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High days, holidays and the onset of the Cretan winter

January 12, 2012


Last week we drove into Heraklion before dawn to pick up Nick & Jude from the ferry. The traffic seemed to be lighter than usual but we thought nothing of it until they arrived from Piraeus and told us that it was the Feast of the Epiphany and a Greek National Holiday.

Back at Ferma, Hans called to say that there would be a ceremony at the harbour in Ierapetra later in the morning at which a priest would bless a cross which would then be thrown into the sea, whereupon young men would jump in to retrieve it. He who is first to the cross is apparently blessed with good luck at his fishing for the forthcoming year. Believe it if you will but unfortunately for us, although we went, we were too late to see it happen for no one knew the time! However, we did have a pleasant if blustery walk around the harbour.

What all this has to do with the supposed arrival of the three wise men at Bethlehem or the celebration of the revelation of God the Son as a human being in Jesus Christ is beyond me but I suppose serves to differentiate Greek culture from our own which is part of the enjoyment of being here and clearly for the Greeks, is a good excuse for a party, so it must be good (according to Sheila!).

The next day (being January 7) turned out to be my ‘name day’. Apparently, anyone called John (Iannis) and various feminine equivalents are supposed to be treated with special consideration on this day. As both Hans and Hanneke (Joanna) fall into the same category as me, we had something to celebrate and fancy cakes were produced at morning coffee at Symbols Coffee House on the front in Ierapetra (which has become something of a Saturday morning habit) and later in Ferma, chocolates were handed out by Fufu at her Supermarket!

On Nick and Jude’s last full day with us, Hans and Hanneke took us to the Cave of the Dragons taverna which is a few miles along the coast. Goat had been ordered specially the day before and what a meal we had! The goat was wonderful – the best I have ever tasted and the starters, particularly the aubergine and feta baked in a clay ‘boat’, mouthwatering just to recall.

Yesterday we took Nick and Jude back to Heraklion to catch the ferry to Athens and visited the Minoan site at Knossos en route.

It is spectacular, although there was a very cold wind howling in from the sea that eventually drove us into a nearby taverna for a warming lunch! Winter has arrived here with a vengeance – driving rain, cold winds and even snow on the hills.

Still, my resident meteorologist tells me it is to improve by the weekend and that she will be swimming in the sea again soon! Amazing that it was only four days ago that we were all (well all except for Nick) swimming at Vai.



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One Comment
  1. Bridget permalink

    Haven’t had time to read your blog yet but will find an hour or two later on! We are in Madeira now after nearly a week in Oxford with no internet. Saw Liz Turner for a few hours -she and Ida went on a bus trip to Birmingham for a Wagner Opera. Liz looks well.
    Now I have to rely on Rosemary’s neighbour for internet ( through her wall)! They know and don’t actually mind! A very kind Austrian couple.
    Lovely weather and long walks are keeping us fit ( and tired)! Celebrated our 48th on Wed. at a local fish restaurant. Time flys.
    Was hoping to be watching tennis from Australia but no signal! Very annoying! Perhaps BBC with have it on the red button if Andy keep chugging along.
    love, Bridget

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