23.10.2008 - 23.10.2008
This morning we began in Crete and went on our second and final tour – to Knossos (pronounced with the ‘k’) Palace. Our guide was quite entertaining. At first, she spoke very slowly (but with good pronunciation!), and it was putting me to sleep on the bus. Not a good sign. However, I was thrilled when I noticed that she spoke EXACTLY like the dad in My Big Fat Greek Wedding – it was amazing! She had the same rhythm to her speech and explained a bunch of words that came from “the Greek.”
The palace itself was interesting, but mostly rubble with a few reconstructions and some beautiful (but fake) frescoes. The most famous fresco was a bull at the entrance, and I laughed because it was a redbull! The one thing I was disappointed about was not getting to see the famed labyrinth. As the myth goes, the Minotaur, with the body of a man and the head of a bull, lived in the labyrinth outside the palace where he was fed fourteen sacrificed Athenian youths every certain number of years. It turns out, however, that the labyrinth doesn’t actually exist. “Labyrinth” refers to the palace itself, because of how many rooms there are and how confusing the palace was to navigate compared to other homes and buildings of that time. (We also learned that the Minoan civilization is one of the earliest recorded, so they can claim the first palace, throne, king, etc.) The family from dinner last night was on our tour as well, and it was fun to spend more time with them and laugh at how our guide repeated about eight times where we were supposed to meet our bus: in the same spot, right here, this exact place, etc.
We then had an hour in Iraklion, the capital of Crete (and named after the hero Hercules), where we walked around and found another fort. Margaret went in, but I didn’t want to pay the euro entrance fee since we only had about 7 minutes before having to turn back and find the bus in the exact spot, right where we left it, in that exact place. Margaret had the “brilliant” (and yes, I do mean that sarcastically,) idea of continuing along the shore rather than backtracking into town to find our bus. Her plan was to just cut up through the city right where the bus was parked so that until then we could see more of the harbor. This would have been a good idea, except that the street that would have allowed us to find our bus from the shore didn’t exist. At all. The time we were supposed to be back on the bus (11:45) gave us literally just enough time to return to the ship before it took off (at noon), so when that street didn’t appear, I got very nervous. Luck, however, was actually on our side. We found the ship right about the time we were supposed to be on the bus! We felt terrible about missing it because everyone was probably waiting for us, so we raced up to reception and explained our little mishap. The guy just laughed and said he’d call the tour guide, and then we happily continued on to lunch with clear consciences.
Our last, and for me most anticipated, stop was Santorini! We went up on deck early to watch our approach to the island, and I was surprised because it was so tall! We sailed into the Caldera, where the volcano blew up many years ago and part of the island sunk into the sea, which, by the way, is (supposedly) the lost island of Atlantis. Anyway, it was quite windy on deck and Margaret and I entertained ourselves by playing with our scarves which were whipping around like mad.
Santorini was different than I expected. From the pictures, it seemed like the traditional white buildings (capped with blue roofs) reached all the way down to the water, but for the most part the towns are actually up along the ridge. Therefore, you have to take a tram or donkey ride up to the top! You can walk too, but that requires using the same path as the donkeys, and let’s just say … they haven’t been potty-trained yet.
We chose the cable car which was the fastest and least smelly route, and made it up to the top to see an absolutely gorgeous view of the town Thira. We quickly walked through the tourist shop area and went on a hunt for a good place to watch the sunset, allegedly the most beautiful one in the world. At one point we walked by all these people looking up and taking pictures of something. They had professional-looking cameras, tripods, the works. As Margaret duly noted, even I had been out-camera-ed. We looked up to see what was causing all the commotion, and the answer is – just a roof. But it was a very pretty roof. A dome, actually, if you want to be technical. The dome and the walls were painted a warm yellow, and they practically glowed in the evening sunlight. I followed like a lemming and took as many photos as I could before Margaret pulled me onwards.
Another interesting thing about our location on Santorini was that from certain, narrow spots on the ridge we could look down and see both sides of the island! The other half wasn’t as picturesque, but that’s okay. It was still Santorini, which is more than most places can claim! As we walked along the ridge we saw many pools with ridiculously amazing views, and I definitely plan to go back and use one someday!
We walked along the path on the edge of the ridge (don’t worry – there was a wall and a few houses protecting us from the deathly plunge) and thoroughly enjoyed the view. I have to admit, it was absolutely a beautiful sunset. There are a few other islands close to Santorini, I assume they were connected before the volcano erupted, and seeing the sun slowly setting with its light reflecting off the islands, water, and ships was simply breathtaking.
Margaret: Even though Emily’s camera is better than mine, we wanted to get a picture of the sunset with both of us in it. We found a great spot with very few tourists and the perfect wall to set up my camera and its timer to face us sitting on the wall. The only problem was that my little camera couldn’t handle the sun so either my head was missing or Emily was cut out of the picture. This went on for a while until we finally came the realization that we could use Emily’s camera and just Photoshop each other together. We felt so smart at that moment.
Can you tell which is which?
When we arrived back on the ship, we debated about whether we should get dinner first or pick up our passports since it was the last day of the cruise. Then a man behind us – who worked on the ship – said “get them now because tomorrow morning I’m going to sell them!” Even though we knew he was joking, he said it seriously and we just cracked up! We did end up following his advice though, just in case.