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Samaria Gorge and Water Park Adventure

Water park

imageWe went to a Water park called Aqua Plus. Before it I had to go to the bus station to give my soccer coach a card and a present. imageI wanted to thank him for the year of soccer that I had training three times a week and playing a match on some weekends. My favourite thing about soccer was the last game I played against Neapoli because I played well and got a goal that I thought was the best one for me for the whole year.

imageAqua plus is a water park which is known to be the best in Greece. We went with some friends – Manolis, Alex, Isabelle and Nicki. The whole day was a birthday party for Yasi and Kiki and me but we went later than our actual birthdays cause it wasn’t hot enough for it to open early in May.
It was amazing – one of the most coolest rides is called ‘Tsunami’.

You have to climb up high on a water slide that has two sides and you go down on a blow up tube as if you’re riding a big massive wave. Another ride is called ‘The Dish’ I think – you go down a water slide and you end up in a dish like a bowl and you go round and round until you come out of a hole in the bottom and the water is 1,75m deep.


It was so fun to share the rides with friends – I liked going on the ‘Crazy river’ with Alex and Manoli most. On the crazy river you start going down a water slide in a blown up tube and you can hold tubes together which I did with Alex – so much fun.

SAMARIA GORGE

imageAfter the water park we drove to Chania to get ready for Samaria gorge. Samaria was very hard – a long walk and complicated – it was much different to any other walk I had done – it was very long and quite steep going down. imageIt felt really good once I had done it – it was just really fun because it had lots of rocks to climb on and I love rocks cause they are so fun to go up onto. My muscles were very very sore at the end and the soreness lasted for about 2-3 days. Even though I wanted a Bowen my dad was busy and only had time for a few short moves on my knees – so I ran it out at soccer training and swam it out. They feel much better now.

We’re on a plane now and left Greece which is sad but I love planes and now getting excited about Paris but that is another story and not for me to tell. Bye for know.

By Tobes

imageSamarai gorge is the biggest and longest Gorge in Europe and it’s been a National Park since 1962. It really is such a delight to walk along despite the physical challenges. There are so many natural changes in the landscape along its 18km from the start of the walk at Omalos to where the gorge meets the Libyan sea at Agia Roumeli. The area is remote that there are no roads to Agia Roumeli so when you finish the walk you can only exit by ferry unless you plan to walk the 18kms back uphill. I did this walk by myself in September last year when we first arrived in Crete and couldn’t really envisage the kids doing it. However 10 months is a long time in kid language and they had fallen in love with a few other gorges in Crete so we thought – ‘hey let’s give it a go’! I was so proud with how the kids went and how much they actually enjoyed it. Such a beautiful family day together and a great way for us to say goodbye to this beautiful island of Crete in our last week of living here. So glad we did it.
Baba MiliKing

imageSamaria was the longest walk I’ve ever done – I was running ahead some of the time. It was just fun.

imageMy legs weren’t sore at all – even though it was the longest walk I’ve ever done. When we got out of the park baba & mama let me have an ice cream because they were so happy that I could do it.
By Moochie

imageIt was nice putting the water in my hat cause it cooled me down. It was such a difficult walk for my legs but I did it and I was pleased when I had a drink of water at the end and some chips.

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By Zoi

 

 

 

 

Samaria Gorge was a very long about 18kms from the mountains to the Libyan Sea. What I think was that if I’m on a short walk I often get more tired but if it’s a long walk I don’t really feel I’m tired.

imageThe walk was very rocky and the first part of it was very steep. There were lots of overhangs and the most beautiful river over ever seen in Greece. The best part of the walk was the beginning when it was a little bit fresh and we were just climbing down the mountain with the sun rising – we started very early. The ice cream at the end was humongous and delicious.

 

imageThen we had a swim in the iciest cold water – it was refreshing. imageimageWe caught a ferry to a little town called Hora Sfakion and stayed in a small hotel. In the morning we drove to a place called Spilli (we all thought we could spill our drinks here) to meet Antonis – one of dad’s best friends from Bowen. It was fun to see him again and we will see him in Australia in January. He’s very funny and laughs very loud.
By Yasi

 

 

 

 

 

imageSamaria was awesome but it was a very long walk with packs on our back. When we got to the sea it was refreshing to get into the cold water. I liked the walk – I liked everything but getting to the end was the best part. My legs were so sore the next day but now they are fine – mum’s still hurt.

By Kikibelle

 

imageMy legs were sore for two weeks. So proud of the kids. The hordes of people couldn’t take away from the beauty of the place.

By Mama Miliking

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Mad Aunty Dessie comes to Crete – Again! By Dessie herself

Well here we go …….

Arrived Thursday via Brisbane, Melbourne, Abu Dhabi, Athens, Heraklion then on to my other home – Agios Nikolaos.

imageOne day to rest then off to climb a mountain with the MiliKings near Chania to meet Joelle (Bowen family) and Lopez. I had never rock climbed or experienced a mountain before – it puts a new meaning to the song ‘Aint no mountain high enough’. Their was snow on the caps and I was proud of myself for conquering amazing fear of heights. What about those goats! It was like listening to a symphony of bells.


imageThen back down to Joelle’s paradise for sleep over, amazing Cretan food and a sing song with Lopez. Donkey riding with the kids and a fab yurt the Milis slept in. I slept in the resident caravan with Joelle & Seleni (that’s the dog) – funny! Thanks Joelle for a great experience.

 

 

 


imageOn the way home a lunch stop at the famous Store 311 cafe in Rethymno – home town of beautiful Bowen buddy Antonis Xiroudakis part of the 3 Stooges.

