Thursday, November 29, 2018

Moussaka! Homemade!!

More about that later;)

Today (Thurs) is a wet and rainy day - started early this morning and has not let up. We usually seem to get a few hours of rain and then it clears up to be a great day - but today I guess I have time to catch up with my blog  :)  Cant believe that we've been here for a month already! And we're still lovin' it!  Even though it does get a little cool at night being an old stone house with no central heating. The days can be warm but still cools down at night and being at a higher altitude then Chania it gets cooler.  We do have a portable electric heater but don't use it to much because it takes a lot of electricity and have no idea yet what the electricity will be costing us.  Should know by next week. Then we'll see if we run the heater more or just put on our sweater and cover up with a blankey when we watch TV LOL!! Think I'll make some soup today to warm us up.

Last Saturday we took the bus into Chania to fill our new cart full of fresh veggies, olives and whatever we find :)  We catch the 10:30 bus along with other locals heading to the market with their carts LOL!! We were speaking with one couple about where we are from, where are we staying etc. It seems everyone has a relative somewhere in Canada.

We get to the centre of Chania and first go to the bank since we are down to about 5 euros in cash! Luckily everyone, even the little stores in Tsikalaria take credit cards :)  We then head towards the market.  We first go thru the "dry goods" section - the same ones we saw that day on another side street during the week.  Lots of good deals here if you're looking for winter clothes! I need some short sleeved t-shirts for Honduras but cant find any here :(  The ones I brought with me from Canada all seem to have stains on them that I cant get out!! Tick me off - have to remember to wear the apron that is in the house when I'm cooking to save my tops!

We find nothing we need in the dry goods so head towards the veg market.  So much to choose from and so many vendors!  We pick up a 2kg package of grape tomatoes for only 2E! Also need to buy some eggplants because want to try and make moussaka. I've bought it twice before, but the first one froze in the fridge, the second one I left on top of the oven by mistake when it was on, so it got mushy. Will take care of these ones.  We end up buying a bag full of vegs and 2 types of olives for probably 18-20E - which is a good price compared to the stores but at Canadian prices $24-30 it may be high. Cant remember anymore. We also have a kabab on a stick that was grilled on a wood fired outdoor grill.  Love street food :)  It was very tasty. Think sometimes it is made with minced lamb but I forgot to ask.  Next time I guess.  Each stick was only 1.50E and it was the size of a smokey :)  My hands were full so forgot to take a picture LOL!

Once we were thru the market we head towards the walkway along the bay. Its a nice sunny day and great for sitting on a bench, watch the waves, eat tomatoes and reorganize the cart. Get the heavy stuff at the bottom.  Then decided since there are so many cafes along the seawall walk we should stop and have a latte and hot chocolate.  From there we head back towards the centre square.  There is one area that has nothing but souvenir stores. I asked at one store the price of a simple looking green necklace and was told it was 100E - its turquoise. WHAT! Is there cruise ship in port today?? Seemed a bit much! So on we keep walking. Fairly busy today being a Saturday.  Also found a second hand store.  Thought I would go see what they had for t-shirts - but only had sweaters and long sleeved shirts. Also thought I might find a stovetop expresso maker - but no luck there either. BUT did find a backgammon game. There was one in a wooden box for 6E and another one which was just a fold-up board in a box for 3E. Figured since I'm not sure I'll get Dwayne to play I better just spend 3E.  I don't know how to play the game but there are instructions in the box :)  Always see the greek men playing it while having coffee or a beer in the local cafes.  Plus if it starts to rain for days and we cant get out we better have something to do since no games are in the house.

Since we had eaten a bunch of grape tomatoes while sitting on the seawall we weren't really hungry for lunch and it was close to 1:30,  time to head back to where we have to catch our bus at 2.  We get to the bus stop and I run across to the grocery store to check and see if they have any ice cream for us to take home. We haven't been able to buy any since we rented the car because the local stores in Tsikalaria don't carry any during the winter I guess.  But when I checked the store, they also don't have any ice cream! WHAT?? There is another store half a block away so I run there and check - also nothing!  This was one time we could buy ice cream and get it home on the bus before it melted - but no luck today!  I know the Lidl store carries ice cream but its to far away to walk to and get back.  Anyways, when I get back Dwayne runs to a bakery to buy one of his favourite BIG donuts and once he comes back he watches the cart while I run across the street to pick up a spanakopita for my treat :)  Then shortly after that the bus arrives.  The same people who travelled into town with us now also have their carts full of groceries and heading back home. Once we got off the bus and headed up the hill there is a section we walk that has stairs, well the cart hit one of the stairs and a piece of plastic broke off the wheel and it started wobbling!! Dwayne carefully pulls the crippled cart the rest of the way. Not sure if he can fix it :( Bummer!! Only one trip out with my sporty bag!


