Han-ia Feel the Love?

Monday, October 17, 2005

My Hanorama shot of the old harbour

Old Hania harbour
Oh, hello there! I didn't see you come in. It's been a long time and I'm pleased to report that though my internet presence is perhaps waning as I become busier (and ironically have less and less of interest to report) my offline persona is doing just great. I had a bit of a thinkathon and decided that since my primary reason for coming to Greece this year was to learn some more Greek (well, there was no 'some more' in the original mission statement but that might've been a little too ambitious) I should go with the school route. Looking into schools, it seems there are three places where one can educate themselves in a short time whilst here: Thessaloniki, Athens, and Hania. You may recall my fervent dislike of Athens and my recent experiences in Thessaloniki or you may not, but in any case, the decision was clear. Hania. I would be on an island, in a beautiful city, and learning Greek. Case closed. Work, if I could find it, great. If not, well, at least I was doing something productive.

Dean & the girls
That decision made, I talked to the two schools there and got things as sorted as possible from Tripolis. Then I discovered that my cousin, Dean Katsiris, who lives in Toronto and I've never met, was in the neighbourhood, and Uncle Ted and Kosta came in for dinner with him, the girls, Theodore and Maria, and myself. It was a nice dinner at the Chalet not far from the girls' place. Then, we hit the town. Very interesting to meet Dean, he reminds me a lot of my other cousin, Dean. Katsiris. In BC. That one. Actually, I suspected his existence about a year ago, when I discovered upon googling my name in a poll for Stupidest Person on Earth (see poll and results) and traced the name of the person who put my name up to Toronto. Since I don't know anyone in Toronto, I suspected there must either be a Dean Katsiris there or else one of my other cousins had a runin. In any case, George Bush was already in an overwhelming lead and I decided that while I was in the running he was not going to steal another election, so I asked some friends and well wishers to vote for me and the rest, as they say, is history. This is THAT Dean Katsiris.

Kelly, Niki, and the Danes
Anyway, it was a little early, admittedly, so we went out to a cafe-bar and sat having a few drinks and watching Greece lose out to Denmark on its chance to get into the World Cup this year. Sofia AKA "Kinito Girl" came by and said she'd come out with us later, and somewhere in the evening, Lee's Yanni and a couple that I'd met once before joined us. We finally went out and went to the club where John & I had had such a great time when he was here. The owner seems to really love Niki (and who could blame him) and so we again got a reserved table given to us. Which we used for a spell until a few Thanos Petrelis songs (or maybe it was Polu Kala Lername) came on and then we danced.

Fortuitous timing as the lights come down
The dancing was in full gear, the platters were spinning as were the lights, as they tend to do here, when ours snapped off. It was a bit of a shock to have the light come crashing down on the table, as you may have guessed from this photo which I coincidentally snapped just as it happened. Kelly's reaction = priceless. Anyway, the moral of the story is we had a great time. As always, Tripolis was great. I got to spend a little more time with the kids this time, I babysat Theo & Maria one afternoon (Theo & I finished the girls' 1000 piece puzzle and Maria & I watched Monsters Inc) and I also took Theo out for a game of Counterstrike which I think he enjoyed. And of course, more coffees with Kelly (I won't mention the tavli, don't worry Kelly), more Pacino movies and late night chats with Niki, and introducing Lee to Strongbad emails and going visiting with her and her friends. Not to mention dinners with Diane & George, another stay in the Horio, and all the other day to day stuff that, well, I did say "not to mention".

Who broke the light?
After that Sat night I caught a couple hours of sleep and the bus to Athens, then the 2:00 ferry to Hania from Pireaus, which made it there by around 7:00. After a bus ride from Souda to Hania, Siba & friends picked me up and drove me to where I'd be staying in Stalos, which was quite nice of them. Stalos, and particularly Pano Stalos, is a nice quiet area about 10 mins from Hania and quite well connected by overflowing busses. Though I'm not in any way a morning person, there is something nice about waking up early, walking down to the bus past vineyards and looking down at the sea and the foggy mountains, hopping on a bus, and then walking from the station to the schools to get stuff done. Even on a Monday morning.

The morning in Stalos
It took a few days and some tests at both schools to see what my options were, but by Wednesday I was sitting in class with two fellow students, both retired, very nice people. Carlos is blind, or nearly I think, and that made things a little interesting, and Carrie is just an interesting woman in her own right. So interesting classes. I definitely am learning things and think that my own Greek school could've been so much better if only the teachers had at least used English to explain what we were doing and what things meant to a bunch of 6 year olds who didn't know how to answer the question "What is your name" and were supposed to be learning about passive/active voice, and so on. You know, that and if we weren't a bunch of 6 year olds who were ripped from our Saturday morning cartoons for four hours of hell that really put a lot of effort into NOT learning any more than necessary in that place.

More old Hania
So the school is good, and I've moved into Hania proper now with a little place that's right by the old harbour and amid the hubbub which I also like. The place itself isn't so great, but a very nice owner and a shower that consists, as many do in Europe, of a faucet dripping onto the bathroom floor. Mmm... cleansing. I've also befriended a few locals that are getting used to seeing my face. There's a cafe where I go a few times a week for a nice Greek salad and Coke (in a glass bottle) after school where I've gotten to know the owners and just this afternoon I went to a nearby beach with the owner's son. It's a nice place with an island that's swimming distance away even for this out of shape specimen, with some small and natural 1-2 m high 'cliffs' perfect for diving.

Me & the Germans
Also through Siba I've met some Germans working at the NATO base here, and I may go see a missle firing just for something different. OK, and because I'm kind of a geek, it's true. They're all very nice, and we've been over to Enrico's place (I know, doesn't sound German to me either) to watch movies and this past weekend we all went out to a bar in Platanias called the Rock Club or something like that. They have drums behind the bar which, on first glance, seems a neat idea, and then one of the workers starts drumming along to one of the songs and inserting really poorly timed fills (as in, finishing a whole BEAT too late) and then it gets annoying really fast. There was also a little bar dancing which I have some photos of but I'm afraid the girls got a little too out of hand for me to publically post those photos, put it that way.

And for no reason, a picture of Hania again
Anyway, that's in no means comprehensive, but I think it's enough. I really like Hania a lot and am happy I came down here. There've been good moments and bad, as with anywhere (like, for example, Eurobank (those #$%*()#$%#(*!'s) holding my card hostage, or arguments about the meaning of 'skase') but it's really pretty, nice, and still lively. I have another week or two of study and then I may head to Rhodes or Egypt or something (after visiting my family in Crete a little more) before heading back to Tripolis and then back home, with a stopover in the UK first. Oh yes, that's right, I should be coming home Dec. 5. So you will soon be free of the blog. Soon. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to sit in a cafe in the harbour and get some homework done...

<Tripolis & Hania Photos>

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