 

imageBack to Agios Nikolaos for Greek cooking lessons and drinking Ouzo with Vasiliki (Christos’ Mum).

 

 

 

Thanks Vass you are beautiful, the food was great as well.

Walking the children to school each day became a highlight – never a dull moment. In fact sleeping in the kitchen suite was a hoot in itself! – especially living only with a cat in Australia.
Saying good morning 8 times over and having someone ripping into clean their teeth while sitting on throne was a hilarious event that eventually became the norm. Keeping in mind there were 9 of us in a two bedroom apartment – but that’s what you do in Greece – love it!
imageMy adventures daily revolved between school, swimming and Gymnastiki – not to mention the many coffee’s at the Irish convention – ‘Bits and Bobs’ – Valerie’s tourist shop – where we would all congregate to discuss life, passion, the universe and maybe how many wines we may have sampled. Thanks Girls – Valerie, Sandy, Dara, Nicky, Jene and Iro and of course Orion the dog. Thank you also to Iro for the beautiful healings and introduction to ‘White time healing’.

So now it’s Wednesday which is market day. Our week ritual started first with a coffee with my beautiful Christos and Sandy took us at least an hour to make a list and sample the Bougatsa (cheese and spinach pie). Then off we go with Yiayia (the name that Sandy gave to her cart) to buy the freshest fruit and veggies, cheese and olives – Yummo!

imageYasi and Toby had their birthday while I was there and we had ice cream at Dodoni – it’s unbelievable how a whole cafe can revolve around ice-cream – every kids’ dream. Definitely only for special occasions. Not to mention the delightful screaming from Yasi when she opened her One Direction DVD which I bought from Australia – knowing that she’ll be going to the concert in Paris with mum and sister Kalika.

imageToby was just as impressed with his too cool sunglasses and white T-shirt. To my amazement all these children share their clothes with love. What a beautiful teaching.

 

 

 

 

imageChristos saw my competitive side when we went to Heraklion to watch Toby play soccer. Same rules as hockey. Christos couldn’t believe how much I was into it. I’m so competitive with my sport.

imageKalika became my resident Greek teacher correcting me with all my attempts. I started off saying calamari when I meant kalimera (that is good morning).

 

 

 

 

Zoi and Emilio delighted me everyday as we still looked for those dolphins (on the way home from school) that never seemed to appear – we did see some nice fish though.
Emilio constantly hiding my toothbrush and toothpaste in the Ouzo box. Whatever else I had missing I found in the most unusual places. Thanks Emilio. And thank you to my little Zoi for her helpful hands pegging washing and also for introducing me to miniature strawberry heart ice creams from Melissa Cafe – which often interrupted her lunch but it was so much fun.

imageSandy is an amazing person who taught me how to juggle life in many creative ways. When all else seemed to be coming undone just her presence could put things together in a heartbeat. Thanks so much for the late night cuppas and wines at Tutu cafe – when Christos was working and we had to be out of the apartment. We solved the problems of the world. Girl power!

 

imageNow what about my friend Christos – thank you for bringing me back to Crete. We never made the conference but thanks for letting me co-teach your amazing class in Crete. What a fantastic opportunity to broaden my skills in another culture. The village Laconia – where we had module 7 – was an experience in itself.

Thanks to everyone for the cooking – sitting down to a late lunch feast was a great end to each day. Big shout out to Christos for teaching and inspiring some excellent Bowen Therapists to paver he way for Bowen to grow in Agios Nikolaos.

imageOur two bus trips to Ierapetra were sensational. While I so busily sat on the beach or shopped Christos saw his clients – but then we always wound up with a delicious lunch and an odd wine only to sleep all the way back to Agios Nikolaos on the bus.

imageOur Bowen meetings in Heraklion with my buddies Christos and Antonis were crazy and enlightening to say the least. Antonis taught me how to eat traditional snails – that was a first. We didn’t see much of Heraklion – we just sat and talked and ate and drank ouzo and laughed till we hurt. Unforgettable.

imageWe had an awesome day in Agios Nikolaos when Antonis came to visit us. We shared a ‘Yiayia banquet’ of fish chowder, stuffed peppers and Greek salad saturated with olives of course.

 

Lots of fun with the kids, a beautiful dinner at Gargadoros – which has the most amazing outlook and food. It was also Yiayia’s last night (after a two month stay) before leaving for Northern Greece. Miss you and miss your cooking. We can still hear the laughter and banter between Antonis and Yiayia. So fun.
imageKaraoke and pole dancing will never be forgotten – Christos was silly enough to put our name down for ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ and I’m sure no one will ever forget it. There were scratch marks on the ceiling from trying to reach the notes. Even the DJ said ‘I imagecan’t believe your going to try this’ – I just laughed and said ‘We’re Aussies mate – we try anything’. I said this whilst swearing at Christos under my breath – thinking ‘I can’t believe we are doing it either’. Not to mention my mate Christos singing ‘Karma chameleon’ – one lady at the bar said to me ‘that guy with the hat has just restored my faith in karaoke’. Had my first experience with pole dancing at another bar on the way home. Could probably have hurt myself if we stayed longer. Left while I was ahead.

imageJean (who is Australian, Kiwi, English lass living in Agios) introduced me to the many bars that I didn’t know existed in Agios. Thanks for the many laughs and my introduction to salsa. I think my legs are still platted and my glutes are imagelooking great. Thanks Jene and Kursheed Irani (Bowen therapist from Australia) for teaching us some moves that made us look good – I’m sure I’m going to continue in Australia. So much fun.
I will miss the early morning swims in the beautiful beach. Freezing cold. And the perfect days of lying on the beach soaking up the Cretan sun and reading my books.
Last day now in Athens with Christos – have ticked off all our traditions.
imageWine at the airport (even though it was 10am)
imageCoffee and ouzo and late breakfast at Athens beer bar.
imageShopping for hat (tradition that I buy Christos a hat each time we see each other – no shoes this time thank goodness).
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Spritz overlooking the Parthenon on the roof top of the Gand Bretagne hotel (almost needed a loan to pay for them) – we used the toilets so it made us feel like they were worth the money.
Now on top a the biggest hill in Athens (waiting for that sunset we missed last time) where our beautiful Greek friend Antonis recommend us to come.

