Greece Part 5 – Crete

Day 86: June 6, 2018

Early early morning. Up at 3:15 am for our 4:00 am cab ride to the airport. Our host was nice enough to arrange a cab for us. We dropped our bags and went down to arrivals where there was a printer. We printed our Egyptian visas and some other tickets. Then we went through security. On the other side of security Danny and I got into a tif about him taking his plastic belt off to go through security. I ended up stomping away and went a slightly different path. Danny followed so I went back the other way, but he followed me again. Looking back it was quite funny, but at the time I was mad. We reached the gate and Danny stayed there while I went for a walk to cool down. I called my mom to chat. It all sounds so stupid when you tell someone else what happened.

I walked back to the gate and we boarded the plane. The flight was around an hour to Heraklion on the island of Crete. We were given hard candies at the start and a beverage with cookies in the middle of our flight. We landed and retrieved our bags.

We walked out of arrivals and found a guy with our name on a sign to collect our rental car. He walked us up passed all the different rental car booths. As we passed we kept wondering which car was ours. We ended up with a Hyundai i10 again. Danny likes the shifting, but its turning radius is huge.

We picked up some groceries then drove off to the Palace of Knossos. On the way there Google Maps wanted us to take a back entrance. We were going to loop around, but there was a very large pothole. We backed up and this old guy came out to look, then threw his arm up like, “Stupid tourists”. We turned back around, but on the road back there was a van broken down with some German tourists. A local was able to pull the van out of the way.

The site of the Palace of Knossos was first settled in the Neolithic period (6700-3200 BC). The first palace was built around 1900 BC. The new palace was built around 1700 BC. It appears to have been the centre of political, economic and religious authority.

We saw the remains of the theatre and the Royal Road named by the main excavator, Arthur Evans. Then the North Lustral Basin which is believed to have been used for purification ceremonies.

North Lustral Basin, Palace of Knossos

The north entrance and pillar hall were the location of the entrance of seaborne trade.

North entrance and pillar hall, Palace of Knossos

Next was the Grand Staircase which was surrounded by tons of tour groups.

Grand Staircase, Palace of Knossos

There was a huge line up for the Throne Room so we didn’t enter. There was a stone seat discovered in the room as well as frescos of plants and griffins. We saw the Shrine of the Double Axes where different ritual objects including a double axe were found.

We continued down away from all the tourist groups to the Stepped Portico that led to the southwest entrance of the palace. The South House had been partly reconstructed.

South House, Palace of Knossos

Further up was the Minoan Viaduct. The path to the palace would have been over the viaduct about 10 m above ground level. It would have been the main road between north and south Crete.

Part of viaduct, Palace of Knossos

We saw the Caravanserai, a building complex with residences, storerooms and bathing facilities. From there we headed back to the car and drove to our Airbnb in Mixorrauma, near the town of Spili. We met our host at his taverna in town. We were a bit early so I had a very creamy milkshake and Danny had an orange juice. The host paid for our drinks then we followed him on his motor bike up the road. It got very narrow between buildings and the i10 just fit. At the end of the road was a church on a hill and a bunch of ruined buildings. We followed the host around the bottom of the church and then down a path. The view was into a lush forest and the path was through a stone walled garden. The place had stone floors and was very rugged. It was nice, but not as clean as I would have liked.

The host left and we had cheese, crackers, sausage, olives and wine for lunch. Too much wine. We realized there was no toilet paper and had to message the host. We used up his napkins in the meantime.

We drank wine and chatted about everything: our past relationships, how to share the lessons we learned with our kids, our relationship and how we can improve it. Danny and I had always thought we were close before, but there were certain things we would skirt around talking about. This trip has definitely opened us both up to talking about anything and this has just brought us closer together.

Chatting outside our Airbnb

Danny made smokies for supper with fried peppers. We ate outside then Danny phoned his parents while I cleaned up. I was in the washroom when I looked outside and there was a white kitty with some black spots staring at me from the path. I walked outside and the kitty came over. I pet her and she was very friendly. She even sat on my lap when I sat down. I pet her head a bit too much and she attacked my hand then went behind me. She then tried to bite my back. Moments later she was happy again when I pet her. She followed me down to where Danny was sitting and greeted him. She even let him pick her up to show his parents. Danny finished his call with his parents and we went up to bed. Thankfully the bed is clean and comfy.

Day 87: June 7, 2018

We woke up and had breakfast: yogurt with cereal only as the raspberries we bought were all rotten. We dressed for a beach day then drove to Kourtaliotiko Gorge. We drove along it first to scope it out and see where you could enter.

Kourtaliotiko Gorge

We found parking along the road and walked down to where we had spotted a staircase. It went quite far into the gorge. There we found the Church of Saint Nikolas.

Church of Saint Nikolas

We continued down and there was a river hidden in the trees and some waterfalls. It was very pretty. We spent some time there and then prepared for the walk up. Everything is so much harder in this heat. It was probably 31 degrees.

River along Kourtaliotiko Gorge

We got back to the car and drove to Frangokastello. There was a castle there so we used its shade to eat our wraps for lunch. We walked down to the beach, but couldn’t see the nude section that was supposed to be on the east side. We drove up the road a bit to another beach and we could see the nude section there. It looked like a really long walk down and I didn’t like the idea of that. Instead, we drove an extra half an hour to a purely nude beach close to a nudist resort. We looked up prices for the resort and it was 50-100 euros per night with breakfast and dinner included. That didn’t seem to bad, but I’m not sure we would have felt comfortable with nudity all day.

Driving around Crete takes much longer than expected. Everything looks so close, but there are mountains everywhere and winding roads. We were able to park very close to the beach and paid 7.50 euros for two sun beds. Most people there seemed to be from the resort. There was even a bar there.

