On our second morning in Crete, we woke up bright and early to have breakfast with this view:
The kids weren’t really paying much attention to the view but more on their plates:
After breakfast, we high-tailed it out to visit one of the top sites in Crete, the famous Palace of Knossos.
The Palace of Knossos
Why was the Palace of Knossos so famous? Well, if you read the mythological story of Daedalus, the architect of the labyrinth ordered by King Minos to contain the illegitimately born half-man/half beast creature (also known as the Minotaur), then you know this is supposedly a very historical site, especially for those who study or teach Greek mythology.
(Photo courtesy of Piano Man)
Piano Man and I read the Greek myth of Daedalus and Icarus, Daedalus’ son, many months ago in Cyprus (one of our finds from St. Paul’s Book Saturday book sales). A week before we left, one of Piano Man’s teachers also retold the story of Daedulus and the Minotaur. I didn’t make the connection between the Greek myth and the Palace of Knossos until Prof mentioned it. After that, I was all set to go!
Piano Man, on the other hand, was archaeological-sited out. He already had his heart set on enjoying a day at the beach. A little bribery to allow him to take more photos and some juice did the trick. I also okayed the fleece blanket to come along for a ride in the Ergo, which was another parental concession.
According to the Lonely Planet guidebook, you should plan on arriving before 10 AM, but I think coming before 9 AM is a safer bet. Because it is one of the top sites to visit in Crete, bus loads of tourists come in droves to see this site. It’s so busy that random people will cut in line, but I guess people ahead of us didn’t mind, as they said nothing to a woman and her entourage. (Do as the Europeans do I say, and just let it go.) The guidebook also recommends hiring a tour guide to help you navigate and understand what Sir Arthur Evans, a British archaeologist, did to reconstruct the supposed original Minoan Palace. If I didn’t have Prof to explain all this historical stuff to me, I would have been so lost and confused during the walk, wondering and wandering from one location to the next. I think that’s one of the perks of being married to an ancient history professor. I never have to listen to an earpiece or hire a tour guide; he’s my personal guide for life.
Sir Evans’ claimed that this was the original site of King Minos’ palace in Knossos, also where the Minotaur was kept. However, his claim is controversial because scholars debate if that is still true. You see, Sir Evans was a wealthy Englishman who was interested in archaeology. Unlike archaeologists of today who use more scientific and careful excavation practices, archaeologists in the 1900s took less care and time digging though the earth’s soil. This rougher practice would leave pieces of artifacts in sometimes in worse condition than when left untouched underground.
(Photo of the exterior of the King Minos’ alleged throne room. Courtesy of Piano Man.)
(Photo courtesy of Piano Man)
Because of this controversy, it’s hard to tell what is real and what is reconstructed. That is always the dilemma in archaeology – to know how much to excavate to keep reconstruction at a minimum and how much to recreate, thus giving visitors the opportunity to visually see what it would have looked like thousands of years ago. If you look closely at the photo above, you will see two different column styles that Sir Evans thought might have held up a structure. That is one clear example of how archaeology can either make your view of a site more beautiful or worse-off.
The photo above is another prime example. Sir Evans used a lot of color to paint pieces of different structures, which I find to be a distraction. Others who have shared with me their experiences love seeing more color. Thus, the beauty one finds at a site is really in the eye of the beholder.
At the end of the tour, we rewarded our kids with some very expensive slushies – €4 per slushy! (Can I hear a “say what!?”) However, it was well worth it when the kids’ teeth turned beet red and smiling from ear to ear.
(Photo: A few young students from Germany who studied nearby our hometown in the U.S. were kind enough to take a photo os us. They immediately recognized the famous symbol on our boys’ hats. We in return took a photo of them. It was nice to make a connection on the other side of the world.)
Rethymno’s Alana Restaurant
As Linus needed a nap in the car, Prof made his way toward another town, Rethymno, for lunch and to see another castle. Our parking lot attendant recommended Alana Restaurant for a good bite to eat. We ordered traditional style Cretan food, which was heavy laden with creamy sauce poured over your choice of meat and side. While we liked our respective dishes, it was the salad drenched in sweet mustard dressing that got our mouths watering and wanting more. The kids detested the strangely over the top parmesan cheese pizza, which tells you not all pizzas are created equal.
Overall, we enjoyed our lunch at Alana as we were the only people eating at the restaurant. It was nice to let the kids run around and relax without the hustle and bustle of lunch service.
The photo above is probably a favorite. I love how the restaurant is designed using natural elements. It creates an inviting space for restaurant guests to stay cool in the outdoors.
Rethymno’s Venetian Fortress
While we were in Rethymno, we thought we should at least check out a Venetian fortress. It was a relatively short visit at the massive fortress because we wanted the kids to enjoy some beach time.
We walked around to one side of the fortress, looked out, took a family photo, and visited a mosque. We called it quits but not before enjoying something cool – ice cream!
Finally a Visit to the Beach
By the time we reached Knossos Beach Bungalows and Suites and changed into our swim gear, it was dinnertime. But we decided to go anyway, even though the weather began to look dismal as the clouds and strong gusts of wind passed through the private beach.
The kids enjoyed their time in spite of the blanket of sea kelp that washed up onshore. Linus’ teeth began to chatter, which was a clear sign to bring the kids into the hotel room, until Prof saw a sign that one of the swimming pools was heated. We played around for a bit before calling it an end to a very full day in Crete.
Tomorrow I will share photos and experiences on our last day in the very rustic and beautiful island of Crete. The photos are sure to bring zen-like euphoria to make a special trip to visit Crete, and places like Falassama Beach, which has been ranked as one of CNN’s top 100 best beaches.