Crete Part X: Xavia

After Matala, the second most colorful city we visited was Chania (Χανιά in Greek, and pronounced “Hanya” with a guttural “h” like the end of “loch”).  It is the second largest city on Crete, but that’s not really saying much—there are less than 54,000 residents, so it’s certainly not a big city. Like the rest of the island, there is very little hustle and bustle and a whole lot of taking it easy and doing whatever you want.

Our explorations of Chania’s “old town” district started at Chania Cathedral, which was a dark and cramped Greek Orthodox church. I didn’t take any photos inside, but it was full of old paintings and lots of little punched-tin cards depicting images of legs and women and babies and such. Apparently, these are prayer cards, and devotees will hang them up in the church when they come to pray for specific needs for themselves or for loved ones.

Next, we wandered through the labyrinthine alleyways, where we talked to an artist (who somehow knew that I paint!), admired some incredible hand-stitched embroidery, and escaped the clutches of an overzealous restaurateur who tried to force us to stop and eat. Chania is a fun mix of color, antiquity, and artistry. Wherever we went, there was something lovely just around the corner.

Personally, I think the harbor was the best part. The view was incredible—both looking out to sea, and looking inland at the colorful shops, houses, and restaurants curving around the harbor. The water was so clear that we could see little silver fish, sea urchins, and even a crab.

Chania was probably my favorite of all the places we explored. I wish we could have stayed longer, but I guess I’ll just have to go back someday!

Read more about my Cretan adventure here.

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