Our loot from the outdoor market

These are the grape tomatoes for only 2E

Our view as we rest on a bench

Lots of cafes under the awnings



coffee and hot chocolate with a view






As we are walking around we pass the back of the Venetian boat repair buildings from the 15th century
Sunday we just spent at home. Dwayne worked on the grocery cart and MacGyver found some wire and wired the wheel hub tight - hopefully that will work :)  It was a nice sunny day to sit outside and do some reading and knitting. As I'm knitting the socks for Dwayne I see that the colours are different! Even though I checked when buying the 2 skeins of wool that the lot and colours numbers were the same on both packagings, and they were.  I didnt see any difference when in the store. Now as I knit one sock is going to have more blue in it then the other! WTH! I even unwind  I've taken pics of both the skein wrappers and the wool and once I get the socks done will send the pics and email to Patons - need to do some bitchin' ;)


Knitting with kitty :) Max enjoys sitting with us when we're on the lounge chairs


same labels but different colours!!
Monday needed a few things so decide to walk to Souda with the repaired cart. Also want to check for ice cream there - we are up for the challenge to get some ice cream back to the house LOL!! And YES! the store has ice cream. But before we buy any we go have a coffee first and thought we would walk further towards the port but it was late when we left home, so decided to just get the groceries and head home.  Once the shopping was down we rush to get home before the ice cream melts. As it turned out it only took us 30 mins to walk the 3kms! So no time for it to melt :)  Now we are good for a week and the cart made the trip home!

found an avocado tree on our way to Souda. I picked one but it is hard as rock - not sure it will ever get soft

picking oranges 

found some bamboo - maybe that can be used for something :) 

one of the tunnels we go through under the main highway

from the other end

Dwayne lickin' his sugar lips after a bite of his favourite HUGE donut
Tuesday we stay at home so I decide this is the day I'll make moussaka! I've had it a long time ago and not sure it is all that great but I want to make something with eggplant LOL!! Besides just grilling it and serving it as a veg - again not one of Dwayne's favourites.  So I start the meat sauce just after lunch and let it simmer away. The recipe asked for 1/2c of red wine and I usually don't like that in my meat sauces but thought I would try it this time.  After simmering for an hour I wasn't crazy about the taste so got a lemon I had just picked from the tree outside and started squeezing a little at a time. And before I knew it the sauce tasted much better :)  Then it was time to slice up the eggplant because I have to sprinkle the slices with salt and let them "sweat" for an hour before grilling.  I also peeled and cooked a couple of potatoes because the recipe I'm using has sliced potatoes on the bottom - this will make Dwayne happy :)  Once the eggplant slices have sweated I rinse them off and dry them. Then I grill them on the electric grill. This takes awhile since the grill is small. So I stack up the cooked ones on a plate as I continue to grill the other slices.  Decide then to start the layering. I bought a foil lasagna pan for this recipe so placed the potato slices down first. Then the eggplant slices.  Covered that with the meat sauce. Then another layer of eggplant slices.  Now comes the tricky part - béchamel sauce including egg yolks! Never made it before so need to be careful not to make scrambled eggs! And it worked - the sauce was great, not lumps and no cooked egg yolk :)  This is then poured over the top of eggplant. I had to turn up the sides of the foil pan to keep the sauce from flowing out!  Into the oven for 55 mins.  When I checked once it was still pretty light coloured so left it longer and next time it was a little to dark on top! Not quite sure about this electric oven (almost like an easy bake oven LOL)  So leave it out to sit for 30 mins and then sliced it.  Not to bad.... but I think the sauce may have needed a little more time.  Anyways we both thought it wasn't to bad - different taste thats for sure. Don't think I'll spend another whole afternoon making it though LOL!!  We do have another 3 meals of it in the freezer! Maybe second time round it will taste yummy :)

beautiful bird of paradise plant

Huge pan of moussaka - to bad it got a little dark on top 

Moussaka and awesome greek salad with lots of olives :) 
Wednesday is time to get out and walk again. I say we should walk to the Lidl store 6km away! We can then walk to 2km into Chania centre and take a bus back here :)  We don't leave until after lunch at 1.  maps.me showed it would take us 1 hr and 25 mins but we did it in just over an hour- which is what it should have taken since we walk about 6kms/hr.   We had to detour a bit because of very large water puddle so that added to our time LOL!! We first go for a coffee because it looks like we are in for a little rain. Just as we got in it did start to rain. So we had a nice break with coffee and a sweet tart. We did the shopping then walked downtown. After the rain the sun came out so it was a wonderful afternoon for a walk.  We do a little more walking around since the bus to take us all the way back to Tsikalaria doesnt arrive until 5:30.  So we end up sitting for the last half hour on the bench by the bus stop and people watch.  We get back to the house at 6 and had another great day of walking around - total for the day  11.4km 👌


YES!! We made it!!!

