Chania (Crete) – Five Nights in Chania

Wednesday, June 21st

The Longest Day

The Summer Vacation, – The Big One – planned last September as soon as the summer flights from Glasgow to Chania were released, and even the accommodation at Akali Hotel paid in advance, non refundable. Marg announced that she wanted to play hockey in Dublin this weekend, so it goes.

A transfer from the airport was arranged on the Ryanair website, cheaper for one than a taxi by far. Imagine my delight when my Bus turned out to be a Taxi, Mercedes at that. The Hector was whisked towards Chania moments after clearing passport control.

I was puzzled as to why the uphill direction from Akali Hotel took me back towards the Venetian Port. Little more than five minutes to the periphery of the Old Town, I had chosen well, the benefits of an early booking. In 1998, Hector spent two weeks in Rethymno some 50km to the east. I spent one afternoon and evening here in Chania, it clearly had more to offer, I even spotted a Curry House! I knew one day I would be back here, pity it was on my lonesome.

Beef Stifado and a Greek Salad was foremost in Hector’s mind, I have come to learn that too many Greek Restaurants are simply Grill Houses, they do not cook the Traditional Dishes. Lithos was the first place I found on the waterfront which had Stifado. A half litre of Mythos (Mythos/Carlsberg, Hellas) was presented, 5.00% in Greece. It must have been poured into a warm glass, the Eurofizz did not have that much needed Ice-cold Bite, tepid Lager, I could taste it, an awful after-taste. How much of this have I drank over the years?

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Until recently, I could not eat Fetta Cheese, now I can handle it, occasionally enjoy it. Fetta may all look the same, it varied considerably in quality, the small piece atop my Greek Salad was OK. The Stifado arrived before I was ready, is this it? No sign of – clay pot cooking – here, just a Beef Stew with the most minimal of sauce. In Curry this would have been welcome, I wanted much more. This was as poor an example of Stifado as I have encountered. Like the Bier, the meal was tepid, it may have been hot once. It became a struggle to eat the last morsels, and finish the Mythos. Not a good start.

Rudi’s Beerhouse

Assuming the Tavernas would sell nothing beyond Eurofizz, I was determined to seek out something decent. The usual sources flagged up Rudi’s Beerhouse on the eastern side of the Port. Passing the Byzantine City Walls, I was at Rudi’s in moments. A sign outside gave the warmest of greetings: Septem – Pale Ale  (5.2%) vom Faß, and at an acceptable price.

Around midnight, The Bar was empty, nobody was outside either. Rudi, Mein Host, was behind the Bar, washing up. His Lady invited me to sit anywhere, I chose a central bar stool. If this was going to be – My Local – for the next few nights, I may as well begin as I mean to go on.

On studying the array of fonts, the Septem was not apparent. The end Tap I would discover is used for rotating Biers. With Saaz and Nelson Sauvin Hops, this was a Mellow, but well-hopped Bier, very pleasant, and a huge difference from the Domestic. As Rudi became free from his duties, so we began to chat. There was an array of Bottled Biers along the far end of the Bar, the Large ones would be out of my price range no doubt. My Database reminded me of my favourite Greek Bier: Septem- 8th Day (Mera). Rudi explained that Septem have a Bier for every day of the week, and on the 8th Day, Bier was created…

First encountered at Beer Time (Athena) last year, Septem – 8th Day at 7.0% has Mosaic, Simcoe and Citra Hops. This IPA is Perfect, so Smooth, so full of Flavour, I could easily drink this every day. I now fully intended to. This has to be one of my Favourite Biers of all time. It may well be worth coming to Hellas just to experience this, and not as expensive as Craft Beer in Italia, or Deutschland.

Burniston

Rudi spent some time-out at the laptop behind me. He showed me the famous – Elevator sketch – I introduced him to more Scottish TV Humour – Chewing the Fat. Yes, this would be – My Local.

