Monday, 3 September 2012

In search of the Mochlos Labyrinth....

Well, here we are on our last few days in Mochlos - how did that happen?  On the one hand it seems to have flown by but then when we think back to what we did in the first few weeks that seems an age ago!
Dud does 'pick your own'

So, what have we been up to in the last couple of weeks?  Well, as usual when I've started writing it seems as if we've not done that much but when I come to look at our photos there are really quite a lot and we haven't been doing nothing after all.  So, we've continued to have our fruit and veg supplied fresh from the Mochlos Mare garden - infact we've now moved on to 'pick your own' status.  So, when we go to see Panagiotis he just tells us to go in the garden and collect what we want - at the moment small tomatoes, peppers, grapes and figs are all in season.  We 'found' a new taverna in the village on the recommendation of Panagiotis, called Dimitris (after the owner!) and have been there a couple of times and once with Panagiotis and Sterie which was nice.
what are those white things in the sky? !!

We've seen clouds (really!!) over the horizon but because we've also had the meltemi winds they were blown away quite quickly and soon replaced by clear skies again.  However, the winds have meant that the sea is very choppy, to put it mildly, but the breeze is nice for keeping cool.
this is the jetty that the boat (usually) moors up beside to
take people to the island - not today though!!

One morning when we went to see Sterie & Panagiotis they invited us back early evening because Sterie was cooking galaktoboureko (which is the cake she gave us for our anniversary, it's delicious - a bit like egg custard in filo pastry but much nicer!).  Anyhow, once there we ended up having meze supper of vine leaves, (baby) goat's liver, salad, potatoes, gavros (anchovies) and other seafood - it was delicious and even I tried the liver (before I asked what it was of course!).  Anyhow, everything apart from the seafood was from their garden (yes the goat as well) so definitely fresh and healthy (well unless you're the goat of course, then just fresh!).

once in a 'blue moon' - but we nearly missed it!
Another day we went into the village to meet Nick and Willie et al. for some lunch.  Willie's daughter and her partner were over to visit him and guess what ---- they live in Brighton !! (Mochlos is a small place and it's a small world too).  Oh and then we saw Willie & Liz at the next full moon and this time they had some friends with them who live in Bognor Regis (still quite close to us!) and he used to work in Steyning (even closer to us!).  Talking of the full moon, we were fortunate enough to be here for three full moons this summer - two of which were in August, so I think the second one is known as a 'blue' moon. 

cheers to the full moon (just visible at the top of pic)
Anyhow, as you probably know by now the moon rises up between the mountains and is a rather spectacular sight.  However, we nearly missed it at the end of August - we were sitting on the balcony having a pre-supper glass of wine and suddenly there is was popping it's head up.  So, I quickly grabbed the camera and took some shots.  When we got down to the village, Giorgis told us that it was a 'fast moon' that evening - he wasn't joking!

rock cut tomb with 'dromos'
(entrance way)
You're probably wondering if we've been up to anything archaeologically related recently (yes you are!) - well we 'discovered' some rock cut chamber tombs in Mochlos village.  We knew they were here of course but we hadn't been to see them before, mainly because we weren't sure exactly where they were.   There are 31 of them and they are 'typical' chamber tombs, most provided with a dromos (or entrance way), and an irregular chamber measuring 1.3 to 3 m across and barely high enough for one to stand upright. Each normally held one or two burials that were placed in terracotta sarcophagi or in pithoi, most of which were decorated. One particularly interesting point I read about the burials is that many of the tombs were used by male-female couples - with the tomb being re-opened and the first burial moved to make way for the second (they liked to move their bodies around did the Minoans or rather the Mycenaean as they were at time of this cemetery, late 15th century BC).
another tomb !

