Grand Africa, voyage – Souda, Crete -Greece

26 October 2022  Souda, Crete, Greece, by Barbara Cummings

I crawled out of bed this morning after the clocks had moved forward another hour.  Now I add seven hours to what my watch says.  Sending out a bag of laundry.  Since I am a 5-Star Mariner, laundry is complimentary, and I am very grateful.

Breakfast in the Lido buffet was one Egg Benedict, sausage patty, pineapple, watermelon, orange juice, and coffee.  My window table was perfect to watch the west coast of Crete as we sailed north to Souda Bay.

Succeeded in breaking First Federal’s 50 Euro bills into smaller ones at the front desk. Asked Shore Excursions if my monastery tour would allow me to bring a bottle of wine aboard without paying the $20 corkage fee?  The answer was no, the tour must visit a winery.
Back to the room to recharge the iPhone and switch to using the Sony camera.  I went up to the Lido aft deck to watch the sail in to Souda Bay.

Jack and I lived near Athens, Greece 1966-1969, when he was in the Navy stationed in Nea Makri at Navy Communications Station Greece.  We did get to visit Heraklion, Crete on an R&R $50 cruise.
Today ms Zaandam sailed into Souda Bay on the NW coast of Crete.  Naval Support Activities Souda Bay has U S Navy and families living here, a NATO presence.  I had emailed the Navy asking if I would be welcome to visit this base, since I still had my old Greek ID card.  The very polite reply informed me that since this is actually a Greek base, probably no entrance for me.  That is O.K.

I watched the msZaandam approach the dock.  Men handling the ropes secured the lines from our ship.  Greece is as beautiful as ever today.  78 degrees.  Capt. Smit succeeded in docking at 9:30am, earlier than the original 11am.  The ship was cleared at 9:45am for passengers to go ashore.
I have time to get organized before meeting my Holland America tour group at 11:30am in the World Stage theater.  
Again, I walked the Lower Promenade deck to get more photos of everything.  I did not bother bringing my hiking stick today.

Everyone waited until their tour was called.  Then we got in line for an orange #10 sticker, took the elevator down to A deck, then show ship’s key card and drop mask for security to leave the ship.  Then walk to and through the terminal and outside to the buses.  I managed to find a great window seat all to myself.  That allowed me to take lots of photos through the window and delete duds later.
Tour guide Yannis (prefers not to be called John) introduced himself and driver Stelios.  

It felt so good to be driving through Greek countryside.  Yannis was the best of tour guides. He talked constantly, educating us about Crete and Greece.
His grandfather’s family had been living in Turkey, when all Orthodox Greeks were removed in 1920.  Muslims were moved from Greece to Turkey.  He is the first generation in his family to be born in Greece.  He spoke respectfully of the Ottoman Empire.  Greeks we knew near Athens hated the Turks.

Today I saw cats, no dogs, a few sheep and goats.  Dairy cows have been replaced by Olive groves in Crete. 
Our tour “Arcadi Monastery and Rethymnon: left about noon, following the coast to Yannis’s home in Rethymnon, then south and inland through several villages to the legendary and revered monastery.

“The Monastery of Arcadi is a symbol of Cretan pride, and it reflects the island’s multi-national hegemony with Baroque, Roman, and Venetian influences clearly visible. 
Visit the Monastery today to appreciate its location, with a view of a bright green ravine and the sea beyond.  The monastery’s destiny as a stronghold of the Cretan people was surely forecast by the nature of its construction — its towering, thick walls became the battleground of local chieftains and Ottoman commanders when the Cretan revolution started in 1866.  Europe’s collective emotions were tested to the limit when the virtual destruction of Arkadi occurred.  However, the main entrance was lovingly rebuilt; icons, frescoes, and the part of the temple were saved; and even today the powder magazine is still smoky.  Items representing the Resurrection of Christ are on display in the Monastery Museum.”

We were at the monastery 1:15 – 2:10ppm. Yannis led us through the entrance in the walls, to the courtyard, then inside the revered monastery.  I listened, rather than wandering around taking photos of the icons and treasures.  Yannis taught me that they are not allowed to make three-dimensional statues.  Therefore the two-dimensional icons prevail in the Greek Orthodox Church.
Outside, the old tree trunk was where a little girl landed after the powder magazine explosion.  Miracle that she was alive.  And has descendants, his son’s playmates.

