After Athens, we spent 10 days on the island of Crete–the birthplace of Europe’s first civilization. Everyone knows of Knossos, the legendary home of King Minos and the labyrinth that Sir Arthur Evans discovered. We visited the site last year. This year, however, we explored other fine Minoan sites where one can wander without ropes. Also, if I could go back to grad school, I would study Cretan Byzantine frescoes. There are about 800 frescoed churches on the island, most of which are unlocked and off the beaten track. They are also terribly preserved. Still, I was blown away by their imaginative, fresh style. Some dated to the 10th century and showed a level of artistry that, in my mind, rivalled the frescoes of Giotto–the 14th century Italian painter who I was taught set the Proto Renaissance bar.
But let’s get down to brass tacks. We spent six days in the region of Chania (western Crete) and four in southern Heraklion (eastern Crete).