We are actually right now waiting for the sun to go down – drinking margaritas – and we are three hours early – last time I was here in October Christos took far too long deciding what shoes he was going to buy and we missed the sunset! So this time we are here early – but I still might miss it cause I’ve had two margaritas – could pass out waiting! Ha ha!not to mention we still have to get back down the hill in my slippery shoes.

Thank you to the Milikings for a fabulous holiday AGAIN. Love Crete, love Greece, love all the people I’ve met. Bye for now…….I’ll be back!

PS – I’m going a serious detox when I get home!

By Mad Aunty Dessie

(Late edition after an incredible surprise by gorgeous friend Antonis)

Ok – the last night in Athens we have just watched an amazing Sunset at the Sky Cafe thanks to our friend Antonis for the heads up on where the best sunset viewing place is. Then we get a taxi to dinner at a place Antonis also has recommended. When we arrive, Christos shares that our Greek friend has organized to pay for our dinner as a parting gift – he had left for Istanbul on an earlier flight that morning as he had a Bowen course to attend.
As we are ringing him to thank him I hear a voice saying beside me ‘Can I help you?’ – When I look up he is standing beside me laughing with squeals of delight and Christos chanting ‘But you are in Turkey !!! From a Facebook post we had read earlier in the day!’ He even went to the effort to post a photo from Istanbul with the location of Turkey! Very sneaky! Perfect perfect twist to finish my stay thank you so much Antonis – You are amazing and funny I sooooo love surprises and that will be counted as one of the best. We finished a beautiful meal and wine with the three stooges together in Athens – just perfect!

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Ever changing plans…….

Hello, the winter sun warming your face is such a wonderful feeling and a great way to remember to live in the moment. The girls are playing on the rocks at one end of the beach with Isabella who is having a sleepover.

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Emilio is waving around some of his treasure that he has found on the beach (that boy is a treasure magnet!). Toby is at a soccer game in a nearby town called Neapoli and Sandy is at a Greek lesson with her incredible teacher Georgia! All in all a lovely and ‘quiet’ Sunday morning. Isabella and her brother Alex and other friend Manolaki have become such good friends with our kids and they want to spend as much time as possible together – all our kids just adore them and will miss them terribly when we leave Crete.

Soon I will be picked up by another lovely friend Irini (met through Couchsurfing) and we will visit her family village, Kritsa, 10 kms up the hills. I love Sundays like this.

Later in the day…..

A lovely afternoon in Kritsa – first we walked through the very hilly town taking lots of photos of the empty old homes that dot the village now – it is the case with many villages in Greece – they have literally halved in population because the young people generally want to move to the towns and cities in search of work. Agricultural existence is seriously on the decline. Kritsa, a mere 10 kms from Agios Nikolaos is so hilly and picturesque with incredible views.

imageWhat better way to end a great walk than with some good wholesome home cooking at Irini’s parents house. Home made cabbage dolmades, cheese pies and green pies. Yum yum – ate far too much!

The other day we bought our tickets out of Crete in June (after the end of the school year) and I got very reflective and sad. I couldn’t even press the confirm button on the website – so Yasi technically bought them. The next day I was sitting at my favourite cafe Ano Kato and I couldn’t get my eyes off the view. Tears were welling up. Yes it is an amazing view, though much more than that it symbolizes the life that we have enjoyed here, the wonderful friends we have made, the language we have learnt, the special family moments we have shared, the family routines we have created, being able to live without a car and walk everywhere.

imageCrete has been so much more than we ever expected, we have bonded as a family in ways that are very difficult with a 9-5 job lifestyle, we have met friends that will be life long friends and I suspect it will always feel like home. June is still a long time away, though I’ll be very sad to leave this behind. If our family and children were at different stages we would definitely consider staying longer – it is much easier with school and language for the younger kids, though much harder for Toby and Yasi who were landed in grade 4 when they hadn’t learnt the grammatical basics of a pretty difficult language. I’m so proud of all they have achieved though they do crave for Whitfield Primary. They do want to have their final primary school year there in 2015. Unfortunately the Greek school system doesn’t have the resources to provide Greek as a 2nd language special classes as there would be for non-English speakers in Australian schools. So much of the learning depends on individual teachers who are sometimes inspiring and hard working and then sometimes not. It doesn’t help that their salary has been halved in the last few years and is pretty much on the poverty line if that’s their only income. It makes you so so appreciative of amazing teachers at Whitfield who give so much. Luckily Toby, Yas and Kalika have a fabulous Greek teacher who comes to our house 3 afternoons per week. She’s been a god send. Furthermore, in the last few weeks Toby and Yasi have started switching school on Mondays and Thursdays to attend Sandy’s council run adult language classes – which means they are learning the basics of grammatical structure and they seem so much happier about it all. So, the school system for the older kids is obviously a big reason of why we wouldn’t stay longer. Another pretty significant reason is the army. Greeks still have to do national service (I think there are only two European countries who still have compulsory service). I have an army exemption form which I got through the Greek consulate in Melbourne when I was 18 yrs old. Technically however, I am allowed to live in Greece for 6 months per calendar year………and you are apparently eligible for army duty until 45 years of age (I’m 44!), so I don’t want to push the boundaries and I definitely ain’t joining anyone’s army, so we’ll be out by end of June.

