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Windmills of Lassithi and Dikteon Cave in Lassithi, Crete

There are four regional units in Crete namely Chania, Rethymno, Heraklion, and Lasithi.  Three of which I already presented …

Chania – Chania: A Beautiful Mess
Rethymno – Carnivale in Rethymno, Fortezza of Rethymno
Heraklion – Irakleon, Crete

… So, I now bring you Lasithi …

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THE SOPHOMORE SLUMP RECOMMENDS:

Movie: Once – It’s like a soundtrack album so beautifully presented in a motion picture… featuring the music of Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova.

Recommendation Flashback: Here is a scene from the movie Crash …. Spoiler Alert … Parental Guidance is advised.

Music: Corrine Bailey Rae by Corrine Bailey Rae – Her voice is …. *BOW*.

This one is a must-see live performance vid. Here is one of her covers from a music legend, Led Zeppelin …


Bored, I dropped what I was doing, quickly checked the internet for places to go, and off I walked out the door and drove. I figured I’ve been here in Crete for four months so I might as well visit its forth major region. :D My research took me to Lasithi Plateau and Dictaeon Cave, a cave where Zeus “supposedly” was born.

It was a lot of driving and tricky to get to. So for this post I’m including pointers for those who might be interested in exploring both location.

The drive may be long but worth it. You’ll be surrounded by mountains and fields of greens.

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Yey, isn’t it? :D

Lasithi is about 3 – 4 hours from Chania. From Chania, once you get to a roundabout on the National Road, take right following the sign to Mochos. From here on out, the trick is not to hesitate even if you feel like you’ve been driving for awhile, or felt you already seen enough.

Keep driving until you get to Homo Sapien Museum. You will see windmills there …

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… but don’t stop there. Keep driving … :)

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Just keep driving. You will see some more windmills. It is said there are some (air-quote) 10,000 windmills here.  Yowza! A lot of it however didn’t stand the test of time.

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… Then you will get to this (air-quote) Botanical Park where there are more noticeable windmills.

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… That means you are just shy away from taking a right turn to get to the cave. Just follow the signs. So what do you do?

… keep driving … :)

… it won’t be long til you get to the cave. You’ll know you’re there when you see a parking lot with some souvenir stores and some food places. You will be welcomed with a picturesque overview of Lassithi Plateau.

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It makes you realize how much you’ve driven. :D

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The cave is open til 7 pm during tourist/summer season. Parking is 2 Euro. Entrance is 4 Euros. Bring good shoes and water. Extra lungs if you must. :D I’m kidding, the ascend is doable. ;)

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The cave is small but still whoa-some!!!

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The most recognized cave in Crete, it is said to be where Zeus (air-quote) supposedly was born. There is also a cave in Mount Zeus in Naxos, Greece where they also claim Zeus (air-quote) supposedly was born. I don’t know which to believe. It seems that there are more that are using reference to the cave in Crete than the one in Naxos.

I’ll be in Naxos island this weekend. Yea-Yeah! :D

Now, you can either drive back from whence you came or drive towards the city center of Agio Nikolaos. The drive to Agio Nikolaos is a long one but you will see more mountains, small villages, and of course, more windmills. Just strictly follow the signs to Agio Nikolaos. Again, do not hesitate too much….

…Just keep driving. To me, it’s worth it. :)


 

In the offing: California post, Naxos, another Santorini post, and a special post.

What’s white and blue and churches all over?

It’s been awhile since I’ve done a full traditional travelogue. I think it works here.

I finally got out of the island of Crete and off to another Greek island. From Chania, we drove for 2 hours or so to Irakleio and then hopped into a 2-hour-or-so ferry ride to Santorini. As soon as we landed on the port we looked for a transport to our hotel.

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We checked in to a very accommodating Volcano View Hotel. Maybe because I was with my girl that they upgraded us to Junior Suite… Sweet! I don’t usually talk about hotels on my travels, but this one is worth recommending. Friendly and helpful staff, clean, free breakfast, and has a great view of the volcano and the water.

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We ate a delicious meal before heading out to our tour – rice-looking pasta with shrimp.

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We picked Sunset in Oia & Traditional Villages Tour. Just something that’s available, and fits our schedule. The Volcano and other Boat Tours are not yet available until the end of May.

The Traditional Villages part took us to …

Mesa Gonia, The Ghost Town village largely devastated by the 1956 earthquake in Santorini.

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– Our tour guide brought up a very neat point – if not for the earthquake, Santorini wouldn’t be as popular as is it today. –

Pyrgos, which got us climb 80 steps for an awesome city overview.

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Souvenir items, typical blue and white Santorini sceneries, churches, etc. are on-scene along the way to the top.

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-There are 365 churches in Santorini.-

Magnificent overlooking views once we reached the top.