Got inside just in time for Freddo Cappuccino and sweet dessert - always need a reason to walk a long ways!!

But the rain didnt last that long


Cute little restaurant in Chania

Streets are quiet today
As I finish writing this blog - which ends up being longer then I thought 😁 it is still raining out, so wonder if I can convince Dwayne into a game of backgammon?? LOL!!!!


Thursday, November 22, 2018

Getting Lots of walking in :)

Monday - Micheal came to the house to pick up the rental car. Pretty good service for the 100E we paid for 7 days. Delivery and pickup from the house :)  Originally we were going to meet him in Chania and spend the day in town.  But when the time came I just wanted to spend the day at home.

It was a great day to get caught up with house cleaning and get the laundry done since it was a nice sunny day.  The whole week is suppose to be warm and sunny.  Guess it was better to have the car during the rainy week so we weren't stuck in the house :)

The cats always like to lay on Dwayne when we let them in to eat
Tuesday - by noon we were ready to walk towards Chania. After having lunch we headed out. I'm wearing jeans and sleeved top and after 2kms I was getting pretty hot and sweaty!  So I rolled up my pants to my knees and sleeves up and it felt much better :)  Not to worried about how I look - just need to cool down. Guess I can bring out the capris again :)

We stop at a cafe along the way and have a cappuccino freddo, coke and split a huge donut (I keep forgetting to get a pic of the huge donuts here for only 1E!)  After that we keep heading to the central square in Chania.  But first we check out the Ikea store!  I remember seeing it when we drove by with the car last Friday, I had read there was an outlet here but mostly for online order pickup.  But once we got inside I think it was bigger then the Ikea we stopped at last week in Iraklio.  It was also nice and cool in there so spent quite awhile inside to cool myself off :)  Did end up buying a carpet for outside the back door for the rainy days - a whole 79 cents! Now we can wipe our shoes off before coming into the house and getting the floor wet.

After I cooled down we head out and further towards town.  Then come up to another Chinese market  - need to go in and see what surprises we can find inside.  Ended up buying some weather stripping to try to keep the screen up on the window. The tape we have doesn't seem to stick to the screen. Hope this will work.  Didn't find much of anything else so out we go.  A little further up was a grocery store, need some bread.  But came out with bread, bananas and a frozen pizza :) which meant we now have to find a bus stop and head home. We've walked 5km so far and if we have it timed right we can catch the Tsikalaria bus that left centre at 2pm.  It's now 2:10 so may we'll be lucky.  We walk a couple of blocks to the next bus stop and wait. But no bus 22 came - guess we missed it probably while we were in the grocery store. We catch the next bus to Souda and get off at the nearest stop to our house - a 2km walk.  Once we get off I remember there was a store I wanted to check out just down the block.  This is more of a variety store - clothes, bedding, towels etc.  Looks like it just opened because there are many boxes on the 3rd floor (kitchen supplies) that still need to be unpacked. All good quality China products LOL!!! Just amazes me how much STUFF comes from China!!  Anyways, we did find a cheap dish rack since the house doesn't have one - makes Dwayne's job a little easier - hahaha :)  Then we hike up to our place - picked a couple of oranges along the way to enjoy as we walk.  They taste soooo good. By the time we got home we had walked 8.5km :)  Think I've walked more kms since my knee replacement then I walked my whole life LOL!!

Wednesday - This is another day spent around the house.  I do some yoga that I've been doing for the last few days that I found on youtube. Then make a big batch of chicken vegetable soup with orzo pasta.  Dwayne keeps busy cutting a piece of wood from a pallet in half lengthwise with a small tree saw,  to make a frame for the screen since the weatherstripping lasted about 2 hrs!  After he gets it cut and placed, he cut some short piece and wedged them in between window frame and shutter frame to keep the wood slats tight against the screen - and it worked perfect! There are no nails around here so he improvised:)

We spent most of the afternoon out on the patio reading and enjoying the warm sunshine.