Actually we were looking for a 'labyrinth' - or rather an 'pavement' of one made out of local stones and rocks and resembling the one on the floor of Chartres cathedral.  Why ? - well one day we were sitting outside our apartment and an american (I think) stopped and asked us if we knew where the labyrinth in Mochlos was.  Well, we thought we knew most places here but clearly not - they had seen a reference to it on 'things to do' after a blog about a return to Mochlos, which strangely I had read but didn't see the reference at the bottom about a labyrinth (that blog is here if you are interested   Anyhow, we couldn't help this person, but the next day decided we would try to find it ourselves - we failed but we did come across the Minoan tombs in the hillside. 

the labyrinth - or rather where it was, I've marked a circle
to show roughly its location
Now, we don't like to be defeated by anything so I emailed the person who had written the blog and asked where the labyrinth was.  To my surprise I got an almost immediate reply and so armed with instructions we set off again to search for the labyrinth.  Well, we found it, or rather we found what was left of it - unfortunately there is very little to see of it today. 

If you are interested (and this is in case the gentleman who asked us happens to read this blog) it's up behind an old winnowing circle on the road out towards the harbour, beyond the car park and just past a house that is currently being constructed (oh that'll be the 'villa' that is being built by our friend Nick!).  I took what photos I could, but I've had to put a 'circle' in to show you where the labyrinth is/was.  However, then I found one on internet of what it used to look like (Linda, if it's your photo I hope you don't mind me using it here).

the labyrinth as it looked in 2009

So, we've now had to start saying our farewells to those we know and those we've met for the first time this year.  Last night saw us down at Bogazi's tavern for the Sunday night live music with our new friend Vagelis, who on this occasion was accompanied by Angelos.  We had a request played for us - I have to confess I'm not entirely sure what the song is called (or what it's about !)  but we like the music and it has a chorus that goes paei, paei (I think it's about leaving and being sorrowful!).
Angelos & Vagelis playing for us
Dud made a new friend in Kokylia's taverna the other evening - one of the more healthy looking local cats seemed to be quite happy sitting up on a 'shelf' next to our table - sweet!  And talking of 4-legged friends, we've been very happy to met Leon and Nera, the dogs who belong to Katia who looks after the Bella Vista apartments behind us.  It's been lovely seeing them every day as Katia takes them out for a walk - and Katia is lovely too of course !
Dud and 'friend' at Kokylia
So, all good things must come to an end, but we've still got two more days and evenings to enjoy wonderful Mochlos - until the next time that is!  So, we are planning to have supper out at Dimitris this evening and then say our farewells to everyone in Kokylia on Tuesday.  Oh and somewhere in between I'll have to fit in the packing - half the battle of which will be 'relocating' all our stuff from the various places it has migrated during our time here.
Nera, Katia & Leon

We hope you've enjoyed reading about our time in Mochlos - we've certainly enjoyed writing about it and of course for those who will see us when we are back there are plenty more photos .........but for now I'll end this blog with (yet) another photo of the moon, which sometimes is even more spectacular a few days after the full moon has risen.
moonrise over Mochlos


Wednesday, 15 August 2012

No mean feet !

Good job we had some time to relax at the beginning of last week, as we were certainly busy by Wednesday!  On the Monday we had gone over to the American Archaeology school in Pachia Amos to meet Tina, who's an osteoarchaeologist we had met at Dudley's talk.  Anyhow, Tina showed us round the place and introduced us to Sydney from American who has been helping her this year with her work at the centre.

view from the American 'school' across the mountains
(and what then became our lunchtime view)

So, after we got back I sent Tina an email to thank her for her time and said we'd be happy to help out if there was anything we could practically do.  To my surprise she replied to say "yes" there were a large number of foot phalanges (toe bones) that needed to be sorted and recorded if we wanted to do that!  So, Wednesday through to Sunday saw us spending each day going in to Pachia Amos and sorting and recording toe bones! 
beginning the big (toe) sort

To give you some background (I know you're interested really!), the bones come from a cave in the Lasithi plateau which was found when dynamiting was being done to make way for a new road.  The cave had been used an an ossuary for the secondary burial of Minoan skeletal remains (so the original burials were elsewhere), with most of them being placed in the cave around 1600BC.  The excavators believe that the bones were transferred to the cave on one or possibly two occasions separated by a short interval of time, from tombs in the vicinity.  Now, being a secondary burial site, there are no 'burials' as such, so each bone has to be treated as a separate indidivual - and each human body has 206 bones.  Oh, and the number of skulls so far excavated exceeds 400 - so we are talking about a lot of bones here.

