June 21, 2019: Knossos and Psychro Cave

Friday. GT2 Day Thirteen. Aptera, Crete, Greece.

Dominica got me up early today, six o’clock! Today’s plan is to drive in the early morning all of the way back east to Iraklio and go to visit the ruins of Knossos, the biggest attraction and historical site on Crete. Dominica and I did Knossos with Liesl and Luciana back in 2016 when we were living on Crete. The girls we got up around seven thirty and we got straight onto the road.

We found this morning that our house is without Internet access. During the night it was shut off because the house owners had not been paying their ISP bill and we got a notice from the ISP that the bill was weeks past due and had been shut off for non-payment. So all of our long, overnight uploads that had been running for twelve hours failed and will have to be started over once we get Internet access again, which could end up being a few days! Now we have to deal with this while we are out today, and now we don’t know if we will have Internet until we get to Italy. Very stressful.

The drive was easy enough. About three hours. Our little Fiat Panda makes a ridiculous amount of tire squeel and squeaking brake noise wherever we go and has become a bit of a joke.

Everyone was hungry when we got to Iraklio. I had been trying, like I have been for days, to get my passengers to pay attention to what is along the roads and say to stop places to eat on the highway where it is cheap and easy, rather than waiting until we arrive at a place then trying to find food in cities. But no one did and so we were on the main street of Iraklio trying to find someplace with food and some way to park to get there.

We did manage to find a bakery and got a small amount of pastries before going to tackle Knossos. I should mention that if you go to Knossos directly, there are expensive, but handy food options directly across the street in the touristy shopping strip.

Knossos was packed. So many people there today. And it was hot. We did the whole thing pretty quickly. No tour guides for us today like Dominica and I got last time. Emily did not want to have to wait for a guide, and we did not want to linger in the heat. If it is your first time, I would recommend a guide. It is nice to learn about all of the stuff. But I would also recommend going in cooler weather, on an overcast day. The site is very exposed.

Knossos went well and the crowds slowed us down only a little and did not pose any problems. We were very hot and done with it by the end, though. The heat is taking a toll on us day after day.

Since it was so early in the day, Emily decided that she wanted to do the hour and a half drive to the east, to parts of Crete where Dominica and I have never been, to see the Psychro Cave where “Zeus was born”, and where Europa was taken to be hidden. It is at the top, or near the top, of “Goat Mountain” and the mountain is covered in goats.

The drive to “Goat Mountain” goes way, way up into the Dikte Mountains and then to an amazingly beautiful high plateau that you have to drive around to get to the cave site. A really cool drive.

Once we got up to the cave site, we parked (parking is two Euro and fifty.) And used the WC, and I bought us some freshly squeezed juice to cool us down and give us energy for the hike up to the cave, which is a bit of a hike. In fact, the hike is so far that it is about the same as the cliff hike that we did yesterday, but is wider and has trees along much of it and way more of a breeze. They say that the walk only takes ten or fifteen minutes, but that was not at all the case for us. It was more like thirty or forty minutes for us to get up to the cave.

That was an exhausting hike. The restaurant with the fruit juice and said that we looked young and healthy and had sensible shoes (the girls actually wore sneakers today when we were only planning on doing an outdoor museum, but sandals yesterday for a cliff hike) so recommended the hard trail up. That was a bad idea.

The cave is very short and small. You go down old cement stairs with almost no lighting so you can’t always see where your feet are going to go, and then you walk a small circle in the cave, and back up. Coming from the US, this was a super tiny cave, the smallest I have ever been to see. The railing was not too impressive, either, but there was some.

The whole cave took probably five or ten minutes, essentially all of that time being clinging to the railing to descend safely. We all agreed that the cave was way too plain and needed to have some kind of signage or displays or something in it. For supposedly being of great mythological importance, there was absolutely nothing in the cave to see or do. You just walk down, look at the rock walls that are just plain rock walls, and climb back out. The most boring and short cave any of us has ever seen. And no reason to see it, it’s just a hole in the ground. Total missed opportunity to teach Greek culture or mythology.

So the verdict on the cave was a big thumbs down. Not worth the drive, not worth the climb, not worth the money, and in fact, not worth even going into even if you are already standing at the top of it!

We did the long walk back down the donkey trail, saw lots of donkeys and goats, and grabbed some icred teas from the goat store at the bottom of the trail and got back in the car and drove back towards home.

Emily wanted crepes for dinner, so that is our mission. We drove back to Rethymno and tried to get crepes there. But the city was a mad disaster of traffic. Everyone anywhere seemed to be out trying to get dinner in Rethymno. It was insane. No way to park, not even a way to drive through town!

We went up to Atsipopolo near where we used to live and hit our old bakery. I took Emily and Madeline in, they bought some food, and we asked about a crepery. The girls there said that the only one around would be back in Rethymno, so that was a big “no” for us. Instead, we are driving on to Xavia to try to go to the twenty four hour Salt and Sugar crepery that we had talked about a few days ago.

So we had an extra long drive as we went all the way to the far side of Xavia, way past our house in Aptera. Boy have we been driving today!

We found the crepery that is something like Zaxapn & Afau (Sugar and Salt) and got the most amazing crepes ever there. The girls all got dessert. I got smoked salmon. It was amazing. So good.

It was super late, like eleven, when we got home. Our Internet was back on! The girls all went directly to bed and were silent almost immediately. I stayed up working for several hours and got media uploads going so that we will be essentially caught up for things like Flickr and Instagram by tomorrow.