Veg soup simmering

 

3 of the 4 cats that come with the house (all outdoor cats) enjoy it when we sit outside and can then lay on the lounge chairs

Thursday -  Another nice sunny day so this time we are heading out earlier to Chania and will walk all the way into town and take the bus back at 2pm.  Want to buy some fish from the big indoor market. The same place where I took a picture a couple of weeks ago with the guy smoking.  I've read the guy running the place is a greek who spent some time in Canada and is helpful.  This time I am wearing capris and sleeveless shirt to stay cooler - should be about 25C today.

Our half way stop to town break :) Cheese pie for me and cappuccino freddo,  HUGE chocolate eclair with vanilla custard filling(2.50E) for Dwayne!  He could only eat half - the rest is for dessert tonight 
We made it! Walking around I found a nice red bag on wheels to put our groceries in and haul onto the bus - now I'm like the old greek ladies and their grocery carts LOL!!! So much easier then putting groceries in a backpack or carrying bags. Anyways only cost 10E so leaving it behind wont be so tough at the end of Dec.


So I put my backpack in my cart and we keep walking around checking out stores in a new street we haven't gone down yet. We find a place where they make Ouzo so bought a small bottle - not sure why I haven't bought some already since I love the licorice flavour :)  Then passed a bakery and bought a loaf of bread - into the cart it goes.  By now it was time for lunch and we were close to the gyro restaurant by the market so stopped there.  This time we wont order fries with feta sauce.

Then into the market and to the fishmongers.  There was George and I asked for something easy to cook and not octopus. He said calamari!! Just dip in flour and fry it up - ONLY 4mins though! He picked a squid out got it cleaned and cut into rings - 9E.  Then he takes another one of those paper cones and starts putting shrimp into it.  At first I thought he was just going to give us 1E worth instead of giving us change. But he was putting in handfuls! Thought maybe for someone else, but no he gave it to us FREE!! Then one of the other fishmongers there said to cook it in lemon. I didnt get everything he said but to me that means it would be like ceviche, but using lemon not lime. He just said it is good!  But we had to get going because still had to go to the grocery store to pick up vegetable oil and the bus was coming in 15 mins. Figured I could google it and find out what he is talking about.

We get to our bus in time with all our goodies and once we get off we'll only have to walk .5km to the house - all up hill.  By the time we get home we've walked a total of 7kms.

I open the cone of shrimp.  These are not cleaned so lots of cleaning to do to get these suckers ready to eat! Since there are so many I decide to pick out the big ones and put them into the freezer. The small ones I will feed to the cats.  The calamari just needs to be rinsed and dried with paper towels to get it ready for dinner later.  Guess Dwayne is having more chicken veg soup for supper - not a calamari guy.  More for meeeeee :)  When I checked google for shrimp recipes with lemon, nothing plain came up even when I googled how greeks eat shrimp with only lemon.  Oh well guess I'll just cook them the usual way in garlic butter with some hot sauce.

I take the small shrimp out to the cats and put it down, they're not to sure about what to do with them, guess they live to far from the sea to know LOL!!! So I peel the shell off and the head and THEN they love it!! Oh well what else was I planning on doing anyways? :)  But when I had some calamari left after rinsing it and threw it out - I heard growling so I guess they have had that before from the neighbours!!

Squid all cleaned and cut :)

All this shrimp for free!

Well deep fried it all without starting a fire ;) tasted not to bad - as long as there is a good dipping sauce on the side - like most expensive seafood eg lobster!  Will have to try some in a restaurant and compare the taste. Never cooked fresh squid before

Bought our Christmas tree to keep outside by the window. Rocks to keep the cats out of the dirt!



Monday, November 19, 2018

Last day of ruins!!

Sunday - We were woken up by the ringing of the church bells - always a nice sound :)  Later on we heard singing which was coming from the church below us. Not choir singing just one guy singing and it didn't sound really good! But it went on for awhile.  We didnt get moving earlier today - our last day of the car rental.  We are going to one last ruin Aptera which is only about 15 mins away.

Before we left the neighbour - Niko came over with a plate of sweets :)  Then I'm wondering what is special about today with bells ringing and neighbours bringing sweets.  I read something about Nov 17 1973 being a special day due to students uprising at Athens Polytechic against the dictatorship by the military since 1967.  This uprising lasted 3 days and was the start of the removal of dictatorship. So everyone is thankful and celebrates their freedom.  But when we were driving around later we didnt see anything special happening here - probably just in Athens.

We drove to Aptera and on my maps.me it showed a hike up to the ruins of 1.5km from the highway. So thought we should do that.  We found a spot to park and also found the path - which was an unused road.  We walk up a ways and then have to turn around and go back because the road is closed off with a locked gate :(  So back in the car and drive up.