As I said earlier, we were given the task of sorting and recording the toe bones (phalanges to give them their osteological name).  What this actually meant was separating them out into which toe they belonged to, and then which part of the toe (more details - the big toe has 2 bones in it and all the others have 3).  We started by sorting out the big toes and then moved onto the others later on.  By Sunday afternoon we'd managed to sort, record and bag all the phalanges that there were - around 750 individual bones! Dud was phalanged-out!
Dud hard at it with the toes

down to the last few phalanges
One of the bonuses of helping out was that Tina showed us some of the skulls that had been found which, interestingly (yes really!) had examples of head trauma, some of which were definitely deliberate injuries (so much for the Minoans being peaceful then).  In particular we saw a woman who had sustained a very forceful blow to the left side of her forehead, and a man with three injuries on the left side of his head - possibly from something like a sling-stone.  Anyhow, we were quite excited to be shown these skulls - well I think Sydney and I slightly more so than Dudley.
Sydney and I get up close to one of the skulls

The T-shirts in all their glory

We had to be finished by Sunday as Tina was off to Chania on the Monday to look at a site being excavated where there was a female skeleton that she was asked to go and look at and help excavate - some people have all the fun!  Anyhow, we were really pleased to have been able to help her and Sydney finish off the 'feet' before Tina packed away for next year - so we may be back!  As a thank-you, Tina gave us customised t-shirts, which we had to wear for the 'team photo' !  (In case you can't read it in the photo, the T-shirts say "This year in Crete......I learned all I wanted to know about Minoan feet!"

Team Photo - 'high fives', we've finished!

We were definitely quite tired by the end of Sunday and spent most evenings of the week eating in, apart from the Thursday when we went to Bogazi's taverna to see Vagelis and Yiannis and their live music.  On that evening, there were a couple of other musicians staying in Mochlos who turned up with instruments and just joined in - it was really good.  There was also a couple of men who gave a demonstration of dancing - and they had great moustaches !
Yiannis & Vagelis (with me)

So, after all the excitment of last week, we planned a quiet few days this week......but on Monday we went into the village to meet Nick whose daughter and grand-daughters were over - she is going to get married in Aghios Nikolaos next year, so we've set a trend !  Then yesterday, after a visit to Panagiotis we decided to try a new taverna and went to the one owned by Dimitris (a friend of Panagiotis) and it was really good - the food was delicious and we had a long chat with Dimitris after we had eaten, and Dudley was presented with a new set of worry beads, or Kombol√≥i  as they are known.  Maybe next week will be quiet then.................

dancing demonstration

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Just the two of us....

Well, now that everyone from the UK has gone back it's been just the two of us for the past week or so and I thought there wouldn't be that much to write (we seem to have been relaxing a lot), however, looking back over my log it seems we have done one or two things after all.

opening slide from Jeff's talk - also in Greek !

A week ago Friday we went down to the village to listen to a talk given by Jeff Soles about the excavations and new discoveries on the island of Mochlos (Jeff is the director of excavations on the island at Mochlos, he's from the University of North Carolina but in the summer is based in Mochlos) .  The talk was in the Kafeneo part of Kokylia's taverna and was in Greek (because is was mainly aimed at the local residents).  However, it did have pictures so we were able to follow it (just about).   One thing we 'discovered' during the talk was the the fort on the top of the island is Byzantine and it's the walls surrounding it that are Hellenistic (4th century BC).

Mochlos island: dark blue is Byzantine, light blue
is Hellenistic (4th c BC)

The following day Panagiotis from Mochlos Mare invited us to join him (so also Sterie, Maria, Demeter & Giorgis) to go to a festival in Sfaka (the next village up the mountain and also where Panagiotis comes from).  So, early evening found us in the car with Panagiotis & Sterie setting off to Safka.  Once there we were charged an entrance fee (kindly paid by Panagioits), which gave us a free raki glass as a souvenir and covered the cost of the band.  Once checked in, we sat outside on long tables, had chicken, souvlaki and chips plus wine/raki purchased in plastic bottles - it was great and we felt really Greek!!  Everyone seemed to dance and I even managed to join in !
you can (just) see the band beyond the balloons and table
'our' table at the Sfaka festival
Giorgis gives me a dance lesson

