Crete 2019 Day 1: A seeming eternity of travel

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The drive to Birmingham airport was without incident. The queue for bag check-in was the shortest I’ve seen on my summer holidays and security was okay too. I had worries that we’d have queue after queue like the last time we flew from Birmingham (to Santorini – see previous posts starting here), but it was so different this time.

Our luck had to change and I expected we’d be the ones sat next to the screaming baby. However the Fates had a keener trick to play and served us up two beer-smelling idiots who brought their own beer on the flight – bottles of Tiger beer and cans of Guinness despite it being thoroughly illegal to do so.

The female drunk of the duo kept dropping things. First it was a pen which I salvaged for her once and then she dropped it again and it was lost. I kept having to pass the next pen she decided to drop back to her along with her sunglasses (which I would’ve stamped on if I thought I could’ve got away with it). It was like dealing with a small child. She also managed to misplace a couple of paperbacks which she recovered after we’d landed.

But before that distant release… ‘I’ve only had two wines!’ was her cry when one of the flight attendants confiscated their drinks.

‘Bullshit!’ Was the reply in my mind. But you have to be careful; for all we knew they were staying at our hotel and we’d be sharing the hour-long transfer with them and seeing them every day at breakfast. It was such a relief to learn that they’d only come for four days and weren’t at our resort.

At one point the male drunk of the duo dropped one of his cans of Guinness and then picked it up and opened it. It was no great surprise to see it explode all over him and his neighbour who was ironically wearing a Guinness tee shirt but really didn’t deserve it.

There was a period of time where we got some peace when she fell asleep but it was unfortunately short-lived. It was such a sweet relief when we landed.

There was a long wait for bags at Crete airport and then another wait while a couple of old dodderers found the minibus. The trip was quicker than it might have been – the driver informed us he’d driven quickly, but he needn’t have told us as we figured that out after a couple of overtaking manoeuvres that would’ve impressed Michael Schumacher – around an hour and a half. Maybe he was fishing for a tip, but I was too tired at the time to notice.

The hotel in Rethymno was swish, but then we paid for swish. The kind of place that has a phone in the toilet and a plate of fruit and a bottle of wine waiting for you. After last year’s rather lacklustre hotel we felt we deserved a treat. We cooed over the slippers, dressing gowns and a pillow menu, get us…

Crete-2019-01

Since it was late, and we were frankly zombified, we didn’t venture very far for dinner. Vatania Taverna almost next door to our hotel gave us a very warm welcome to Crete. The hotel gave us orange juice when we arrived, the taverna gave us raki. The owner said that it was the traditional Cretian welcome. Ouzo seems to take a back seat in terms of paint-stripper strength drinks in Crete. Raki is everywhere.

Raki is a sweetened alcoholic drink popular in Turkey and some Greek Islands as an apéritif. It’s made from twice-distilled grapes and aniseed, but in Crete the aniseed taste was not noticeable, and they sometimes added orange or melon juice to dull the paint-stripper spirit shock.

Vatania has a good meze section to its menu. We had sardines, ‘chips special’ – cripsy slices of potato with grated cheese and tartar sauce, spring rolls with chilli dip (very Greek I know) and Greek salad (feta, olives, olive oil, tomatoes, cucumber and onion – although we asked for no onion). Siggy had a Mythos Radlers and I had Alfa draught beer. Like the ouzo versus raki, Mythos takes a back seat to Alfa in terms of draught lager. The complimentary panna cotta they gave us with the bill was unexpected, covered in a drizzle of chocolate sauce and very tasty.

We were to learn that the Cretans love giving stuff away with their food and drink. We never complained.

(Please note that, for a change, all the photos included on this series of posts about Crete are my originals and if you do want to rip them off I’d appreciate if you let me know or at least gave me credit (c) 2019 Matthew Haynes.)

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