Two weeks in Crete on a last-minute deal: from Chania and Rethymon to Iraklio, Chersonisos and Siteia, we packed it all in those 14 days!
Day 9 : 21 July 2003 : Cretan Night
Strangely enough, after yesterday's activities we didn't feel like doing all that much today. So we didn't. Instead we spent much of the day pretty much doing the following:
Eventually though, we had something a little more constructive to do - our last booked trip of the holiday, Cretan Night.
Early evening and the coach picked us up at our usual spot up the road from the apartment to take us to a mountain village about 15km away (believe it was called Kato Karouzanos). As we arrived, a photographer snapped all the couples and families - I was a marked contrast to Manda who was wearing a very tasteful black and white patterned dress; me, a loud (ie almost fluorescent) green T-shirt. The people weren't quite ready for us in the venue, though, so we had a brief wander around the village. There were just a few little shops to look at - it didn't take long to run out of things to do, so we sat down outside a taverna and waited for the festivities to begin.
There were easily a few hundred people coached in for this party night. For such a small village, it was quite a surprising and impressive venue. The roof was on wheels which, if the weather allowed it, could be rolled back for open-air dining, and so it was tonight. Manda and I picked a seat at one of the tables one row back from the stage and picked a position in the middle of the table - anything to avoid being picked out of the crowd and onto the stage (just like had happened to others sitting near us on our Turkish Night - we had learned!). We found ourselves sitting with a couple called Chris and Charlotte on one side and Alan and Jan on the other.
Although we had never met these people before, we seemed to hit it off with them straight away and before not too long it was like we'd known them our whole holiday.
The dancers came on, and so did the wine and the food. A couple of bottles of white and a red on each table kept us going for a while ("It's not the worst wine I've tasted," said Charlotte), but soon enough we needed a top-up. "When you finish just hold the empty bottle in the air and someone will come along and replace it with a full one," said the tour rep on the coach in. Now we found out what the reality was, and it was this - your arm's gonna ache. I looked over to another table and saw someone else holding up the bottle in one hand and supporting his arm with his other arm, elbow on the table; he spotted me looking over and rolled his eyes. We were obviously in for a long wait!
Finally a waiter came over and collected our bottles, but there was no 'exchange' going on - except an exchange of confused conversation which resulted in the waiter walking off and all of us thinking "he really doesn't understand this whole bottle refill thing, does he?". Eventually Charlotte got tired of waiting (and evidently she was getting used to the taste) and disappeared to find some more wine; 10 minutes later she returned with a few bottles looking every bit the victor. Our hero!
The dancing continued for most of the night, with all different styles shown (none of which I could identify, but all of it seemed to involve throwing each other in the air or slapping the soles of your own feet and so on), but we were all in our own little world, chatting away with our new friends. The dancers were almost background noise, except for the people in the audience who had got up on stage and joined in.
As for the food, well it was OK considering the number of people they were catering for - a cucumber and yogurt dip, bread, salad; stuffed tomatoes, meatballs and some unidentifiable meat (goat, we thought!) and mushroom dish, and finally pieces of roast chicken and greasy potato. Oh, and some kind of donut thing for dessert.
Chris was getting quite well oiled and as the dancers were doing their roll call, taking a bow etc, he shouted "Show us yer arse!" to all the girls. One after the the other he said it until the men came forward. Well, we thought he was going to stop there, but apparently it wasn't just the ladies who got the heckling!
The night came to an early end - by 10:30 we were all getting back on our coaches back to our respective accommodation. It seemed too early - most people were only just getting in to the swing of things. As we walked out, I spotted an almost full bottle of white wine on a table and concealed it down my trousers and under my T-shirt, covering the bulge with the bag I'd used to carry the camera/camcorder in. Once on the bus, I pulled out the bottle and it was my turn to be the hero as it got passed around the people nearest us (the guy behind had tried to smuggle out three bottles but they'd checked his bag on the way out, so I did quite well, all things considered!).
After here, it's all a bit hazy. As in all I really remember is what Manda told me the next day. Apparently I was playing cards with George (I do recall that it was sh**head, about the only game I know), who I kept referring to as Jack (his dog's name). I was feeding Mars™ bars to George too. No hang on, I mean Jack, the dog - yep I was getting his name wrong too. All topsy-turvy. Probably time to turn in for the night!