Thursday, June 22nd

The nights are fair drawing in…

After a late night, I was in no hurry to get up. Actually 02.30 was not late given that I had started the day in BST. The hotel bed was comfortable, there was minimal noise from outside, no street noise which impressed given that Akali Hotel is on a main road. Curry for Brunch was the plan, Namaste is on the same street as Hotel Akali, a five minute walk away from the town centre, such planning.

The Glasgow Real Ale Festival (G-RAF) started today, the first one I have missed working at, next year, it is written.

Frustratingly, there would be no Curry for The Hector until later, time to go back to the Venetian Port et environs and re-acquaint myself with Chania in daylight. The Hinterland of the Venetian Port proved to be quite varied, it would take a while to master these streets. I stumbled across an historic Synagogue but chose as ever to go no further. Nobody was calling me.

Late afternoon, it was declared – Bier o’clock, but where to spend my Shekel? I had seen how active some of the waterfront Tavernas had been at night. Happy Hour it said at Plateia, they had Alpha (Athenian Brewery, Athena, Hellas) at 5.0% on draft, this had to be better than Mythos.

Plateia had – Wi-fi – too which should no longer be an issue given than Roaming is now free, however, I don’t think 4G has fully come to Chania, uploading photos last night was almost impossible without.

The Alpha hit the spot. No nasty after-taste either. With a view west over the Port, this was idyllic, another Bier, and the price was right.

Breakfast was much later than intended today, as ever the full report on my Curry eating exploits is recorded hereNamaste.

The walk to and from Namaste was interrupted by stop off at every Pharmacy en route. I need to buy more finger bandages. Three days ago, whilst washing the windows, I damaged my right forefinger. The fingernail was removed at The Vale of Leven Hospital, Hector has been quite sensitive since. Most Pharmacies admired my dressing but had nothing to offer, eventually one had gauze that was guaranteed not to stick. This should be useful when my National Health supplied dressings run out.

Arriving at Rudi’s Beerhouse @22.00, a few were sat outside. Rudi was preparing the Snacks he serves as well as serving the Bier. The Septem Pale Ale Lager was still on, a good place to start. The discussion with Rudi about Bier continued. One of the closest of the bottles in the array on the Bar was Saison Dupont (Brasserie Dupont, Tourpes, Belgium) at 6.4%. Cuvée dry hopping – the label said. I was expecting some thing – Sour -Tangy – at least. This Bier tasted Dry and a bit Hoppy, there was also the distinctive German bier taste, Deutsche Hopfen no doubt.

This Bier tastes as if it was brewed on the German-Belgian Border – I said to Rudi.

Not a Bier I would recommend, so it was time to return to – The Best. The more Septem 8th Day I have, the more I enjoy it. If this was available back home in Glasgow, it would go down a storm, way better than anything I have tasted from Bermondsey too.

Friday, June 23rd

Having paid for ten breakfasts, I thought I had better make the effort. The Orange Juicer took a moment or two to suss, after that there was no stopping The Hector. Why does freshly squeezed Orange Juice look and taste so different from that which comes in Bottles – not from concentrate, why concentrate?

The pool at Akali Hotel is quite inviting, sadly Hector is under instruction to keep his forefinger – dry and clean – until the wound heals. A towel was provided for taking outdoors, a sunbed chosen, a good book continued. My Life in Parts – by Bryan Cranston, better known as Walter White, Heisenberg even. We are the same age, his life has been quite different from mine.

After an hour of – controlled exposure – it was time to head towards the Old Town of Chania once more, two more days of this. I passed the Indoor Market before heading down towards the waterfornt.  Near the Synagogue, I stopped at Restaurant Kritamon for an Ice Cream. The Menu was brought, sod the Ice Cream, I’m having Seafood Spaghetti. With Mussels in the shell, and Prawns aplenty with Bits, this was a serious interpretation. The Sauce was immense, Basil-rich. How come it never turns out for me this way when I use Fresh Herbs? Easily the Best – Seafood Pasta – I have ever eaten. 

To walk this off I tried to get late afternoon photos of the Venetian Port, including a – Self-timer. Pity I blocked that which I was trying to appear in.