imageAbout a month ago while we were hiking, we started to think more seriously about what we would do when we left Greece. The only time commitment we had made was that we promised the kids we would be home in Australia for Christmas. Flying to Sth America for 6 months was going to be costly as we were having trouble finding frequent flyer tickets home from there on Virgin Velocity or one of their partners. South America was still one of the dreams but there were about 10 other crazy options we came up with ranging from:
Finding a cheap car and driving through Europe to London and then Sth America
Flying home via Iran
Flying to India and spending a few months there and then overland through Burma and Thailand.
Flying to Botswana and Sth Africa then home via Perth
Train to Vladivostok then fly home via Japan
Train through Central Asia and then China
Just go straight to Sth America then home

Then one day we were reading some emails and came across a course that Sandy was recommended for and was very interested in – Kids Coaching Connection – which is about ‘soul/personal development and emotional mentoring for kids’ – She would be so good at it of course.

The course however is monthly in Canada which is geographically impossible from Australia or Europe. However, they were offering a summer intensive this year in July and August. It just felt so right. Sandy’s gut was telling her she wanted to do it and I really wanted to support her in making it possible and within an afternoon really – our 2nd half of 2014 was kind of nutted out.
Now we had a time commitment so we leave Europe on July 9 to Toronto where I have some lovely relatives. We fly out of Brussels so we still get to see our friends Werner and Corina and their fabulous kids in Holland which we are so excited about. We also get to spend time with my brother and Sally in London and see Paris for a few days which has been Yasi and Kalika’s dream ever since their wonderful friends Charlotte and Pippa went there.
imageNot sure what the kids and I will do while Sandy is at her course but if anyone has ever been camping around Ontario, Canada and has some recommendations – I would much appreciate them. I have always wanted to head north to Hudson Bay. I could go over the border into America though I really don’t fancy trying to get through American customs with 5 kids on my own and having to explain the whole story. I might save that till the first half of the course is done and then Sandy is back with us.

Toby and I were ultra excited to have spent a few hours on the net and booked our tickets home to Australia solely using frequent flyer points on V Australia from LAX. We get back to Melbourne at the beginning of November. Again, many options in the few North American months – probably a month road trip around Eastern States where we have many friends to visit ending in Chicago, which is like my American home since I studied in Illinois for a year (many moons ago now). Then probably some time in Central America and/or Peru-Bolivia and back to the west coast where we want to do another ‘visiting friends road trip’ before home.
Though as you’ve probably guessed – plans are fairly organic at this stage and who knows what will pop up. I like planning though I’m finding I am enjoying going with the flow.

imageNow back to our wonderful life in Crete. I’m so glad we decided to do all four seasons in the one place. Winter in Crete is fairly mild and there is still much opportunity for beach fun – though it is so nice and quiet without the hordes of tourists that are likely to start when April arrives. That season can be thrilling too.

Have an awesome day.

Christos

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Toby’s English assignment

imageThis is an exercise Toby did in English class in the first few weeks of school back in September. We came across it a while ago when cleaning out his papers! It was a very interesting read about his perception of why we came here and also the stark difference of being at a ‘concrete’ school where there wasn’t much time in the few 10-15 mins breaks in between classes let alone any sports equipment to be able to borrow. Despite being thrown in the deep end I was so proud of how the kids embraced school in the beginning weeks.

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‘My family moved here because my dad wanted us to speak Greek. One more (reason) was because it was too cold in the winter where he lived once upon a time (Florina) and a friend from here told him about here. It is a very nice place.

No. 3 School is very nice. Lots of people are nice. At my school in Australia it had lots of play space and you could get any sport stuff. I like it here, but I would love to go back home! And all my friends and family.

We were going to go to No. 1 School but it was full up so we came here to No. 3 School.’

By Tobes

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Our Gorge-ous long Weekend

On Friday…….

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We went to a gorge and we stayed a night in the gorge camping. After brekky the next morning mama and baba let me wander by myself – I went up a mountain and had a wonderful view of the Libyan sea. Once I was on the top of the cliff there were a few places where you could climb down. I tried 3-4 ways to climb down before I found a way to do it safely. It was very fun – along the walk I saw a goat with a kid. It was very cute. The walk as really awesome. I thought I was doing a good job by myself – like i almost climbed down a few ways but then changed my mind cause it wasn’t safe. I was trying to explore safely and I did. I was having such fun by myself and I only thought once or twice abut the others worrying but I thought they would go to the beach and try to spot me. Mum and the others were worrying about me a bit apparently and when they saw me at the beach they said ‘Toby Toby where have you been?’ And I had to tell them my story. Here are some of my photos:

I told them all about it and said that I had to take them back that way so baba said that “it would be a good place for a Xmas photo” – he went back to the tent to get the Xmas hats. While we were waiting for him to get back we went looking for a few rocks. We found some awesome rocks, green, pink, brown, with stripes, all sorts of colours. Then after we did a bit of searching we found some good rocks to climb on and we went climbing. There are a few good pictures of us climbing.

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But before baba could get back it started to rain pretty heavily so we took shelter and decided what to do. We thought we would go to the campsite and go into the little church. So we ran back, got our bags and went into the church and waited for the rain to die down a bit. Luckily we packed up our campsite before we went exploring. So we walked back to our car and decided to go to another gorge walk before visiting Antoni’s (my Baba’s Bowen friend) parents for the night.
But that is also another story.