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Imeroglivi, a seaside spot that boasts the most luxurious hotels in Santorini. Pfft!

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-97% of jobs in Santorini is … drumroll please … tourism.-

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And last, but not the least, is the ever-famous Sunset in Oia part of the tour.

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Oia is pronounced as ee-yah.

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– Santorini is extremely white and extremely blue, just as the Greek flag. –

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There’s a lot of people waiting for the sun to set. I kept joking as we waited that the sun Tweeted that it’s not coming down that day. :D

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…And the joke was on me. The sun was hiding behind the cloud. :( A major travel woe!

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If you ever come to Santorini, I still highly suggest this tour as it covers a lot of places. It’s 28 Euro per person. It’s relatively cheaper than the other tours or the ones online.

I heard from someone before that he/she didn’t like Santorini because it’s too touristy or too popular that excitement was never there. I came to Santorini with that kind of low expectation. As it turned out, I really enjoyed it.

We came back disappointed with the sunset, but it’s not just the sunset that people should go to Santorini for.

That’s Day One. So much I’ve shared already. 2.0 next month. I’ll leave you with Last Calls, and a tease of my photo shoot that I will share in Part 2. :D

Last Calls …

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A preview of this stud :D for Part 2.

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 Next post: We’re going to the East side of Crete and see some windmills, or a cave where Zeus was born. Or, a California post.

Stavros Beach in Chania, Crete

These pictures were intended for later use. I will be out of Crete and will be going to another island for travel, but running errands, visiting some blogs, and working on my final exams for a class I’m in before I depart. Hence, only a very quick post.

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The Sophomore Slump Recommends:

Movie: 12 Years A Slave – Dramafest to its finest!

Dang I can’t find any of my favorite scenes … Oh well, Michael Fassbender (one of my top actors ever) and Lupita Nyong’o, take it away ….

Flashback recommendation:
Here is Roberto Benigni winning Best Foreign Language Film (also Best Actor) for the movie La Vita E Bella at the Oscars…

Music: When the Pawn Hits the Conflicts He Thinks like a King What He Knows Throws the Blows When He Goes to the Fight and He’ll Win the Whole Thing ‘fore He Enters the Ring There’s No Body to Batter When Your Mind Is Your Might so When You Go Solo, You Hold Your Own Hand and Remember That Depth Is the Greatest of Heights and If You Know Where You Stand, Then You Know Where to Land and If You Fall It Won’t Matter, Cuz You’ll Know That You’re Right. by Fiona Apple. One word: WORDPLAY. :)

Here is one of the most heralded best music videos of the ’90’s … Criminal …

Flashback recommendation:

I recommended the album In Rainbows, but here’s one of the most talked about music videos of the ’90’s from Radiohead … Just …

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Went to do a volunteer of cleaning Stavros Beach …

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Last Call…

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These cellphone pics are unedited. That’s how clear the water really is.
Thank you for your continued patronage to The Sophomore Slump. I hope you have a great weekend.

 

Chania: A Beautiful Mess

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I am very grateful to be residing in Europe once again. It has this own vibe. One of the first spots I was taken to as I arrived here was, of course, the city center. Walking the downtown area, I instantly felt that same European charm I was longing to experience once more.

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Old Town Chania with its harbor definitely serves you that kind of European atmosphere.

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But I guess it’s just like any other principal cities. There are cleaner areas, and there are less cleaner areas. Good sides, bad sides, if you will. Urban to rural. Traditional to modern. Sophisticated to uncultivated.

In most major cities, however, these contradicting sides are quite separated. In Chania though, the contrasts are altogether and are strikingly very evident. It’s not that unrefined, but it definitely needs some help. It’s like a controlled chaos. It’s just awfully pretty….. A beautiful mess.

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The promenade has a background left unrestored.

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Old establishments are wall to wall with the painted ones.

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Some rehabilitations are half way done or seem to be forgotten.

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This one is above a shining shimmering jewelry store.

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Statues are undermined.

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Vandalism is too much to bear.

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Some houses obviously tried to repaint but the writings on the wall keep reappearing.

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It’s no wonder why some areas are completely uncared for.

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Across this line of restaurants and bars are dilapidated houses.

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Chania, perhaps Crete in general, is no London or Paris. It’s just not that organized. It’s not as teeming as most Asian major cities. It’s definitely not LA, where slum scenes look forsaken by business districts of towering buildings. Chania has its own character. This place has like a never-ending work in progress. It’s a motley paradise of juxtapositions. There’s definitely beauty in its imperfections. It’s unpretentious … And I love it!

Last Calls…

Awaiting order?

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This shot is one of my personal favorites.

