Travel & Fun

Beasty Ruins & Off piste Strips 

Second to the beaches of Crete (which we are yet to visit due to the rough weather) are the ancient ruins of The Palace of Knossos the largest preserved Minoan site in Greece, just 5KM southeast of the Capital Heraklion, it was a must on our trip. The Minoan Civilization were the first advanced civilisation in Europe, they left behind incredible buildings, beautiful art and complex writing systems. Believed to have been abandoned in the Late Bronze Age, this structure in its peak was the ceremonial and political centre of the Minoan era.

There is a lot of rich history around Knossos, we had hoped to arrive at 2PM when the crowds would have died down a little, unfortunately it seemed everyone had the same idea on this dreary Sunday! We chose to purchase two standard tickets (15 Euros per person) to allow us entry into the place area. A private 90 minute tour will set you back 160 Euros for 2 people for 90 minutes! My understanding is for an additional 18 Euros per person you could have had an audio tour, and to be honest if we were to revisit the site, we would definitely do this option. It was amazing walking around the areas which were open (a lot was closed due to ongoing excavation and preservation) however with very little signage, it made it hard to absorb the true magnitude of events believed to take place here.

It clearly sits as the most visited archaeological site in Crete for a reason, mostly known for its famous connection to; The Minotaur. Many of us heard in school the child friendly version of this story (go and look up the real story now!) And all know that the Minotaur, was held in a labyrinth. But did you know this labyrinth is believed to be in the palace at Knossos. We had hoped on entering the inside of the palace this is what we had been queuing for, sadly it was a large and empty hall instead. Depending on what information you read and believe, there is no labyrinth, it was myth, but when you enter this sacred ground to view the palace you cannot help but feel you want to believe.

After our tour we took to the standard tourist shops opposite, to hear a little more about the history and look to find some suitable family souvenirs!

After our ancient exploration we needed some…food! So we headed to Gazi, and suburb of Heraklion we had visited on our arrival (because I was in charge of directions and got it wrong!) Gazi seems to be very geared for the hot lazy days of summer Crete offers, with mini marts, cafés, taverns and tourist shops. We took a stroll down to the beach, sadly the recent storm had caused quite a battering to the beautiful beach, but it was easy to imagine what it would be like on a calm day. We had done some earlier research of a Taverna we had driven past under my ill advised directions earlier in our stay. And we ended up at Kritiko Spiti a charming restaurant situated midway on the main road of Gazi. The lady who served us our fabulous meal (baked feta and sundried tomatoes, tzatziki, bread, olives, and a pallet cleanser!) was exceptionally kind and on the ball, despite being busy. A definite must if you find yourself in Gazi.

When we headed home we felt so full we couldn’t just sit down, where we are staying has breath-taking views but little in terms of spots you can walk to from our house. However we had seen a cross lit up a few nights ago and so decided to walk down our road to find the most beautiful monastery Agia Fotini with beautiful ocean views, incredible architecture and wonderful sense of peace as you stepped upon the holy ground. Something we are learning quickly about Crete is the most beautiful gems are often hidden away, and it is well worth an exploration off the beaten track to find them. 

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