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 Mediterranean Cruise 2008 - 10/08 - Iraklio

Cruise Pictures
     

10/08 - Iraklio
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While Egypt was great with it's food and excellent exchange rate, part of me was happy to return to Greece which is more modern and western, for instance random restrooms in Greece tend to be pretty nice and clean, more people speak English, etc.

The group decided to rent cars in Iraklio, Crete (also called Heraklion) but it took hours to get every one off the boat and agreeing on how to split up. The tough part was that the rental cars were quite small, fitting just four passengers instead of five.

My family got a Hyundai Atos Prime which I estimated to have 60-70HP only. I later looked it up and found it to have a mere 58HP. It was quite a small car and even with the seat all the way back, I was unable to straighten my legs, especially when driving. The pedals were so close that I could never rest my thighs on the seat.

The rental guy asked if I was comfortable driving in Greece and I told him that I had driven in Corfu to which he replied, "Corfu? They're civilized there!" That didn't worry me though and I will say that I rather enjoyed driving in Crete.

The main rule for driving in Crete is that you should drive as far right as you can unless passing. Often this means driving on the line or driving on the shoulder so that people can easily pass you on the left. There is no such thing as a person driving slowly in the left there and if you block others you will get flashed.

People pass others all the time on Crete and it's very easy b/c everyone else is driving on the right side. Even with only 58HP going up hill with four passengers, it was easy to pass. As a result, it's not uncommon for a two lane road to have four cars across: two cars going one way and two cars going the opposite way, passing each other.

Traffic was interesting as well. In general, no one yields right of way, you just have to force yourself into traffic and people will then slow down for you. Turning left onto a big busy street was a bit tough and I got honked at for waiting too long. Basically, as soon as there is the slightest gap between cars, you just force your way through and if you end up blocking traffic, oh well.

Our first stop was the Palace of Knossos. The Knossos civilization was considered one of the most advanced in the ancient world, but the civilization was mysteriously destroyed. Most historians believe that the volcanic eruption that created what is now Santorini was the cause. It is estimated that the explosion created a tsunami 30 meters tall, more than enough to wipe out Knossos on nearby Crete.

After Knossos we drove west to Rethymno where we had a very nice local meze lunch. After visiting the beach and driving by the Venetion fortress, we found ourselves low on time and had to head back. Unfortunately, our delays in the morning meant we didn't have time to check out Iraklio. My advice, if you ever plan to rent a car and drive around an Greek island, is to wake up early and make the most of your day!

Once we returned to the ship for an early departure, my sister and I sat on our balcony and watched as the ship left port before heading to Grand Pacific for dinner.

10/08 pictures are here.
Posted 10/28/2008 09:43 PM in Dessert, Food, Greece, Pictures, Restaurants, Reviews, Travel | Total Comments: (9)
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Tiffany, Daphne and some parents in front of the port in Iraklio (Crete).   A church by the port.   Our rental car, a tiny Hyundai Atos Prime.

     
It was a small car, my seat was pushed all the way back and I still had to bend down to see lights and my legs were never fully resting on the seat.   The ancient Palace of Knossos was discovered by Athur Evans. Knossos is where the mythical Minotaur and Labyrinth were (no evidence of a Labyrinth was every found though).

     
Some pits found at Knossos, but no one knows what they were used for.

     
A lizard my sister spotted.   West court and grounds

     
The West Porch and other areas

     
The south grounds, including a restored fresco of the "Prince of the Lillies" although no one knows what the original actually depicted.

     
West Wing and Central Court

     
Central Court and lower East Wing

     
Grand Staircase and Throne Room

     
Throne Room and other surrounding buildings

     
Queen's Megaron

     
More areas around Knossos Palace

     
Scooter, motorcycle and ATV rental rates in Rethymno   Rethymno Beach

     
For lunch we picked this meze restaurant. Mezes are small dishes, like Greek dim sum or tapas.

     
Greek Salad with the sweetest onions I've ever had. No bite or onion breath at the end, just crisp and smooth, almost like a pear! Tasty feta cheese and tomatoes, though a tad light on the vinegar.   We ordered some octopus which was only so-so. It was nice to see the whole tentacle but it was a bit chewy and not very tasty.   Roast potatoes - brushed with olive oil and sprinkled with salt. They were a bit salty but they paired will with the Saganaki, Tzatziki or snails   Fried Saganaki Cheese, very flavorful.

     
Bread and butter. The bread was a bit tough but it went well with all our mezes.   A nice rich, creamy Tzatziki.   A couple Greek women had a pile of these so we asked the waitress for some. They are called Saligaria and are considered a specialty in Crete (which I didn't know until afterwards). You're supposed to break a hole in the center and suck them out, but I didn't know that either so we used the fork method. These were prepared with rosemary and olive oil and do not taste anything like French garlic and butter escargot. I can't really describe them any way but "earthy." My dad loved them, I thought they were so-so. I guess it's an acquired taste.

     
Soutzoukakia meatballs - beefy and herby, though I couldn't identify the herbs. On the other hand, the tomato sauce could have used a little more herbs and a little salt.   These sardines were larger than the ones in Katakolo which meant that the bones weren't so easily eaten so we ended up pulling out the spines. As a result, they weren't as good either.   Village Sausage - Pork sausages but I can't remember what they tasted like, I guess they weren't so memorable.   Some Raki, a strong Greek liquor

     
Mythos, a popular Greek beer, very light and crisp with a very clean finish. I liked it quite a bit.   My sister running to dip her foot in the Mediterranean   Some beaches at Rethymno with my mom on the boardwalk.

     
More beaches   Our Atos Prime   The Venetian Fortress in Rethymno   View from the Fortress

     
Pics of the Mediterranean by the Fortress   The beautiful clear blue water of the Mediterranean.   A cafe in the middle of the mile long port wall.

     
A fun array of ships in the bay: sailboat, dinghy, fishing boat and tug boat.

     
The outer wake left by our cruise ship   View of Crete as we sail away.   Imagine sailing off on your own in the Mediterranean.   A nice towel rabbit from our stewards.

     
Black and tan, not made very well.   Grand Pacific menu for the day.   Crab Hot and Sour Soup with tofu, bamboo shoots and straw mushrooms - the second worst hot and sour I've ever had. Watery, not very sour, not very hot, not enough stuff, just kind of bland in general. (#1 worst was in Spain).

     
Cooking Light Curried Butternut Squash Soup - decent light curry flavor but you couldn't taste the butternut squash.   Spinach and Onion Turnover with Emmental cheese - not enough spinach, not enough cheese, but the pastry was good.   "Surf and More Surf" Lobster Tail, Shrimp, Mussels, Scallops, Filet of Snapper tossed on a bed of Linguini. Excellent fresh seafood and nice light butter and lemon sauce for the pasta.   Fruit Trifle with layers of Vanilla Cream, Fruits and Cherry soaked genoise. The cream custard was a bit limp but tasted pretty good with the fruit and sponge cake.

     
No Sugar Added Vanilla Cream Puff with Strawberry Coulis - simple and tasty.   Flourless Molten Chocolate Cake with Raspberry Sauce - beautifully presented, chocolatey but not overly sweet with a nice molten center.   Ice cream with a nice crispy wafer.   Cooking Light Pistachio Pot de Creme - very mild pistachio flavor, a little gelatinous, but otherwise pretty tasty.

 

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