Thursday, October 2, 2008

Crete

I just returned from an amazing adventure to the island of Crete. The trip began last Friday night when we all piled into a charter bus to head down to the port to catch our ferry. Let me just say that Greeks don’t do ferry’s quite the same as us. This boat was basically a cruise ship, it was so beautiful, and not to mention HUGE! We had the whole night to explore and have fun. Since we were so tired from a long week I didn’t stay up too late, but we did get the chance to see the club at the top of the ship before calling it a night. The dance floor was packed full of people around college age and not much older all singing and dancing their hearts out. They were doing dances like the Macarena and other crazy dances that we had never heard of. Everyone knew the words and moves to every single song. The only one we were able to participated in was the Macarena, but it was so fun to just sit back and watch the madness.

Happy travels on their way to the Port
Our boat in the port of Crete 


Once we got into the port in the city of Heraklion in Crete we checked into our hotel, ate breakfast and hit the road. Our destination: Knossos, a Minoan Palace that has been partially restored for viewing, founded by Arthur Evans. This was one of the largest and most detailed Palaces we saw through out the trip. Michael took us all around, showing us the storage units, bastions, courts, throne room, and several surrounding houses that made up the grounds the Palace. From Knossos we hopped back on the bus and headed to the Archeological Museum of Heraklion. The exhibit we went through was made up of artifacts and remains from several archeological sites of excavated Minoan Palaces of Crete. The pieces ranged from everything from pottery, to statues, jewelry, paintings, and more. Each display represented a different time period of the Minoan people.

Kristina loves to kick me in Pits. 

"It's like shooting pool in the dark. You never know where your balls are going to land." -Michael

Room above the Throne Room

Minoan time period image, according to Michael this is a completely wrong portrayal, good job archeologists


After the museum we were given the rest of the afternoon to explore the city. Wiped out from our long day at the sites we barely made it out long enough to find a club, but who knew that Greeks in this town don’t dance until three in the morning or later! Needless to say we didn’t last that long so the night was a bust, and we headed home early. After a night out with little success we got up early for more visits excavated ruin sites. First stop was Gortyn, where we saw the Hellenistic-Roman Odeum, used for musical performances by the Minoan people. Along the back wall of the Odeum is today’s only readable law code for the Minoan people in full length that is decipherable. The law code uses only 18 characters or the Ancient Greek writing for to explain the rules of the land during that time. We also saw the Byzantine Basilica, or the Church of St. Titus. This is the largest church of its kind still standing today, and people still come there to worship. From Gortyn we got back on the bus and headed over to The Minoan Palace of Phaestos. This site was another palace, with a similar layout to Knossos. From here we “hooofed it” as Michael would say, up to Agia Triada. Now, according to our itinerary that they gave us they said that this would take about 15 minutes…so an HOUR later of walking uphill to Phaestos, we were exhausted. It started to rain during this exploration so we got out of there before exhaustion turned too much into crankiness. We got back on the bus, to go to a small town, Vorri, for lunch. The lunch had been pre-arranged so we knew what we were ordering beforehand. It might have been the fact that we were starving, but the meal was amazing. I ordered Pastitso, which is basically layered Greek pasta, or Greek version of lasagna. It was really delicious! The rest of the day they gave us to explore Heraklion more, but still discouraged from the night before, we chose to sleep, except for a quick trip out for food, including some delicious crepes!

Law code at Gortyn

Jessi, Tori, and I in the Church of St. Titus

Exhausted after we "hooofed it" up to Agia Triada

Caitlin, Tori, Kristina and I at lunch in Vorri


The next morning we checked out of the hotel in Heraklion, and loaded onto the bus to head over to the site of Tylissos. Tylissos was the final excavation site we saw and it consisted of three separate sections of houses. As interesting as it was, in the words of Caitlin, by the end that site everything was just starting to look like “another pile of rocks.” After Tylissos we had a long, but beautiful bus ride along to coast of Crete. It was finally starting to feel less like we were in a big city and more like we were on an island, which was amazing. When we finally got to our new hotel in Hania, and checked in we were full of energy to explore the new, more inviting town. A bunch of the girls set out on a big shopping adventure. As we split off Jenee, Tori, and I ended up down by the water to grab something quick to eat before we had to meet everyone back at the hotel for the dinner Alena set up for us. Luckily while we were sitting by the water some more of the girls came by and told us they had signed up to go on a Sunset Cruise. We of course wanted to join them, so we called everyone else and a bunch of us got on this beautiful boat that looked like a pirate ship and sailed out to watch the sunset on the water. It was so beautiful and completely unreal. While we were sailing, we talked to Julia, the Canadian woman who sold us our tickets and she told us that the boat owners do longer tours of the deserted islands that surround the port where you can swim and snorkel and see much more, so we all made plans to do that the next day.

