly rated on Tripadvisor, Captain Nick's Glass Bottom Boat trips...


He was charming and funny... and very informative and educational...


The trip left Chania harbor... and cost 25 Euros...


And was over 3 hours long...



Oh, and did you notice no life jackets? See, this is something I learned about Greeks... they don't really care about laws or safety rule...


But hey, at least they had two of these...



The three hour trip first involved a long ride at sea...


And stopping near an island, Thodorou Island, to see a crashed German airplane from WWII through the glass at the bottom of the boat. Not so clear, and the jokester captain, Nick, said that they just threw down an old truck to give something to show tourists...


This island that the downed airplane was near is a national park/nature reserve. Only rangers are allowed on it, other than one day a year. That building is their station.



The reason this is a reserve and people aren't allowed to visit is because a species of ibex, native to Crete, called the kri kri has been hunted to near extinction. (In fact, if you google kri kri, most of the hits you'll get show you information about hunting them.) In the 1930s they brought some kri kri to this island and made this their home, and now they number over 100.

Image source
However, from the boat we were only able to see one kri kri. 


We did see lots and lots of seagulls.


Captain Nick explained that at this time of year, seagulls nest on the island, and they don't want the kri kri anywhere near, so they scare them off, making it harder for visitors to see them.


Then again, its a largeish island of 697 aces, and we were passing by in the heat of the day, so its like finding a needle in a haystack, while the needles are trying to escape the heat. We were lucky that we saw one.


 The island had some interesting rock formations...



And some pretty caves...


And supposedly at the top of the mountain you could see remnants of an old Venetian fortress... but I couldn't see anything, to be honest....


 It was quite a beautiful breeze, and amazing sea breeze...


But then the best part of the trip came next, snorkeling!!!




We were given snorkels and flippers... And I told the captain that I needed larger sized flippers, that I wore size 45, that size 41-42 flippers would never fit me, but he insisted I take them and try them on, that you need smaller flippers than you do shoes, and he's been doing this for many years. They were able to go on... but in the end I needed to trade them for a large size since they were hurting me. This is a common thing with me, people assume they know my feet better than I do. And then the size they give me usually hurts...


Anyhow, we were stopped at this gorgeous cute little island...



And anchored the boat a bit out...


And we swam in to shore.






We could do what we wanted for two hours...


 Our bags were brought to shore via a little boat, so we could have our things...

And we spent the next while relaxing, swimming, or snorkeling.


I spent most of it snorkeling. I'm so glad I had previously been scuba diving, because when I did go, I started having a panic attack, mostly set off by the feeling of tightness I got in my chest from breathing in too much oxygen, when trying to figure out how to breathe through the scuba mask. Fortunately then I figured out how to pace my breathing, breathing five counts in, holding it in for five counts, and then five counts out. I remembered that and used that exactly when snorkeling, once I noticed that same tightness in my breath that set off my panic attack while scuba diving. And once I I did that and caught the hang of it, I loved every second it it so much that I am thinking of buying my own snorkel. There is just something meditative and enjoyable and peaceful snorkeling, even if you don't see so much.

Nick took us out snorkeling on an excursion, to attempt to find things, but the visibility was really low.

He did find a sea urchin and passed it around for us to feel (it didn't hurt to touch it).

We saw schools of sea bream...

But mostly it was just lots of rocks, seaweed of different colors and shapes.



I brought this shell to shore to photograph together with some seaweed, and discovered that it was actually a hermit crab and it crawled across my hand.

Close to shore I saw this gorgeous fish, and then another and another, and I wanted to share my excitement with someone, but no one was there... So once I got back, I looked up its name and found this picture...



It's called ornate wrasse...

And I feel really lucky that I was able to see a bunch... They were as large as my hand...


All in all, it was an amazing time...


And then it was time to go back...


Isn't it just gorgeous?


Exactly what the doctor prescribed...



Another thing we did in Chania was take a walk and see some ancient sites...


Such as various sites of the city's old walls...


We saw this archeological site, where I learned the sad fate of people who discover archeological artifacts when they are trying to do construction. They aren't allowed to build on it, aren't allowed to sell it, and they just have to wait until the government gets together enough money to complete the excavation...


It became like a mini museum with these signs on display...


And sharing what was found...





Vera and I tried to find a certain place Rose Nera, where there was supposed to be this protest against discrimination against police brutality on minorities...

Only we had such issues finding the place...

We took a taxi and it dropped us off at a place, and google maps said we were there, but then we didn't see anything when we were in a dead end.


So we took a taxi somewhere else, and the taxi driver half way through decided not to drive us where we wanted to go, so we got out... 


We started walking, asked people for more instructions on how to get where we wanted to go... and turns out, we ended up right back in the same spot where the second taxi picked us up... and from there it was a 2 minute walk...



By the time we got there, the protest was long over... but we got to see a gorgeous rooftop view of the harbor at night...


And so concludes day 2 and day 3! 

Total cost, 35 Euro, for the boat ride/snorkeling, and transportation.

Can't wait to share with you about day 4!

Ever been to Crete? Did you have any similar experiences as I did? If you've been snorkeling, did you enjoy it? What did you see?


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