This third edition is brought to you by the letter "C" for Crete as in Greek island of. Many adventures and amazing views await you. Alas, however, cruelty is mine name and, for the moment sleep is my game. I promise luscious details tomorrow night when I'll have more energy to deal with Blogger's latest version (which I'm sure I'll like once I've become accustomed to it) but for now ... zzzzz.
Crete is the largest of the Greek islands (5th largest in the Mediterranean) and marks a boundary between Europe and Africa. Typical of all of the Mediterranean islands, the weather is temperate although Crete is more mountainous than other islands and has cooler temperatures and wetter summers in these central areas. While human habitation of Crete can be traced back to the Neolithic Period (~6000 BC), the 2001 census has the island's population at just under 700,000. In its 8,000 years of history, Crete's most significant development was during the Bronze Age (3000-1100 BC) with the Minoan Civilization that lead to Crete becoming a marine, trade and art creation center. Speaking of art, El Greco was born (Domenikos Theotokopoulos) in Iraklion, Crete.
One of the largest volcanic eruptions in the last 10,000 years (on nearby Santorini Island) is believed to played a role in the demise of the Minoan civilization. The island has many relics of this period, the two most important archaeological sites being the palaces at Knossos [take a virtual tour] and Phaistos:
If you're not into palace ruins, maybe you'd like to check out a 5th century monastery, Arkadiou. Or, if Byzantine icons are your thing, the monastery of Toplou, seen here:
If manmade architecture doesn't give you goosebumps, Crete has plenty of nature's own. From over 3,000 caves to explore, to getting up close and personal with the Cretan mountains by climbing your way through Crete. Samaria Gorge is a place where you can really get an appropriate sense of perspective:
There are a plethora of diverse walks/hikes throughout Crete. Whether you want to stick to the main tourist towns on the northern coast, or go off the beaten track, there's plenty to do and see on this beautiful island. Bon Voyage - if you hurry maybe you can catch some olympic action in Athens before you take your 12-hour ferry ride to Crete.