Most of my time in Crete was spent in Rethymnon, a coastal city which was once an epicentre for trade, has been occupied by Venetians and Ottomans, and is now a University town, with students coming from all over Greece to study at the University of Crete’s Gallos campus.
Rethymnon has preserved it’s cobble-stoned Old Town, which is open to foot traffic only. A lot of iconic architecture can still be seen.
It didn’t take long for us to become quite familiar with Rethymnon. Talking to the locals, it became clear that Rethymnon was a lot like our home-town of Adelaide. There were about two degrees of separation, and while that meant that people felt quite safe, some people did express some exasperation at the fact that it was impossible to escape local gossip.
Rethymon’s citizens are welcoming and open-minded, accustomed as they are to accommodating hundreds of students every year, and the city retains its unique blend of Cretan, Venetian and Ottoman characteristics.
So the official reason I went to Crete during the European summer this year was to study an in-country language program – although, if I’m honest, the main reason I had for studying Greek up to that point was to attend the in-country program, so there’s some circular logic. I suppose that something that I didn’t quite understand and certainly couldn’t articulate had been calling me inexplicably to Greece for some time, and this was as good a way as any to get there.
“Why did you choose this place?” my sister – sociologist, author and seasoned traveler – asked me. Koutoulafari is a village-turned-tourist-escape on a hill somewhere near Xersonissos, one of the more party-oriented cities in Crete.
Once again, so much has happened since my last post, and if you follow this blog I hope to bring you up to date and along for the ride in due course.
After a two-year hiatus from this blog, this is a hard post to write. Putting the last two years into writing infers a kind of finality, as if by putting my experiences into writing they are finally made real. I strongly believe that owning your own story is key to being an active (co-)creator of your future, so it’s challenging to admit certain hardships yet-to-be-overcome into this narrative.