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The Sophomore Slump Recommends:

Music: I’m Wide Awake It’s Morning – Bright Eyes
Movie: American Beauty

Death Valley National Park in Monochrome

On my first post of Death Valley National Park, the pictures were taken from a cellphone and I edited them using a cellphone app Snapseed. This time, the images are from my DLSR. This is Death Valley National Park, one of the top locations I’ve ever visited. I want to present it the right way with what I got.

It was a constant battle whether I should present the pictures in a color or monochrome palette. I didn’t want to present it in B&W in the first place. Many have been successful with turning their DVNP pictures into B&W. I’m intimidated. I don’t know how they do it!?. Mine pales in comparison. With the images I got, the transition isn’t quite right in my humble opinion. When I posted The City of San Francisco in Monochrome I can proudly say that it’s the kind of setting that’s just the right fit for B&W, but it still honestly eats me that the original (with colors) were not presented. It is hard to present pictures initially in monochrome leaving behind the originals in mystery. Bottom line is that another post of a location I already previously presented… I really wanted it to be different. I decided to compromise…. So …

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The Sophomore Slump Recommends …

Movie: Crash – The ultimate success movie with ensemble cast and interwoven stories.

Recommendation Flashback: Blue Valentine –
Here is Ryan Gosling (back when he was un-Hollywood :) ) playing ukulele…

Music:  The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill – Retro R&B and neo-soul perfection. Oh Lauryn Hill… come back into the limelight.

Recommendaton Flashback: Heartbreaker by Ryan Adams
The song, however, is not from Heartbreaker, just a personal choice to introduce to you Ryan Adams… Here is Desire …

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This post is part of my monthly California post.

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The problem with showing original images together with the ones that are turned into B&W, revealing the true colors spoils the effect B&W pictures had…

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And then it dawned on me, whatever the dilemma is, however mediocre I present it …. This is Death Valley National Park. I can’t go wrong with Death Valley National Park. The images will speak for itself.

Fortezza of Rethymno

I think its about time for me to tap into the history of Crete. I found just the right place. Fortezza of Rethymno is quite the destination to talk about it. ;)

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The Sophomore Slump Recommends:

Music: Trouble by Ray Lamontagne – A singer-songwriter album to its truest form. This troubadour is one for the books in my book. :)

Prepare to be amazed … here is … Shelter.

Movie: The Slumdog Millionaire – You gotta admit, this made-epic movie is still incredibly entertaining.

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Today a tour in Fortezza of Rethymno offers overlooking panoramic views of the entire city center and the west coast of Rethymno.

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The views are just … muwah. :D

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During the 4-century Venetian period in Crete called Kingdom of Candia, there were these walls of Rethymno protecting the harbor and surrounding houses in the area. But that didn’t go so well when one Turkish attack took place because of the weak integrity of the walls.

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So then they built this Fortezza in Rethymno with improved construction in order to protect and shelter the citizens after Turkish threat.

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During the Cretan War, Venetians were pushed out of Crete by the Ottoman Empire. Rethymnon fell to the Ottoman Turks in 1646. The biggest change they made in Fortezza was turning a temple into a mosque.

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Greece achieved their independence in 1821. They removed all traces of Turkish period and repaired the damages of the original establishments. The layout of the fortress remained all along.

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Last Calls …

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Anastasis, Holy Week in Greece

This year, Holy Week, the most important holiday in Greece, falls one week after the western schedule. It is the same week only approximately every four years.

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The Sophomore Slump Recommends

Movie: Under The Skin – Scarlett Johansson’s biggest break to being critically acclaimed. This movie is out of this world yet so human. I dare you not to get weirded out by this movie.

Recommendation Flashback:

Pan’s Labyrinth – This movie will never leave my top 3 movies of all time!
Here’s the Pale Man scene …

Music: 19 by Adele – Vocal prowess … bow.

Recommendation Flashback:

My Dark Twisted Fantasy – The frontrunner for the best album of the decade …
Here is Runaway …

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Good Monday is the start of heavy fasting.

Maundy Thursday is a long mass where they read the whole story of The Passion of the Christ. Some church do a reenactment.

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Good Friday is the procession day where they carry an epitaph or casket and parade on the streets.
I went back to Agia Triada Monastery for this. Activities are different from other village. Agia Triada Monastery only circled in and around the church vicinity.

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Easter Saturday is Anastasi, The Resurrection. It’s when the burning of the Holy Flame takes place. They make an effigy of Judas. But nowadays it’s someone they hate like politicians or enemy. And they make a bonfire at midnight.
Me and a group of co-workers went to Sternes for this.

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People light their candles at midnight as well.

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Easter Sunday is the end of fasting. So the Greeks celebrate it with feast, an Easter party, of roasted lamb, or goat. They make Easter biscuits, hot raki, and red painted eggs representing blood of Christ.
My landlord gave me a red egg and a bag of delicious biscuits.

They sure celebrate Easter with a bang!

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Last Calls …

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