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Sunday, September 22, 2013


Add to Technorati FavoritesThis summer when I spent a few days on my favorite island, Naxos, my BC friends Glenys and Marnie and I went exploring around Naxos old town, the Venetian quarter. This is where, in Venetian times, the wealthy lived within or surrounding the walls of the fortress, called the "Kastro".  From 1294 ti 1537 this was the stronghold of the Venetian Duchy of the Aegean.
Venetian tower house
Within the Kastro there are still remains of some original buildings including the Catholic cathedral. Right behind it is the French School of Commerce opened by the Jesuits in 1627. The renown Cretan writer, Nikos Kazantzakis, once attended here. Now it houses the Archaeological Museum. There is also the Ursuline Convent and School where the young ladies of Venetian aristocracy were educated.
Surrounding the Kastro there are still several of the tower homes once occupied by Venetian gentry. One of these is the Della Rocca Barozzi home, which the owners still occupy some of the year.  But during tourist season, this is the Venetian Folklore Museum.

I've always wanted to visit the museum and somehow, despite my many trips to Naxos, this was the first time I made a point of going in. Only two of the Kastros original seven towers remain. A few of the Venetian Catholic's descendants still live in the old mansions encircling the site. Their family coats of arms decorate the doorways. It's fortunate that the Della Rocca family decided to turn their home into a museum, giving people an opportunity to view what life was like in the days of the Venetian Duchy.

The museum is located near the entrance of the castle, called Trani Porta. Here you have a chance to see objects and furnishing of an old household that tells some of the history and tradition of Naxos. You step inside and feel as if you've gone back in time to the 13th century. Rooms are filled with ornate furniture, elaborate rugs, household items, clothing, tables set as if dinner guests will arrive at any minute, comfortable bedrooms including a nursery, all decked out with the filmy trappings and objects of a lady's boudoir. In the living room area, there's an old piano once played by Leonard Bernstein. Marnie got a chance to sit down and tinkle out a few tunes.

Marnie plays us a tune

 View from a tower window

If you're lucky, perhaps the owner will be there to guide you through. Otherwise there are tours in English by docents.  The tour ends up in the wine cellar which has even more objects dating back well into ancient times including a stone engraved with a message to Ptolemy of Egypt.

Ancient engraving addressed to Ptolemy of Egypt

Glenys enters the wine cellar
The museum is open daily from April to October (10 am - 3 pm and 7 pm to 10 pm) with an entrance fee of 5 euro (3 euro for students). During the summer season, the museum holds cultural activities such as music concerts (classical and jazz, local and traditional music) art exhibitions and folkloric events. These are held in the tower garden with spectacular views overlooking the harbour and the famous "portals" at the entrance to the harbour, the unfinished portal of a temple of Apollo built around 530 BC.

We had a wonderful morning touring the museum, and browsing the shops along the narrow vaulted streets nearby, ending up with a delicious lunch at a hillside taverna overlooking the port.

Glenys and Marnie enjoying a delicious lunch overlooking Naxos harbour

Friday, September 13, 2013


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My friend Cheryl and I went on a Friday Night Fun Paddlewheeler Cruise on the Fraser River. This was a belated birthday celebration for her and a contract signing celebration for me. I'd always wanted to do one of the paddlewheeler cruises and believe me I will recommend this for anyone wanting a fun, relaxing and scenic little trip.  It only cost $34.95 (plus GST) and what we paid for food and drinks, and it was a trip well-worth making again (maybe next time with a group.)

There are various trips offered. The FORT LANGLEY trip covers part of the Gold Rush Trail and includes buffet lunch. The PITT LAKE WILDERNESS CRUISE visited legendary places on the lake including Native pictographs etc. It includes full lunch,desert, and tea or coffee. The SUNSET DINNER (7 - 10 pm on Saturdays) is a good way to celebrat special events with family and friends and also includes a buffet dinner and soft music. The STEVESTON FISHING BILLAGE tour on Wednesdays travels down the river to Ladner Reach, past Riefel Island and returns via the Annacis Channel with stops to visit the Gulf of Georgia Cannery. The DISCOVER THE FRASER trip on Wednesday and Saturday includes lunch and takes a course like the Friday Night Fun Trip under the bridges and past the Surrey Docks.  The fares vary and there are special fares for children.

We boarded a 7.30 from the dock in New Westminster, settled ourselves on the deck to enjoy the mild summer evening, and set sail up to river under the bridges, then when it grew dusk, back down again.  We ate dinner on the deck, a choice of excellent dishes from the menu. There's also a nice dining room on board if you wish to be indoors.


As the paddlewheeler cruised along the river, and under the bridges, we enjoyed the serene views from the deck. It couldn't have been more relaxing!






After dinner we went downstairs where a DJ was playing the oldies and goodies disco music. Funny, it was mainly the women dancing but we had a ball!  It was so much fun that we agreed it would be a great place to come with a group of friends to celebrate special occasions. The dance party lasted three hours and then we were back in port again, fully satisfied and delighted with our choice of this special celebration voyage.

If you want to go:  The Paddlewheeler Riverboat Tours, On the Mighty Fraser River,
788 Quayside Drive, New Westminster B.C.
604-525-4465. On the New Westminster Quay.