Jenee, Jessi and I at Tylissos... WE LOVE KNOWLEDGE

Long Scenic Bus Ride to Hania....Mayra, Jackie and I 

The whole gang on the Sunset Cruise

Beautiful Sunset on the Water


The dinner that Alena and Vassia arranged for us that night was insane. It was at a little hidden taverna not far from the hotel, and we pretty much took over the whole restaurant. The food was incredible, and never stopped coming. We seriously had ten courses of food, including the bread and tatziki sauce that they brought us to begin with. Greek salad, another type of salad with avocado and cabbage, stuffed peppers, stuffed grape leaves, lamb in some sort of pepper sauce with pita, layer zucchini casserole, pork stuffed pie with vegetables, creamy potatoes with some sort of pork in the middle, and a spiced cake for dessert. We were in pain with how much food we ate but it was all so amazing, I wish I hadn’t filled up so fast. Exhausted from site seeing, shopping, cruising, and eating, we headed back to the rooms and got dolled up for a night out. It was a calm night because clubs aren’t so popular on a Monday night but we still had fun going out. There was whole strip of the square by the water that was lined with different themed clubs. The first one was pretty normal just all black and red, the second one was like being inside a cave, the third was a old western saloon theme, and the last one had a giant waterfall and crazy neon lights. It was a crazy night where we danced until the early hours of the morning.

The next morning we got up and headed out on our last learning adventure with Michael leading the way to the Archaeological Museum of Chania. This museum was probably my favorite visit, for some reason I found every part of it super interesting. The craziest part is that a large portion of everything we got to see there hasn’t even been published yet. We weren’t allowed to take pictures of a lot of it because it’s still under wraps. Pieces from the gravesites of Minoan palaces were there along with countless statues, and gravestones, more jewelry, pottery, and tools. On the way to the museum we stopped by two archeological sites in the middle of the rural parts of Hania. On either side of these sites were large apartment buildings, or banks, or other city structures. Michael explained that most people in the city don’t have the respect for conservation of the their ruins, and try to wipe them out and build on top before they are caught because the land is more valuable to them than the ruins of the Palace. This is something I just couldn’t understand. These palaces were created by hand hundreds of years ago, yet, now they are being completely disregarded as if they are not a huge part of history? That was unbelievable.

After touring the museum we had the rest of the day to explore. We headed back out onto the water on our pirate ship. It was even more of an adventure the second time. The first island we went to was beautiful, but we couldn’t swim to it because it’s off limits due to the very endangered species of goats that live on it. We did get to snorkel around the boat though, which was incredible. There was a German warplane that crashed during WW2 right beneath our boat! The water was so salty but crystal clear and beautiful. The second stop we made was at a much smaller island but this time we were able to swim in and explore the beach a bit. We also bought an underwater camera so I can’t wait to get those back to see the insane amount of pictures we took with that took.

Caitlin, Kritina and I enjoying our drinks before heading back out onto the water for day two of Pirate ship adventures

Endangered Goats! 

This was the second island, that we were able to swim to the beach

Mayra and I rocked the life vests so we wouldn't drown! 


We ended this perfect day with a meal by the water with everyone that joined in for the Cretan Cruise. Completely salty and exhausted we got back on the bus to head down to the port to leave the wonderful island of Crete. We were so sad to leave! The ferryboat on the way home wasn’t nearly as nice as the first but we still had fun exploring before calling it a night. Once we were safe and sound in Athens again, I was “hooofing it” up to the apartment and I tripped on my bad ankle that I twisted before heading to Greece, and am now hobbling around on crutches. Not a good way to end the trip, but at least I waited until we were home in Athens. So the next few days should be full of well-deserved rest and recuperation! Crete was overall a completely amazing adventure!

So sad to be leaving the beautiful island of Crete

4 comments:

autumn said...

i bet there are tons of whales in that water. you should come home...i killed all the whales.

sheriemerson said...

Sarah -- great photos. Thanks for posting these and the descriptions of your island adventure(s). Hope your ankle is better soon.
Love you!
Mom

Alex said...

I am jealous! I am eating Hummus in your name right now, ha ha!
Get healed fast! luv ya!

traci said...

Sarah -- what a great adventure! I loved the photos and was very envious of the sailing/snorkel trip. Hope your ankle is feeling better.

Love - Traci