The Fortezza of Rethymno is basically an old Venetian fortress. Its construction dates back to 1573, and then the Ottomans took over, and it was inhabited. A lot of the houses were destroyed during the war, and very little, aside from a small church and a much larger mosque with a couple of other buildings remain. It’s a short walk through the Venetian quarter, through the pretty streets (and sometimes past cute windows like the one below) up to the fortress on the hill above.
It’s fairly desolate within the walls of the fortress and there is so little that actually remains it makes you wonder just how big and grand it must have been when it was inhabited. I joked with Andrew that the large mosque built right next to the little church reminded me of North Korea building a taller flag pole across the DMZ from South Korea’s flag pole. We battled the wind throughout, and took multiple stops to simply admire the view of the beautiful sea below.
After the fortress, we found the most amazing gyro restaurant. Only Cretans seemed to be eating there and when the cook took our order in the most curt way, we knew we picked the right restaurant. The menu wasn’t in seven different languages. There wasn’t a sign in Russian. We were lucky there was English on the menu, but if you know us by now, you know that wouldn’t have stopped us from ordering a few different things to try even if it was us pointing to something in Greek without a clue what it was. What I won’t eat, Andrew will, so it’s a win/win for us both. We lingered, not wanting to be in the sun anymore, and had a few Mythos instead of strolling around more jewelry shops and squeezing through groups of tourists. After nine months of summer, I’ve begun to realize the importance of winter, and just like most of the Cretans, we snuck inside to rest- with another Game of Thrones episode of course.
Later that night, our favorite older hostel roommate returned to our room, promptly took off his shirt, and asked us where we were from.
“America?” he asked. “Aren’t you afraid to walk on the streets?” Confused, obviously, I asked him why would I be afraid.
“Because of all of the shooting. Everyone has guns in America. Isn’t it true?” I stopped myself from rolling my eyes, and instead we both gently laughed and informed him that not everyone has guns and that we aren’t afraid to walk around our country at all… Andrew and I were both answering at the same time, when suddenly he got rather indignant about Andrew’s grammar. Who knows if Andrew was right or wrong, as it’s more likely the older Dutchman misheard us speaking at the same time.
“You said much. It is many. I don’t think you are really American. You said much and it is many.” He wouldn’t let it go. Andrew was barely paying attention having signed out of the conversation after the gun debacle. The Dutchman kept repeating himself, waiting for Andrew to respond, to the point where I had to nudge Andrew and tell him of his poor grammar.
To which Andrew responded, “I AM American and I’m an English teacher, too!”
I was intrigued by the entire exchange, wondering if this was going to be our first face to face anti-American encounter of our entire trip. I was also intrigued from an English teacher’s point of view and from a traveler of nine months that anyone who speaks English as a second language would feel the need to point out someone else’s simple grammar mistake (one that Andrew probably didn’t even make in the first place).
It was so strange… and it didn’t stop there.
“You can go outside and work outside. Beds are for sleeping.” He said, looking at our open computers. We had been checking emails before watching another Game of Thrones episode (don’t judge) in bed before going to sleep. Until his arrival, we were the only ones in the room. We had headphones out. Watching a movie or an episode of tv in a dorm room this way has never been an issue. Granted, our bunkmates have always been under the age of thirty. Another girl came in at this point and ducked down so I could see her rolling her eyes after having heard him.
“Well, this is a dorm room, and you have your bed, and I have mine. I don’t want to go outside to be on my computer, I want to be here, in the bed that I am paying for, just like you are paying for your bed.” I said, in my most polite voice, you know, that kind of polite that probably won’t last long…
“But you are not sleeping, and that is what beds are for. Go outside on your computer.” He repeated himself.
“And dorms are also for keeping our clothes on, but you aren’t doing that, so it’s ok for me to be in my bed without sleeping.” I said, as Andrew slid his hand over to squeeze my leg. “If it’s a problem, there are four empty beds on the other side of the room, you can sleep there!” I tried again, to be polite. My new friend ducked down so I could see her and rolled her eyes again.
“Is there a problem?” She stepped in, demanding in French in the same I’ll-try-to-be-polite-to-you kinda voice. I could have kissed her. She motioned to the other beds and told him he could sleep there, but he seemed to let it go quickly thereafter. She motioned to me that he was crazy when he wasn’t looking. Andrew moved to the bed in between me and the Dutchman. We plugged our headphones in. Our new friend said goodbye to us before she left and throughout the rest of the night, others came in, opening up their computers to check their email before they went to sleep.
I like dorms. I like guesthouses that offer budget options. If I’m not sleeping in the dorms or even tents sometimes set up outside, it’s a great way to meet people and if nothing else, have a good story to share later on – be it good or bad. I also like the occasional night in a dorm because it makes me appreciate having our own room oh so much more.