Thursday, September 11, 2014

Heraklion to Paros

(Note: Steve said I am not to discuss relationship secrets after reading my last post so I'm not going to talk about him at all!)

Our first day in Heraklion we picked up our ferry tickets, wandered about, and cooled off. We had an amazing Italian dinner at a tiny restaurant. I think it was the best ravioli and bruschetti I have ever had.

The next morning we went to the ancient site of Knossos, which is the oldest stuff we have visited so far. The site has also become a lesson in how not to do archaeology. Much of it was rebuilt based on the hunches and assumptions of the amateur archaeologist. Well, let's be fair. In the 19th century there were only amateur archaeologists and it was mostly rich northern Europeans who were interested in doing it.

It is such a well preserved enormous site even without the reconstructions, and it's nearly 4000 years old, with deeper layers that are older than that. I have mixed feelings about the reconstructions. It's hard to get excited over looking at a pile of rubble and if nothing was left standing or at least has been reerected, it's very hard to imagine what a site used to look like as a visitor. But lots of reconstruction out of tiny fragments and you start to doubt the authenticity. How much do we really know about what this looked like and how much are we guessing and assuming? It was still fascinating. The Minoans were an interesting people with bull jumping and snake cults and they traded throughout the ancient world.

We also got there right on time before the cruise ship people made it up the hill. We saw the ship dock during breakfast and knew we had to high tail it up the hill! We finished just as they were arriving. Then we headed back to the archaeological museum which was similarly impressive. So many artifacts in really good shape were pulled out of Knossos and the other Minoan sites on Crete that it was truly overwhelming. Knives, endless eating and cooking instruments, jewelry, axes, statues, figurines, graves, frescoes, etc. Many haven't even been cataloged yet and tenacious guards stopped anyone who tried to take a picture of an unpublished artifact.

Next we headed to the market which was similarly flooded with cruise ship people. We ended up having a dinner of beer and sausage at a place we had passed earlier in the day. Because Greek food, while delicious, gets pretty monotonous after a while. Except Greek breakfast which I will never tire of and needs to become a tradition in the states: flaky phyllo or other pastry pies stuffed with delicious cheeses, pork based meats, and spinach and/or tomato. I just ate an enormous one and I could eat another.

The next morning we hopped on our ferry. It was a fast ferry so it was packed and had assigned seating. There was much drama over seats because we were not seated together and there were Russians all around us who didn't know (or care) how the seating worked. We stopped in Santorini first and most everybody got off. It looks amazing, but god those throngs of tourists!

We arrived in Paros about 2. We dropped our things, said hello to our boat captain and explored the medieval town center. It is probably what Chania used to like when not overrun by tourists. This is where much of the marble was quarried to build ancient Greek statuary and monuments. There are Minoan and Mycaenean ruins on the island. And it is one of those places where you feel immediately relaxed. If I spent a week here I would probably melt permanently into the sand. Of course we found more beer and a gelateria that was even better than the one in Nafplion.

Now we are going to get on a small boat with 8 strangers for 6 days. I will post highlights when I can.

Miss you all! S&S

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