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Maria and Gerry’s Travel Diary

Tuesday, 13 Jun 2006

Location: Heraklion, Greece

MapDear Folks,

Another day, another island, still in Greece. We have a lovely view over the port of Heraklio, with its Venetian fortress. Yes, over the centuries they have had many conquerors, the main being Romans, Venetiansm Turks and Germains, with a few more in between,
Great food, helpful and friendly people, interesting historical remains, often better than expected.Taking an early morning walk in Pylos, a lady carrying flowers to church gave me a red carnation, and then one for Gerry. Yesterday,, when we asked the way to the bus station she took us there and then waved to us when her bus arrived. In Athens while we were in a 11th C Byzantine church, a dentistry stuedent spent some considerable time explaining the structure of the church & facits of the Greek Orthodox faith. At Mystras we climbed the 1/2 kms hill town to the Crusader castle,. Belowing it were churches, monastaries, palaces, all of which were given a quick visit. The frescos were well preserved & fascinating in their beauty and thought. From the crusader castle there is a sheer 300 m drop. Spectaclur views.
Could get quite used to cruising the Greek Isles, although the array of food is tempting and island hoping strenuous. The spectaculr Corinth Canal, the magnificient open air theatre at Epidaurus, with its perfect acoustics. Mycanae, Sparta, Olympia, Delphi, Patras & other places of history and fame. Mykonos is as beautiful as the postcaeds show, and Santorini as well, shimmering white buildings, mostlu square of all sizes. Had a choice of climbing straight up 522 steps, ride a donkey of use the cable car. If you walk you need to avoid donkeys galloping down and their inevitable signatures on the ground. We took the bus up a zigzag road from the new port and travelled down to the ship's tender by cable car. Rhodes was impressive, with its fortifications built by the Knights of St John, grand, but in the renovatons by the Italians in Mossalini's time used ransacked mosaics both Roman and Byzantine from the island of Kos.

Crete has a lot longer and more history, beginning with Knossos.
which ihas much more to show than the books tell us. The country generally looks like the hill and mountains of central Otago. Yesterday we took a bus to the east, saling from Agios Nikolaos to and island which could as well have been in the Hauraki Gulf, the only diffrence being a small Ortodox chapel attended by a man in ordinary dress was blessing each holy picture with smoking incense. His stone abode was but aa arm's length away, held a stone fire place, coffee table with books and pens, and a bed, which took up about 1/3 of the room.
Spinalonga was a Venetian island fortress on the ocean side and vilage on the inner. since then Turks have been resident and finally, it was a leper colony from 1900 to 1957, when a cure had been found and the survivers, some of whom are stil alive and occasionally visit the island with their chldren and grandchildren. went back to the mainland. The biggest destruction has been in recent times when the mainlanders rowed over to remove anything they could fit on their boats.

Incidentally the town is Elunda made famous by TV's Who Pays the Ferryman. From that it has sprouted into a holiday resort. Our guide in all of this is a Sardenian German of belgian nationality who gave the comments in English, Dutch and German.

In Athens a fortnight ago we attended Mass sung by a heavenly choir to classical music, here a couple of days ago, we found a church nearby, where the Greek Capuchin said it in Latin, with hymns in English and Polish; the peace sign was sung to Israeli tune in English, French, German, Italian, Polish, Italian, the brief sermon in each as well. The reading were in American, German and ? Afterwards we were invited ti the hall next door for some fruit juice and fellowship. Really, that was the most memorable Mass I've ever been privileged to attend.