The day after our stay in Naples was a “sea day” spent cruising from Italy to the next stop on the isle of Crete. I spent most of the day moping around with a really bad hangover. I must have got ahold of a bad gelato in Naples.
So we passed the time on shipboard. There were dancing contests being held in the Atrium.And we went to a wine tasting, where we got to try six different wines.And some suggested exotic canapes that the wine master suggested would bring out the distinctive flavor nose and texture of each one.
Executive summary: They talked about wine a lot and we drank a little. The difference between the $30 bottle and the $120 bottle was, of course, lost on my Philistine taste buds, but I played along, nodding and smiling and finishing each glass before anyone else.It was fun, though, and I found out that I don’t really like caviar. Surprisingly, this hasn’t been that big an issue in my life, but now at least, I will be prepared in the future.The next day, Tuesday, we awoke in Heraklion, Crete.A slow and shaky pan from our balcony here in starboard steerage.
Crete is famous for Knossos, the ruins of the bronze-age Minoan civilization and the oldest city in Europe. The oldest of various archaeological sites have been dated to 2000 BCE since they were rediscovered back in the 1870s. The digging has continued unabated since then.The smooth, sharp straight lines show where the originals have been reconstructed and the wooden beams replaced with concrete replicas. The original materials seemed to be a hodgepodge of stones buried in the ground when found by modern archaeologists.These are reproductions from the 20th century. The original murals were carefully removed and placed in the museum.
Question: Why did ancient civilizations always paint faces in profile? It’s not lack of talent, but seems a cultural choice. Anyone have a clue?Again, these amphora are the result of years of painstaking reconstruction. Archaeologists spend their entire careers finding and fitting fragments together to get to what you see.The site was crowded and the temperatures reached 100 deg F.Christianne was with us every step of the way, filling our earphones with local lore. All of the guides we had on this trip were exceptional.Several famous archaeologists made their names here. The Minoan civilization might have been the first of the “western” civilizations, but little is known of them since their earliest writings have yet to be deciphered. The eruption of the volcano Thera on the island of Santorini circa 1600 BCE was originally thought to have doomed the Minoans with falling ash, earthquakes and a tsunami, but later research shows that the civilization most likely recovered from that but later failed for another unknown reason.Again, these are reproductions of murals removed to the museum.A beautifully reproduced “throne room” with a griffin painted on the wall.Sometimes the lines in the hot sun could be a bit too long and we would bypass certain sights. Eventually, we had seen everything and clambered aboard our air conditioned bus for the ride to Elounda, a small picturesque fishing village where we were promised a Greek lunch.The approach to the bay was so picturesque they provided a scenic overlook.But we were not the only tourist bus approaching Elounda.We had a delicious meal in a Greek restaurant overlooking the harbor.I had the first of so many Greek salads! It was delicious. Bus Blue #7 was by far the best bus; we were prompt, attentive, hungry and somewhat better looking than the others.The harbor was beautiful.The tourists were cute.The town was the epitome of the laid-back Mediterranean lifestyle.These steps were made from the same quarry as the Knossos stones, probably.And yes, the natives had trinkets to barter at the local Stop & Shop. The clothing was soft, colorful and relatively inexpensive. Lots of browsing took place.
But eventually, we reboarded old Blue #7 and headed back to the ship. We were tired from walking and hot and dusty and ready to be waited upon, hand and foot.