dancing - Greek style
After a couple of quiet days it was time on Tuesday for Dudley to give a talk to the American archaeologists in the Kafeneo where Jeff did his a few days ago.  The main difference being Dudley's talk was in English !  Anyhow, before the talk there were drinks and food 'on the house' (well the Americans) and then around 9pm Dud started his talk - which was on early British travellers to Crete.  He concentrated on Thomas Abel Brimage Spratt (great name!), who had been the main focus of his PhD dissertation.  The talk seemed to go down very well, with quite a few people coming up to chat afterwards, and a Prof. Rupp, Director of the Canadian Institute in Greece, inviting him to talk in Athens. Another indication of it being a good night is that we didn't get home until just after 2am !
Dudley giving his talk (he's on the right!)
the night before the full moon rising

We then had just one more 'restful' day before we went back into the village to meet up with Nick, Heather, Willie & Liz from Istron (plus a couple of their friends) to have supper and watch the full moon come up over the mountains.  Unfortunately my pictures of the moon rising did not come out that well so I can only offer one of the evening before the full moon (1st August) and then one of the full moon over Nick's head !!

full moon table

getting in some rest and relaxation
So after all that excitement, it was time for some more rest and relaxation - could be another busy week ahead !

Friday, 27 July 2012

And so .... to 'The Day'..

We were pleased (really) to hear that the UK has finally had some more summery weather than of late, and temperatures in the high 20s C (at least for those in the south of the country, I don't think Scotland and Wales fared so well!).

Sunset over the mountains
One of the great sights out here, as far as nature is concerned is the sunset and last Friday we went up to a taverna called Pixidia (of the seafood salad of early posts), with Laurance, Jackie, Jim & Susie to have supper whilst we watched the sun set over the mountains - very beautiful, although as is the case out here, if you are high up and take photos you will always get telephone wires in the shot!

Talking of good views, here is one from when we went to Plaka back at the end of June and sat looking out over the water to Spinalonga island and generally having a very relaxing and restful time.
It's a tough life

So, back to the present and the main 'event' of the last week was our 1st Anniversary celebration in Kokylia's taverna on Sunday.  The day before we had gone over to the island with Jackie & Laurance for another trek up to the hillfort and over to the tombs before having our photo taken back at the church on the island, almost a year to the day from our wedding. 
22nd July 2011
21st July 2012 - 1 year on

who's Spartacus then !
Of course, Dud & Laurance couldn't resist clambering up to the top of the hill fort and posing (well almost) for a photo - what is it with boys and 'castles' ?

Since we're reminiscing about last year (well, we are anyway), we thought we'd remind ourselves (again) what a fantastic wedding day we had when our friend Nick brought us back from the wedding ceremony to Mochlos on his boat.
setting off for Mochlos on 'our' boat last year
So, Sunday we had a fairly quiet day, although we did pop down to Mochlos Mare to collect a cake that Sterie had made for us and some flowers from their garden. 
Then, in the evening it was back to the 'scene of the crime' from last year for our celebratory anniversary supper. As always Giorgo and his team looked after us really well and we couldn't have asked for a more delicious menu of food, wine and raki. 

it's a scapula!

The main meat of the meal was lamb, and of course Dud & I couldn't resist pointing out to the rest of the table exactly which part of the animal they were eating - in this case (picture to the right) the scapula (shoulder) !

somebody made us laugh

 As well as some friends from the UK, we also had our Greek contingent from Mochlos Mare plus Willie who had been 'crew' on the boat last year.

Although we don't speak much Greek and Sterei, her brother Giorgo and his wife Demeter don't speak much English, we all managed to understand each other and even crack a few jokes.

After wine & raki we can understand each other perfectly!
As one example of how confusing the language can be, the Greek word for dog, skilos sounds (well to me anyway) very similar to what I thought Giorgis was saying when he calls his dog - however the dog's name is not 'dog' but Stelios !

view of table
All in all a great celebration - who's coming next year then !
drinking raki
After all that excitment on Sunday, we've had a rather restful week, Laurance and Jackie returned to the UK on Monday morning (yes, that's only a few hours after we had finished the party, they had to leave for the airport - actually they did take their leave a little early than everyone else!). 

