This was the view from the balcony of my £11 a night apartment.
It was hard to tear myself away, but I had to because Chania is far too lovely a place to miss seeing properly.
When we drove into Chania late at night, I was a little disappointed. I’d loved Paleochora so much and Chania seemed modern and busy in comparison.
We checked into our 3rd floor apartment with a balcony and sea view, but couldn’t see much in the dark. I took this photo which showed a lot more than I could see with the naked eye and was surprised to see it look quite promising.
The next morning I awoke to the amazing view above. Standing on my balcony with a coffee and looking to the left I could see the snow-capped mountains.
Sandy beaches snaked along the left side of the harbour. This was Nea Chora or ‘New Harbour’.
The views at sunset were pretty good too.
A short walk led along the seafront to the Venetian Harbour, so called because it was built by the Venetians in the 1300s. It’s lined with restaurants and tavernas, an old fort, a lighthouse, a mosque that was being renovated and the maritime museum. Tantalising glimpses of the distant, appropriately named, White Mountains drew the eye just as much as the harbour did.
A morning visit to the Maritime Museum gave me a good overview of the history of the area. Whilst there I discovered a room with three elderly men working on a model ship. The level of detail was phenomenal. They told me it was a hobby and each ship could take several years to make.
Another museum I tried to go to was the Greek National Football Museum. It was started by a local fan, hence it being in Chania rather than Athens. Unfortunately, each time I passed it was closed, so I never made it inside.
I drank thick coffee and shots of raki in the tavernas and celebrated a friend’s birthday with one of my best ever meals at the To Stachi vegetarian restaurant.
Exploring the narrow, winding backstreets behind the harbour I found a synagogue. The Jewish population had dwindled over the years so by the time of the Nazi occupation there were only about 300 Jews left. In May 1944 they were imprisoned and then put on a ship heading to Piraeus. The ship was torpedoed by a British submarine killing all onboard.
The synagogue fell into disrepair until the late 1990s when it was placed on a list of endangered monuments of cultural importance. Money was raised and the synagogue reopened in 1999 following renovations.
Many buildings were covered in graffiti which I put down to mindless vandalism. Later, someone translated it for me and I realised this wasn’t ‘I woz ‘ere’ or ‘Shaz luvs Wayne’ type graffiti, but rather political slogans. I saw it in a new light, and although I still thought it spoilt the buildings, was impressed by how politically engaged people seemed to be.
On my final afternoon, I discovered the market. Called the Agora (meeting place) it was filled with goodies like olives, cheeses, Cretan knives and mountain tea.
The following morning, I drank in the views from my balcony for the last time. I may have arrived feeling disappointed, but it was nothing to the disappointment I felt at leaving.