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FISHERS OF … FISH? (Chania Chatter 6)


Our second week here in Chania is going much faster than our first week and we still have a lot to pack in before we go back to the UK. We are both hampered by heavy colds which is rather annoying since the weather, after a couple of showery days, is hot and sunny once again. But … Julia has a ‘things to do list’ which means that we won’t miss out on anything!?

First on the list is another visit to the beach five minutes walk from our apartment just along the coast from the old port. We decide against going for a swim because of our colds (although Julia has ‘a cunning plan’ to fit at least one other swim in the Mediterranean in before we go home). We have heard a lot about the beautiful sunsets to be seen from our favourite beach so we wait until late afternoon before leaving our apartment. To get to our beach we have to walk through one of the fishing ports which is great fun as we see the local fishermen baiting their nets and lines ready to go out for an evening’s fishing in their small boats. There are quite a few restaurants here all serving freshly caught local fish and on the spur of the moment we decide to have an early dinner out and watch the sun go down as we dine. We go to restaurant that has tables on a small pier and order a couple of dishes of sea food to share and some local beer to wash it all down with. Actually, we only meant to have one dish … but it kind of turned into a party as the evening unfolded.

We have a nice young waiter who introduces himself to us. ‘My name is George’ he says … well it was bound to be wasn’t it!? He is greatly amused by the way Julia orders everything both for herself and for me … Greek culture seems to still be very man centred it would seem … and that I allow her to do so. I try and explain that it is fine by me because we are equals and after 26 years of marriage Julia understands me better than I understand myself. He is shocked … not so much by the fact that I allow Julia to organise me … but because we have been married longer than he has been alive?!

The food is great, the sunset is spectacular, and we have a great evening. George gives me the bill … and then realises that he has made a mistake and gives it to Julia instead!

The next morning Julia’s ‘cunning plan’ to get another swim in is revealed. She has booked us in for a trip on one of the Glass Bottom Boats that leave the harbour at regular intervals and take their passengers out to a small island – a former leper colony – about 20 minutes away. There we can watch the numerous fish swimming in the sea via the glass panels in the bottom of the boat. There are about 10 of us in the boat including the Captain and the Tour Guide (who also doubles up as a diver to ’round up’ the fish for us when we get to the island). He tells us that his name is … wait for it … Nikos! Got you there didn’t I?!

It is great fun. Julia goes snorkelling. Nikos puts on all his gear – wet suit, weighted belt, huge frog flippers, posh snorkel, etc. and jumps in and attracts loads of fish with the special ‘fish food’ he has brought with him. He swims under the boat and blows bubbles at us from under the glass bottom. On the return journey Julia does her impression of a certain scene from the movie Titanic … well, ‘My heart will go on’ does make a change from ‘Blackbird’? Nikos tells us something of the history of Chania Old Town. And it all makes for a very enjoyable trip.

Today we are shopping … buying various gifts, mementos, bits and pieces we want to take back to the UK with us. We pass one of our favourite clothes shops where we have already bought several tee shirts. There is a tee shirt on display that has numerous fish symbols – similar to the ancient fish symbol that the early Christians used as a secret sign that they were indeed Christians – which I am tempted to buy but don’t in the end because, on reflection, I think it is pretty naff. I don’t think the designer had any religious motivation behind his or her design – I think it was just a design they liked.

We also use the time to visit one or two museums we have not seen yet. At the Byzantine Museum I get in for half price because I am over 65. At the Archeological Museum we both get in for free since we are both students! I suggest that because I am both a student and beyond pensionable age they should actually pay me to go in and look around?! Other tourists in the queue think this is a good idea … and everybody thinks that it is wonderful that someone of my advanced age should actually go back to university and try and get a degree. I maintain a dignified, humble silence.

After shopping we are sitting in a cafe having a coffee when a tourist walks by wearing a tee shirt with ‘Reading New Life Church’ emblazoned on the front of it. He sees a man sitting near us wearing one of the fish symbol tee shirts. He approaches him and says, ‘I like your fish symbol tee shirt … are you a Christian?’ ‘No!’ replies the man, ‘I just like fishing!’

Jim Binney

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