WillhiteWeb.com: Europe Travel
The boat ride was interesting. We both talked till early in the morning with a Greek girl about her live in Greece. Then we slept in the lounge area while all the other deck passengers were on the top deck-sticky and wet in the damp humid air. I checked out the top deck when we boarded and I saw how crowded and horrible it was up there. There was a woman with three little kids and a bowl of eggs. We got to Iraklio early and I was really tired. I slept in a park for an hour, then got up to make the bus to the Minoan site. Interesting but small compared to what I had imagined. Ate an omelet at a little café. Took the bus to Hania. Cool city along the water—really decked out in Greek style, Found hotel and found grocery store. Walked out to the lighthouse and saw little kids as street performers. Got a dinner doner and walked back to the hotel at moonlight.
[Next day], today was relaxing—not by choice but because we didn’t leave Hania until 4:30. We missed all the early buses to the Samaria Gorge. We then walked to a beach and got tan. It was nice and cool next to the water. We went in if we got too hot. It turns out that we were on a nude beach. There were lots of women with their tops off. The bus to the gorge was almost empty because the gorge closed at 4:30. The road up to the entrance of it was full of switchbacks and very interesting rocks. At the last stop we realized that there was nothing at the entrance. No hotel, no camping, and the gorge was closed. We saw a trail and sign saying “refuge 1.5 hours” so we headed up the trail. We kept going and going until it started to get dark. We had to set up camp beside the road/trail. Nice view but windy on the ridge. We have the flea market tent but no sleeping bags. We are sleeping on towels.
[Next morning] it got a little chilly last night because of the wind and it was a rocky spot. Some guys drove by hunting goats. We left before daylight and hiked by moonlight with a tiny little flashlight back to the start of the gorge. We snuck into the national park since nobody was at the pay station. Rachelle saw the guy in his hut with the door opened peeing. We hiked down a little ways into the gorge and found two nice comfy benches to sleep on. We slept for about an hour until the first hikers started approaching. The hike through the gorge was nice but not spectacular. After the hike we got a burger. The trail ended at a beach so we jumped in the blue waters. We walked over to the little beach town where we got ferry tickets to go to Paleohora. We killed the time on the beach. We slept on the boat to Paleohora. Upon arrival we went to a campground and ditched out stuff. Back in town we emailed and got some food. Nice night, warm breeze, camping was much easier. Slept without any layers unlike last night. The disco party nearby blasted until 5 am then half the campground came back and went to sleep.
[Next morning] left the camp to town. Waited for boat to Elfonisi beach. Went from 10-11 am. Had to stay at the beach because buses don’t leave until 4 PM. Very nice Beach! WE rented an umbrella. We walked to the part of the beach known to be more “relaxed swimwear”. Seemed like the same amount of tops off. At 4 we fought our way onto the bus and slept to Hania. Then we caught a bus to Iraklio. WE got there late. Found a hotel. Went to get tickets to Santorini but no luck—we couldn’t find out where to go.
[next morning] We slept in till 11am. Went all over looking for tickets to Santorini. All booked till Sunday or Monday. We did not want to be on Crete anymore so we got tickets just in time to head back to Athens. Looks like we may miss Santorini. Rachelle is bummed. Went out to get groceries for the boat. Also went to the bookstore to get info on possible trip options. We sat and watched the ferries arrive. Fought our way on and found excellent seats. The ferry is much nicer than the Anik Line we took to get here. We loaded 2 hours early. We saved our seats and then went to the theater and watched a movie. Back at our seats, I slept on 2 seats and Rachelle sprawled out on the floor.
Knossos - Minoan Site
At start of the Samaria Gorge
Hiking on road high above the Samaria Gorge
View from near out camping spot along the road
The camping spot along the roadside
The waterfront of Hania
Girl dancing in Hania
This is how lines are in Italy. The lady is in front with 2 men on both sides of her trying to cut in with their issues. The guy in the center is even waiting in the "left cut-in" line.
Minoan site - Knossos
Inside buildings of Knossos
Knossos archaeological site
Sunset from Hania
Elfonisi Beach at dawn
On way to Paleohora
On way to Paleohora
Blue waters makes her happy
The Minoan civilization was a Bronze Age civilization that arose and flourished from approximately the 27th century BC to the 15th century BC. It was rediscovered about 1900 by a British Archeologist. The early inhabitants of Crete settled as early as 128,000 BC, during the Middle Paleolithic age, however it was not until 5000 BC that the first signs of advanced agriculture appeared.
Hania on the north coast is the second largest city on Crete. There is an old town and the larger modern city. Tourists visit the old town built up against the scenic harbor seafront where there still shows a few signs of it once being surrounded by the old Venetian fortifications from 1538. The main square of the Old Town is the Eleftherios Venizelos which is very picturesque, with many narrow alleys and old charming buildings.
The 10 mile Samaria Gorge in Samaria National Park is one of the longest Gorges in Europe. The landscape is impressive as you start at the top at 4,100 feet working your way down to sea level. During the hike the most famous part of the gorge a stretch known as the Iron Gates, where the sides of the gorge close in to a width of only 13 feet and soar up to a height of 3,610 feet.
The port of Hania
Goats on the rocks
Near the start of the Samaria Gorge