We went in the water and I snorkeled for a bit. There were lots of medium sized white fish and then a couple of different others. The water was crystal clear. The outside temperature was around 32 degrees.

Later, we went in the water further down the beach and Danny handed me his sunglasses so that he could snorkel. All of a sudden I felt this electric shock on my right forearm and then another on my right shoulder. I yelled, “Owww”. And moved out of the water. It was still stinging a bit and both spots started puffing up. We went to the bar and they put some afterbite on it. I said I thought it was a jellyfish because if felt similar to when I was stung in Hawaii fifteen years ago. The lady said there weren’t really any jellyfish there so it must’ve been something else. She didn’t know what. I Googled jellyfish stings and the pictures looked like my arm so I still think that’s what it was.

Sting on my arm

I sat out of the water for a bit and Danny did some snorkeling. After one last dip for both of us we headed back to the car. We were hungry so we stopped at the closest taverna. We then realized we had no cash and they didn’t accept credit card. We tried a couple of other places along the way back, but none took card. The nearest ATM in the right direction was one hour away in Plakias. We were very hungry by the time we got there. We found the ATM then ate at the closest restaurant. The town seemed very touristy.

Our waiter was an older man that had clearly started drinking early. He had a bit of a slur and a strong odour of alcohol. He was very pleasant. We had fried feta as an appetizer. Danny had stuffed pepper/tomato and I had moussaka.

I rubbed Danny’s arm and the waiter came over and said, “Is she satisfied?” Danny responded that I don’t usually touch his arm like that. I had thought the waiter was just asking about the food, but Danny took it a different way. Danny then said, “We’ve been together seven years,” and the waiter started talking about that. He even brought us a shot of, I think, raki to celebrate. As we left he told us to stay together and that is our plan.

We drove the half an hour back home and our kitty was there to greet us. Danny stayed outside with her while I showered. Then I stayed with her while Danny showered. She was not happy when we went to sleep, meowing right outside the door.

Day 88: June 8, 2018

We woke up and started chatting then heard our kitty meowing. I went outside and the kitty was on our roof! The bedroom was a loft and the bed is quite close to the ceiling so the kitty was meowing right above us.

I called her over and she meowed until I pet her. I got breakfast ready and ate outside. She was looking up on my lap. Danny came out and she got so excited she jumped up on my lap. She just kept meowing at us. We thought she wanted our food.

I looked up the path and said to Danny, “Is that a tiny bunny or just a leaf”. We walked over and it was the upper part of a rat. The kitty came over and was super happy, rubbing our legs. She had obviously brought it for us and was trying to tell us all morning. When we left she walked us to the car and we gave her lots of good bye pets.

Dead rat and our Crete kitty

We drove 2.5 hours to Balos. It was on the main highway running east-west in Crete. The road was mostly two lanes although people overtook whenever and if you are being passed you needed to move to the shoulder. It is an interesting flow of traffic in Greece.

At the entry to the road to Balos beach we had to pay a fee of one euro each. The SUV in front of us went 10 km/h along the road. It had some small rocks, but no need to go that slow. They were also driving in the middle of the road. Danny let the SUV behind us go ahead to pressure them to move over. It worked and we were able to pass as well. We still went about 40 km/h and the drive was 7 km long.

The parking lot was already pretty full, but Danny managed to squeeze in to a good spot. There were goats laying behind and underneath cars for the shade. We took the path 2 km down to the beach. It was already very hot.

There was a gorgeous view of the water and the beach along the way. We continued walking down to the sand and then along the water to some sun chairs. We had to pay 9.50 euros, but at least there was an umbrella for shade. The beach was quite busy.

Balos Beach

We went into the water. You had to walk out quite far to not be able to stand. It would have been a great place for kids. We walked over to the other side and it was even more shallow. We walked over some rocks that were a bit sharp on bare feet. There were some wooden planks so I was wondering what was on the other side. There was only some deeper water.

We went back to check on our bags then into the water again. When we got out next we ate our lunch. A goat was walking around and came up to us looking for food. We sent it away. A guy up from us on the beach got out some bread to feed it and everyone flocked to take pictures. The goat then went further up looking for more food. Someone had left their bags on the sand and the goat tore into a plastic one while a lady just stood by watching and videotaping. A person nearby finally went over to stop the goat. We were a bit disgusted watching it. The goat was already a bit aggressive and aimed for plastic bags knowing it led to food.

Danny went in the water once more then we packed up. The climb back up was brutal. First there was the sand to climb through and then 2 km of steps. We stopped at the viewpoint for a break. By the time we got to the car I was overheated and feeling nauseous. I drank a bunch of water and the A/C started. The red in my face started to fade. We checked the temperature in the car and it was 36 degrees. Way too hot for physical exertion.

We drove three hours to our next Airbnb near Heraklion. We stopped at a Lidl for groceries before checking in. The host had to message us a picture of the outside as there were two of the same numbers. When we received the picture we had no problem getting inside.

I had a shower and Danny brought in the chicken we had planned to cook for supper and said, “Smell this.” We were wondering why the car had been smelling, but we hadn’t even thought about the chicken we brought from our first grocery stop sitting in the car in 36 degree heat. It didn’t fair too well. For supper, we had potatoes and I made fried wraps with strawberries and chocolate inside.

We did some laundry in the sink hoping that it will dry by the time we leave tomorrow. We won’t be able to do any laundry for another week so we thought we should get it done.

Tomorrow we fly back to Athens to catch our flight to Cairo. We are looking forward to moving on from Greece. We were able to do a lot in our time here and have gotten comfortable. Similar to leaving the Balkans, we are nervous to go somewhere new and different. In Cairo we meet up with our GAdventures tour for a week long whirlwind experience of Egypt.