After packing my life into two small bags, I embarked on the most wild adventure of my life, travelling directly from my temporary home of 8 months in Sicily, hitching rides through Italy, flying to Germany, swinging into Prague, flying to Greece, Budapest and then settling in Australia. I took way too many photos and have way too much to say for just a single post, so in no particular order, this series accounts my trip up until now.
A beautiful sea-port with lots of restaurants and a lively nightlife, Heraklion is about as far as anyone gets in Crete – which is a shame because there’s so, so much more to do and see on Greece’s largest island.
Heraklion, or Iraklion whatever, is a really nice place to kill a day. Stay a maxium of one night in the Youth Hostel (aka drop your bags, run and don’t come back until you’re nice and drunk* and can’t see the state of the place), because it’s a good example of a “you-get-what-you-pay-for” hostel. A bed is only €10 a night, so as you can imagine the level of cleanliness leaves something to be desired. During the day the doors and windows are wide open inviting in groups of flies and probably random people off the street. The “kitchen” is little more than a folding table and some dirty dishes. *However, note that the doors close at 12am, and you don’t get a key.
There’s lots of touristy shopping and eating to do in the main city, but I’ve found once you’ve seen one souvenir shop in Greece you’ve seen them all (I can only look at sea sponge, Ouzo and packaged baklava for so long). Taking a walk along the castle walls and to the port is a lot more memorable, it seems like a little Greek Dubrovnik.
We had a few hours before our flight the next day, so we took a spontaneous trip to the Knossos Archaeological Site. Like a teeny Pompeii, Knossos is a well preserved palace where you can learn a lot about the history of Ancient Greek Heraklion. It was the capital of Minoan Crete, and one of the most grand, complex palace structures known today. For me, the coolest part was that they worshiped the bull and their association with Greek mythology:
According to Greek mythology, the palace was designed by famed architect Dedalos with such complexity that no one placed in it could ever find its exit. King Minos who commissioned the palace then kept the architect prisoner to ensure that he would not reveal the palace plan to anyone. Dedalos, who was a great inventor, built two sets of wings so he and his son Ikaros could fly off the island, and so they did. On their way out, Dedalos warned his son not to fly too close to the sun because the wax that held the wings together would melt. In a tragic turn of events, during their escape Ikaros, young and impulsive as he was, flew higher and higher until the sun rays dismantled his wings and the young boy fell to his death in the Aegean sea. The Labyrinth was the dwelling of the Minotaur in Greek mythology, and many associate the palace of Knossos with the legend of Theseus killing the Minotaur.