Saturday, September 11, 2004

Eric likes Greece...

Eric likes Greece...they put cheese on or in everything! There is even cheese (yes, just cheese) as an appetizer on almost every menu. Needless to say, the cheese pies (a croissant-like pastry with various kinds of cheeses baked inside) and other such goodies are calling to Eric, as if by name.

Anyway, today we visited the site of the ancient (we mean really ancient - they date to 1500-2000 BC) ruins of the Minoan civilization. If you could look past the abundance of tourist and the fact that the ruins have been controversially reconstructed in the last century, it was pretty amazing to be walking around in a place where some of the first organized politics, religion, and society existed.

For example, there are existing, original terracotta pipes that demonstrate the advancement the Minoans had - they built a sophisticated plumbing system to bring fresh water and remove dirty water to/from the palace. Our guide explained a number of such examples of techniques and ingenuity that are still utilized today. They used building materials such as alabaster, quartz, and marble to build the palace, and painted with brilliant colors. To put it shortly, it was impressive.

After a quick "Greek fast food lunch" - ham & egg crepe for Jazmine, gyro pita for Eric (Jazmine prohibited Eric from any more cheese pies for a couple of days), we hopped a bus to the second largest city on Crete, Hania (pronounced an-ya'). Anyone who knows Eric can guess how he spent a good portion of the 3-hour bus ride - napping!

Arrival in Hania was much more pleasant than Iraklion, once we found our way to the "old" part of town. The harbor area and it surrounding labyrinth of tiny little streets and brightly painted buildings that crowd them reminds us of Venice (no, not Venice, Florida). About an hour of hunting and bargaining for a room to stay, and we were off to dinner. And oh my, what a fantastic meal we enjoyed. Live bouziki and violin music, pleasant breeze at our street-side table, and probably the best food we've had so far on this trip (if not some of the best we've had anywhere). Let's see, did we like best the cheese-stuffed green peppers, the bowtie and chicken pasta with pine nuts, oregano, and feta, the tender swordfish fillet with olive oil and fresh lemon, or perhaps the dessert of homemade yogurt with local honey? I don't know, it was all soooo good... (and yes, we are trying to make you all jealous).

Tonight we prepared for a long day hiking the Samaria Gorge tomorrow. A bit of re-packing was in order since the backpack had become cluttered with the usual collection of tonteria (miscellaneous junk) that seems to multiply like rabbits when we're on vacation.

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