  Bier O’clock

I enjoyed my visit to Plateia yesterday, chatting to everyone via Social Media, drinking Ice Cold Alpha in a frosted glass. The Bier may be everything I would avoid at home, when the temperature is in the 30sºC, it works. Wandering back to Hotel Akali, I passed a shop with – Columbia – sportswear blazoned on the exterior. A pair of their – special shoes?

No, we only stock sandals.

 Rabbit StifadoRudi had advised me that – Rabbit Stifado – is better than Beef. In my wanderings I had found a Source on the waterfront in a traditional looking Taverna – Amphora. The outside seating was busy, I could not take a table there and so pointed inside. The Chap was happy to accommodate me at one of the few inside tables where only another couple were sat. Eurofizz was ordered, the Rabbit Stifado, then I thought, – I’m here to dine. Taramasalata to start, a half litre of House Posé to wash it down, what the hell? It cost little more than a Bier.

Normally one shares Taramasalata, and the accompanying Bread. When the Stifados arrived, I knew I was in for the long haul. The Stifado was served Hot, yay! More sauce than at Lithos too. The Brown Meat on the Ribs was Excellent, full of Flavour. The Whiter Meat on leg-bones not so. As Dry as Chicken, as Bland as Chicken, not so good. Is this the correct Blog?

The Posé Wine was cool and refreshing too, only one Bier required.

Once it was evident I had had enough, the plates were cleared, I was preparing to depart, the Waiter had another idea.

A Complimentary Shot is the custom, I received a Vial the size of a Kölsch Glass, full of Raki. Superb! All for me, nobody else, it’s mine, I’m finishing this, any more?

I checked the legs before taking my first steps, just in case. I walked around the harbour, the sun was setting, the waterfront was stowed.

A quiet night at Rudi’s Beerhouse was anticipated. It was Wednesday, so why not have the correct – Mera? Septem’s (Eoboea, Hellas) W-Day, Wednesday Wheat IPA at 6.0% followed my usual Septem Pale Ale Lager. With Waimea, NZ and Vic Secret, Oz, I hoped for more. Bring on the 8th Day.

A small group of Chaps came in and sat two stools along from me at the Bar, one was from the USA, the rest local. Inevitably there was intercourse. We could see we were all here to enjoy Bier, after-all, there’s nowhere else in town. The American flashed the cash.

A Large Bottle of – Trappist Holiday Ale (Spencer Brewery, Massachusetts, USA) at 9.0% was purchased. He was – on expenses – and couldn’t get this at home. A Soupçon came my way: a Brown Ale, the most expensive Bier I have ever tasted (sorry, Graeme, the record is broken), with a full body and a slight sweetness, it was Kwak in disguise.

Have I mentioned that Septem’s 8th Day (Mera) is my Favourite Bier brewed in Hellas, and is rapidly becoming my – Very Favourite Bier?

Saturday 24th

Today, The Hector left Chania, only for a while. A Curry House was reported along the coast at Platanias. A World War II Shelter, now opened as a Museum, was another attraction. Breakfast was missed again, last night I started watching Season II of – Better Call Saul. Having bought the DVD a few weeks back, I only recently realised this gives the bonus of watching via wi-fi. Why could I not simply download it? I know why, as if… Michael will have Season #3 waiting for me when I get home. It was a late night.

The plan was to reach Platanias around 15.00, according to Google Maps, the Shelter closed at 16.00. It was a steep climb up to – War Shelter Platanias. It was closed.

Open daily, 10.00 until 12.00, then 17.00 until 20.00 – said the sign. Google Maps has been updated. I went looking for the Curry House, open at 17.00. Nothing much happens in Platanias before 17.00 then. There was only one thing for it, a walk along the Beach. Ugh!

The island just offshore became a focal point of the walk – Agioi Theodoroi, it had caves. I like caves.

Facing the walk up the hill, again, I decided not to arrive at the War Shelter in a sweat. The highest Taverna in Platanias is Vigli, a worthy objective. Only small Bottles of Pepsi were available to quench the thirst, two ordered. It was Ice Cream, time, no Seafood Pasta today. The view from Vigli is magnificent. One’s eyes are always drawn towards Agioi Theodoroi, the island landmark. Inland, I was certain the mountainous peaks were – Pyramidal Peaks. Crete must have been glaciated, though exfoliation may well have shaped the landscape further since the last Ice Age.