By Tobes

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When we camped after we put the tents up we went climbing really high.
I liked seeing the goats when we were leaving the campsite.

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I  liked Matsala gorge but sometimes we fell over cause there are lots of loose rocks and it was steep.

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I walked on a big long log with mummy to a little rock island. Our feet got a tiny bit wet.
I collected lots of rocks or about 30 rocks.
We had bikkies and roll ups for brekky cause we couldn’t cook – just cold food.

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I slept in the green tent with mummy Emilio and Yasi – I was supposed to sleep in the gear shed part with mum but I squished in between Yasi and Emilio – I took Yasi’s sleep mat cause mine was wet and Yasi had to sleep on little thin blankets. We didn’t have a tent pole in the gear shed because we forgot it at home because we stuck it behind our wall map so it wouldn’t bend and we forgot. Mummy used a big stick instead.

By Zoi

AGIOFARANGO – THE GORGE OF THE SAINTS

AGIOFARANGO gorge is not only an excursion through rocky crags that leads to the sea, it also apparently has mystical powers because over the centuries it has been chosen by hermits for their spiritual headquarters. I wonder if that was the reason that as soon as it was dark (just before 6pm) and pretty much pitch black since there was just a thin crescent moon, the kids thought it was a bit scary and wanted to leave. The weather closed in and it was very windy and noisy at night. Pretty spooky in a very ‘golly this is amazing’ kind of way.
By Baba Miliking

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We went to a gorge – my baba’s friend told us about it. The gate was so small that Baba couldn’t fit through with his big pack. There was a church and a fire pit. There were nice lovely rocks – we climbed on them. We started doing the tents and then we had a little play and then we went onto the beach for a walk and then it became night time.
The next morning we packed up and we did some climbing on rocks and we went to the beach.

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The big kids were climbing dangerous rocks. Toby asked us if we can go for a walk but we didn’t so he went by himself. Then we went looking for him and and found him at the beach. It started to rain so we found a rock and hid under it.

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Then we tried to run quickly and get to the church. The church was good because there was a picture of Jesus. He was holding a sign.
Then we waited and started walking and came to a town to get some water then we went on a other cliff gorge walk. We had to come to town to get water because there was not enough water in the well and the rope was just a bit too short at the gorge where we camped.

By Moocha

On Friday morning we had the day off because it was our town’s name day and there was no school. So we went on a drive to a gorge.

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First we went to a town called Ierapetra in the south of Crete. We looked at an old Venetian fort and played at a playground. There were children protesting in the town but not sure why.
So we drove on around a very windy road and stopped at a beach for lunch. We had sandwiches and dips. We played with the rocks on the beach. Mum and Baba went swimming.
Then we set off to the gorge – most of the way we read a book we’ve become addicted to (Famous Five) – we took turns reading – we finished the 2nd book just as we got to the gate of the gorge. It was very bumpy on the road when it became a dirt road.
We parked our car and got our things out and set off to the campsite near the church. The was a church in the gorge – it was pretty nice.

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The first night we lit a fire and had a quick walk down to the beach. We had some supper – we had bread and cheese and tomatoes and tuna and nuts – not the most exciting but it was still nice. Then we went to our tent cause it started to get very cold and dark and started raining. A big wind storm blew in and made lots of noise and freaky sounds so some of us got a little bit scared.

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It was still very early and got dark by 6pm so we cuddled up in the tent and watched a movie. Zoi’s bed got soaked before we fell asleep so she bunked in with me and Emilio in the small covered part of the tent and Zoi stole my mattress so I had to sleep on two thin blankets while they had the good mats. They are rollers so they kicked lots and I couldn’t sleep cause of the wind storm.

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Morning came at last, we had breakfast and went rock climbing. We went for a walk down to the beach and after a little while playing in the rocks we took cover under some rocks and ran to the church were we put our bags.

By Yasi

On Saturday after our gorge walks we went to Antoni’s parents’ house.

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Antoni is a friend of Baba’s. His parents’ names are Louisa and Stelio.
We got there about 4.30pm and it was still light – they have little puppies about 4 -5 weeks old. There were three puppies and one had a brown coat, with lots of wool. Another one was black and white with very fluffy fur. The last one was white and black with a big black patch on one of his eyes. Like a pirate dog. It didn’t have much fur – just short.


We were allowed to hold them and take the dogs inside (the mother wasn’t too happy with us). They had a huge Christmas tree inside – our Xmas tree is nothing compared to it. We played with the puppies until dinner. For dinner we had souvlaki and chips and salad. It was served the way a restraunt would do it and it tasted even better than lots of restraunts. Louisa was so pleased that we gobbled everything up. One of Stelio’s brothers-in-law and his nephew came for dinner as well. They were called Mano and Christos.
After we ate we went to get the dogs again for another little play. After a while they got a bit too tired to play so we put them back where they slept. They slept in some hay in a little barn sort of thing.

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In there they had some rabbits. One had some little bunnies and one had three day old bunnies they were only about 5 cms. You could barely see them cause they were snuggled up with wool.
We did some drawing before bed. They were pleased with our drawings, I drew a Xmas tree with presents underneath and Santa holding his sack. Toby drew a horse. After that I drew a horse as well but it was galloping, (I’m not as good as Toby at horses but I’m getting better).
Then we went to bed. In the morning we got dressed and after that we obviously wanted to go get the puppies. And we did…….
There was some fights over who was holding each one. It was hard to find them at first cause they were hiding in the hay.

