Telluride Inside… and Out on Crete: Rethymnon and out

Telluride Inside… and Out on Crete: Rethymnon and out

IMGP2160 Telluride Inside… and Out headed out of town at 4:30 a.m., the dark time when Rethymnon turns its streets over to cats stalking scraps from bags of garbage put out for collection, and a few stragglers, mostly guy gangs, done stalking women, ready to turn in just ahead of their alarm clocks.

Clint and I made our way quickly through the narrow, winding path leading to the car park, grateful, in the absence of string, that we had rehearsed the route, reminding ourselves what our guide Joanna Kalypso Glyptis, had told us about what the town planners had in mind. Rethymnon's  variation on the theme of labyrinth was intentional, designed so that its denizens with local knowledge could easily elude invaders or pirates in hot pursuit.

Joanna feels most guidebooks and guides talk the party line, not the facts. For example, Knossos was never a palace. Palaces have kitchens. No places to prepare meals were ever found on the site. The dolphins in the queen's room, the ones our guide told us signified music and harmony? The illustrious Welshman Arthur Evans who excavated the place did some redecorating. The dolphins were transplants from another location. Heresy?

Joanna, who prepared for her trade by taking graduate courses at a university in Rethymnon famous for its classes in humanism and history, had access to Evans' diaries. The guy actually documented his transgressions.

As for Rethymnon, on our walking tour, Joanna explained what should have been obvious: the town is a baby sister to Chania, and has nearly everything its neighbor to the west has only on a smaller scale: a picturesque harbor complete with a lighthouse courtesy of the Venetian conquerors, an Old Town with a mix of Venetian and Turkish architecture, churches and mosques (often built on the site of churches), a famous fountain with Venetian (16th century) and Turkish (17th century) attributes, the Loggia, built in the style of Palladio in the middle of the 16th century as a place for the high born to hang out and gamble. The place now the glassed in structure serves as the Archaeological Museum. In the window of the Loggia hangs a copy of the shield of the Diktean Cave (Remember? the place Zeus was allegedly born). Joanna used the shield as one more example of the strong influence of Assyria on ancient Greece, an influence Europeans like Evans and Schliemann tried to repress. Joanna had a lot of say on that subject. Too much to go into here.

Joanna also took us to a few places generally not in the guide books. Our first such stop was Giorgos Papalexakis's store and workshop, where he produces exquisite lyras, traditional string instruments. Clint was in rapture, so we hung out there for awhile, drinking our first raki of the day, before our first dessert of the day at the local mini-factory that produces original fyllo goodies such as baklavah. We bought a box as a gift to our gracious host at the Hotel Avli, Thanasis Fragidis, a token of our thanks for the many ways he anticipated our wishes on our short stay – such as booking a scholar such as the lovely Joanna for our guide.

Our plane from Heraklion took off on schedule. We are now back on the mainland, where our driver Nicholas met us and drove us up to Meteora to see the majestic monasteries on the mountains.

More on that soon.

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