Traveling Classroom Foundation
Wednesday September 20th 2017

Arrival on Crete

The journey from Seattle to Crete is a major challenge under the best conditions. In travel time it seems halfway around the world – 12 to 13 hours from Seattle to London (depending on airport security), 10 hours waiting at Heathrow for the Athens plane, a 4-hour flight to Athens, 3 hours of waiting for the plane to Crete, and then a 55-minute flight to Iraklion.

Kazantzakis Airport in Iraklion

We ate snacks from our traveling stash, drank coffee, and napped on the flights, on airport benches and – it seemed – standing in lines. When we finally arrived at the little Iraklion airport it was 6:30 on the morning of June 23 – two days away from Seattle. But then you must consider the time change. Greece is 10 hours ahead of Pacific Time.

Needless to say, we were very tired and looking for the man who had promised to drive us East to the village of Koutouloufari , where our rental apartment is located. Unfortunately, the fellow never showed up. After 2 hours of waiting and repeated phone calls (no answer), we caught a taxi. The trip to Hersonisos was a thrilling, high-speed ride along the coastal highway (the only way Greek cabbies know how to drive).

Because we did not have an address for the apartment complex, when we arrived in town the cabbie had to stop and ask people where to find it. Eventually, we made our way up the hillside to the little village of Koutouloufari and found a tiny sign on a cobblestone road so narrow that the cabbie was afraid to drive any farther. So we gathered our luggage and hiked up the lane.

The narrow lane lead up from the village

We arrived at a delightful little compound of flat-roofed Cycladic-style buildings at the very edge of the village. Beyond it was an olive grove with a small flock of bleating goats nibbling on the wild vegetation. After locating the manager, who apologized repeatedly for having our arrival noted on the wrong date – we were shown to our apartment. We immediately fell into bed for a long nap.

In the afternoon we walked down the hill to Limin Hersonisou (Port of Hersonisos), which is a rather ugly tourist town replete with souvenir shops, night clubs and video arcades to entertain the international crowd that flocks to the beach every summer. After an iced coffee frappe in a sidewalk cafe overlooking the beach, we decided to go back to our apartment.

Walking the kilometer uphill to Koutouloufari was much different than walking down, especially since the sun was high and the temperature had risen to about 39 degrees C. We made repeated rest stops in the shade of trees all the way, and the only thing we wanted to do when we got back was to jump into the small swimming pool – which was very refreshing.

After lunch and another nap, we walked around the village, exploring the agora (shopping street) and some of the local churches. Koutouloufari is a quiet, pleasant little village with friendly shop keepers – a big change from the beach resort downhill.

Church in Koutouloufari village

Tonight we plan to catch up on our sleep. Tomorrow we will catch the bus to Iraklion and visit the famous collection of Minoan artifacts at their museum. That is a necessary first step before exploring the archeological sites of the ancient island empire.

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