Then on Tuesday we took Jim & Susie to visit Gournia (probably our favourite Minoan site at the moment), stopping off for a snack on the way back at the Panorama taverna (opposite Pixidia) where we were treated to an aerial display from some birds of prey, including what I think was a short-toed eagle (at least that's the closest I could find on the internet - see what you think).

my attempt to capture the eagle on photo

 It was certainly a magnificent bird, looked quite a lot larger than the falcons we are used to seeing, but was amazingly graceful as it flew - although as it was circled by two falcons, it was possibly after something they were guarding, perhaps their young.

is this it - from Wikipedia

Friday, 20 July 2012

The 3Rs - Running, Richtis & Raki

Gosh, another week gone by - how did that happen so quickly !

one of the views from our apartment
'Scooby' - we don't his real name yet, but he lives next door
Well last weekend saw us 'pop down' to the village both days for a quick bite of lunch and couple of drinks, only to end up still out at 7pm.  Firstly we went down on our own to sit in the Kafeneo part of Kokylia and got so much into people watching and generally watching the world go by, that suddenly it was early evening and Nikki had plied us with a couple of carafes of raki to help while away the hours.  Then, as if we hadn't learnt that lunch in the village can be dangerous, we went back the next day to meet our friends Nick and Heather for Sunday lunch which lasted on into the early evening - no raki this time, just a few jugs of rose wine (or 'reddish' as it says on the carton in the shop!).

Roman Fish Tanks at Mochlos

Anyhow, whilst we watched the world go by we also noticed that the Roman fish tanks were more visible because of the current so here they are again, hope you can see them as clearly as we can.  Actually, Nick & Heather are another example of a 'small world' experience as Dud knew them many years ago when he lived in Wales, then lost touch.  Then a couple of years ago, heard from a mutual friend that they had bought some property in Crete - guess where that turned out to be - Mochlos!!

More visitors arrived this week, firstly Laurance and Jackie who bravely took the night flight over to Heraklion - along with several groups of young people off for a good time in Malia.  Shame they (the 'young people')won't see much of Crete, but there you are, that's youth for you.
back in Aghios, scene of last year's wedding ceremony - aaahhh
On Tuesday, we all went into Aghios Nicoloas (or Ag. Nik. for short) to do a spot of window shopping, but it was so hot (37 degrees) that we had to stop for refreshments.  We went to Cafe du Lac, which was where we waited last year before our wedding ceremony, so very nostalgic.  We also went back to the 'scene of the crime' for a photo, almost a  year on - aaahhh.
Mochlos church on the hill

Interior of the church
view back to Mochlos from the church on the hill
Still feeling quite hot, we stopped off at the Tholos beach in Kavousi where Laurance and I went for a swim, whilst Jackie & Dud took more refreshments.  As if that wasn't enough 'exercise' for the day, Dud and I then walked up to the hill church in Mochlos, where the views are quite stunning.  As it would have been my dad's 82nd birthday I decided to light a candle in the church, which is very small and very pretty, as well as having stunning views.

Wednesday, and on to the 3Rs - we started the day with a run and a chat with Panagiotis on our way back.  Then it was time for our third trip to the Richtis waterfall - 'sherpa Dud' is now a dab hand finding his way through the forest.  To make it a little different, we took a 'picnic' - well, a small fanta bottle with wine in it, plus tomatoes and a round cucumber from Panagiotis' garden, and very nice it was too. 

Also we 'braved' the water - VERY cold but worth it once you were in!
Dud & Laurance 'brave' the waterfall

Yes, that's me you can
just about see......
We dined 'in' that evening, making use of the multitude of fresh fruit and vegetables that we have been given from the garden at Mochlos Mare - and finishing the meal off with some honey raki that I had bought in Ag. Nik. - different but rather nice!

selection of fresh produce
from Mochlos Mare garden
Yesterday, Jim & Susie flew in to join us so we drove over to the airport to pick them up, going via Manolis' cafe in Knossos for a coffee whilst we waited for their flight to arrive.  The day ended with us having supper in Bogazi's accompanied by Greek music from Vagelis and Yiannis - very nice ... oh, and rather a lot of wine and raki (there's a surprise!)