Monday, 31 August 2009

In Search of Minoans

Saturday 22 August 2009 was a day at sea, exploring the Thomson Celebration and lazing around by the pool dodging scores of orange dragonflies that for some reason were out in the middle of the sea, miles from land...

That evening was the Captain's formal reception and dinner.

We had a go at scrubbing up and this was a ship's photograph taken in front of a backdrop of the Titanic's staircase. Quite why all cruise ships seem to carry this canvas painted backdrop is a mystery to me as surely it's a reminder that even cruise liners sink... However, each one of the 4 cruise liners we've been on have carried it along so whoever came up with the idea has obviously made an ice packet...

The following day we woke up in Crete, in the port of Aghios Nikolaos. The h in Aghios seems to be undecided as to whether it's needed but the Greeks seem to use it and they should know best I suppose...

We'll see more of the port later on as, after we had had breakfast, we were out of the ship and onto an excursion coach that took us on a tour called Panoramic Crete. This would visit an ancient Minoan settlement, the most southerly town in Europe, a typical rural Cretan village and a mountain viewpoint from where you could see both the Aegean and Mediterranean seas - the panoramic bit then!

Our guide for the day looked quite a bit like a Greek version of actress Ingrid Pitt except that Ingrid still has her own hair and this guide looked like she might have borrowed hers... Anyway she was not too boring as guides go but they do seem to like their dates these people don't they? They should remember that even Indiana Jones had to be warned off the dates...

So after a little while we came to Gournia, the long-since abandoned Minoan settlement on a hillside.

It was possible to make out streets and the bases of houses and other buildings.

The town was built around a hill at the foot of the larger hillside, so we are only seeing half of it here. We didn't actually get any closer than this so I've no idea what is on the other side, but I presume it's somewhat similar. Apparently at the top of the town was the administrative council buildings and courtyard, the cop shop and social services office and then the bits we can actually see would be the housing and McDonalds franchises: "No honestly, we'll make a mint... the tourists will definitely come - I'm just not sure when exactly..."

Ah, we're being called back to the bus - next stop Ierapetra, the most southerly town in Europe.

Large versions of the photos from this cruise will be made available (eventually!) in a set at my Flickr account.

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