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30th January, 2005. We have just reached the half way stage of our six months stay in Crete. It has been great so far apart from missing family and friends in the UK. We have met really nice people, visited many beautiful places and experienced different aspects of Cretan life. The winter weather has been varied and changes quickly. We have had storms lasting for hours, torrential rain and strong winds, even frosts at night. There have, however, been more days with blue sky and sunshine - even 'Tee-shirt' weather - like English summer days. There have only been four days since we arrived when it has been better to stay indoors because of the rain. The rain has turned the bare earth under the olive trees into a carpet of green which is now covered with yellow flowers. There are also anemones coming into flower everywhere.  There are over one hundred in 'our' garden.

Having experienced a Cretan winter we consider that a house needs central heating plus an open fire or wood burning stove for when the power cuts happen. Some houses have a generator. Quite wise to have some method of cooking/heating with bottle gas - a gas cooker or combination gas/electric one.  A standby supply of water is useful, especially in areas where the water supply is overstretched.

Days leading up to this latest update:

7th and 8th January the weather deteriorated with rain, storms and winds

9th January back to blue skies and sunshine again. We had another enjoyable day going over to the south coast by the Imbros Gorge road.

10th January another beautiful day with sun and blue skies. We drove to Tzitzifies and then walked for one and a half hours into the White Mountains. It was hot! Some days it reaches 80 degrees. The views from the mountains were stunning.

11th January yet another sunny day - Tee-shirt weather. We took a picnic and spent several hours at Petres Gorge where Griffon vultures nest. We watched several of them gliding around and above the gorge. There is a church built into the side of the gorge. You can see the National Highway but could be miles away, it is so peaceful.

We also called in at Georgioupoli water and down by the beach.
 
12th January we went shopping in Kalives. I walked past the wine shop with my bags of fruit and vegetables. The owner waved to me and insisted that I go in for a 'sit down' and glass of his wine. We had an enjoyable chat but I had to leave to meet Roy in the Internet cafe.

13th January we again took a picnic and toured the mountain villages of Fres, Tzitzifies and Nipos. We walked into the hills towards Vafes. The weather was cool with sunny spells.

14th January was a rainy day.  We did some shopping in Kalives and called in on friends we had met, who had recently arrived in Crete (with all their furniture and dog). They had rented a lovely apartment just outside Kalives on the hillside at Tsivaras - overlooking Souda bay. The afternoon was stormy with rain.

15th January was another rainy day so we had a rare day in the house.

16th January was cooler but dry and sun at first. We again visited the river at Stilos and then had a picnic overlooking Souda Bay from the mountain side. It rained later that afternoon. In the evening we had a very enjoyable meal with our neighbours and their guests who were staying to check on the progress of their house being built at Xirosterni.

17th January was dry and sunny.  We did some washing and then went shopping at Souda Bay. In the evening we visited the internet cafe in Geogioupolis. When we left at 6.30 pm to drive back to Vamos there was torrential rain and a storm. It lasted all night and the electricity went off twice!

During the next few days we started to look at long term rental properties which are many and varied: traditional and modern.

At one property we looked at (the views were wonderful) the owner had covered all eventualities. There was a wood burning stove, a gas cooker, a generator for power cuts and solar power. The one thing he could not solve was the shortage of water. The supply is often cut off.

21st January was again dry and warm. We were able to sit outside for coffee. Our neighbours left for the U.K. so we are looking after the villa and four cats for two weeks.

22nd January was sunny and warm with blue skies. We were on the road travelling between Vamos and Kalives when we had a call on our mobile from a florist in Chania asking where we were as they had some flowers to deliver for my birthday (the next day). After a few 'hiccups' we managed a rendezvous with the courier at the village square in Kalives. The hand-tied bouquet was beautiful and still is a week later.

We came back to Vamos, had lunch on the balcony (73 degrees in the shade)

23rd January we had decided to go out for Sunday lunch to celebrate my birthday, with friends. We drove to a taverna in the mountains at Tzitzifies where we had been before Christmas. It had been busy then but this time there were dozens of cars parked along the road and we were unable to have a table. We then drove to Kalives and had a lovely, leisurely meal right by the sea - watching the waves on the shore. We shared spinach pies, mixed salad, village sausages, feta from the oven, pork from the oven with potatoes and mushroom sauce, and chicken kebabs (souvlakia) with rice. All enjoyed with the local red and white wine. We were then given a selection of sweet cakes, fruit and raki to round off the meal.

24th, 25th and 26th January were warm and dry. It was hazy as there was red dust in the atmosphere over the mountains. We were able to have lunch outside. On 24th and 25th we were shown some more rental properties.

27th January - after three months in Crete you should apply for a Residency Permit. This is obtained from the police station. You need a passport and four passport size photographs. It is quite a lengthy procedure with lots of paper work. The police station was busy with lots of 'comings and goings'.  We spent a very interesting hour and a half watching proceedings. We now are official residents of Crete.

Weather continued to be warm. 29th January was tee-shirt, shorts and sandals weather. We decided to stay in the garden and enjoyed a lazy day. 77 degrees when we had lunch on the balcony.

30th January we had an appointment at 10 am with an estate agent in Georgioupoli. We had sent an e-mail on Friday evening with our requirements for rental accommodation. They were extremely efficient and by the next day had 'phoned to arrange some viewings. We spent almost four hours on an informative and enjoyable tour of five properties traditional and modern. We now have lots of options to consider.

It was 77 degrees when we had a late lunch on the balcony at 2.15pm but dropped to 60 degrees by 3.45pm.

Time to prepare dinner - more next time.
 

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