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May 26, 2007

Road Trip Day #2: The nightmare to Knossos

We'd decided that we'd pop back to the kafenion in Anogia to get a cuppa before setting off for day two of our adventure. However, events conspired against us. Despite, it seemed, the whole village having been up partying outside our room until it was time to get up, when we emerged around 8am everything was firmly shut.

Instead we got into the car, and decided we'd stop in a village along the way to our first destination of the day, the Minoan Palace of Knossos, Crete's biggest man-made tourist attraction.

We ended up in the village of Tilissos, spotted a kafenion that was open, and pulled up.

0010atilissos Well, I don't know if it was because we were just strangers in the village, or because we had a woman driver, or what, but the old boys were like a family of meercats. There must have been about seven or eight of them outside the kafenion, and to a man they fell silent, stood up, and followed us with their eyes as we made the long, slow, walk from the car to the bar. It was like being in a Western movie.

We weren't going to be faced down though, but we did sit at a table a little ways away from the main throng - and made sure we ordered our coffee loudly in Greek so that they knew we were not just total tourists.

Once we left and had a good giggle, we settled down to the next task - navigating to Knossos.

One of my friends got a reputation he has never been able to shake off for being a lousy navigator - "Navigor" we called him - for failing to get us to Alton Towers in his car one day because we got lost. How, we asked, could you fail to find the biggest attraction in the North-West?

After my attempts to get us to Knossos, I have a lot more sympathy for him.

We got back onto the New National Road - Crete's main highway - no problem. The trouble began when the sign for Knossos pointed left. Now, we drive on the right in Crete, so turning left on a motorway involves crossing over the central reservation.

"That can't be right", I said, "but come off at this junction anyway". So we turned right, and found ourselves in the suburbs of Iraklion. More precisely, we found ourselves in a traffic jam, in the midst of a building site, in the suburbs of Iraklion.

With no further signage to Knossos forthcoming, we doubled-back and rejoined the motorway. We were stuck in a lane heading towards Ag. Nikolaos when we realised that you could have turned left at the junction to Knossos - bizarrely in the middle of the motorway is a four-way stop crossroads.

However, by now we were committed, and so at the next junction we got off and headed to Iraklion airport, and then through the town. Not only was this annoying, but Claire's one firm request had been that whatever we do, she didn't want to drive through Iraklion. Ooops.

0010baquaduct Eventually we got on a good new-ish road heading South, and decided we would now aim for our second stop of the day - Archanes - and then try again for Knossos in the afternoon.

At which point, we unexpectedly saw a sign for Knossos. A sharp right turn, and some country lanes via an awesome aqueduct later, and we were at the palace.

More, it must be said, by luck than judgement on my part.

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