We have a long ride ahead of us today. We’re going from Heraklion to Chania on 200cc Sym scooters, the same company that made Joe’s Symphony from Santorini. We have to get to the rental shop by 9 or risk disappointing jolly Thomas who helped us reserve them. He has a lot of confidence in us and I’d hate to do anything to undermine that confidence. With that in mind, let’s talk history.
Yesterday. Boom. Got up. Big breakfast.
Crushed that. Most of it. Neither of us finished both sausages. It was a lot of food, something had to go.
Walked to the bus station near the port. So far everything had been very walkable here. Big points for Crete.
Joe navigated this part of the day flawlessly. We didn’t know where we were going exactly. There was a point where we almost crossed the street, but then Joe sensed that we weren’t supposed to cross the street so we didn’t. And then it turned out that we definitely were not supposed to cross the street so that was huge. Then he started to buy tickets from an automated ticket kiosk, but it was all in Greek. He pushed the button for English and only like, four words turned to English so Joe was like, fuck that, and walked over to the human-being kiosk and bought two tickets from him. Then we walked straight on to a bus that took us straight to the Palace of Knossos. Way to go Joe.
I just got back from Starbucks, which doesn’t open until 8 by the way, they take it real easy here, and I gotta pause real quick and talk about the receipts. Have I talked about that already? If I have I’m doing it again. They passed a law here stating that if the customer doesn’t get a receipt, they’re not obligated to pay so everywhere you go in Greece, before your order has even escaped your lips, they’re shoving a receipt into your hand. It’s madness.
We got off at Knossos and walked onto the grounds. Lots of older tourists milling about waiting for a guide who spoke their particular language. We bought a combo ticket to the palace and museum, which was off site, and walked in. Knossos was the seat of power in Minoan civilization. Home to King Minos whose son, the minotaur, was acting out at school and had to be grounded but you know, he was a minotaur, so daddy had his friend from work Daedalus build a labyrinth under the palace and that’s where the minotaur had to chill but the labyrinth wasn’t quite as good at keeping people out as it was at keeping the minotaur in so this fool Theseus broke in and killed the minotaur to welch on a deal that Minos had made with his daddy. Greek mythology is convoluted y’all. Anyway everyone thought Theseus was a hero and the minotaur was evil even though the minotaur was just sore because he had a bull head and probably would have benefitted from some fresh air and counseling.
Ok so this site was discovered in 1900 by this British dude named Arthur Evans, and everywhere you go there are these little plaques explaining what Arthur Evans believed. The ENTIRE site is based off the say-so of this one crusty geezer. The plaques would say stuff like, “Evans named this room “The Ceremonial Room” because he thought it was probably used for religious rituals.” And then sometimes, they would second guess Evans and would say something like, “Evans believed that this was used as a royal dining area, but later data seems to indicate it was probably a horse toilet.”
I mean this guy’s excavation ended in 1931. A lot has happened in the last 80 years. A lot. Does anyone maybe want to come take a second look at this thing?
Also a lot of the site has been “reconstructed” so the punters can see what it might have looked like. Sorry, what Evans thought it might have looked like. You’re making it too easy on them. Let the ruins be ruins. Let people fill it in on their own. All in all it’s a pretty impressive site, it’s huge and very old, but I could do without the dramatic reenactments. We explored the whole thing, occasionally picking up snippets of tours when they were in English. When we’d had enough of Evans and his theories, we turned towards the exit.
That’s when we spotted some lady peacocks, shecocks. Joe went racing after them to snap a pic.
“I think they’re called peahens.” Joe said.
I looked it up. He’s right. Peahens.
“How did you know that?” I asked.
“I know stuff. They call me the Arthur Evans of ornithologists.”
We took the bus back to Heraklion and went to the archeological museum of Crete. Here we found an impressive collection of stuff that had been found in the place we’d just came from. Other sites as well. Crete is covered with Minoan archeological sites. There was a lot of cool stuff in here. The only problem was we couldn’t get away from this one German tour guide. It didn’t matter what we did, how fast or slow we walked, he was always there, pressuring us or blocking us. He seemed like a good tour guide though because he never stopped talking.
There were a couple of pieces of art depicting what the museum is calling bull jumping. This was apparently a sport where young athletes would run and jump over a charging bull without getting gored, but if you look at the frescos of people doing it, it looks an awful lot like bull riding. I’m wondering if maybe we’re overthinking this. Couldn’t it be that these people are riding the bulls instead of jumping over them? I know they’re suspended in the air above the bull, but that happens in bull riding all the time. The probable result of sitting on top of a bull is getting tossed in the air. One of these depictions even had rodeo clowns, two people on either end of the bull, one holding its horns and the other one behind it to protect the rider and I’m like guys, I’ve seen this. Sunday mornings on ABC. This is a bull riding event. Quit making shit up.
By the time we had wandered all the rooms we were pretty tired but had learned a valuable lesson. If you want people to think you’re a dope sculptor 5000 years from now, sculpt in marble.
We were pretty close to the city center so we walked back to the square and got some food at Izmir Kebap, promising each other we wouldn’t over do it. We ordered what we thought was a reasonable amount of food. Then he brought it out.
“We over did it!”
There are more stray dogs on Crete than anywhere we’ve been so far. It’s a nice change of pace from the cats. One of them laid down in the square while we were eating. Joe looked at him for a long time.
“What a great life,” he said. “That dog has tried every restaurant here.”
After that we reserved our bikes with Thomas, and got ice cream, for those keeping score. Later we found a street we’d never seen before. It had less foot traffic than we would have liked but they were playing rock and roll on vinyl and had outdoor seating. It was preeeetty cool. We sat on that street and shot the shit for a long while. Called it around midnight, we had to get up early and ride. Big day.