March 19, 2016: Knossos

We were actually awake at eight thirty this morning, the earliest that we have been awake maybe since arriving in Greece!  We are pretty excited, our first time actually getting out to see anything in three months!  It took a bit to get the kids up and moving, but we were on it from first thing in the morning.  I got up and showered, which is always a challenge in these hotels.  This is one of those “you have to hold the shower head the entire time that you are in the shower” situations combined with the shower being a tiny square on the floor and the shower curtains hanging loose so any air, bumping or water hitting them caused them to billow out into the room since there is nothing anywhere securing them to where you want them to be.  The shower curtails really do little more than keeping some of the mist from escaping.

We started the day walking north half of a block to a nice looking bakery and patisserie that we had seen up there yesterday on our walk.  Luciana opted to get nothing, Liesl ordered a custom sandwich, Dominica got a corn and cheese pastry ring and I ended up getting pizza.  All of the food ended up being great, Liesl really really her sandwich.  We did not eat locally but took the food to go and ate it sitting in the parking lot of the Knossos site across town.

The drive from our hotel to Knossos is not far but is a lot of heavy traffic and driving uphill which is a huge pain (both annoying and physically painful) in that awful Kia Picanto.  This experience has taught me while people actually do choose the Toyota sometimes, the Kia really is awful.  And, to make things even more fun, we had gone through all of the effort of getting a hotel right on the road with the Knossos ruins only to get halfway there and have the road closed for construction and have to detour – except there were no detour signs and we were left to our own devices to even guess which way to go to get around the construction.  Clearly they are not expecting any tourists to be in town yet.

We did quite well and were very proud of ourselves driving around a normal, non-descript Greek residential neighbourhood and getting back to the road that we needed without getting lost.

We got to Knossos and there were people there and the site was open.  Thank goodness!  It turns out that unlike what the guidebooks all agree on, that the site is open from ten in the morning until five in the evening, it is actually open from eight in the morning until three in the afternoon!  So we could have gotten here a lot earlier and were actually on the late side getting there just after ten.  Just after us a few high school field trips arrived as well, so the place was decently busy which high school kids much of the time that we were there.

It was six Euros each for Dominica and me and the girls were free entrance.  We got inside and were immediately presented with the option of hiring a guide for a tour.  Sixty Euros for a private tour or ten Euros per adult (so just twenty Euros for us) if we waited for another couple to go with us.  There were three Brits considering and we decided that if they did it, we would do it, too.  Twenty Euros for a guided tour with a full time, licensed, professional guide is not a bad deal and we did learn from doing the Alhambra in Granada, Espana that we can get a lot of value out of having a guide.

SAM at Knossos
Me at the Palace of Knossos

The site at Knossos is really not all that large, physically.  And most of what is at the site is a recreation done with one man’s personal funds in the late 1920s.  With the guide, though, there was a lot of history to be learned.  Luciana found this all to be very boring but quickly figured out that she could entertain herself by running around the ruins.  Liesl, on the other hand, found the tour fascinating and was quiet and calm and very well behaved and paid very close attention to the whole thing and learned a lot.  She loves Greek history and Greek mythology and this is a site that she knows all about and was really into.  It was a great tour for her.  The Brits that were with us actually commented several times about how dry and dull it was and how they were struggling to pay attention thinking that Liesl was having a hard time, too, but Liesl was doing great and having a wonderful time.

Knossos Tour
Scott and Dominica on the Knossos Tour

The weather was great for us today, warm enough to consider skipping even the fleece that I brought, especially in the sun.

The tour was about one and a half hours, a little longer than they said that it should be but we were the last tour of the day, as it turned out, and the one woman that we were with was in an electric assistance chair and that slowed us down, especially as the chair broke at one point and her husband and I spent some time trying to get it fixed, to no avail.  We learned that a few years ago she was completely run over by a kid doing doughnuts in a car park and didn’t just hit her but completely ran her over.  She was air lifted to a hospital and in a coma for three days and has surprisingly recovered considering the extent of the damage and while she can walk, the old ruins are a bit overwhelming to handle.  All three of the Brits were together and had come from a cruise that was in port and are off to Israel tomorrow.

Kids at Knossos
Me with the Kids at Knossos

The experience at Knossos was great.  Luciana fell once but didn’t get too badly hurt and at some point she cut her finger, we have no idea where, and was bleeding.  Dominica, Liesl and I all really enjoyed the tour and learned a lot about the site, Minoan civilization and more.  It made for a really great educational field trip for Liesl.  This is one to remember.  Thankfully she is old enough to really appreciate and remember this trip and hopefully it will always stick with her.

