With a late morning departure back to Heraklion, we arose after a good night’s sleep, feeling decent, albeit quite stiff, and after some puttering around, walked to breakfast at Loca Cafe, the coffee shop where we had met the bus the morning before.
We filled up on a pastry or two and returned to pack our gear for the return 10-euro taxi ride to the bus terminal.
Of all the terminals we visited in Greece, this was by far the nicest with a number of modern touches, including upscale dining (for a bus terminal) choices. I purchased our tickets (30-euros) for the two-hour bus ride and we sat outside waiting for our departure. For this portion of the trip travel was a bit of a nuisance given the amount of luggage we had.
With a trip length spanning nearly three months and two different seasons (summer and fall) and distinct types of activities (tourist and rigorous outdoor adventure) we’d needed to include outfits that ran from shorts to winter jackets. For the type of traveling we were doing in Greece, a template for how we may travel in the future, that is without a car relying extensively on public transportation, trying to get by with just one bag apiece would be the best option. But for now, we had two apiece as follows:
1) Eagle Creek Load Warrior 26” (we needed this size to accommodate our hiking poles)
2) Eagle Creek 22” Carry-on with zip off daypack (An older model no longer in production)
3) Osprey Kestrel 32 liter Pack (This is the 100th anniversary National Park/REI version I bought in 2016)
We would be using the two Osprey packs on the Camino and in an ideal world, that is if we packed much, much lighter, they would be all we should need. But our plane doesn’t fly to that world. In our alternate ideal universe, as tourists we’ll try to put 3 months worth of travel belongings in one 26” Load Warrior apiece. We’ll let you know how that works out in the coming year or so when we embark on that type of journey.
Our bus arrived and soon enough we pulled into the terminal in Heraklion and using our new shortcut route, quickly found ourselves back at the El Greco. Having seen the bulk of the city’s cultural sites during our first pass through, we decided to work some of the soreness out of our systems by walking much of the perimeter of the city on its ancient Venetian walls.
The first fortifications were built here by the Byzantine Empire. In 824 Arabs captured the city and it became the capital of the Emirate of Crete. They built a wall of unbaked bricks around the city, and surrounded it by a ditch. Roughly 100 years later, the Byzantines recaptured Crete, razed the old walls and built new ones, some of which still exist near Heraklion’s harbor.
In the early 13th century, Crete fell under the control of the Republic of Venice. Following the fall of Constantinople in 1453, the expanding Ottoman Empire became a major threat for the Venetians and due to this threat and the discovery of gunpowder, they decided to build new fortifications around the city. Construction began in 1462, and the walls took over a century to be built.
Of historical note, the fifth Ottoman–Venetian War broke out when the Ottoman Navy arrived off Crete on 23 June 1645. By August, Chania fell to the Ottomans, while the Fortezza of Rethimno fell in 1646. However, the Venetian garrison in Heraklion managed to hold out for 21 years, and the Siege of Candia (Heraklion) remains the longest siege in history. The city surrendered in 1669, and the Venetians and most of the population were allowed to leave peacefully, sparing the city from being sacked.
We finished walking the walls at the base of the harbor, noting a sight we had found throughout our time in Greece so far, that of the abandoned building. The Greek economic crisis bankrupted the country and many Greeks along with it. In Athens we witnessed tall office buildings completely closed off; in Napflia that large apartment and here it was an apartment and also what must have at one time been a fancy seaside restaurant.
We found ourselves at the bottom of the main pedestrian walkway and began working our way back to the El Greco. Along the way Joanna stopped to visit one of those shops that offers a fish pedicure, the practice of a Red Garra (Doctor) fish nibbling dead flesh from one’s feet.
I instead opted to purchase a tall bottle of beer and refresh myself that way, sitting on a park bench, warm summer afternoon gently assisting my people watching abilities.
Soon thereafter, with both of us suitably refreshed, we spent time in our room getting prepared for the next leg of the adventure, the ferry ride to Santorini the next day. This involved not much more than keeping the blog current, making a dent in a bottle of Greek wine and watching a movie on the laptop. Later, feeling hungry but not enough to venture out for a big meal, we walked across the street to Kouros Kanamaki, the bustling kebab shop on the corner.
Two good sized chicken souvlaki’s and a beer to split was just enough to kill the hunger pangs at a very reasonable 4.70 euros, and we retired to the room or a good nights sleep, up early for another filling breakfast and then down to the docks to catch our ferry to Santorini. Crete had been a wonderful stop for us, days full of activity, beautiful scenery, good food at reasonable prices and incredibly friendly people. Five days definitely was enough to scratch the itch it created.
Eagle Creek Load Warrior 26: https://shop.eaglecreek.com/load-warrior-26/d/1512C1543?CategoryId=1171
Osprey Kestrel 32: https://www.osprey.com/us/en/product/kestrel-32-KESTREL32_736.html
Osprey Kyte 46: https://www.osprey.com/us/en/product/kyte-46-KYTE46_401.html
Heraklion’s Walls: http://www.explorecrete.com/Heraklion/EN26-heraklion-walls.html
Doctor Fish: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doctor_fish