Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Irakleon Lunch

The main plaza in the center of Irakleon is the Plateia Venizelos. The Venetian Loggia is tucked into a corner of the plaza. First built in 1626 by Francesco Morozini (the Venetian governor at the time), it was intended as a gathering place for people. Reconstruction was required after an earthquake and war damages ravaged the building.

Venetian Loggia

Inner courtyard, sadly with graffiti

The fountain in the plaza was built by Morozini in 1628 and is named after him. Originally it had a statue of Neptune on top, which was removed by the Turks when they occupied the island.

Morozini Fountain

The fountain was not running, which made J unhappy. The plaza buzzed with activity. Lots of wandering merchants had helium balloons of various shapes and sizes, including cartoon characters. One aggressive merchant tried to shove a Hello Kitty balloon in L's hand, then a Spider-man balloon in J's, which made us parents unhappy. Our children resisted the overtures since they were more focused on finding food.

We had lunch at one of the restaurants. L was fascinated by the large hunk of meat rotating in the window. We told her that they carved the meat off as they needed it for the sandwiches. She made me take a picture.

A common sight on Crete

We had a plate of feta cheese (drenched in herbs (which turned J off) and olive oil (which turned L off)), bread, and some pitas stuffed with meat and toppings. They were tasty enough but not outstanding. The kids were uninterested in anything other than the bread. Eventually, J ate a few bits of cheese when we carved into the untainted center.

A lady with a guitar came up and spoke to the owner. He seemed pleased and she began playing and singing while we ate. After four or five songs, she came around with her hat in her hand (literally!). We gave her some money.

As we were getting ready to leave, a small girl with an accordion came up to our table and played some for us. I was out of change. Angie came up with something for L to give the girl. We beat a hasty retreat before we ran out of change.

We tried to go into Agios Titos, the large church near the plaza. The church dates from the 1600s, was converted to a mosque under the Turks, and returned to a church when they were ousted. The church is named after St. Titus, a compatriot of the apostle Paul who was sent by Paul to convert Crete. Titus became the first bishop of Crete and his remains were taken from the church to Venice when the Turks invaded. Titus's skull was returned in 1966 to the church. Unfortunately, we came to the church in the middle of the day while it was closed for the siesta and were unable to see the inside or the reliquary with the skull.

Agios Titos

We did see some fountains outside the church that did have water running, which made J happy.

Church fountain

Church bells

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