One of the neat things that we learned about was the 3,800 year old pipes that run under the ruins that brought in fresh spring water from several kilometres away.  And learning that the ruins used to be up against a river, that is now dry and just fields most of the year (but a women tried to drive though it during a rain storm a few years ago and was washed away and drowned so it is not absolutely dry all of the time, apparently) which make the site of the ruins make so much more sense that a raging river used to be at the foot of the settlement.  Seeing it today, the site of Knossos makes little sense given the local geography.

We got to go see and sit in the old theatre that was part of the site.  Unbelievable how long that old theatre has been sitting out there, under the sky, being sat on, rained on and it is still there just as it always was.  The girls insisted on getting their pictures taken sitting in it.

After the tour was over, it was just after two.  We walked across the street and hit some of the knick knack souvenir shops for the girls. Dominica had seen a giant stuffed Minotaur across the street and wanted to take the girls there to at very least pose with it.  Luciana declined but Liesl was happy to get her picture taken with it.

Minotaur with Liesl at Knossos
Liesl with the Minotaur at Knossos

Luciana got a little stuffed sheep that says “Love Crete” on it.  Liesl looked at a few shops and eventually settled on a dolphin that says “Greece” on it.  Just small things.  A dolphin might seem like an odd choice, but dolphins were the symbol of the Minoan queen and the archaeological site was loaded with dolphin frescoes.  So the dolphin was perfect as a choice given the Knossos ruins that we had just seen.

We drove back to the hotel and relaxed for a little bit.  Then Liesl and I took a walk back to the bakery that we had visited this morning because she had seen some good looking ice cream there and was still wanting some since last night.  Dominica and Luciana just stayed in the hotel room, not having the energy to go out again.  We brought back some little treats for them.  Dominica got a lemon pie tart.  Luciana wanted a mouse mousse which is a popular treat here on Crete – it is a chocolate mouse shaped into a mouse and then coated with chocolate.  We see them all over.

We put in a couple of hours relaxing at the hotel and then went back out at a quarter after five to go get a very early dinner (about four hours early for the locals at least) as we were all hungry and tired.  Everyone loved the food from Hari’s last night so we all voted to return.  Dominica kind of wanted to try something new and different but with little kids there is something huge about finding a place that they actually like and want to go eat at.  So back to Hari’s we went.

The walk was not bad although we are pretty tired by this point.  It’s a good fifteen or twenty minute walk to get there.  We got the same waitress as last night and she recognized us instantly.  The girls got the same thing that they did last night.  Dominica got an omelette and I went for a smoked salmon and cream cheese waffle which was excellent and quite a bit better than a normal lox and bagel is.  The girls were so excited when the food arrived, the waitress definitely understood why we were back when she saw their faces.

Haris Crepes
Liesl and Luciana So Excited for Their Waffle at Hari’s Creperie in Irakleio, Crete

Dinner was awesome and from there we walked back home, stopping for half an hour or longer at the same playground that we used last night.  The girls were very happy to have this to cap their day.  In under an hour they were tired and both talking about getting back to the hotel, climbing into bed and just watching some YouTube to wind down.

Before making it all of the way back we swung into the Carrefour grocery store on our block and got a few things to make sure that we would not be short anything for the evening.  It was a quarter till eight when we got back to the hotel but we were all tired and all very happy to be calling it a day.

I would totally have gone out for a long walk on my own by the tendinitis in my left heel is acting up and I have to baby it to keep it from getting really bad.  So sadly I am hotel bound for the evening.

It was a very quiet evening.  Dominica read, the girls watched videos and played with toys and I worked on uploading pictures to Flickr and getting SGL totally caught up; and was successful.  As of today, I am posting SGL on the same day that it happens.  That feels good.

Our hope is that we will fall asleep on the early side tonight and be able to be up before nine tomorrow.  We are going to pack up and head out from the hotel as soon as we are up and moving and we are heading about fifteen miles away to a really cool looking dinosaur museum that Dominica found out about online and has been researching.  Several places call it one of the must do activities on Crete for kids and it is rated one of the “top eight things to do on Crete.”  We are very hopeful that the place will be open as it will be very disappointing if they are not, but a lot of research has been done and they do appear to be open tomorrow.  Unlike most things that say that they close on Sundays, this place is actually closed all week and is only open on the weekends during this season.