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Then Stelio showed us the geese and the chooks and I got to go in and get an egg that was just layed. It had so much poo everywhere.
Later on we went for a drive to a dam and there was not too much water in it because it hasn’t rained much this year.

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We went up to a village that Stelio knew some people it was called Skourvoula. We went into the little kafenio and we had to leave the puppies in the car. We got a soda each at the kafenio, Baba got a frappe as usual and mummy got a soda too. One of Stelio’s friends yelled out that he would pay for us all. That’s called ‘ego kernau’ which means ‘I’m shouting (or paying)’
Stelio bought every adult in the kafenio a raki which was vey nice of him. Raki is a very strong alcoholic drink so mum just a had a sip cause she doesn’t like it and she was driving.

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When we got back Toby learned how to play Tavli which is like Backgammon and then lunch was nearly ready. We had rice and chicken soup – it reminded us of our Yiayia’s (Baba’s mum) soups.

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I had some of what the adults were having also which was so delicious. It was chips and fish – yummy. Louisa is a wonderful cook. We got lots of things to take home like fresh tomatoes and cucumbers and cake and biscuits and lots of other things. We had a lovely time at their house. I have to end it here cause it’s dinner time. Goodnight everyone!

By Kikibelle

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Grandma and Pa visit us in Crete (Part 2)

I was so excited when I got a text from my mother-in-law Jill, saying they might come and visit us in a few weeks. It was all so spontaneous! Suddenly they were here and 9 days just went so fast.

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We all just loved sharing some of our new Cretan life with them. Walking kids to school, going to our favourite cafés, market mornings, slow dinners at yummy restraunts and having three nights in Chania.
We picked Chania because we knew Ross was interested in Australian War history and Chania was close to Souda Bay where the biggest Commonwealth War Cemetery is, so it was the place we chose to take them. So glad we did – lots of hotels in Crete have now closed for winter because the main tourist season is over – though my friend Antonis helped me find one that was right near the old Venetian wall, close to restraunts and able to accommodate 4 adults with five kids. It was such a great few days away – brilliant place. The kids have talked much about it. Though I must say the sunsets were so impressive.

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Every single meal was so amazingly delicious, Ross and I quickly found out that Amstel was much nicer beer than Mythos and Fix beer even better, especially when it was super cold. Jill and I worked out that the best Irish coffee (in Crete) was at the music cafe right next to their hotel! Every restaurant we went to always brings out some sort of ‘free’ dessert and of course ‘raki’ to drink.

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Jill thought it tasted a bit like petrol and one of the kids asked her ‘how do you know what petrol tastes like.’ Though Ross preferred beer, we got used to a final raki toast to the night. Especially when Amy and Oliver arrived – Amy was a great raki skuller, and it was so great to see them both as well – marvelling at how much warmer it was to London.

All in all – one of the best memories for me was watching how all five kids soaked up the grandparent energy, had wonderful conversations with them and glowed in their company.

It meant so much to the kids and Sandy and I that Jill & Ross made the journey all the way from Australia. They’re lots of fun and they’re brilliant grandparents.

By Christos

When my Grandma and Pa came up to see us we went to Chania and we stayed in the old town. It had lots of history about Crete. We walked along a Venetian wall and went to a war cemetery.
We also went to a top view cafe.

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Then the next day, Amy and Oliver came to Crete and they came to Chania. We went along the wall again with Amy and Oliver and Grandma and pa – Chania was fun.

After a couple of days at Chania we went back to Agios Nikolaos.

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Amy and Oliver stayed one more night at Chania then they came to Agios Nikolaos too. The day after we got back to home we went to see a wreck of a castle. Amy and Oliver met us there. At Knossos castle many years ago (about 4000 years ago) it was all together but now it has fallen apart.

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When we were in Chania I went out for a drink with my Pa and Baba. They had beer and I had a lemonade. My Pa said – “when you’re older always drink beer and not wine”. I said why – and he said “cause there’s less alcohol and you can’t get as silly as if you drink wine or those sugary drinks”.
He said that lots of drinks always have a nose on it. They told me to smell the beers and tell them what he nose was. It was very funny and a fun time with Pa.

One night we went out for dinner in Chania with Grandma and Pa. I was teaching my Grandma how to say ‘ohi’ (όχι) which means no. I have a habit of picking up the Cretan accent when I speak Greek, so I was actually teaching her how to say it with a Cretan accent which is like ‘oshi’ instead.
Oops! It so was funny – partly my fault but we had a good laugh. Here’s the video of it:

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It was very fun having Grandma and Pa over in Crete. I miss them so much.
By Yasi

Aha - we caught Pa with a man bag

Aha – we caught Pa with a man bag

Grandma and Pa arrived in Crete on the 19th of November. They flew from Melbourne to Doha and then to Athens and then to Heraklion. It took them 32 hours door to door. We picked them up at Heraklion airport in a car that we rented. It takes one hour from Agios Nikolaos where we’re living to Heraklion – one of the big cities.

After a few days, on the 21st of November we went to Chania. Chania is on the other side of Crete. The four parts of Crete are Chania, Rethymno, Heraklion and Lassithi. We live in Lassithi and Chania is in Chania province. The drive to Chania was long – it took about three and a half hours.

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We stopped in Rethymno, the city which is in Rethymno province. We had lunch at a cafe called Store 311 which Baba had been to before. He went with our friend Desley which you’ve heard about in other blogs and a Bowen friend called Antonis. He thought it was great that’s why we went there.

