Into 2005
We have continued our daily trips out exploring the area. On 16th December we explored the beautiful Aradena gorge area with friends Alan and Margaret. This involves an exciting drive from the north of Crete over the mountains, down the hairpin bends to the south coast then up again into the foothills of the White Mountains, travelling north west. The views are breathtaking. We had a picnic at the Aradena gorge. Whilst walking over the iron bridge that spans the gorge we had a good view of the rare Bearded Vulture as it flew overhead. 

The olive harvest continues everywhere.  The fruit trees are heavy with oranges, lemons, grapefruit and tangerines. We often call into Vrisses - about 6 kms. from Vamos. When walking through the main street we were offered oranges by a man passing by.  On another occasion we were having a picnic near to Lake Kournas when a woman from a nearby house offered us tangerines, shook our hands and wished us a 'Happy New Year'.
Sunday is the day when many local people meet in family groups for lunch at a taverna. On Sunday 19th December we had lunch at a great taverna at Tzitzifies in the foothills of the White Mountains with Alan and Margaret. It was very enjoyable.  We were the only English people there. The taverna overlooks a valley with a beautiful view. There was a 'white out' with a shower of hailstones while we were enjoying our meal. However, within about twenty minutes the sun was out again and the sky blue.

Our neighbours Jim and Tilly had invited us to join them for a Christmas Carol Service at Gavalochori that evening. The service was very well attended. There were people standing in the doorway of the hall and also some outside! The mayors of Vamos and Gavalochori attended.  On returning we enjoyed coffee and cake with Tilly and Jim by their cosy, roaring, log fire.

The local football team sometimes have a match at the weekend, on the nearby pitch. Roy has been to watch and practise action photography. Recently we were told the reason for a six hour power cut was to work on the floodlights on the pitch. All Vamos village was without electricity! Luckily we have a gas cooker so are not entirely dependent on electricity.

 

As there have been pigs and sheep in the garden recently (they sometimes come over the wall) our neighbour is busy constructing some gates in the hope that it will deter them.

On December, 21st we had a call from a florist in Chania asking where they could deliver some flowers for us.  We do not have a delivery address so we arranged to collect them from a local petrol station. The beautiful arrangement of pink roses from my son Ian in England were pictured at the end of the previous page. 

Christmas Day was warm and sunny with blue skies all day. We were pleased to have been invited for lunch with Alan and Margaret in their house on the hillside overlooking the bay at Georgioupoli. Their daughter, grandson and a friend made up the party.  We enjoyed a traditional turkey with all the trimmings. We also had Christmas pudding, mince pies and Christmas cake. At about 5 p.m. Alan and Margaret had been invited to visit friends at Exopoli as it was the 'name day' of Christos. We were also kindly invited. His wife had baked numerous delicious cakes which we enjoyed with cups of tea. We finished with a 'raki' toast to Christos. There was a gift of eggs when we left.
We returned with Alan and Margaret for a delicious Christmas supper. It was a lovely day and a Christmas to remember.
The hospitality continued as on Boxing Day we were invited to spend the day with our neighbours. We enjoyed a delicious lunch, had a long chat, watched a really enjoyable DVD and then had even more food!  Again it was a really lovely day.  Another day to remember.

For two or three days after Christmas the weather was windy with torrential rain showers interspersed with blue skies and sunshine. We managed to miss the rain on our day trips.
 

On New Year's Eve we did some shopping and visited the internet cafe in the morning. In the afternoon we visited a Greek friend - Adonis at Kato Stalos. I first met him over twenty years ago.  He is as friendly and generous as ever. Although he was very busy making seasonal visits and delivering gifts, he made time for us. We were given delicious cakes, coffee and raki. Adonis then asked if we would like to accompany him on his next visit to friends at Kambia.  We followed him in our car along the National Highway -quite fast!  We then enjoyed more cakes and tea with interesting conversation, in the beautiful house of his friends. Adonis, very kindly, gave me an excellent book of traditional Greek country cookery 'Food of the Gods' as a gift.

New Year celebrations are very important to the Greek people, even Father Christmas is involved. Everywhere New Year greetings are exchanged.  These appear on the lucky charm found inside the special New Year cake.

 
On New Year's Eve in Vamos village square a stand was constructed outside the town hall for the musicians. Several tables held a range of free drinks and piles of traditional cookies to keep evil spirits at bay. As midnight approached more and more people congregated in the square to listen to the music and enjoy the food and drink. There was impromptu Greek dancing. The event was more low key than usual due to the sad death of a woman from the village. At midnight there were fireworks. A huge New Year cake was then brought out with a large portion for everyone and more raki.

On 1st January 2005 we found blue sky, warmth and sunshine on the beach at Georgioupoli. We then had a picnic at Lake Kournas.

 

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