Wednesday, April 1
Sites Visited: Mallia (Minoan “palace”), Psychro Cave, Karphi (Sub-Minoan settlement)
Where did we stay tonight?: Ayios Nikolaos
Leaders: Ben Kahn and Dallis Fox
So we here we are, another day, another hotel, another beautiful adventure in the Cretan countryside. We woke up bright and early to check out of our beloved Hotel Kronos and meet our luxurious, private Charter bus. First stop was Malia, along the northeastern coast of Crete. We explored the ruins of the ancient Minoan palace of Malia in groups, fine tuning our on-the-spot analytical skills by interpreting sections of the complex and giving oral presentations. A heated debate ensued regarding the southern entrance to the central court—to process or not to process, that is the question. After a couple hours of lively discussion, we walked to the beach for lunch. (As a California girl herself, Dallis particularly loved the sand between her toes. She felt at home. Ben, a Jersey boy, didn’t mind the beach too much himself.)
With the help of Dallis’s large Dramamine supply, we were off to the Diktaian cave at Psychro. After zig-zagging along the precipices of the mountains in our bus (and most of our group catching up on some z’s) we awoke and hiked up a short but steep mountain to reach the entrance to the cave. We only had a short amount of time to see the cave, but it was more than enough to descend the winding staircases and get a mini-lecture about its importance to the Minoans, who threw lots of ritual items into the pool at the bottom. We all had fun pointing out stalagmites that looked like animals, but the most agreement came with one that looked like it had a chubby man climbing up the side of it.
After we emerged from the cave (or the “metaphorical womb” as Professor Faro explained) we headed off to the Minoan site of Karphi. It was already late in the day, and having hiked all day yesterday up and down and across and up and across and down multiple mountains, we were all dead tired. But we picked ourselves up by our bootstraps (our hiking boots that is), and set off for yet another gigantic mountain peak. The hike was in a gorgeous setting, with the snow-capped peak of Mt. Ida always looming in the background, as well as a huge green plain behind us in the valley. We came across many wild goats (and enough goat poo for a lifetime), but we all made it up in one piece. The incredible elevation and isolation of Karphi proves the dire circumstances that drove Minoans to seek shelter in such an uninhabitable place (can you say sea people?) They lived at Karphi for 150 years, but 45 minutes was enough for us as it started to drizzle and get colder. The rain held off, though, and the hike down the mountain was a relaxing one.
We then drove to the coastal town of Agios Nikolaos, where we split up to find a cheap hotel, and the search was a success. Tomorrow we have a day off in this beautiful coastal town, and after so many mountains hiked and peaks scaled, we could use a good night’s sleep and a relaxing day.
Palace at Mallia:
Beach picnic at Mallia:
Evening shenanigans in Ayios Nikolaos:
Day 11 Photo Gallery: