29 June 2005

Crete

So Don & I are back in Prague after our fun little excursion to Greece, Berlin [briefly] and Croatia. It was amazing. In order to share my stories and photos, I'm going to blog in installments. The first of those is our time in Iraklio, Crete_that big island in the middle of the ocean that belongs to Greece.

Day 1_beach and food
Crete
We arrived very early in the morning, checked into our hotel, and decided we would hit the beach right away. Spent several hours there, swam in the ocean, and got a sunburn. Lots of fun. After a nap and showers, we decided to go eat a large Greek dinner. The staff at our hotel were amazingly hospitable and helpful. We asked the lady at our hotel what restaurants she recommended, and she gave us many suggestions. David is a vegetarian, so we asked if the restaurants had veggie-friendly dishes. She said yes, things like squash, stuffed tomatoes, etc. And, just like in 'My Big Fat Greek Wedding' she suggested that maybe David could at least try some lamb. Very amusing. Around 8:30, we wandered in to a restaurant down the street from our hostel. It was strange at first, because we were the only ones there. No big deal, we order and start to eat our amazing dinner. Around 10:00, the locals start to roll in_this is when we learned, Greeks eat really late. We had finished our meal, and our waiter brings us a small carafe and shot glasses_the typical Greek digestive. In addition, he brings us a plate of fruit and dessert_all for free! So, we take our shots, ask the waiter to take one with us, and enjoy the dessert. It was great fun.
first night in Crete

Day 2_Knossos Palace and food
Knossos Palace
Purchased some fruit, bread, and fresh feta cheese for picnic lunch at open market. Also bought large pink hat to protect me from the sun. Headed to Knossos Palace near Iraklio. This palace complex originates from 7000 BC! It's the oldest thing I've seen. Much of the visible structure is dated to about 1400 BC, but it's still really old! The archaeologist who excavated it decided to reconstruct some pieces as he believed they originally looked. Don't know how accurate it is. However, the whole place was huge! We ate our picnic lunch, caught the bus back to Iraklio. Funny thing_our bus was having some problems with stalling whenever the driver stopped. All the locals laughed. The day before, on the way back from the beach, our bus actually quit and we were transferred to another bus. Apparently this is common in Iraklio. We went to see the Venetian fortress along Iraklio's harbor and did some more walking around. Don and I stopped at a cafe and had some water and small snacks. After we had finished, our waitress brings us free shots. We are amazed_this is twice now. David and Sarah said the same thing happened to them. We ate dinner, later this time, at a Mom & Pop-style restaurant, and also received free shots and dessert. We're not sure if this happens to everyone, but we don't think they do it for the locals.
Giant jacks

Day 3_Archaeology museum and boat ride and food
We went to the archaeology museum where many of the artifacts from Knossos Palace are displayed. Pretty interesting. It's hard to believe that so many small items survived for so long. I can only imagine how many there were originally. Walked around the city and found a restaurant to eat a large lunch. Again, we received free shots and dessert_this time the waiter brought us 2 carafes! By the way_these shots are clear liquid made from the leftovers of wine making. The flavor is very strong_I think it's almost like a type of vodka, or perhaps pure alcohol. Anyway, I'm not a big fan of shots, and especially the flavor of these. Luckily, Don and Sarah took the extra ones like rockstars! Later that evening, we made our way to the harbor to board our ship for the overnight trip to Athens. The boat was fun, and our cabin was very nice. David and Don were disappointed to find out that the pool on board was not filled with water, as it was still too chilly for the Greeks. We had a good time and were sad to leave Crete. The people were super-friendly and the view was amazing.
Crete

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