Peter’s love for Greece continues but on arrival into Crete he was slightly frustrated with the sightseeing opportunities due to time constraints of the cruise ship itinerary – even though this was his third visit to the island.
The island of Crete has an amazing cultural history. It forms a large part of the overall tapestry of Greece and the island features significantly in Greek mythology. The largest of the Greek Islands is the reputed birthplace of Zeus and was the centre of mysterious Minoan Civilisation.
Last time I was in Crete I persuaded my partner at the time that we should go mountain bike riding on Lasithi Plateau. I hired some bikes and we hitched a ride, bikes and all in the back of a truck shared with some friendly but rather smelly goats. We had a wonderful day on the plateau amongst fabulous scenery, working windmills and enjoyed a basic but memorable picnic lunch. Unfortunately, I misread the road map and the day became a disaster when a blissful downhill run turned into an unmade road nightmare of blisters, flat tyres and impending darkness. Needless to say, I now take more time to check map details.
The capital, Heraklion is a bustling commercial centre with of a plethora of historical sites, museums and the gateway to the wide range of attractions on the Island. The city has a certain urban sophistication, with a thriving café scene, the islands best shopping and nightlife.
Beautiful beaches, ancient treasures and landscapes encompassing vibrant cities and dreamy villages are charming backdrops to the locals who love to share their traditions and wonderful cuisine together with generous spirit.
Sightseeing should include a visit to the Palace of Knossos located five kilometres to the south. The site dates back more than 1500BC and has been extensively renovated making it confusing to separate the original from the renovation. Despite this the Palace is in a gorgeous location and the sheer size and scope of it is awe inspiring. A visit to the Archaeological Museum in Heraklion is worth the effort in terms of trying to put the whole thing into perspective. There is also a Historical Museum which covers the period from early Christian to modern day plus the Natural Museum.
If you want to get out and about car hire is easy but your biggest problem is prioritising your options. Crete is a rugged and mountainous island with a spectacular mountain chain that stretches from the east to the west. The north coast is more hospitable than the south but the mountains, gorges and plateaus provide plenty of options for outdoor activities.
Crete has something to offer history buffs and adventurers alike.