Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Warmth of a Smile and a Fountain Full of Lions

We were met at the port in Heraklion at 7 in the morning by Anna, whose ready laugh and humor set the tone for our stay in Crete: This was to be an incredibly different experience from Athens in that Anna was determined we were to slow down, laugh, see what there was to see but – above all – never hurry.
We were settled into suites provided at Anna’s Kalimerna Village Hotel in Piscopiano just outside Heraklion to rest until a late lunch.

TJ and I unpacked in what turned out to be our little house with a living room, bathroom, kitchen and two bedrooms and I had the chance to open my violin case and play a bit to relax; this last resulted in Anna’s directive to bring the violin to the evening’s Rotary club meeting.

The meeting was to take place at a hotel in Heraklion owned by the very chic Maria, but before the hotel we stopped by a salon owned by the club president, Giannis, where we were given gifts and the girls were left to have their hair done. (This is also where we met another gorgeous soul: Fo-fo.)

While the girls were being pampered, Anna took Tj and I for a walk in the center of Heraklion. My first impression of the city was one of magic, laughter and soft lights off of incredible window displays, music drifting from full cafes, the saffron-and-purple lit lion fountain in the central square and, as ever in Crete, the laughter and enthusiasm of Anna.

Once we had collected the girls we went to the Rotary meeting in the rooftop restaurant of Maria’s hotel. There was more Greek than English available in the room, but we never for a moment felt out of place or anything but very welcome.

The club secretary, Sophia, translated our presentation for us and after a wonderful dinner (which was made a lot of fun by Voula’s conversation) we heard wonderful young musicians from the school of Ms. Marianne play flute and classical guitar and I played a piece improvised for that evening on my violin. After many, many, manymanymanymanymany photographs and much laughter we went home – in one afternoon of Anna’s hospitality it began to feel like home – to Piscopiano for a night’s sleep.

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