A Syriza rally in Rethymno, Crete encouraging Greeks to vote NO (ΟΧΙ) to the bailout conditions proposed by the Troika (EU/ECB/IMF). Alex Tsipras’ decision on Saturday 27th June to call a referendum on the (now expired) bailout offered by Greece’s creditors threw the country into turmoil. ATMs were emptied over the weekend by people desperate to get access to their savings, and banks were shuttered as capital controls were imposed the following Monday. The Greek government’s refusal of the bailout offers proposed lead to the country defaulting on an IMF debt repayment at Midnight on Tuesday 30th June, plunging Greece further into crisis. The referendum will take place on Sunday 5th June, with some analysts predicting a ‘No’ vote (as encouraged by the Syriza government) would see Greece exiting the Euro and thus the EU and Eurozone. The Greek government deny this, with Prime Minister Tsipras asserting that he remains committed to keeping Greece in the European Union.
Almost all of the restaurants and tavernas in Crete are relatively small family run businesses, which, when combined with the legendary generosity of Cretan hospitality, makes drinking, dining and socialising in Crete such an enjoyable experience. You regularly find that presiding over a great many of these establishments is a (sometimes formidable) matriarch type figure, cloaked in black, whose word is to be taken as Gospel. These women are often direct relatives of the restaurant proprietors, and pass on their culinary skills – particularly expansive knowledge of Crete’s rich history of traditional cuisine and recipes, and are even known to lend an expert helping hand in food preparation when the moment calls for it. Even when not directly related to the establishment (and I’m not sure whether this lady is or not, but I did see her sitting at this restaurant quite regularly), it is often the case that older people living near tavernas and restaurants are warmly welcomed.
These people have lived through the German occupation of Crete during the Second World War, the struggle between Communism and capitalist politics that embroiled the Greek mainland in civil war, the development of the tourism industry as an important segment of Crete’s economy, Greece and Crete’s accession to the EEC (now EU) in 1981, the arrival of the Euro in 2001, and now the Eurozone crisis and Greece’s austerity measures. All of which tends to qualify them for an opinion or two, something this waitress appears to be on the receiving end of.
Rethymno during a summer’s night is a real gift for photographers – not only is it bustling with people walking, biking, and talking animatedly to one another and into phones, but so much of the Old Town is lit and coloured beautifully thanks to the prevalence of shops selling all sorts. I really liked how the spot lights on this mini art gallery picked out the couple walking past, and how their jeans matched the blue of the Mediterranean sea in the paintings.
This is another example of Rethymno’s very popular frozen yoghurt bars, cited along the always buzzing Eleftherios Venizelos street. Yum…Me!! have a chain of restaurants in Greece, and have just opened a second cafe in Rethymno specialising in coffee and patisserie.
I love the decor of these bars, and particularly distinctive use of the company’s corporate colour scheme, which also extends to the multicoloured alfresco seating on the terrace outside the bar. What made this bar really stand out at night though was the widespread use of white and grey for the ceiling, walls, bar and floor which lent the place a modernist and almost science fiction-esque aesthetic.
This photo was taken in Georgioupoli, a small village 22km west of Rethymno on Crete’s north coast. Georgioupoli’s excellent beaches make it popular with tourists during the summer, and much of village economy is structured to take advantage of this. However fishing still plays an integral role in both the local economy and local lifestyle (and particularly cuisine!), and the village’s moorings are often packed with the archetypal small Mediterranean fishing boats immortalised on holiday postcards everywhere.
I loved the cluttered yet ornate look of this shop in Rethymno Old Town, which sells beautifully decorative ‘traditional’ style linens. I really liked the contrast between the orange top the lady carrying out some embroidering work in the shop was wearing, and the mass of linens behind her, which really makes her stand out from the shadows.
This is a fairly archetypal village street scene in Crete. Lots of the older generation in the villages tend to spend part of the day in the summertime sitting in their porches or in the street and watching the world go by, or just contemplating things. The ladies in particular still often dress in the traditionally iconic all-black clothes, just as their predecessors have done for centuries, in keeping with the largely traditional way of life which has been preserved in Crete’s villages. The village of Lappa – where this photo was taken – dates back to around the second century BC, and legend has it was founded by the heroic (and notorious) Ancient Greek king Agamemnon. The modern village Argyroupolis, sited down the mountain from Lappa, is home to natural springs.
Goody’s is the only ‘conventional’ fast food diner in Rethymno, and is well positioned at the Square of the Unknown Solider to take advantage of the hustle and bustle of the harbour strip. It’s always teeming with people, and is very popular with families. There was a McDonald’s on the harbour strip for several years but it didn’t last very long – at least Goody’s, despite being fast food, is a Greek business, and not a massive multinational. I can’t say I’ve sampled the food myself, as the quality of the local food (plus the great home-made pizza & pasta restaurant just up the road) is just too good.
Rethymno attracts all sorts of travelling visitors who like to moor at the marina and sample the many delights that this beautiful port city has to offer. I was walking around the marina enjoying the late afternoon sun when I saw this group of friends on their boat playing a board game. The backdrop of the locals walking up and down the harbour strip and the man fishing from the rocks made this too good a photo opportunity to miss.
I think this is probably the most popular kiosk in Rethymno Old Town, and is right next to one of Rethymno’s Ottoman era minarets. The kiosk does a roaring trade in cigarettes and ice creams, making it an essential stopping off point on a night out. It is also opposite what is probably my favourite bar in the world.