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When we got to Chania, it was in the afternoon and it was raining and we dropped off our things and got some warmer clothes – our hotel was called PortoVeneziano – that means Venetian port in Italian. I went to cafe with Pa, mummy, baba, Zoi, Emilio and Yasi. Toby and grandma watched tv trying to get some cricket news. There was some English TV.
At the cafe I got a hot chocolate – so there was no way I could have gotten cold. When we got home we got ready to go out for dinner. It was a delicious traditional Cretan Restraunt but there was no fish because Cretans don’t traditionally have much fish – they love meat. I loved the potatoes they were a bit lemony flavoured.

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The next day we went for a walk on the Venetian port wall and it lead to a castle 3/4 of the way and at the end there was a lighthouse. We loved to climb the rocks around it.

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After that we went to Souda Bay by car to the war Cemetery. We walked around the cemetery and there were thousands of people from lots of different countries that helped Crete in the 1941.
There were the countries of Australia, NZ, England, Wales, Scotland, South Africa, India, there weren’t Greek graves there but of course they were definitely in the war.

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After the Cemetery we went to a leader’s grave – his name is Venezelos – it didn’t really look like a grave – it was just a flat place to stand on and a star in the middle above where he was buried. When he was the prime minster of Greece, Crete wasn’t part of Greece and he made it a part of Greece in 1912.

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Then we went to a cafe called ‘Koukouvagia’ which means owl in Greek. Baba had already been there with Desley and Antonis when they travelled in Crete for a few days. The cafe had delicious food and it had a fantastic view over Chania.
We had a bit of a rest in our rooms for a bit – Toby and I were sharing a room with Grandma and Pa so we went back and played Yahtzee and Monopoly deal – it was cool. That night we had dinner close by so we could go to bed a bit earlier.

I am so glad that my Grandma and Pa came to visit us and I miss them so so so very much.

By Kikibelle

A few more happenings:

I asked Jill if she could take a photo of Pa and I with my iPhone – possibly the first time she held an iPhone. Well I handed it to her and the outcome was 122 photos – not sure how that happened but she could give the paparazzi a run for their money – here’s some of the pix:

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Couldn’t resist this photo -possibly the first time Jill held a beer – maybe next time we’ll get her to taste it.😄

Christos

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Grandma and Pa visit us in Crete (Part 1)

Mum and dad texted about 6 weeks ago and said – how busy are you in mid November? We rang shortly after and mum explained that after speaking to Toby on the phone, they realised that it made more sense to visit us now than possibly an April 2014 visit. Then they ‘could picture us for the next six months, rather than see what we were talking about all this time just as we planned to leave’.

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So time moved swiftly and we all bubbled in excitement as their anticipated arrival grew closer. That is, until for me, I began to get anxious and worried that they liked it, or that the weather was good, or that the kids colds cleared up etc…
It’s funny how no matter how happy you are somewhere, a visit from mum and dad can get the nerves flowing. I confided this of course with Christos and also our good friends here, Nicky, Dara and Val…
It was a relief to hear that these ups and downs in emotions upon planned visits from parents appear quite normal; still experienced by these gals after more than a decade or two. ‘And wait til they go, then you grieve for weeks too’.
Well, nerves aside the thoughts flow through ones head; I don’t need my parents approval I’m loving this, are the kids really okay or am I blind to some glaringly obvious signs?

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And you know what, after the worry and hope for good weather, worry about passing on a cold, etc…. We all had the very best of times. Our kids glowed in mum and dad’s company. The big kids in particular didn’t stop talking, we just enjoyed. The weather was awesome, they came to see all the kids activities; from soccer to swimming, athletics, to Kiki’s girls guides fashion parade. We had fabulous meals at home, and out… We had coffees and shop wanders, great hotels on our trip to the other end of Crete, and here in Agios Nikolaos….

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All in all it was just perfect. And when I sat still meditating in the days leading up to mum and dad’s arrival I knew deep down that I didn’t need to worry, and the kids colds cleared enough when I stopped fussing, and mum bought her own asthmatic cough with her anyway… And in the days since, yes I have been sad at their leaving… It was both too short, but really just perfect for them. Good to go on a high note.
I have been sad; it is hard to explain why; we’ll be back in less than a year. Mum and dad are strong.
Perhaps it is a new phase, perhaps the honeymoon phase of Crete is over and the everyday reality of life around us is starting to show. Winter is definitely harder, no income for many in a tourist town when the tourists go. Not many olives to harvest; the season was unsettled and many trees did not take fruit or are riddled with bugs- a concern for the Greek economy as olive oil from Crete is a huge export. Many people are hungry here. The government has responded by announcing free internet for all- some with humour are suggesting even an Apple computer won’t feed a family for long.

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But days of sunshine are still stunning. The sea is still startlingly still some mornings and ferociously windy on others. My swim is always a pleasure as I dive in and glide through the cool liquid. My skin not always as welcome of the temperature drop as my mind is of the moment of exhilaration I feel.
Parents are precious. I worried about their arrival, I revelled in their presence and now I am grateful, so very grateful for the huge effort they made to visit us in our ‘home’. It was beyond my happiest imaginings. Enjoy the kids stories, I loved watching them evolve. Grandparents are priceless.
Love Mama Miliking

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We went on a big, big walk with Grandma and Pa – along the old fort wall in Chania. We climbed lots and lots of rocks around the lighthouse. It is one of our favourite things ever.

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imagePa wakes up every time really early and waits for us in front of his hotel to drop us off at school. It was fun to walk with Pa. Grandma and Pa picked me up everyday that they were here.

We went to lots of restraunts with them -my favourite one was the first night at a Restraunt called Chrysafillis – I liked the food and I payed the bill and we were playing spying on the adults and the man asked ‘Pos se lene? and I said ‘Me lene Emilio’ that means ‘what’s your name?’ and ‘my name is Emilio’ – and I got to keep the bill. And I liked the cafe called ‘Ano Kato’ cause it had hot chocolates and dessert.

