February 28, 2016: First Attempt at Knossos

Dominica, Liesl and I managed to get up “early” this morning.  We have been excited to get up and get out and explore the island now that we have a working car and no one is sick.  Getting Luciana up and moving took a few hours.  But we finally got her out the door around two.  A major accomplishment for the Miller household in Greece.

Our first issue of the day was getting to our car and discovering that we were boxed in.  Being boxed in is a bit worse in Prines than it is in some random town.  Our parking spot is on rather a serious incline with the car pointed up the hill.  The front of the car was against the uneven concrete wall of the church and a truck and the backend had a Spanish Seat parked only inches away from the bumper.  To make it more challenging, the clutch on the Kia is terrible – the distance that I have to move my foot from the brake to the clutch is completely ridiculous and there is no way to do it quickly enough to not be a problem.  I have to pretty much knee the steering wheel and then get the clutch at least 40% down before it engages in the least.  It’s horrible.

So this was quite the challenge.  Dominica would never have attempted this, even without the car being a standard.  We had the girls stand up at the church so that they would not be in any danger of a lurching car or traffic.  Dominica got in front to guide me as there was no room for error. The front of the car had to go hard to the right without slamming into the side of the truck that it was up against while getting as far forward as possible to give me every possible inch to go backwards.

The clutch on the car is just impossible and I could not do the manoeuvre without spinning the wheels something terrible.  I did it in a couple of lurches and got the car as far up as we dared to move it.  The Dominica came along side and helped me guide the car back bringing the front bumper on a sharp turn less than an inch from the uneven and out of sight church wall while making sure that I cleared the car behind me, which even with all of that was a near thing.  Even with bringing the car as dangerously high and fast up the hill as I could and with Dominica guiding it and essentially scraping the wall beside it, the real only barely cleared the car next to it and even getting the nearest points of the bumpers to clear it was still a close thing to get the car alongside enough to get the mirrors to clear.  Ridiculous.  It was obvious when the car behind us parked there that they had completely boxes us in.  But, we made it.  Barely.  We could have very easily just been stuck.  And once we tried to move the car, it could have gotten stuck so much worse.  It was rather risky.

I stopped the car down at the store and waited for the family to come down and climb in.  Then we were off to head down to the highway, route 90, and off to the east.

The drive went fine.  It was a nice, warm, clear day.  Perfect for a drive along the coast.  The highway is a bit windy, and the wind was strong today too blowing us all over the road.  We made it about an hour before Luciana had an issue with something (I think that she had dropped something that she needed us to pick up or had a window that we needed to adjust) so I pulled over in front of a gas station out on the highway and turned around and Liesl was looking ill and I saw her nibbling a Peptol Bismol tablet and she said “I think I’m going to throw up” and Dominica scrambled to get out of the car (they were on the side away from the highway, both of them) but before she could even get her seatbelt untangled from her scarf Liesl was throwing up in the backseat unable to get out of her carseat herself.  It was pretty horrible.

Had we known that she was going to be sick we could have pulled into the car station, or stopped earlier, and would have been ready to jump from the car.  We were very thankful that at least Luciana had caused us to pull over for something trivial and that I had picked a spot with a service station.

We got Liesl out of the car, it was motion sickness making her stomach upset.  Luciana was fine and unaffected by the whole affair.  Dominica looked after Liesl while I ran in to the little store and got some paper towels and bought a pack of wet wipes.  I came back out and cleaned up the car as best as I could.  What a mess.  All over the seat, car seat, back of Dominica’s seat and floor.  Poor Liesl, what a way to start the day.  It could have been much worse, though.

Once things were cleaned up, Dominica took both girls into the service station to use the bathroom and clean up and get some drinks and just take a break from the car.  I moved the car into the parking lot and parked it off to the side and got all of the windows open so that it could start to dry and air out.

We ended up picking up some snacks, even Liesl felt like she should eat, and probably killed half an hour before getting back in the car and continuing on to Irákleio so that we could go to the ruins at Knossos, which is why we had come on this trip.

Navigating the city was not too bad and we found the road heading down to Knossos without much trouble.  Finding Knossos on that road, however, was a bit of a challenge.  Considering that this is one of the world’s most important archaeological sites and by far the most important thing on all of Crete you would think that it would be relatively easy to find.  It is not.  Not at all.

We went to one place that had some signs and packed in an enormous parking lot that seemed like it had to be the right place, but there were no clear signs telling us where to go. I left the family at the car and walked around a bit to see if I could figure things out but, I could not.  We determined that this could not be the ruins so got back in the car and continued on.  This was where Google Maps said that we should be.  Google Maps is not very useful, we have found.

We drove way out of the town of Knossos, turned around at an ancient aqueduct, and took another run out it.  This time I spotted the parking spot for the ruins and pulled in.  We were then granted the view of a group of twenty somethings go and try to enter the ruins and find that it was closed.  Closed an hour before all of the guides that we had said that it should close.  There aren’t things like websites for these things, you are stuck relying on non-authoritative information and you can easily get stuck like this.  So a whole day of trying to get out and see Knossos amounting to nothing.  And even being here there is nothing that tells us when it might be open next time.

Back in the car and back up to Irákleio.  We drove around the city just a little and did a loop through the old town.  Going through Dominica spotted a cafe that she liked the looks of so we swung in there, got a table and ordered pizza and coffee.  It took a really long time but the coffee was amazing and the pizza quite good.  Everyone enjoyed dinner.  We got some ice cream after dinner, but while Luciana was willing to eat it, neither Liesl nor I liked it at all.  It was completely bland.

Coffee on Crete

We finished out early dinner, got back in the car and as the children requested, we drove back west to Prines and called it a day.

Tonight we just took it easy and relaxed at home after what was rather a frustrating day attempting to see Crete.