Monday, 26 May 2014

Rememberance: Battle of Crete

The 10 day Battle of Crete was fought during WWII and started on 20th May 1941 with an airborne invasion by Nazi Germany code named Operation Mercury.

Crete Veterans

It was the first airborne invasion in military history and the first time German paratroopers were used on a massive scale.  It was also the first time the Allies made significant use of intelligence from the Enigmacode meaning that the German troops encountered surprisingly mass resistance from the Greek civilian population.
Allied Cemetary, Souda Bay

The Germans suffered very heavy casualties and the Allied troops were confident that they would prevail against the invasion.  However, through miscommunication and a series of fundamental failures by Allied commanders, the airfield at Maleme (opposite the Mistral Hotel) was captured by the Germans enabling them to fly in reinforcements and overwhelm the defenders.

Cretan Resistance

Today, the Battle of Crete is commemorated each year in and around the Maleme and Chania area with the few remaining Veterans.  A week of services culminates in a wreath laying ceremony at the Allied War Cemetary in Souda Bay.

By Donna Southgate-Smith

Saturday, 17 May 2014

Kolymbari - A Traditional Fishing Village

Kolymbari is situated just 5 kilometers from the Mistral, at the base of the Rotherpou Peninsular and is a small fishing hamlet with a few hotels and award winning fish tavernas serving traditional Cretan cuisine.  The long sand and pebble beach is largely undiscovered by tourists and is ideal for those seeking peace and quiet.

Kolymbari fishing harbour
Geese & Goslings
A short walk from the village is the 17th century monastery of Gonia which houses a unique collection of icons dating from the 17th and 18th centuries. Today, the monastery incorporates Crete's Theological Academy and is open to the public throughout the year.

By Donna Southgate-Smith

Thursday, 1 May 2014

St George's Day Pilgrimage

Today, we took all the Mistral guests and Gialamarakis family to the tip of Rotherpou Peninsular to take part in a traditional festival to celebrate the day of Agios Georgios.  This is a special day when shepherds bring their sheep to be blessed hoping to ensure healthy flocks and a prosperous year.  In return, the shepherds distribute free sheep's milk.

Eating goat & rice

Chapel of Agios Georgios

It is also tradition to make a wreath of wild flowers to "catch" May.  The wreath is hung over the doorway to dry the flowers until the month of June when they are burned in the street and everyone jumps over the fire.
Ringing of the Chapel bell
Wild flower wreath
By Donna Southgate-Smith