Howdy again, sorry for the long break between posts, unfortunately this little corner of Crete has very limited internet bandwidth, as in if enough people connect at once it slows to a complete halt for the entire peninsula. For that reason, as well as the fact that we have been relatively lazy in all aspects of life here, we decided to only do the one big update for our two weeks in Crete.
We landed on Saturday morning and were greeted by a gentleman holding up a sign with my name on it, unfortunately this was not our limo driver, but instead the guy we were renting a Toyota Yaris off for the duration of our stay. After a quick induction we loaded up our gear and hit the road, on the right (wrong) side of the road rather than left for the first time… It is an interesting place to learn. All of the roads are single lane, instead of overtaking lanes they have areas where you can partially pull off to the side so that people can fly past down the centre of the road towards oncoming traffic. Took a bit off getting used to and there were definitely a couple of near misses.
By the time we arrived in Makry-Gialos our (my) nerves were pretty shot so we pulled over and went to a local taverna for lunch before searching for our hotel. The tavernas here are big on grill, on arrival in Greece I did not think there was a limit on how much grilled meat I could enjoy, this theory has been tested. That being said the food in a couple of the Taverna’s is spectacularly good, everything is really fresh and relatively cheap. Surprisingly they do a really really good Greek Salad in this neck of the woods.
We have spent quite a few days just hanging out in Makry-Gialos, there are a couple of great beaches, our resort has a really nice pool and cocktail bar, some good restaurants and Jess has even become a jet ski pilot.
Our first big attempt at an adventure on Crete was a day trip to visit some Minoan ruins. Admittedly these sites were over 5000 years old, however I did expect a little more, as pictured below. After driving for an hour on some fairly crazy little roads over the mountains we arrived at “The Minoan Villa” or sign with a pie of rocks behind it as I like to call it. The second site that we visited was more impressive, it was called Prasos, a hill fort/village with a dominant position over the valley, which had many of the original foundations still in place.
The without a doubt highlight of this day was not a ruin or archaeological site, it was the moment when two Australian tourists accidentally kidnapped the elderly Greek man pictured below and dropped him off in a random village. He definitely wanted a lift somewhere, and was on the top of a mountain in very hot weather, he seemed pretty keen when he got into the car… As we drove along it became apparent that he spoke no English, much as we spoke no Greek, of further worry was that not even our sign language seemed to be compatible. Eventually we dropped him off in a village and he gave us a bunch or pears from his sack, Jess believes he was offering them as thanks whilst I still maintain he was trying to barter with us to take him somewhere he actually wanted to go. The end result was that he got to visit a nice village and we went home with a car load of delicious pears… Everyones a winner.
The next day trip was to the Palm Forrest and beaches of Vai, with our goals for the day being to abduct less pensioners and to give windsurfing a go. The beach at Vai was stunning, the palm forrest came right down to the beach, the water was crystal clear and the beach was perfectly sheltered from the wind, what a great area in which to learn windsurfing we thought. We drove down the coast to the windsurfing school and quickly discovered that this side of the peninsula was not sheltered from the wind. It was in fact famous for the severity of the wind and indeed one of Europe’s premier windsurfing locations. After about ten minutes and witnessing five high speed crashes we decided we no longer needed to learn to windsurf and headed home without even talking to the guys at the windsurfing school. Some would call it copping out… We called it self preservation.
After passing on the windsurfing we decided to check out some nearby ruins, these ones were even still standing! The ruins pictured below were Hellenic ruins built on top of Minoan ruins and utilising the salvaged materials, some of the key buildings we identified were a fortress and a church. There was an ongoing archaeological dig underway on the next hill over, so we decided to conduct our own dig amongst the ruins. We found some ceramic artifacts… what happened to them I am not sure of, we couldn’t have taken them, Jess informs me that is called looting. Something this blog could never support.
After a few days relaxing in and around Makry-Gialos we headed off on the two hour journey to the ancient Minoan palace at Knossos. We were fortunate enough to get into a guided tour for only ten euros which was great as our guide had heaps on info and could give a lot more meaning to the place for us. Knossos was the ruling seat of Crete (the alabaster throne is still preserved today), it was also home to the Labyrinth and the Minotaur, a piece of Greek mythology that our guide was adamant has not and will not be refuted by scholars and scientists. Much of the preservation of the site is credited to one Sir Arthur Evans, a Welshman who financed the initial excavation of the site over one hundred years ago and who decided to rebuild and recreate sections of the palace. It is an amazing site and worth checking out if you are in the neighbourhood.
After Knossos we headed into Crete’s capital Heraklion to check out the Archaeological Museum, the driving in the city was crazy with people swerving all over the place, there are not many unscathed cars on Crete. One such car almost forced me off the road and into a bank of parked cars, luckily I was able to recover and stop in time as did the driver behind me. Unfortunately for him the following vehicle barrelled into the back end of his car at full speed resulting in a fairly decent crash, we left them to discuss the particulars and headed on to the museum. The exhibitions were really good, they had artifacts from 5000BC through until 1000AD which helped tell the history of the region. They had restored frescos from Knossos, Greek statues, golden and bone seals and the Phaistos Disk a Minoan relic demonstrating one of the few languages never to be deciphered. The museum also had glass cabinets so clear Jess smashed her face into one so hard that the museum attendants thought someone was trying to steal something, luckily they didn’t see the culprit so we escaped unscathed. Except for jess’s face, it hit a glass cabinet.
In the interest of fairness I need to tell my embarrassing story from Crete, at one of our favourite beaches there is a little Taverna that hires out pavilions with hammocks and daybeds by the sea, it’s a great spot. They also have a restaurant that we have eaten at twice. The first time we went I fell for the old “pay by weight trick” that I succumbed to in Prague with Gypsy ham, this time I ended up paying 42 Euros for a fish… When will I learn? I showed them though, I came back days later, bought about a kilo of fried Calamari and lazed in a hammock drinking beer… That will teach them!
We head of for London tomorrow arvo which will be a massive change of pace from the relaxing beach side life in Makry-Gialos. We will be packing a lot into our six days in the city and allegedly have super high speed wifi in our accommodation so we should have another blog up by the end of next week.
As always thanks for reading!