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At our hotel I always walked up the stairs and not the lift because one day in Russia I got stuck in a lift with Kalika. I go one lifts with doors sometimes now but I like going up the stairs cause I always win when I race the lift.

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Right here we are – back to Grandma and Pa – Grandma and Pa have gone back to Australia now. I miss them lots because they left. My Gigga is coming soon.

By Moochie

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On the 19/11/13 my Grandma Jill and Pa Ross came all the way from Melbourne Australia!

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We went to Chania with them and we stayed in a nice hotel with an amazing breakfast, I had 4 sausages, 4 pieces of bacon and 2 sunny side up eggs with 1 or 2 glasses of fresh orange juice (everyday). It was amazing.

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On the second day at about 10 in the morning we walked to the lighthouse – it was very rocky and even my grandma did it – she went only half way but even still it was very rocky.
On the same day at about 11am we went to the Commonwealth War Cemetary near Chania in a place called Souda Bay. All the dead people there were from the Cretan War in WW2 in 1941. Australia, England, Greece and Sth Africa and some other countries were trying to protect Crete against the Germans. If Australia and the other countries didn’t help in the war Greece would’ve been half German. We found about seven people that died on my exact birth day 62 years before I was born. We found a little cross at the front of one of them that had only been delivered ten days before we went one Remembrance Day.

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The youngest person we found was only the age of 16 yrs old. He was a private. The oldest one we found was an Indian or Sth African and he was 62 and he was a donkey man – a donkey man is like a person who collects all the dead or wounded and brings them to the place where they are either buried or treated. He was like the famous donkey man ‘Simpson and his donkey’.


I liked walking around with Pa and him telling me all the levels of the army in war. When he was younger he was in the army. On Anzac day lots of times we go to Somers near Flinders in Victoria, Australia and I march with Pa and he lets me wear one of his medals that he got when he was in the army – I like marching with him at Flinders.
That day we waited for grandma and pa and our friends – Amy and Oliver – Amy is an American from Arkansas and Oliver is from England. They both live in England together now. They came late on the Friday night.

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That night we had a glorious dinner of veal, chicken and pork, chips and salads and various things like that. We always have lots of meat with Grandma and Pa. I even tried to draw a horse during the meal – I gave it to Grandma and Pa and it was a picture of Phar Lap galloping. He’s my favourite horse. For those of you that don’t know what veal is, it is beef that is from a cow that is under two years old before it was killed.
That night after dinner I went out with Yasi, my Pa and mum to a little bar that my grandpa went to the night before. It was funny because we saw a dog there that liked us. When we got there he was lying down on the best seat of the outside part of the restraunt under the heater and my pa asked the waiter if the dog wants us to buy a beer for him. The waiter said ‘no no no he’s not our dog’ and drove him out. It was really funny cause the dog kept being driven out but he would just go to the next entrance and come in and keep teasing the waiter.

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There was also a cat that wasn’t driven out that was sitting on another seat – when we were almost about to leave there was another cat that joined it.
Pa taught us some lessons about drinking beer – he taught us the nose – so whenever he had a beer he got us to smell it and see if we can work out the nose of it. Also the wine as well.
He even got us to pour the beer and make it frothy. We were really good at it.
Next day we were excited about seeing Oliver and Amy and we went up to their room twice and even kicked the door but they wouldn’t wake up – we didn’t see them till after the market.

After that we went to a museum about the Navy and Cretan war and also about ships in Crete even as far back as the Minoans. It was called the Maritime Museum. I really liked it – one of the cool things is they even showed you how they made wooden ships in those days. They used wood cause they only thought wood would float I think.
The way they made these wooden ships is they cut down big trees and cut the branches off then put the logs in water, once they soaked for a bit they took them indoors or something like that and they would be able to bend the wood. So they would get as much wood as possible and tie it together – soon enough you have a wooden ship.

Another fascinating thing was there was even a kind of copy of a drivers place in a ship. It was really weird cause there was telephones everywhere and they showed some kind of telescope video camera. We liked having a muck around in there – there were so many interesting things. There was even a copy of an old Italian bullet.
Pa also told me that the best medals that you can get is the Victorian cross and the royal cross I think.

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It was really good having Grandma and Pa visiting and staying in Chania – we had some really really good lunches and dinners there as well.

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On the way, the best cafe was store 311 in Rethymno. It has the most amazing things like burgers with chips and omelettes and smoked ham sandwiches and when you get a beer sometimes they even give you a little bowl of crisp chips. Having Grandma, Pa, Oliver and Amy over was really really fun and exciting – we even went to an old archeological site that was dug up from under the ground – it was called Knossos palace but that is another story. Goodbye for now. I will tell you about Knossos later.
But Tobes

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Grandma and Pa were very nice and I liked picking them up the airport and I liked going out for dinner with them lots of times.

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We stayed in a hotel with Grandma and Pa in Chania. It was a very beautiful hotel like new and I liked going on the Great Wall near there – just on the other side.

I liked playing on the Great Wall like running up the wall and finding paths on the rocks. The lighthouse was fun.

My favourite dinner was the first night in Agios Nikolaos cause it just was. Oh my favourite thing to eat was the lamb and the calamari and potatoes.

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imageI liked having Grandma and Pa pick me up from school and we always had a treat on the way home. It was also fun when they came to watch me play gymnastiki which is like athletics and my swimming class.

We bought some Xmas things and decorated our house in the morning. It was so much fun.

I miss and I love my Grandma and pa.

By Zoi