Chania? Rethymno? Not only their inhabitants are divided on the question which one is Crete’s most beautiful city. So the choice was up to me, too, when I visited Greece this October …
As one of the first “true ambassadors” – a programme launched by the Greek National Tourism Organization – I toured Crete for a week, always in quest of #truegreece moments. I posted impressions, photos, videos and podcast interviews on my Twitter account @TravelLiveCC. My real time report was featured not only on www.TravelLive.cc, but also on other partner websites.
After spending a day in both Chania and Rethymno, I had made my mind up: It was the latter that had charmed me more than any other city … You are asking me why? First of all – I experienced unforgettable encounters with its inhabitants…
Yes, Rethymno is a great place to dive into a unique historical heritage. Memories of its Minoan, Hellenic, Roman, Byzanthine, Venetian, Ottoman and Greek past are woven deeply into its architectural structures. Just beneath a vivid texture of touristic infrastructure, of busy restaurants and buzzy tavernas, you will always discover windows which open into the past.
I strolled through quiet side alleys. I spent an evening at the fortress, watching the sunset in the Aegean Sea. In the fading daylight, it felt like travelling back in time … The world is a stage. Many came here. And yet they stayed for a short time, only to give way to others. Only to disappear without a trace. The dome of Sultan Ibrahim’s mosque. The remains of the Bishop's Palace. As different as we are: In the mirror of eternity, we are brothers and sisters.
And yet, it was not the past that charmed me as much as the present. Most of the day, I spent in the company of people from Rethymno. Katerina, the hotel owner. Pepi, the Vice-Mayor. Petros, the waiter. They told me stories that touched my soul. Stories that enriched and inspired me by the end of the day.
Looking for a place with Wifi, I dropped in a restaurant that pleased me at first glance: locals at the tables, a relaxed atmosphere. Soon, I was deep in conversation with the waiter. A little bit later, I asked him whether there was Wifi since I wanted to post my pictures, videos and impressions from the Fortezza. The waiter said no – and there it was, the #truegreece moment: "What’s your name? Gunter? I’m Petros. Now you don’t have Wifi - but you have a friend".
Thinking back to Rethymno, it’s the city where I found friends … You think, Rethymno is special? You’re right. For sure, you will find friends in any Greek city if you are open for encounters with its inhabitants. Just as I was able to experience during my stay as true ambassador. So start talking to the people - and you'll experience #truegreece!
Günter Exel, www.TravelLive.cc