There is a lot of back-and-forth going on as Chania prepares to reopen itself to the nation and the world. Just four days ago on May 11 the city was an absolute madhouse. It was as packed as it ever gets in a usual summer, only this time it was packed with locals out to see their city for the first time in several months. Several new take-out cafes and small stores had reopened, and the people working cash registers were as excited and relieved as their customers that life had come back to us from the depth of isolation. It was a beautiful sight to see the city surge back to life, and in such an ebullient, energetic way… Today my wife Oksana and I set out for a walk after spending two days swimming – yes, we’re back in the Sea of Crete, and it is wonderful! Under the hot sun (35C, 95F) the top meter or so of water is quite warm, everything below it is noticeably colder. But it’s all heaven to us after a full winter season of no swimming at all. Today we had no idea what to expect on our early afternoon walk. Would it be crowds again? Maybe smaller crowds? And, in fact, we were greeted with sights and sounds I don’t think I have ever encountered in Chania. I’ve been in Chania when it’s completely empty, but there are always sounds – water splashing, wind whooshing, boats creaking, leaves chattering, motorcycles sputtering in the distance – but neither Oksana nor I ever remember coming upon what we did today – utter and total silence. The Sea of Crete, as you can see in the photos, is as glassy as it gets. There wasn’t a whiff of breeze. Not a ripple in the water. That, added to the fact there there was almost no one out walking or driving around today, and you have a perfect anti-storm – the absolute perfect calm. It was enthralling. You would stop to listen and the total absence of any sounds coming to your ears at any given time was incredibly restful and invigorating. At one point, after I had walked out around the corner of the Firkas fortress on the west end of the Venetian Port, a young man rode up on a motorcycle and sat there revving it as he admired the stationary, glass-like sea. I really wanted to treat him to a knuckle sandwich, but when I saw the amazement and admiration on his face I decided to live and let live… Indeed, he did turn around and leave soon enough, so that we were able to get back to the almost miraculous silence. Join me below on a journey through silent Chania.
Photos and text copyright © 2020 John Freedman. If you wish to use any of the photos or any of the text, please ask for permission. I will almost always say “yes,” but please do the courtesy of asking before copying.