“Continue from Arkadi to Rethymnon – the relatively modern town built on the site of Ancient Rithymna.  The latter flourished during the Mycenaean era but, for some unknown reason, its importance was lost in the 3rd century AD.  However, Rithymna retained its autonomy and independence – evidenced by the coins that it continued to mint – and it was inhabited during the Byzantine period.  Indeed, parts of some interesting Roman and Byzantine mosaics have been found here.  The Venetian period was a time of great prosperity for Rithymna – great traders used the harbor as a stop between Heraklion and Chania, and as an administrative center for the area.
Enjoy a walk with your guide through the narrow streets of the Old Town, followed by some free time.”

We drove through Rethynnon and around the fort walls to a waterfront parking lot.  Yannis handed each one of us a big piece from a loaf of bread.  Not crusty, but a little sweet, maybe carob beans were in it?  It was a delicious surprise.  
He led us by outdoor restaurants to a spot with a view of the lighthouse.  I asked where I could buy something special.  He taught me that Hellas is Greece.  “Ellas” is Helen.
Unfortunately my shopping never found what I was looking for or a bakery or a Souvlakia or a puzzle ring.  
I did find a 2 Euro magnet and 7 Euro olive wood serving spoon & fork.  Since I paid the full E7 price, the salesgirl gave me a sample drink of “Rakki” made with pomegranate.  Another tasty treat.  We stayed from 2:50 until 4pm.  

We drove back along the coast to Souda Bay.  This time I had views of the coast instead of the hills.  Yannis mentioned the American Navy base with pleasure.  When we arrived back at 4:45pm, there were tips to Yannis and Stelios. 
I decided to ride the 3 Euro City Bus to Chania and back.  More interesting sights, and when the bus parked in a city center circle, I saw nothing that I had the energy to get out and explore.  So I stayed on the bus for the return to Souda Bay. 

It was 6pm when I boarded the ship and returned to my room.  
(The 8 1/2 hour tour to Heraklion returned maybe 8:30pm?)
Enjoyed family texts and email.
Went to the Lido to eat, but learned that the Greek Taverna food will be tomorrow night.  Disappointed, I decided to eat in the Main Dining Room.  Table for one.  Ate the Salmon & Spinach Cake, figs & feta, (Greek?) Braised Lamb Shank Kokkinisto with Greek olives, Dulce de Leche Cheesecake, water, and decaf coffee.  A very satisfying meal.

Posted photos, but labels will have to wait til tomorrow.  Must write in my journal and try to email tonight.
Good news is that the ship’s clocks are moving back one hour tonight, and two chocolates were left on the bed for me.  
Clean laundry was delivered at 8pm with a sweet note.
What a wonderful day in Greece.

Note: tomorrow will be another day at sea as they sail toward the entrance to the Suez Canal arriving there in the morning of October 28. JWC

Note: Having traveled with many excursions off of cruises over the past years, I have always tried to make sure that Barbara has a window seat on the bus because in order to capture the experience, she captures many pictures as you can through the window of the tour bus. As you will see in many of the photos posted here.. JWC

Photo Gallery, by Barbara Cummings

2 thoughts on “Grand Africa, voyage – Souda, Crete -Greece

  1. Hi Barbara and Jack
    I am so enjoying being along on the trip. Your blog comes just before my dinner each evening, by the time I read what you have had for dinner I am jealous and starving. When you mentioned the Greek olives I was positively drooling.
    Love the pictures. You get such good ones from the bus, mine are/were always blurry. Keep up the good work. Stay safe and well.

  2. Barbara, I love your blogs as they take me away to my own cherished days on the high seas. Your detailed words and crisp photos vividly paint pictures that illuminate the minds we readers thousands of land bound, miles away. It’s a delight to vicariously travel with you. Thank you so much for sharing this with all your grateful readers even little, old me currently tucked away smack in the middle of the North American continent. Keep up your wonderful pace.

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