We had originally planned to take the overnight ferry
from Athens to Crete, but I happened to see a special deal on Olympic
Air when browsing the Internet. It turned out to be cheaper than
booking a room on the ferry and only took one hour instead of all
night. My cousin, who has recently built a retirement home near
Chania, the second largest city on Crete, picked us up and hosted us for
several days. Chania's waterfront stretches for blocks around the
charming marina and is a continuous succession of sidewalk cafes and
historic buildings. At night, it turns into a magical village of
dining, music and general frivolity.
Chania also has a large farmers market of both
temporary and permanent stalls. Larry and I always have to browse
through such local spots.
Around Chania are a number of lovely beaches and other
charming villages. Some are geared toward attracting tourists;
others are hidden treasures of local life. The water was
"refreshing" in early June so it was pleasant enough for me to
spend time eating near the sea rather than swim in it.
One day we had the pleasure of visiting the Terra
Creta olive oil processing plant. Crete is full of olive trees, many of
which are hundreds of years old. Severe pruning only seems to
encourage better production. Crete is a fertile island, unlike many of
the other much smaller Greek islands, and it produces a multitude of
agricultural produce for the rest of Greece. Now there is a
growing effort to consolidate the processing and marketing of its olive
Much too soon, it was time to bid farewell to Crete,
but not before visiting the Minoan palace of Knossos near Heraklion, the
largest city on Crete. First settled around 7000 BC during the
Neolithic age, it was the majestic palace of the legendary King Minos
until it was destroyed by fire in 1350 BC. This is but one more
astounding archeological site in Greece. The size and complexity
of the palace is mind boggling for it to have existed so long ago.