We packed our bags quickly and drove off to Heraklion with no sort of real plan. It takes about 3 hours from Kissamos. We drove past fantastic scenery, coves and small villages tucked away in hillsides. We stopped a couple of times to check out a few bays, including Bali which was nice but not as good as the real Bali so mum said.
Heraklion is the capital city of Crete and one of the largest in Greece. It is massive, stretching over an area of 684 km2. Compared to all the other towns we went through this was nearly as busy as Athens. Cars rushing, the scent of food everywhere you went, pedestrians rushing over every road.
We spent a while looking for a decent, open, cheap hotel. In the end we stopped on one of the main streets in a business hotel. The room was small with just a bathroom and 3 single beds but we only needed one night.
Later on we put coats and shoes on and off we went searching for food in a cheap stall or restaurant somewhere. All we had for navigation was a tiny map that the man in the reception gave us which proved to be useless as we got lost quickly. But at least we got to see a lot of the city by foot and at night.
Since me and my mum are vegetarians and we don’t eat fish it was quite difficult to find somewhere but to be honest there weren’t as many eating places as you would think.
We finally made it to the old port were there was supposed to be places to eat. We walked through Venetian arches and walked around the bay until we found a place that said-
Cafe and Restaurant
and it was on the water so it rocked about. I told TUT (The Ultimate Traveller) that I wouldn’t be able to eat in a restaurant that rocked with out throwing up but we went in anyway.
When we asked what sort of food they had (at this point I was desperate for food and when I’m hungry I can’t do or think of anything else) they said we didn’t have food. It seemed they only had drinks so we got a drink for each of us and then we were out again looking for food (me with a terrible headache, from hunger and from the rocking boat-cafe).
In the end we had to go to macdonalds which I wasn’t keen on but if it meant food I wasn’t bothered at this point (amazingly they had a veggie burger). When we were full we went back to the hotel and went straight to sleep, fortunately on a full stomach.
The next day we drove to the site of Knossos not far from the capital city. Knossos is the largest Bronze age archaelogical site in Crete and is considered Europe’s oldest city. They say it’s Minoan (another civilization but people don’t really know if it was actually a real civilization or not) but some people say it could of been built by the Egyptians if they sailed from Egypt to here.
It was excavated by Arthur Evans an English archaelogist in 1851-1941. When you went in the site, on every board it said “Arthur Evans did such and such”. Arthur Evans re-constructed this site the way he thought it would have been originally but it seems the people that live here don’t agree with him and he probably just did it the way he wanted without a lot of thought.
There were lots of peococks here so Jed was entertained with them as it was his first time to see a real peacock.
The buildings were wonderful with colours in them and such detail. These were my favourite paintings and buildings-.
Once we had finished we drove another 2 hours south to the town of Matala. When we reached a certain junction with either a left or right turn and no signs, TUT asked us which way we thought it was. I said left, mum left and of course he had to go in the way he thought it was so… right.
There was no point in arguing. It turned out we were going back in the same direction as we came so yes I was right. Listen to us sometimes, no just listen to us always 😉
Once we reached Matala we found a great hotel room, spacious with a double and 2 singles with a bath all for the same price as in Heraklion, it was a bargain! We all had baths (which was great) and went to bed.
Matala is famous for the Matala caves. In the 60’s and 70’s it was famous for hippies and famous singers such as Bob Dylan, John Lennon and Joni Mitchel staying in the caves. The caves made of sandstone are on the beach looking over the Libyan Sea.
So the next day we paid a small entrance fee and went exploring in as many caves as possible.
It’s great to think that some of the greatest 60’s singers were here and wrote some of their songs here. We saw hippy drawings, carved names, stone beds, hooks that they would have hung belongings on and fantastic views.
My favourite was one cave that had a fabulous view just from the bed.
We went back down to the beach and sat around there for a while and got talking to a few hippies that had just arrived.
After a while on the beach we decided to walk to Red beach, which was just over the hill on the left. It was a fairly steep hill but it was worth it.
Once we reached the top and on our way down we spotted a guy that was setting up his own accommodation in one of the caves. About half way down the beach and the white cliffs came into view. The beach wasn’t exactly Red but it was pinkish.
We sat on the beach and played with Jed for a couple of hours.
Under the cliffs there were hippy carvings such as reptiles, birds and peace sign’s which were very well done.
On our way back up the guy from the cave was sat on a wall watching the sun set.
TUT and mum had brought some wine so since TUT was a bit drunk he gave the rest of the wine, water and a bit of food to the man and shook his hand like he was some sort of Olympic gold medalist. The sun set was beautiful too.
We stayed here one more night and the next day we drove home and stopped a few times to admire the beauty of Crete.
2 thoughts on “Venetians to Minoans to Hippies”
Excellent, excellent tour. I’ll definitely put Matala and the Red Beach on my next list of places to go while here in Crete. Thanks for the head’s up! The hippie vibes of Malata and the caves ar very interesting. That shirtless kid gave me a surprise laugh. 😀 We enjoyed Knossos Palace. It’s so awesome with its historical significance as well to Greek mythology. Excellent post on Heraklio.
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Thanks for reading! Yes Matala and the Red beach you must visit. The shirtless kid is my brother 😀. I’m glad you too like Knossos palace. Enjoy the rest of your trip!