The Texas of Greece-Crete.

Posted on October 1st, 2010 by

One of the best aspects of my study abroad program is that my school frequently hosts class field trips outside of Athens. This past week I traveled to Crete for five days.

Crete was beautiful. There was so much more nature and beauty outside of the big-city atmosphere of Athens. Crete is unique when it comes to the Grecian islands. There are many foods and traditions that are different than the rest of Greece. A local, Maria, said that Crete to Greece is as Texas is to all the rest of the states–meaning everything is bigger and backwater? Haha, I don’t know.

I was in Crete for 4 days. Each day we spent the morning traveling to different archaeological sites where our professors gave short lectures. I toured the ancient wall of Heraklion, Gortyn, Phaestos, the palace of Knossos, Rethymnon, Aptera, and Chania. The sites ranged from Ancient Minoan ruins to Roman to Byzantium to Venetian remains. In Heraklion there was a really cool venetian fortress that took 40 years to build but only took the Turks 10 days to besiege it.

The mosque build on the venetian fortifications after the Turks captured it.

The palace structure at Knossos was: I don’t know how to explain it. There were a lot of remains left, though it was hard to tell what was reconstructed and not. It was really easy to see where the myth about the labyrinth came from because the palace was so complicated in some places that it was easy to get lost.

Palace at Knossos
We swam at some really nice beaches. My favorite beach by far was in a town called Matala. There, I swam in the sea of Crete. The water had waves that were big enough to enjoy but not too overwhelming. Beautiful caves lined the coastline and the area was very quiet and peaceful. I also swam in the Libyan sea.
The beach at Matala.
On the last day of our trip we were supposed to descend the Samarian Gorge, but the excursion was cancelled because of predicted bad weather. Instead my bus drove to the south side of the island where we took and hour long hike over a mountain to a secluded valley that could only be reached by hiking or boat. The valley was really neat because it was the site of an ancient town. The town was partially excavated in places, but since it was not very important historically there were no ropes and guards to prevent looking where ever you wanted. I ate my lunch and took shelter from the rain in one of the mountainside chamber tombs.
My tomb lunch buddies, Eliza and Daedal.
Even though the hike was a good physical challenge, it was by far the best part of the trip because I was finally able to experience the rugged beauty and grandeur of the island that is off the beaten path.
Really cool rock formations I saw on my hike.
 

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