Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Theriso and Beach

Yesterday afternoon we took a trip to Theriso with Vasilis, to have the best lamb dinner ever! Theriso is at the other end of Theriso Gorge, a place I had wanted to visit but the buses don’t run on weekends. The gorge rises vertically above the narrow road on both sides. The road crisscrosses the ravine, and it is usual to drive wherever one pleases on the road. The cliffs are pockmarked with holes and caves. The rock looks vaguely like coral, with lots of rounded bits sticking up between grey foliage. Theriso is where the resistance against the Turks began, at the beginning of the (last) Century. On the very top of one of the cliffs flies a Greek flag; Greece only got its independence in 1913.
In Theriso, there are ten or fifteen places to get this good lamb, which is spit-roasted or oven baked or grilled lamb chops. This is a place where the Greeks go to eat, and the road into, out of, and all through the town is lined with parked cars. The tavernas are packed, and “everyone” goes there. The owner wears the traditional baggy pants, knee boots, loose shirt, and netting tied around his head, all in black.
We ate lamb cooked in its own juices, Greek salad with mizithra cheese, mizithra in hot olive oil, baby lamb chops, bread, a light red wine; our meal started with raki and white radish to “open the digestion”; Vasilis called the vegetable “rappa naije”. We finished with a pastry filled with mizithra and drizzled with honey. Renee and I were very happy, and I think Vasilis was, too, to be able to share it with us.

This morning, we walked with Vasilis for almost two hours, around over the beaches and rocks to a rocky point to the west of Chania. I was very happy scrambling over the rocks and along the water’s edge, very much in my element. Vasilis found wild thyme growing at the point and gave us each a pinch, instructing us to rub our hands together and smell it. It seems a little different from my thyme at home: thicker leaves, and a little more resinous. The soil is reddish, though the beaches are sand colored. The vegetation is sparse, and the ground is spotted with 1”snails. Some of the beach was stones instead of sand. It was a very healing trip for me, because I have been in Chania for a month and it is very manmade even if it is four hundred years old or more. The streets of the Old Town are paved from door to door. There is not much of the underneath showing. Trees grow in amphora or sidewalk squares. Some houses do have gardens, but the soil seems lifeless under the orange and pomegranate trees.
The sky was gray and promised rain. When we were about half way there, we heard thunder, looked at each other, decided we didn’t mind getting wet, and continued. It continued to rumble occasionally, and to drip softly on us as we were on the way back, but the real rain held off until we were back in our rooms. The idea of boots is appealing because the streets are paved so that it can be hard to find a part of the street that is not under water.

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