This journey begins in Heraklion. I have a one-way ticket and a limited budget that I hope will last me for at least 6 weeks though longer if possible. The vague plan I have is to spend one week in each of Heraklion, Kasos and Karpathos before meeting up with family on Rhodes on the 12th September. From there the plan isn’t so vague – with 3 other people relying on me to organise their annual holiday I’ve had to be more specific. My sister wants to visit the volcano at Nisyros so I’ve planned the rest of the trip around this – Rhodes, Nisyros, Tilos, Symi and then back to Rhodes – the ferries dictated how long we stay in each place. If money permits I want to go to Chalki which will enable me to join the dots up on all of the Southern Dodecanese islands.
I’d booked an Airbnb for my stay in Heraklion and found a small studio flat two minutes walk from the KTEL bus station. Also conveniently, the bus stop for Knossos was across the road. After reading Mary Renault’s book The King Must Die, Knossos has been on my list of places to visit for some time!
The flat was very good value and immaculately clean – my host Eleftheria’s sister lived in the same building. On my first morning her mama arrived at my door with two of the most amazing pieces of baklava! I was to discover that the bakery Kritikos Fournos is an excellent bakery and patiserie and became a regular place to go for treats!
It is fair to say that Heraklion is not a quiet city – only 15 minutes away from the airport and directly under the flight path means that airplane noise is almost ever present – this doesn’t bother me and the benefits of the location far outweighed any noise disturbance.
Although Eleftheria wasn’t based locally she was always available to respond quickly to any questions I had. I also came home one day to find a bag of freshly picked vegetables hanging on the door! Should I come to Heraklion in the future I would definitely stay here again.
My first urge was to walk to the old Venetian harbour and shipyard to see, smell and feel the sea and sea air. From the fortress I walk down to the bottom of the 2 kilometre long jetty which displays large murals on the wall. The breeze on such a humid day is a godsend!
The first thing you notice when you approach Heraklion city is how the fortified city walls dominate your view. When climbing the steep streets you can feel the effort it takes to enter the city – marauding pirate or not! The shopping centre of Heraklion seems very geared up for the tourists – Theseus this and Minator that! However several little gems of interest stand out such as the Venetian Loggia that is located on 25th August Street.
Also on 25th August Street and opposite the Lions Fountain in Eleftheriou Venizelou Square is the Basilica of St Mark which houses the municipal art gallery. The current exhibition is called Morphogony of the Genesis of Form by sculptor and mask maker Manos Montikakis. It’s definitely worth a visit if you are in the area. Close by is the Church of Agios Titos where a wedding appears to be going on.
After an exhausting day I’ve built up an appetite and relish the thought of my first Greek meal of the trip. Koukouvagia (Owl in Greek) sits not far from the Cathedral of St Minas. First things first – my favourite drink Retsina followed by Greek Salad and Village Sausage. What on earth do they put in those sausages that make them taste so delicious! Oh my word – and look at the complimentaries – chocolate cake, watermelon and raki! What a great way to end the day!