Wednesday, 1 May 2019

The sun sets on another
holiday in Rethymnon

The sun sets behind Rethymnon last night … seen at Pavlos Peace in Platanias last night (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2019)

Patrick Comerford

The sun has set on yet another holiday in Greece.

It is late on Wednesday evening [1 May 2019], and I am at the airport in Chania, where I arrived last week, waiting to board a late-night flight to Dublin.

This is been the eighth consecutive year I have stayed in Rethymnon, and this is the fifth year in a row that I have stayed in Platanias, just 4.5 km east of Rethymnon on the long sandy beach that stretches for miles along on the coast.

Last night at sunset, two of us walked along the beach at Platanias watching the sun set in the Mediterranean beyond the Fortezza in Rethymnon to the west.

After a very busy time through Lent, Holy Week and Easter in the Rathkeale and Kilnaughtin Group of Parishes, two of us were back in Rethymnon to experience Orthodox Holy Week and Easter, which fell a week later in Church calendars in Greece this week.

On Good Friday, we visited a dozen churches in Rethymnon to see the decoration of the Epitaphios or bier of Christ, and in the evening followed the colourful processions through the streets, in which the Epitaphios was led by bands, colour parties and robed clergy and followed by countless numbers of people carrying candles.

The processions converged in the square in front of the Church of the Four Martyrs before returning to their respective churches.

On Saturday night, we attended the liturgy of the Resurrection on Saturday night and Sunday morning in the parish church in Tsesmes, the hillside village above La Stella, the boutique hotel in suburban Platanias, where we have been staying.

Each morning, I have enjoyed breakfast on the terrace by the pool at La Stella. Although the temperatures have been in the mid-20s for the past week, the peaks of the White Mountains are still snow-capped, the sea is still cold, and I did not get to swim in the Mediterranean during the week.

The first rain began to fall this afternoon, just before leaving Platanias for the airport. But there have been walks by the sea each day, mainly on the beach in Platanias, and at the harbours in Rehtymnon and Panormos, and there has been time by the pool too.

Platanias is only a 10-minute, €9 taxi journey into the centre of Rethhymnon, and there have days strolling around the back streets and narrow alley ways, browsing in the book shops, and seeping in the architectural and archaeological legacy of this Venetian city.

My walking averages each day have been 5.6 km, and with the healthy food I have been eating in the local restaurants each evening, it feels as though this has been a good holiday for my health. There have been long lingering lunches and dinners that seemed to last for hours with friends and in some of my favourite restaurants. Once again, the warm hospitality and genuine and generous welcome from our Greek friends and hosts have been overwhelming.

This afternoon, there was time for one last walk on the beach in Platanias before catching the bus back to Chania Airport.

I am going to the one-day Ireland v England cricket match on Friday. The journey from Dublin to Askeaton on Saturday morning may take as long as the flight from Crete to Dublin tonight.

I have a busy week next week, with three Easter Vestry meetings in the parishes. Later next week [9 May 2019], Tamworth and District Civic Society has invited me to give a lecture in Saint Editha’s Church, Tamworth, on the history of the Comberford family and the Moat House on Lichfield Street in Tamworth. The week after includes a meeting of USPG trustees in London, and a three-day meeting of the General Synod of the Church of Ireland in Derry. This has been a welcome week off before returning to a hectic schedule.

I have known Rethymnon since the 1980s, and although I have been to Greece 40 or 50 times, I keep returning here as if this was my home town in Greece. It constantly offers refreshment, reinvigoration and time for rest, retreat and reflection.

But I shall be back on another island in Greece later this year for a holiday in Corfu at the end of summer.

The snow-covered peaks of the White Mountains this morning … seen from the balcony outside my room in La Stella in Platanias this morning (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2019)

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