K is for Kaiki

ABC Wednesday

K is a wonderful letter for anyone who lives in Crete. In Greek the word for Crete is Kphth (pronounced Kriti). There are so many places that begin with the Greek letter Kappa or K that it is unbelievable. But for me one of the most memorable things about Crete, and of course the rest of Greece, is the kaiki. The kaiki is a small boat made of wood that is used in the Ionian, the Aegean and Cretan seas mostly for fishing, but of course today they can be used for trips or whatever.

Here is a photograph of the small fishing port in Rethymno and you can see all the kaikis waiting for the hour when the best fishing begins.

The Old Port of Rethymno Crete

The Old Port of Rethymno Crete

But kaikis are all over the island, wherever there is a port. Large ones and small ones. Some go out every day just to get a catch that will satisfy the taverna owners, others land a catch that will end up in a market such as Iraklion or Hania. Some places on the south coast of Crete have very small harbours. Here is a photograph that I took in the south of Hania province in a tiny village called Frangokastello.

Kaiki by the castle of Frangokastello

Kaiki by the castle of Frangokastello

Frangokastello means Frankish Castle, actually built by the Venetian occupiers of Crete from the 13th to the 17th century when the entire island of Crete was renamed Candia for the period. This castle was built to deal with the south western Cretans, the Sfakians, who never accepted the rule of anyone other than themselves. Yet here in Frangokastello, set by the sea a long way from the high mountain bases of the Sfakians, the Venetians found themselves ignored. The Sfakians continued their turbulent behaviour conveniently bypassing the castle with it’s small troop of Venetian soldiers. It must have been a nice place to spend your time, even in those days.

Who owns the kaiki in the photograph? It is the splendid taverna, right here on the sea front of this exquisite beach.

John Sooklaris’ Latest Video Crete 1961

I just had an email from John Sooklaris that said:

Ray, If I had realized that these movies that I sat and watched when I was a kid, and fell asleep to, as my father would show them to all of our relatives, time and time again, would create such interest in the world, I would have posted them a long time ago when my father was alive. Alas, I am happy with the interest that we have received by people like yourself, and my mother is, no doubt, flattered by the interest as well. Yes, I just happened to visit your site yesterday, before receiving this message and even changed the one about Akrotiri in which you said I was confused. I wasn’t really confused, but just ignorant to all of the places in these videos. With the help of people, like yourself, we’ll get this all straightened out so we can properly inform our viewers. But I did take your word for it and changed it to the Agia Triada in Akrotiri. I will read your other comments on the other videos as well, as I do care about the quality of information that I post. Thanks for your help, as I continue to post the remaining videos from that time. John Sooklaris

Here is the latest video from John – part 1 0f 2:

I don’t recognise the first memorial, but the second after a minute or so is certainly the memorial south of Hania on the Omalos road at the Alikiarnos junction. This is a memorial to those dead in the last war when the Germans occupied Crete. There is listed the names of those killed in around five local villages. In the basement of this memorial is a glass ossuary containing many skulls of those killed, each with a bullethole over the right ear.

Later in this movie I see the hospital in Rethymnon which was newly built in those days. The big ceremony/festival near the end of the movie is certainly in Eleftheriou Square (Freedom Square) in Iraklion. That’s the one with all the crowds and marching soldiers. If you watch carefully you will see the Iraklion Morosini¬† Fountain twice.

Here is part 2 of 2 of this film.

The first part of this film is obviously a trip eastwards from Iraklion towards Agios Nicholas. The first part of the film is a stop at St Georges church in the gorge of Selinari near the village of Vrahassi. I remember this place on the first bus I took when I arrived in Crete going to Agios Nicholas. No Cretan can pass this shrine without stopping. The whole busload got out and said a quiet prayer here.

Most of the rest of the film is taken in Agios Nicholas – you can clearly see the small lake with the boats that connects to the sea. The final part of the film is I feel taken on a trip to the Lassiti Plateau – you can see the windpumps/windmills.

If any of you out there can do better than me and identify more of the places in the film, of which there may be several, then I and John would be grateful. Please post a comment.

I would appreciate it and so would John Sooklaris. In memory of his father who took these great films.

Crete, a Dam and Life.

Ti na karnoume – what can we do? Life goes on. This week has been a quiet week in the village. Last Friday we had the quiz at a taverna interestingly called A Popsi. Then, the next day, I drove up to the Amari valley to see Lampros at the taverna Aravanes to give him the second copy of the Crete Courier newspaper which contained my article about the Amari and mentioned him. He was over the moon. We got a free double coffee and Ann, my wife, got several gifts of mountain tea and Laurel. (We call them Bay Leaves in English).

Back down we came past the incredible dam. A huge construction around 30 Km south of Rethymnon that seems to have been built by both the Rethymnon Water company and the Agricultural water company with a lot of help from the European Commission. Interestingly it has no turbines to generate electricity, or so Lampros told me. Anyway, the dam will (hopefully) fill two valleys with water.


The only village to be affected is the village with no name, at least no signs, that lies before the dam under the proposed water level. Empty houses and buildings and olive trees cut down to preserve their wood for future winter fires. It is like a desert in a sense, no people, sawn off trees and the expectation of water.

I hope it fills. They close the dam in December as I am reliably informed in the hope that in time it will fill. But having seen the Amari and knowing that the island of Crete is largely limestone, I have my doubts. But who can deny the enterprise, the work that it has taken to build this largely unknown dam and the local quarries for the stone.


The current road winds gently down under the future water levels then up and round the dam. When the dam fills the road will go a different way, a stunning way. You can see the formation of the new road as it climbs up towards the dam. Then it goes across the top of the dam. Straight across the top of the wall and onto the other side of the valley where it stays above water level and joins, eventually, the old road to the Amari. The road has still not yet been finished, but we shall see.


Anyway, on we go towards Rethymno across the incredible Venetian bridge on this unknown road. Over the pass and onto the new road just built down the valley. As the new road ends we get into the winding roads of Rethymno and finally get back to the National Road and are only allowed to get onto it towards Iraklion. Who knows, what is a U-turn between friends?