On August 27th we travelled via flight form Dubrovnik to Athens. We landed in the somewhat quiet suburb of Pangrati. This is Jack’s country. If not for his appreciation of Greek mythology then for his allegiance to greek cuisine and feta cheese. Arriving late our first night we opted out of the usual grocery run and headed to a family run spot (Marvs Getos) where the owners young daughter lead us through the kitchen to show us the meals of the day, Jack enjoyed his first authentic greek salad and tzaziki. Scott and I enjoyed the greek price of good house win
Out for a short stroll to explore the area we discovered we were only a couple of blocks from the Panathenaic Stadium. Built in 330 BC for the Panathenaic Games and reconstructed in marble in 144 AD. This arena of 50,000 seats hosted the opening and closing ceremonies of the first modern Olympics in 1896.
Hop On Hop Off - Athens.
PROs: A great way to spend a first day in the city. When we are tired its relaxing, we get a feel for the vibe of the city, pick out some spots of interest as well as it really gets the kids hyped about places they may not have considered. The price is reasonable when considering the geography we cover. We have learned to do these tours on a Sunday morning if possible – less traffic and in the morning to avoid the heat of the day. For this tour we actually got off at the Acropolis because once that comes into view its hard not to get off the bus and experience it.
CONS: the audio guides vary form city to city – this one wasn’t really worth a listen.
Heading to Crete
Luck on our side, we had a night crossing to Crete planned with an 11 pm departure. That evening Scott and I decided to pick our tickets up in the city rather than last minute at the dock – easier with kids and backpacks in tow. Tickets in hand I asked the ticket agent which dock we were to board at to which she answered, oops sorry no sailing – the ferry had caught on fire the previous night. Grateful to not have ended up on the side of the dock with no where to call home at 11 pm – we opted for the next day morning crossing and happy for the choice as the ferry was empty and not ablaze.
Home Schooling around the corner, we decided to splurge a bit on accommodation were we could settle in for a couple of weeks and get used to the new routine. Essentially we rented a spot with a pool to camouflage the fact that the kids had to go to back to school – seems to have worked. This temporary home was located about 2 KM from the small village of Georgioupoli. The landscape was dry, definitely what I class as “Snake territory”. Being a bit out of town we enjoyed the surrounding farms, goats, chickens and numerous centipedes. The kids discovered a new species of insect – the terrifying hybrid wasp they named the “Two-Bug”
Days here were spent schooling with recess, lunch and PE in the pool. Really every free minute was in the pool interspersed only with meals of Greek salad and gelato rewards. Days off form school were spent exploring the Island.
Aquaworld Aquarium and Reptile Rescue Center
A rescue center set up by John and Judith to care for rescued or injured animals giving them a loving home home. The volunteers are so kind and eager to share their information and stories with all. As well as sharing a visit the most beautiful Stephanie, the turtle that was blinded 24 years ago and who if not for her caring home here would not survive.
Long committed to my deep fear of snakes it was hard not to engage and have a cuddle with Ebony after rounding the corner to see the ever fearless Grace in with the snake in full embrace. I was surprised their texture and temperature – not the slimy cold i imagined – but actually quite beautiful. Hmm beautiful may be a stretch in my books – but was a very calming experience. The people that volunteer and work at this site are amazing and make the experience fun as well as educational
Knossos / Κνωσός
Following the road home lead to a stop at Knossos – considered Europe’s oldest city – first settled around 7000 BC.
Water City - Heraklion
Home Schooling - Field Trip Day.
After a few days of the reality of Home Schooling – we were all ready for a field trip. Scott driving the Greek highways like a formula one racer by now – he was ready to get white knuckled again and head back out to Heraklion. The benefits of the shoulder season on our side, the park was sparse with tourists – enough to avoid any wait lines or crowds. The rides were hilarious and wedgy producing while the zip line over the pool was the highlight for all.
Zoraida's Horse Riding
And now to Grace’s bucket list: a sunset horse ride. Zoriadas stables were located just down the road. We met a group of lovely girls on work visas form Finland and Germany that acted as great guides for us rookies. Scotts horse Amigo was moderately well behaved, while Jack and I failed to demonstrate our horse whisper talents. The ride took us along the quiet narrow laneways to the beautiful lake Kournas
35 KM south of Rethymos is Prevali Beach (Phoenix Lake). Here the Kourtaliotikos Gorge and Great River flow into the Sea. A beautiful drive and impressive hike down to the water. Finn, in his glory of creativity fashioned a couple of hockey sticks out of some discarded roots and engaged in a creative display of InukShuk – which turned out to be a tourist destination of its own as passerby visitors photographed him and his siblings at work.