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Of Crete And The British Here . . .


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#1 Ray

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Posted 26 November 2006 - 09:56 PM

Don't you ever wonder why nobody ever asks any really exciting questions? Why no-one writes incredible stories about their activities or relationships in Crete? I do.

There is always stuff on the Crete forums about what do I use to fill my pool, who do I ask to bring a truckful of stuff over or how do I buy a house in Crete, Italy? Perhaps the British are mentally challenged. Sometimes I am sure that they are. And the more that I speak to British people staying in Crete (Greece) the more I am convinced that there is a serious mental block that they need to rid themselves of when they leave Dover. What is the mental block? Difficult to describe really, but I will try.

Crete is a primeval island in the central east mediterranean. It has been here for millions of years in one formation or another. For at least ten thousand years it has been populated by thinking people who grouped together to form early civilisations. Apart from paleolithic and neolithic peoples the first recognised civilisation here were what Evans called the Minoans. They created palaces and villages and saw no real need to defend themselves living in a time when there were no attackers. They existed also on the island of Thea - Santorini - and when the volcano erupted they were no more. After around 3,000 years (think of 3,000 years in modern terms) their civilisation was destroyed. Some survived the entire winter of darkness, but very few.

As we hear, the Acheans arrived and started villages, the pottery and houses are similar to the armies that invaded Troy. But now the odd pirate raided the island and later they descended into a dark age until around 7 or 6 hundred BC when the classical greeks arrived. Later came the romans, more pirates, Saracens, Venetians, Turks (Ottomans) and finally the Germans. Now the British. But at least the British are not invading the island as such any more than they are invading Spain or France, but whatever, they come.

Yet what is the mental block. I hear you ask? Well unlike every invader of Crete from primeval times, the British think that they are still in Britain - albeit with the sun. They think that the culture here is British. They think that everybody speaks English if you shout at them long enough. They think that they need fish and chip outlets and places to eat Christmas dinner and are completly perplexed if such are not provided instantly. They think the TV and radio should be in English. They think the toilets are terrible and that oil is used in salads and other meals and it is a disgrace. Hamburgers are rare as are Marmite sandwiches and they find this difficult to comprehend.

Now wouldn't it be wonderful if British people understood the complexity of olive oil as well as the tortuous history that comes before them. Understood also that here in Crete is a fine culture that they should respect and enjoy and become a part of. See the mountains and feel the seas. Enjoy a place of exceptional beauty and try, just a little harder, to understand and delight in Crete.

Ray
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#2 Tim

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Posted 26 November 2006 - 11:09 PM

Ray,
How do you find the time to post your wind up on every forum ?
Should you not be out enjoying Crete instead of being stuck on a computer seeking contact with Brits?
;-)
Tim

#3 Ray

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Posted 26 November 2006 - 11:58 PM

Hello Tim.

Well first off, it is no wind-up. I mean every word I said. Also it is very nearly midnight here so being out enjoying Crete, something I spend a lot of time doing, is not really relevant at this moment. Also, perhaps there may be a lot of truth in what I say, so an answer might be interesting.

I have already spent too much time talking to British people but I will no doubt spend more, and not on a computer.

It is a difficult question that I ask and I know you are up to answering it.

Ray
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#4 emily

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Posted 27 November 2006 - 12:56 AM

To be honest you really should not tar all Brits with the same brush. There will always be some people who just go to Crete and other places who will not be happy unless it is a home from home, but surely not the majority!! I do not live in Crete, but have a great love for the place.

Personally I really can not stand the thought of going on holiday and hunting for places to eat which serve fish and chips and burgers.

My idea of visiting a foreign country is to experience the culture in its entireity. That means for me, eating the food, drinking the drink and getting to know the history of the place and getting to know the local people whilst trying to speak a little of the language.... This is what I try to do each time I visit Crete, learn just a little bit more.. If there were not so many places catering for the british maybe they would be happy to try something different.

