“Travel and change of place impart new vigor to the mind.” – Seneca
September 26, 2007: Visiting the Palace of Knossos
Yesterday was our first day in Crete and we went straight from the ferry to Knossos. The palace at Knossos was sprawling and packed with tour groups. The architecture of the palace and the sophistication of it all was amazing; the fact that such a huge structure would be made from such primitive tools is fascinating. While some of Sir Arthur Evans’ “reconstitution” of the site was helpful in envisioning how the palace would have been, a lot of it was also very distracting.
Reflections: Knossos was amazing. I vividly remember wandering down the roads, half-listening to our Professor (who was rocking his infamous powder blue linen jacket) but mostly trying to absorb my surroundings. Knossos is a Minoan Palace, which makes it home to one of the most primitive civilizations known to man. Legend has it that the minotaur stalked the pathways of the labyrinth at Knossos. I’ll let you make your own decisions on that, but there was certainly something special about this mountain palace. Like many places in Greece, there is a charge in the air here, leaving you feeling energized, curious, and inspired.
September 30, 2007: Hiking the Samaria Gorge, Chania, Crete
Once our bus finished careening up the mountain my nerves calmed down a little bit. The initial descent wasn’t as steep and perilous as I envisioned it being. It was more of a legit path with a railing, but since the rocks were fairly loose and worn smooth, it was a bit tricky. If I wanted to actually look at the scenery at any point, I literally had to stop because I would have slipped and killed myself.
After the second bathroom area (and I use the term “bathroom” loosely because it was a porcelain hole in the ground with foot placements), we started singing Disney songs to keep us going. Mulan was the soundtrack of choice.
Anyway, the hike was long and my feet were killing me by the end. Once we descended into the actual gorge, it was even harder to walk because everything was just loose stone. The views were amazing, though, and, in the end, I am glad I did it.
Reflections: Man, did I bitch and moan about having to hike this gorge. I still bring it up in casual conversation with my mother (“Hey, remember that time I hiked a gorge?”) It was a 10ish-mile hike, and I was completely unprepared (ie. I only had my fashion-over-function tennis shoes). I continue to be proud of myself for doing the hike, though, and incredibly happy that I did it. I’ve literally never done anything like it, before or since. First of all, it was gorgeous. The trees, the boulders, the little rock formations that past hikers had created and left as monuments to the gods and nature. The camaraderie with my little hiking group as we tromped through climate changes, suspicious terrain, and potentially dangerous animals (I mean, there probably were some there…) What I remember most, though, is finally emerging from the gorge and half-hobbling straight into the Mediterranean Sea. The salt DID NOT feel great on the several hike-related injuries I had sustained. But the warm water was soothing and calming, and felt like a wonderful reward. I would love to go back and hike Samaria Gorge again (who am I and what have I done with Kate?!) Any takers?