At 17.00, Hector was at the gates of the War Shelter, alone. At 17.15, a car drew up, the Volunteer for this shift. I was taken inside and given the briefing about the now – Museum. Mein Host told the fond memories of his seniors re the Scottish troops who were based here after the Axis Occupation.

It was cool inside, at each of the three exits were plagues of insects, waiting for fresh blood. A simple display, but worth the climb up the hill (twice) as I related to the couple who replaced me.

Bathed and changed at Akali, it was time to hit the town. Plateia once more served up some much needed Ice Cold Eurofizz before I headed for the serious stuff.

Once more I checked out the Brew House Speak Easy Bar on Akti Tompazi, the waterfront. Google Maps were happy to accept my verdict that this place has gone, Taverna Ta Chalkina may well be occupying their space. Rudi was quietly pleased when I said the Brew House had gone, a rival no more. It had never been a Brewery anyway. He told me that many venues do not last the year. Corporation Tax in Greece is 50%, people in Greece pay tax?

Tonight’s new Bottled Bier experiment was Charma Pale Ale (Cretan Bewery, Chania, Crete) at 5.5%. A golden orange, it was meant to have a Citrus flavour, this came very slowly as did a hint of Hops, it was at least – Refreshing. Sources dispute the abv. Rudi had it at 5.2%, Ratebeer at 6.0%.

Rudi plays Jazz most of the time. Around 23.00 the venue next door drowns out his mellow music, they are loud and are not meant to be. The police pass every so often, a Chap strategically placed at the end of the street gives warning, down goes the music, and then moments later… Corruption, in Greece?

We’re closed tomorrow – was a casual remark made by Rudi’s Lady in reply to a something I said. I thought she was joking, alas not. Sunday closing, even in Summer. Would this Septem 8th Day (Mera) be last until Athena?

Four good nights supping Excellent Bier.  My thanks to Rudi for entertaining me.

Sunday 25th

Today I was determined to do the Chania City Bus Tour. The Chap outside the Bus Station was apparently doing his utmost to make this difficult. A Bus was on stand, it would not leave for another thirty minutes, he sent me away. I arrived back in good time, no Bus. Another wait, a delay, then finally.

The Bus headed to Souda, the modern Port for Chania, I’m glad I did not believe the blurb I had read elsewhere, there is nothing to see.

What I did learn was the extent of Chania, with a modest Beach to the east but a much more impressive stretch to the west at Nea Chora.

Not only that, given the shape of the coastline, it was nearer Akali Hotel and Namaste to which I promised to return. Nea Chora looked to be a hive of activity, there was a sense of a Promenade, and the customary stretch of Tavernas. Was there Bier?

After a hot Bus Tour it was most certainly time for a final visit to the Venetian Port and Ice Cold Alpha at Plateia. My second Curry at Namaste again took me by surprise, a rare – Wow – moment. Thereafter I headed to the western extremity of Nea Chora and worked my way back.

At night, Nea Chora was remarkably different, quiet, almost seedy. No Bier called, after four good nights I felt perhaps I needed a break. Better Call Saul has caught my imagination, I need Season #3, soonest.

Chania  –  The Venues visited:

Rudi’s Beerhouse – Kallergon 16, Chania 731 32

Lithos – Akti Kountourioti 7, Chania 731 00

Plateia – Akti Tompazi, Chania 731 32

Kritamon – Kondilaki 38, Chania 731 31

Amphora – Akti Kountourioti 49, Chania 731 31

Namaste Indian Restaurant  –  Kissamou 186, Chania 731 00

Akali Hotel – Kissamou 55, Chania 731 36

Platanias – The Venues visited

Vigli – at the top of the hill

Krisna – Authentic Indian Restaurant (PEO Kissamou Chanion 102, Platanias 730 14

War Shelter Platanias

 

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