#5 Kritsa Yvonne

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Posted 27 November 2006 - 12:42 PM

Ouch! I feel like I have been slapped with a very broad brush.

With the large number of people who visit Crete and/or choose to live there there must be a good number of people who fit Ray's description.

However, my experience of those who participate most often on this forum or have chosen to live in Crete is that the history, culture and food are huge parts of their attraction to Crete. For me the "difference" to the UK is what I really enjoy and appreciate.

We should remember that many postings on this site are from people who haven't been to Crete before (and maybe are not very widely travelled) and their questions may well stem from apprehension about the unknown.

Everyone is entitled to their opinion and Ray obviously feels very strongly about this as he has the same posting on at least one other forum.

I think some follow up postings from you Ray would be really good to illustrate the type of info/posting you would like to see and I am sure you will find they produce some good exchanges.

I look forward to learning more about your view of Crete.
Kritsa Yvonne

#6 Tim

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Posted 27 November 2006 - 02:27 PM

My serious answer Ray is that when I see a sweeping generalisation such as " Perhaps the British are mentally challenged" I think the writer is either trying to wind people up, or not capable of serious debate. Neither incline me to take it seriously though I'm afraid. Note that I gathered it was a wind up though!

#7 Tinks

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Posted 27 November 2006 - 02:45 PM

All I can say to such a sweeping statement that is clearly designed to wind up forum members is:

Don't feed the troll!
Curiouser and curiouser.....

#8 yannis_s

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Posted 27 November 2006 - 03:27 PM

Ray,
your post has been moved here because its subject has to do with living in Crete.
Yannis Samatas
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#9 Ray

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Posted 27 November 2006 - 06:56 PM

Most days now I am pruning my olive trees. The olives are picked and I have my oil from the local olive press. It is thick and green and beautiful. I have a fire burning in the olive grove to burn all the thin sticks and bits cut off of the trees and the good logs I cut and pile for the winter. I don't see anyone, except my wife, who is english. These days are beautiful and days like this have not changed in forty years. After I can walk to the cafeneon and drink coffee and maybe even a tsikoudia.

For so long we have dreamed of days like these. A greek and two albanians are shuttering for the concrete that comes to build our house. There is a lot of work to be done there and we do what we can to make this place a special place for us. The garden will come, but first the old olive trees have to be pruned to shape and consistency. It is a work of love and a lot of time that can be done when we wish and we do it when we feel like it. Cretans in neighbouring olive groves are working the same as us. They wave and ask how we are. We are as good as we have ever been. Some days we walk the beach. Other days we drive up into the mountains just to watch life travel past us.

We hardly ever go to Almerida, Plaka, Kokkino Horio etc because there is nothing there for us. At this time of year especially Crete is just Crete. Wonderfully so. We live here because of that and we will stay here until we die.

Maybe from now on all the incomers will go to Bulgaria, Romania who cares? There are a few British people that we see from time to time and that is good too. They love this island as we do and as do the Cretans. They contribute rather than take.

That is the difference.

Ray
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#10 Pam

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Posted 27 November 2006 - 07:47 PM

Nice description of your days, Ray and I'm jealous - but hopefully one day we'll be able to live much the same.

To answer a couple of your questions -

why does nobody ask any really exciting questions? I find it quite difficult to think of an exciting question - what would you be looking for? I'm sorry if you found my latest question about disabled facilites in Cret rather mundane, but I really wanted to get some ideas and had some really helpful responses.


why does nobody write about their incredible experiences? Well, I believe on this forum they do - expecially in their blogs. I always look forward to the next episode from Dinny and Kritsa Yvonne especially. Haven't you read these or are they not incredible enough?

I'll not get involved in the comments about the Brits, except to say that I recognise the type, but have always found them to be in the minority and usually confined to certain resorts. I suspect you have recently come across a particularly crass example, thus setting off your diatribe.

