Monday, 31 March 2014

Crete September 2013

We arrived a Pireaus without too much trouble, it definitely very busy around the port area. We needed to be directed to where we needed to pick up our tickets and once we crossed the extremely busy road found the Minoan Lines kiosk without any trouble. We were lucky as we didn’t have to wait too long to board, though the ferry was leaving at 9.00 pm.

It was all very organized when we were on board; we received our cabin keys and were taken down to its location. It was quite nice with the usual amenities. Once we settled in we went upstairs carefully noting the cabin’s location. The ferry was very large with a huge space for cars and trucks. We indulged ourselves at the best restaurant and had a delicious meal. I noted the ingredients of the ‘Minoan salad’ (mixed salad, pomegranate seeds, shaved parmesan, cherry tomatoes and balsamic vinegar) so easy to replicate at home.

We slept well, on waking we realized the engine had stopped so investigated by checking the corridor. There was a flurry of activity of passengers with their bags ready to disembark. There had been no announcement alerting passengers of our imminent arrival or even the fact we had arrived. We hurriedly showered and dressed and made our way to the exit. The sun hadn’t quite come up so it was quite dull. Not having much idea where our hotel was in relation to the port the only option was a taxi and luckily we did not have much trouble with this.

The Castello Hotel seemed a bit of a distance away; though early we could check in but leave our bags at reception and was able to have our breakfast there. The restaurant was very pleasant with a great view across the harbour.

We got ourselves a map of the city and set out to explore. The hotel was not central but it wasn’t too far to walk into the main part of town. We looked around then decided to go on the ‘Hop on, Hop off’ bus tour which gave us an overview of the places of interested, which included out to Knossos. We decided to visit there early in the morning to beat the hordes we saw on our arrival.

We went to the Historical Museum of Crete, though small was very informative. The sections include collections of artefacts from the long history of Crete as well as a section that features the Second World War involving the Battle for Crete, occupation and resistance.

The writer Nikos Kazantzakis writer of Zorba the Greek and many other novels is featured here, with a display of his study and extracts of some of the films from his novels. Lastly there is an Ethnographic collection, showing life and customs of the people.
Kazantzakis Study

After the museum we wandered down to the Venetian Koules Fortress, the Lion Gate, the old port and craft market. It was disappointing there was no access to the interior of the fort.

The next day we were up early to catch the bus to Knossos, when we arrived there wasn’t any lines to get in and though there were quite a few people there it wasn’t too crowded. It was one place I was really interested to visit as I had learnt about the discovery of Knossos when studying Greek history and about Sir Arthur Evans excavations and his interpretation of his findings and restorations of the ruins. I had recently read the book Mysteries of the Snake Goddess by Kenneth Lapatin which blew
Murals from Knossos
apart the previous interpretations. I have since discovered that there had been misgivings about the way Evans’ ideas for quite some time.

That said it didn’t take away the thrill of being of being amongst these ancient ruins of the Minoan civilization. We wandered around a number of times sucking in the atmosphere which can never be captured in photos. When we exited Knossos the number of people lining up to enter seemed endless.

Back into the city we went to the Archaeological Museum which
Concert by the Church
houses treasures from the Minoan civilization. We had a rather ordinary dinner but on our way back to the hotel we heard music we walked down a laneway into the courtyard of a church. A concert was taking place music and folk dancing. It was delightful; we hung around there for quite a while then continued on to our hotel.

View of Heraklion from Bar

Our last day in Crete we wandered to the port, taking in various landmarks and places of interested highlighted on our map. The weather was quite hot and after lunch we went back to the hotel for a respite from the heat. We indulged in another wander around the streets, had dinner and returned to the hotel, indulged in our complementary drink at the bar which had a great view of the harbour.

The next day we were leaving early for our trip home.