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The 11th Day


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#21 lars

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Posted 26 June 2008 - 06:19 PM

To poppypiper,

I wrote a short story some years ago and some of it happened in the village of Floria.
If you go there have a raki with the old man at the kafenion, if he is still around.
Here is what happened.

"We reach the village of Floria and soon we observe on our right side a small wooden sign Krasi(wine) in front of a kafenion. There are also two shrines from WW2 one on each side of the road.
We park our car next to a new blue Toyota and enter the kafenion.
Often when we find a sign like this, we stop to buy some of the local wines. They, both red and white, are fun to test and the tastes are very different.
We enter the kafenion. The room is naked and grey, just some chairs and tables and it is rather dark and cold. Two men, one very young, probably the owner of the new Toyota outside, and one thin old man with a deep and red cut on his forehead, are sitting in one of the corners sipping tsikoudia.
"Kalimera sas"
"Geia sas."
It is the old man answering as he leaves his young company. Half a minute later we have a small bottle of tsikoudia, two glasses, two apples and a knife on our table.
I can feel my co-drivers elbow and she whispers:
"We have not said a word more than kalimera sas yet and we are presented with tsikoudia at this time of the day. Do we look like we need it or what?"
"Of course we do, like true Cretans we have to wake up now."
There is a quick smile in her eyes as I pour some tsikoudia into her glass.
We raise the glasses to the men and here we go:
"Jamas, skål and kalimera Kriti "
The ice is broken and as usual we try in our home-learned Greek language to tell that we are from Sweden and so on and so on. The young man is leaving the company after while and the old man, who is very polite moves over to our table.
Yes he has cut his forehead this morning but it is ok now. He explains how it happened but we do not understand some of the words he uses.
We tell him that we would like to buy some of the local wine and a big smile comes to his face.
"You are lucky my friends, I have the best wine on Crete. Come let's try it"
There is another building behind and to the right of the kafenion. Inside he has all his barrels, big and small ones.
We have brought our glasses along and from a big barrel he pours the wine.
This wine is not ready yet and the taste is no good. He knows and he can also notice it from our facial expressions.
Is he trying us, yes maybe?
Another barrel, but no, the wine is not ready. He points on a smaller barrel and smiles as he also points on his forehead. Aha, this is where the accident happened with that nasty result.
"Old wine and very nice but dangerous" he says with a glimpse in his eyes and whole farm of foxes behind his ears.
He is right; this is the best wine. He looks happy.
"How much, do you have any bottles?"
Before we have the chance to answer he is disappeared but is soon back with 4 big used Coca-Cola bottles.
I try to tell him two is enough. He looks at us with very sad and puzzled eyes. Of course we would not like to make this nice old man sad and therefore we accept his 4 bottles and the foxes are laughing behind his ears.
He smiles again and when we pay he says that the tsikoudia is "on the house" and that we can keep the glasses. That is the way to make real good friends and maybe also some money.
We put the wine in car and say good-bye to the old man.

Before we leave though, we have to look at the two shrines. The one on the other side of the road is German and the one on this side is Greek.
The Greek one is simple and made of white marble. As we read the names of the victims we can hear the sound of footsteps. The old man is coming up to us and his eyes are very sad again. He takes a step forward and points out a name:
"Afto einai o pateras mou, he is my father" he says with tears in his eyes.
(The village was totally destroyed by the Germans)
What do you say or do to comfort this new-found friend of ours.
We are not able to express our feelings in his language but my co-driver is fast, very fast.
She gives him a big, sincere, long and warm hug.
They walk hand in hand back to our car and now we have to bid him farewell.
"God bless you and have a nice trip"
In the mirror I can see him standing under the wooden sign Krasi, waving his right hand in the air as we leave him behind.
What a moving and strong moment."
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#22 poppypiper

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Posted 26 June 2008 - 08:23 PM

To Lars,

Your story is what make the real Crete so special. Although I have not been there for some years I am sure when I visit the tiny villages (20/30) your story will become mine. It was refreshing to receive a message that was from the heart. I hope I do meet 'the old man' but if not I am sure I will meet many like him. My one wish is to sit in the tiny village of VATHI and raise a glass to the memory of those who died there so many years ago. Perhaps I will meet a relative of the three wee brothers and sisters who perished in the flames of their home. But for the grace of God go I. At their age I too was engulfed in the flames of my bombed home in Liverpool, UK. I survived. Thanks for your heartwarming story.

Bill J
Liverpool

#23 lars

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Posted 27 June 2008 - 10:45 AM

Ok Bill here is some more!

Out of season we often drive down to Elafonissos and every time we had noticed a small sign about a museum in Perivolia.
This late afternoon we were on our way back from the island. We passed Vathi and when we reached the village of Kefali there was an old man asking for a lift.
Of course we picked him up ( this is a very nice way to get to know people and to learn more about the area you are in)
After just a short while he asked me to stop because this was were he lived. No houses around, but to the right was a narrow road downhill.
As it was getting dark I went down the road and soon we ended up in the village of Perivolia.
I asked the old man about the museum and he told us, he was the owner. It was mr Skalidis himself.
He invited us to visit his museum. A nice little museum of which mr Skalidis was very proud and he should be.
Then we were invited to his home, where we met his wife and we had a nice evening together.
We reached Chania very late but it had been worth every minute.
A year later we returned with some photos and at that time we walked around in the landscape which is very nice.
Mr Skalidis is a very interesting person and he has a lot to tell so please pay him a visit ( I also here have to add; if he is still around, as this happened at least 4-5 years ago).
I have tried to find some of the photos but unfortunately with negativ result.
The people in those small villages usually have so much to tell and my wife( the co-driver) and I just love to stop and walk around in them, and it is so easy to make contact and new friends.
Even though we know just a little of the greek language we manage quite well, the importatnt thing is to try.
Have a nice trip Bill.
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#24 harribobs

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Posted 28 June 2008 - 12:21 AM

I remember reading Lar's Floria story some years ago, although i can't remember where now :D

I really wish i'd made time to stop at Floria this year

He's totally correct, you can really only appreciate the warmth of the people when you stop and talk, driving through villages you will always see the old (and young) guys sat around in the local kafenion, stop the car and get out. more often than not they are very willing to chat, interesting and interested

we've been blessed because we walk in the hills so we jump at the chance of a beer and a laugh with the locals

and you meet some characters!! ^_^

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#25 Annette

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Posted 02 July 2008 - 08:43 PM

Floria Memorial
Here you are with a picture of the Cretan memorial in Floria. There are many more pictures of memorials in the kreta-wiki, though still many more are missing. For the non-German-speaking visitors it might be the easiest way to find the places by clicking the 'Ort im Nomos...'-Links here and you will get a small list of places, which have already articles.

Concerning Archanes - there is a memorial at the plateia between the old school and the Panagia-Church. I can post a picture within the next days.

Best regards
Annette