End of the road turn back 

our car is in the parking lot on the left side. 
We get to the entrance and pay 1E each and get a map to direct us around.  This ancient city was very large and important back in the day.  It was first established around 400BC and continued to be demolished and rebuilt depending who the rulers were. First we go to the monastery that was built here in the 12th century. Inside the monks residence they have a nice display of the area and what has been done.  Seems the Ancient Theatre was unearthed in 2010. Work was done there for 4 years.  There are roman baths that date back to the 4th-1st century BC!  There is still quite a bit of the buildings remaining, including cisterns.  Hard to believe these buildings are more then 2000 years old!!  No different then the Parthenon in Athens which was build in 438BC.  Compared to the Rome Colosseum which was built in 80 AD.  Anyways all pretty interesting to walk around.

Courtyard of the monastery with monks rooms (AKA cells)  in the back
Inside the chapel that was used until 1964

one of the cisterns

Different ruins of the public baths 





Roman cisterns 

Inside the cisterns - normally dry but with all the rain we have had it's filling up 



The ancient theatre is an interesting area also.  Roads to the theatre have been unearthed which were made of stone back in 400BC.  A portion of the seating area has been uncovered - the researchers say the the top rows were destroyed when olive tree farmers started cultivating the area. Just another rock in the way of the cultivator blades, move it out!  But I'm sure if you dug down 5-6 feet on any of the hilltops in the area you would uncover an ancient village.


This is the road built in the Hellenistic period - 325BC  On the side you can see how deep archeologists dug to find this road going to the theatre
This picture is taken before excavation started on the theatre - these are from the displays inside the monks building 

And once they unearth the seating area


Dwayne waiting for the show to start :) 

Taken from behind the stage 

Some concrete restoration has been done to keep the seating intact

Looking onto the stage area - its said that if you speak on that concrete circle your voice is amplified - we didnt know that at the time we were there so didnt try it

well worn stairs

This would have been from the top of columns that made up the stage
Artists rendition of the theatre with the stage

After the theatre we walk to where there are ruins of a multi room villa.  It was called Peristyle house because the rectangle courtyard was surrounded by columns and the building surrounded the columns.  That way each resident had a doorway out to the courtyard for cover from the sun and still enjoy the outside area.  This was also the idea that was used for the cloister in monasteries.


Columns from the courtyard 

Tile remnants from the roof

columns are held upright by a square wood or metal peg and stacked up


The road coming to the house 






Outlines of the rooms within the villa


This is part of a grind stone and dish used to grind olives for the owners own use

This how they see the house would look like 
After tramping thru the area and trying to figure out from the picture at the front of the excavation of how the house was sitting we continued to walk to the main entrance of the fortress. Oh, and we had it all wrong when I found the above drawing of the house online :)

On the outside of the entrance are many graves. These was the norm back then to put the gravesite outside the main entrance

Interesting colour in this weed :)

The road towards the new town of Aptera

Tombs outside the gate 

Also some graves were craved into the rock 

The main gate

And what it would have looked like 


Fortress built by the Turks in 1866 seen from the monestary 

This is the fortress but unfortunately not open 



Down below the fortress is Intzedin fortress built in 1872 - but not open to the public except for 1 day a year Dec 15th - a celebration day for the Greek Orthodox.  The fortress was used as a prison until 1971. 

Fortified wall around Aptera which was 3480 m long
Once we were done we drove back to Chania to walk around the harbour on a sunny Sunday afternoon and then an early dinner of OCTOPUS!  Something I wouldn't be making at home since there is no way Dwayne would want any!  But he got to enjoy his favourite - pasta :)

Watching the kids feeding the pigeons and goofing around while the parents were inside enjoying their time

YUM!! Grilled potatoes and octopus in wine and tomato sauce with olives :) and Dwayne's pan full of Spaghetti  "Pink Panther" with bacon, mushrooms with red wine sauce 

He ATE THE WHOLE PAN FULL!!

Looking out onto the harbour from the restaurant 

Harbour looking in 



Walked out to the lighthouse 

This restaurant has renovated one of the ship building warehouses built in the 1400's
And that ends our week of touring around western Crete.  Now back to busing and walking and a slower pace - we've been going full tilt the last week playing tourists LOL!!!  Now I can get back to knitting my socks since blogging wont be done everyday. We'll probably rent a car again in a month and see what is happening for the Christmas season.

Time to get back in the blogging mode :)

Getting excited and ready for our 8 months in South America!! :)  Sept 7th we dropped off your Pleasureway Van at the shipping company in...