yesterday we embarked on a drive from kissamos in the upper northwest corner of crete to mirtos, in the lower southeast corner of crete. the map had a big, thick red line that seemed pretty clear. HAH! we consider ourselves somewhat comfortable with directions and maps but during yesterday's drive i vaguely remember laughing off the comment from the rental car dude when he said "oh, and don't trust any maps, they're all wrong."
countless times we had to stop, turn around, re-read that last road sign (some in greek alphabet which i'm happy to report we're starting to learn) and a couple of times we had to stop and actually ask for help. for me, this hurts deep down inside. for michelle, it's more like "duh, they know and you don't." i love that woman.
|the way to mirtos, crete|
here's just a portion of the google map directions. it's here for comedic value because it holds no authority, really, on these roads. bear in mind, this represents maybe a tenth of the distance we were traveling. if following every one of these turns on your mobile device or printed page you'd never be watching the road, and the point of this post is YOU BETTER BE WATCHING THE ROAD!
this is in no way a complaint. no way, no how. the scenery, the light, the mountains, the sea and, most importantly, the kindness of the strangers who we asked for help with directions, added up to just one more wonderful journey on this incredible island.
at one turn you look out over mountain sides of olive trees. at another turn you look on miles of vineyards. at another turn are old women dressed in mourning black moving sheep across the road.
|royal apartments, ancient knossos, crete|
over the course of six hours we traveled from a beautiful studio apartment above kastelli kissamos (thanks arianne!) to one of the oldest known settlements, ancient knossos. this is the controversially reconstructed palace and town complex of the minoans, dating as far back as 3000 BC. controversial because the man that unearthed it also took it upon himself to reconstruct some of the fallen ruins to represent his idea of what it looked like. that story alone is fascinating. we wandered for quite a while inconspicuously (we hope) behind an english speaking tour guide taking in any information we could overhear.
after being historically enlightened we continued onward up and over the mountains that split the island north from south. holy olive pit! arrestingly beautiful views, tight hairpin bends, villages climbing up the hillsides, sheep and goats just hanging around in the middle of the road, and we end up in the small village of mirtos with a stated population of 600 people. i think we can count maybe 50 so far, though.
this area of crete is commonly referred to as the southernmost point of europe. whatever, we came because it's also commonly referred to as the sunniest and warmest place on crete and we're still chasing the waning days of summer. yeah, it's autumn, but that's just on the calendar. and, upon arrival, we find this...
lots of greek protests right now, including a fuel distribution strike. we have a rental car and some day we need to get back to the north side of the island. most gas stations down here are either out of gas already or closed completely. wonder what's gonna happen. we'll report back.