Monday, July 22, 2013

Heraklion, Crete

Crete was not part of our original plan for the Greece leg of our summer trip, but when I saw a cheap direct flight from Munich to Heraklion, I pounced. I figured we'd make it up as we went!

Crete is a gorgeous island, but Heraklion is kind of...meh. It's right on the water, yeah, but it's a gritty, industrial city, (the 3rd largest city in Greece, I believe) without much sightseeing opportunities. Everyone told me the Eastern and Western parts of the island are way nicer. Though we would definitely skip Heraklion if we ever find ourselves back in Crete, we still had fun there. It's hard to find an ugly view of the Aegean!

Our first night out we were lucky enough to pick a place that offered a glass of raki on the house. Raki is a typical Cretan alcohol made from distilling grape pomace. It'll definitely put some hair on your chest! We choked it down with some olive and tomato tapenades...

While in Heraklion we visited the Orthodox church of St. Titus. You may remember him from Titus 1:12 as being sent to Crete to spread the Gospel. The book of Titus didn't have very nice things to say about the Cretans ("Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.") but thankfully we didn't find that to be the case two thousand years later...

One of Heraklion's big tourist attractions is the Palace of Knossos, a giant Minoan palace (y'know, the people who had the Minotaur?) excavated by Arthur Evans in the 1900s. The problem is, Evans rebuilt a lot of the ruins in the way he thought it might have been, which made the whole thing a little campy. The ruins were cool, but with blistering heat, hoards of tourists, and gaudy recreations, we were a little disappointed overall (hey, we're both history nerds after all!)

Luckily, the History Museum in the city had some great artifacts...

Of course, we couldn't leave Crete without tasting some of its specialties;  Loukoumades, fried dough drizzled with honey and sesame seeds and Bougatsa, a flaky pastry with a mild cheese inside.

After two days in Crete we were on the ferry for our next destination-Santorini!

Stay tuned :)

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