From Santorini we caught the fast ferry to Heraklion which arrived about 9.30 PM; we had a quick meal watching the soccer then to bed. Next morning into town centre only about 10 minutes on the bus. We had a good look at the Venetian fortifications at the old port - it's very interesting with many rooms with high vaulted ceilings open under the fort, also many granite cannon balls in one room presumably left over after they found steel??////
The old city is within the original fortifications which were built in the////style as In Spain, Fort George in Scotland and elsewhere. Also there were high vaulted openings for ship building as in Barcelona. There are many recognizable shops in town eg Marks and Spencer, Gap, Zara etc and some classy brands eg Max Mara, Boss, Rolex etc and quite good and busy squares. We sorted out our car and booked air tickets for the rest of the trip. We visited the Archaeological Museum which has many of the treasures of the region safely housed - the bull's head, the fresco of the gymnast vaulting over the bull, the fresco of the Prince with the Lilies, the Snake Goddess and lots more.
We had a good dinner down by the old fort overlooking the harbor. The guys on the table below us, about 8 of them, had so many great courses many of different fish we were able to ask the waiter about the dishes for future reference. We had redfish, mussles and fried mushrooms - the mushrooms were so different slightly dry with a light tempura-type batter - we'll look for them again.
The hire car was delivered today a 206 Peugeot and so we are off to Knossos a site heavily worked on by Sir Arthur Evans, an English archaeologist late in the 1800's.The buildings were originally quite different from other 1600 BC buildings in that they were quite densely built around a central courtyard with much of the site two storey and many buildings of four storeys with columns and elaborate staircases. Huge number of tour groups blocking access, extremely hot day, camera battery gave up, not a site for the purist but the cruise groups loved it. Evans had discovered the site and was reconstructing it with some imagination, using lots of concrete. You would say he has done a lot of damage but that is now part of the site - luckily lots of the original artifacts are in the museum we visited yesterday.
We also visited two other sites , Phaistos (Festos) and Agia Trias, both sites still being excavated and in almost original state. Phaistos was the second most important palace city of the Minoan empire, arranged in much the same way as Knossos with all rooms facing into a central courtyard. The site, of about 9000sqm, is on the top of a hill with expansive views across very fertile valleys in all directions. Agia Trias was most probably the summer palace of the Phaistos rulers and some of the treasures in the Archaeological Museum come from this site.
Our destination for the night was Matala, a beach side town right on the southern coast of Crete. Our hotel is across from the beach and we were desperate for a swim!! The water was lovely but the beach is a sort of grey fine pebbly sand - hard to walk on and HOT! The hotel has a pool so we swam there as well - a pleasant way to spend a few hours!