Now we have left Crete after our winter stay, thought we should add a few more photos from our time there and some words about this lovely island, especially for those who don’t know it. It is famed in particular for its rugged scenery with its three mountain ranges, its incredible ancient Minoan civilisation and its warm hospitality. As we have mentioned already, we experienced the scenery both from the coast and from our walks inland. A bonus were the wildflowers. Even in the winter we enjoyed the variety including anemones and mandrake (which we only knew from “Harry Potter” before!) It was great to see the olive harvest in full swing everywhere and even to be given our own little bottle of fresh oil from a friend’s trees. One walk included a stop for refreshments in a renovated building which housed an old olive press. We also saw inside some old houses in an abandoned village which gave us a good idea of the rural way of life until quite recently when tourism took over.
The Minoan civilisation stretched from around 3000-1400 BC and produced wonderful towns, palaces and artefacts. We saw the highlights in the archaeological museum and the most famous palaces at Knossos and Phaistos, all the more atmospheric for being deserted out of season. We also loved the more modest Minoan town of Gournia which was close to our base in the east. You have to keep reminding yourself of just how long ago these amazing people created these palaces and beautiful pots, jewellery and frescoes.
They say the Cretans are slow to smile but very welcoming once the reserve is broken. We experienced their warmth as we became part of the local community for a while and we loved the generosity of the free mezes served whenever you ordered a beer. It was frequently enough to act as lunch! The local spirit, raki, also flows freely and is part of the Cretan culture.
One day we hope to return, perhaps in a warmer season next time. If you haven’t been to Crete, do go!
Gournia, a nearby Minoan settlement, complete with a cat who seemed to want to guide us around!
D’s favourite Minoan piece, a snake goddess and a generous bosom!
Looking back towards Ag Nik from one of the walks - in December!
One of our favourite views, from a Minoan fort 700m up a mountain overlooking Mirabello Bay.