Pam

#11 Ray

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Posted 27 November 2006 - 08:44 PM

Hi Pam,

No actually I wasn't aware of the blogs on this site, but I am now. How refreshing they are to read. Maybe I will start one of my own sometime. But yes, this is what I think should be written and I am very grateful to you for introducing me to them. Thanks a lot.

The British that I speak about are not the majority of people living here at all, I never said that, they just seem to be the majority of people posting on the various cretan forums and asking about living in Crete. There are so many websites with all this information as well as several books but they seem too lazy to do their own research for some reason. Anyway I have made my protest and people can think what they will, and perhaps some of them will think twice about posting.

All the best and thanks again,

Ray

#12 Ton

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Posted 27 November 2006 - 09:42 PM

Hi Ray,

History....History!! The question is what did we learn from History? The answer is nothing. We keep making the same mistakes because everyone proudly condiders themselves belonging to a small country or to an island or even to a village. This is the microcosmos. One needs to have the courage to say as an ancient Greek once said I am not a citizen of Athens but a citizen of the world. My point Ray is that everyone living within the E.U is now a citizen not only of UK or Germany or Italy or Greece but a citizen of the whole E.U and she/he can live where she/he wants and eat fish and chips or Crout or dolmades and fasolada or whatever. Now the real question is: Will the microcosmos let them be at their oblivion? The answer is 'read History' It's all there!!

#13 Pam

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Posted 28 November 2006 - 08:08 PM

Hi Ray, glad you enjoyed the blogs - also have a look at the gallery if you haven't already. Lots of great photos there, which I often browse through on a cold, damp English day - OK I should be working, but it cheers me up. There's also a lot of good stories on the main site - I came across one by SteveB the other day when I was searching for more information about Frangokastello.

Look forward to seeing your blog.

Pam

#14 Lesley

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Posted 29 November 2006 - 04:19 PM

Hi Ray
Luckily for me, I don't know any 'brits' that fit the description you have given. I will be moving to Crete next year. I am looking forward to walking in the hills and exploring the beautiful island that is Crete.
I loveeeeeee Greek food and use ONLY Olive Oil for salads & cooking.
I have never really considered fish and chips as a delicacy to be craved/ hungered for. I much prefer to eat houmas and perhaps some goat & rice - I obviously picked up the taste for that type of food during my stay in the Middle East (Hamburgers most definately NOT on the menu)
As for Christmas dinner, I wouldn't dream fo looking for or expect to find, a place to cook it for me, I always cook that myself.
I fully intend to respect the Cretan traditions and culture, appreciate the beauty of Crete, the food, the people, in fact they are the very things that attracted me in the first place.
I will be starting my Greek lessons in Feb because, believe it or not, I know that everyone doesn't speak English. I enjoyed my Arabic lessons when I lived in the Middle East and hope to take to the Greek language as well.
As I said earlier, thank goodness, the Brits I have met in Crete do not fit the description you have given.
You seem to tar us all with the same brush. Where are you from Ray and did you say that your wife is British?
Regards Lesley

#15 Kritsa Yvonne

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Posted 29 November 2006 - 04:21 PM

But we Brits can laugh at ourselves can't we????? A friend sent me this today and I thought it fitted here:

Being British
Being British is about driving in a German car to
an Irish pub for a
Belgian beer, then travelling home, grabbing an
Indian curry or a Turkish
kebab on the way, to sit on Swedish furniture
and watch American shows on a
Japanese TV.

And the most British thing of all?
Suspicion of all things foreign!
Only in Britain can a pizza get to your house
faster than an ambulance.
Only in Britain do supermarkets make sick
people walk all the way to the
back of the shop to get their prescriptions while
healthy people can buy
cigarettes at the front.

Only in Britain do people order double
cheeseburgers, large fries and a
DIET coke.

Only in Britain do banks leave both doors open
and chain the pens to the
counters.

