in Greece 2015

Crete, you’re beautiful, baby


A seaside restaurant at sunset in Chania.

πρωθυπουργός  (proth-eep-oor-GOS) – n.: prime minister

CHANIA, July 17 — By the end of my two-week intensive session, I was occasionally being asked where in western Crete I was from. But I’m not kidding too many people; next year, I have to come back just to work on my accent. 

Thursday, I was treated to a tour of the home of Eleftherios Venizelos, the father of the modern Greek state, sort of like George Washington and Abraham Lincoln combined. Then dinner at another restaurant with a  spectacular seaside view (see photo above).

Today, my final day of class, Prime Minister Tsipras reshuffled his cabinet, removing several ministers who had not supported the third bailout. (Tsipras, admitting openly that the deal was bad, moved to instill discipline in his party. Overall, I couldn’t imagine him handling his cabinet differently.) My teacher gave me a graduation certificate, saying I was well into B1-level Greek and quite a way into B2.  I suppose it helped to grow up with experience in the language. But still, I’m having something of an “I know kung fu” moment. 

By the way, I highly recommend the Kleis school in Chania, and its director, Angela Sgourou, for your Greek-learning needs. She, too, is a prime minister. 

I also had coffee (also by the seaside) with professors from the Technical University of Crete, who made the presentations Monday on Constantine Doxiadis. Doxiadis was an architect and city planner who was an early pioneer of what would become New Urbanism. (I recommend this description of him, except for his belief in the separation of car and foot traffic, which was his biggest mistake. Nevertheless, he was a far sight better for city planning than Le Corbusier — ah, don’t get me started on Corby.) Anyway, the conversation was lively, and I learned a lot that may be useful for my thesis work…not that I expected to get any further on that while here, so that’s a plus.  

Next stop: a side trip to Kissamos, and then on to Athens.