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Day 10: Palace of Knossos and Arriving in Rhodos

I am determined to finish blogging the Greece vacation, even if it takes me all summer!

Thursday May 22, 2008

This morning we got up and got ready to go to another buffet breakfast at the hotel.  On our way out of the hotel room, “we” (really Dad, but who’s pointing fingers?) forgot the key was in the lock on the inside of our (extremely old) door, and when “we” closed the door, we were automatically locked out.  And because the key was in the hole on the inside, the master key that the receptionist had wouldn’t work from the outside!  Uh-oh…That was the start of our day.

Our plan was to check-out after breakfast and then go to the Palace of Knossos, leaving our luggage at the front desk until we got back in the afternoon.  Then we would go to the airport to catch our early evening flight to Rhodes.  Now that our luggage was locked in our room, we had to be flexible about our plans.  (Let’s go, Locksmith!  You can do it!)

We had breakfast and then went to the Palace of Knossos (by way of rip-off taxi #5).  This is a Minoan palace, estimated to have been built as early as 2000 B.C.  And according to Greek mythology, it is the labyrinth that was home to the Minotaur.

palace of knossos

dad with minotaur horns

minoan paintings

mom at knossos

knossos stairway

After we had our fill of the really really old palace, we went back to our hotel to see what was going on with the lock situation. Fortunately our room was unlocked and our lugguage was free to come with us to Rhodes. We said goodbye to Arolithos and Crete, and were ready for our next and final stop of the vacation – Rhodes.

It was just a short flight from Crete to Rhodes, and instantly out of the airport we were liking Rhodes…Taxi fares are posted on signs in the airports and all over Rhodes, so we no longer had to deal with the rip-off taxi drivers. Once we got into the Old Town our taxi driver dropped us off as close as he could to our hotel, but because the streets are so narrow, he couldn’t take us to the front of the hotel. We were wandering around the cobblestone streets, where we couldn’t really roll our luggage, lost and incapable of finding our hotel.

down the street from our hotel

I asked a gentleman standing in front of his bar if he knew where the Camelot Hotel was, but he didn’t recognize the hotel name or the street name I had for it. So he had his friend call the phone number for us. And then when they figured out which direction it was, they started walking us there. And on our way, another man working at a restaurant we passed insisted on carrying our bags for us. This was such an inviting welcome for us, especially after our rough morning in Crete.

We met Nina, owner of the small and oh so charming Camelot Hotel. She showed us our room and we just loved how cute it was! She brought us up some ice cold refreshments while we settled in and freshened up before dinner.

charming camelot hotel

Mom was too pooped to go out for dinner, so Dad and I headed down the cute cobblestone street to Romios, based on Nina’s recommendation. It was fabulous! We had the sea salad, stuffed eggplant, the Greek variety platter, and pastitsio (baked macaroni and ground beef in a bechamel sauce). Yum! To top off our night, they gave us dessert on the house – chocolate mousse with whipped cream sprinkled with cocoa krispie thingees. We brought back a lot of leftovers for mom and even though she didn’t think she was hungry she scarfed down the entire thing!

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Day 9: Day Trip to Xania, Crete

OK, I am FINALLY continuing writing about the last few days of the Greek trip…

Wednesday May 21, 2008

Today we had our breakfast buffet (with the many German tourists) at the charming Arolithos hotel. It was a simple buffet, but good enough to start our day.

Arolithos Village - our hotel

Today was reserved for taking a day trip to Xania, a Venetian harbor town about 85 miles away. We dared to try the Crete bus system to get there. We took the bus from our hotel to Iraklion without much of a problem. The bus was about 30 minutes behind schedule, though, so we weren’t sure if it was ever going to show up. But it did, and when we got to Iraklion we went in to the main bus station and bought 3 tickets to Xania. After a painless transfer to another bus station, we were finally on our 2.5 hour ride along the coast of Crete.

bus ride to Xania

The ride was scenic and peaceful (so peaceful that some of us fell asleep,) and it was a great way to cover a lot of Crete in the little time we had there. Along the highway there were wildflowers everywhere – so beautiful!

The bus station in Xania was not located in the charming Venetian village part of the town, but in a little sketchier looking area. At the bus station, the ladies room toilets were just holes in the floor, so we had to pass that up, quickly grab a map, and head toward the harbor.

Thankfully the harbor was as quaint and charming as I had seen in pictures.

horse-drawn carriage

Xania Harbor

the harbor

Xania lighthouse

pretty pottery

curly bottles

After walking all around the harbor, we were getting hungry for lunch, and a nice man from a restaurant came out to us and sold us on the sea bass special. Mom thought it was the best meal in all of Greece thus far.

mom and dad at lunch

After a long lunch, we took a few more pics and then decided to head back to the bus station. As soon as we got to the station, I saw a bus with “Iraklion” flashing on the screen in the front, so we quickly jumped on it. About 20 to 30 minutes into the ride, a girl came around to take everyone’s tickets, and that’s when we were informed that we were on the WRONG bus! (Uh oh!) Apparently there are different bus companies, even though they looked the same to me. The girl told us that the RIGHT bus was RIGHT behind us, so they would drop us off at the next bus stop (on the highway in the middle of who knows where) and then from there we could flag down the RIGHT bus to pick us up and continue on our way to Iraklion.

waiting for the bus

It was a gruelling 25 minute wait for our bus, and when it pulled over for us, I was so happy! I was even happier when the bus driver looked at our tickets and didn’t tell us it was the wrong bus!

When we got back to Iraklion, we found a rare honest cabby who only charged us 15 euros for the same ride that we took the night before (which cost us 25 euros!)…he even tried to refuse the tip, but finally took it after mom insisted! When we got to our hotel, we could hear lots of music and cheering in the courtyard area – it was Cretan dinner night! It was already after 9pm, but Dad and I were up for checking it out, while Mom turned in for the night.

Arolithos Cretan dinner

We weren’t very hungry, but the menu was fixed, so we had a four course meal while watching traditional Cretan dances and listening to live Cretan music – a fun Cretan ending to our Cretan day!

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