Only in Britain do we leave cars worth thousands
of pounds on the drive and
lock our junk and cheap lawn mower in the
garage.
Only in Britain do we use answering machines to
screen calls and then have
call waiting so we won't miss a call from
someone we didn't want to talk to
in the first place.
Only in Britain are there disabled parking places
in front of a skating
rink.
B) :D :D :D :D :D :D
Kritsa Yvonne

#16 santo

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Posted 29 November 2006 - 06:19 PM

:D :D :D

How very true Yvonne, I had a good laugh over that thanks.

B) :D
Santo

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#17 Laid Back Lil

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Posted 30 November 2006 - 08:17 PM

krista yvonne - brilliant - and how very true. Did make me laugh!

#18 tink

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Posted 11 March 2007 - 08:58 PM

Really looking forward to buying a property on this beautiful island. I will probably bore the pants off people asking mundane questions. - such as who upset you today Ray ? What a shame that the first negative points of view came from a (presumably) BRITISH person ?! I would prefer to think that your posting was indeed a wind up.

#19 MikeD

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Posted 22 April 2007 - 02:19 PM

As an incentive to learn Greek you may be interested in the following:-

For those of you who watch what you eat, here's the final word on nutrition and health. It's a relief to know the truth after all those conflicting nutritional studies.
1. The Japanese eat very little fat and suffer fewer heart attacks than the British.
2. The Mexicans eat a lot of fat and suffer fewer heart attacks than the British.
3. The Chinese drink very little red wine and suffer fewer heart attacks than the British.
4. The Italians drink a lot of red wine and suffer fewer heart attacks than the British.
5. The Germans drink a lot of beer and eat lots of sausages and fats and suffer fewer heart attacks than the British.
CONCLUSION: Eat and drink what you like. Speaking English is apparently what kills you. :blink:

#20 Retired in Crete

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Posted 23 April 2007 - 06:34 PM

I have thought long and hard before replying to Ray's post. Why? Because I admire Ray and his adopted lifestyle and am genuinely envious of his writing skills. I also enjoy, and look forward to, reading anything and everything that he writes.

However, I believe that his lifestyle, and his promotion of it, is contributing to the disappearance of the Crete which both he and I love. How can that possibly be? The life which Ray extols, days spent tending the olive groves, producing his own oil and living from his own land sound idyllic to city based folk, but in reallity, belong in a time warp and are not relevant, or of interest, to the youth of Crete. They have seen TV! They know of the lifestyles of America and Britain and they, not surprisingly, want a piece of it! Not for them the simple existance, they want the trappings of the twenty-first century. The only way that they can get these is to leave Crete for the mainland where they can, or think they can, make their fortune. This emigration of the young results in abandoned houses in Crete which are eagerly snapped up and converted into holiday homes for "rich" foreigners. The conversions or renovations may be beautifully done, in traditional style, but, being occupied for only a few weeks in the year, do little to contribute to village life. The holiday homes attract English style bars and fast food outlets, the very things that Ray (and I) despise.

It may sound a contradiction, but the only way to preserve the real Crete is to modernise it, or parts of it, by attracting industry which could offer a future to the next generation of Cretans. (Hence my support for the container terminal).

I believe that Crete should be "zoned". Large areas should be declared National Parks and all development stopped. Equally, "Development Zones" should be established where industry is encouraged, possibly with government grants, so that todays youth can have a well paid career on the island. Certain towns, eg Malia, should be "ring fenced" and made "anything goes" areas where those who want to can spend their hedonistic holidays without disturbing the rest of the island. All other coastal areas should be development controlled to preserve the unique features of Crete which are so appreciated by the vast majority of tourists. On a lighter note Ray could be allocated his own "reservation" rather like the North American Indians!

The future for Crete should not be as a living museum, but a true diverse culture fully equipt for the 21st Century.

John

PS I know of no Brits of the type that Ray describes, OK maybe I know one!
Cornwall - Great at any time of the year.