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May 27, 2007

Road Trip Day #2: A naughty dog, a bad map, and lunch in Archanes

Day02 After escaping the chaos of Knossos, we headed for a village in the hills - Archanes - which is right in the middle of Crete's best wine producing region. After the fiasco of navigating in the morning, we thought Archanes would be easier to find.

How wrong we were.

I should, perhaps, at this point stress that following the difficulties we had navigating on this day, we bought a new map when we got to Agios Nikolaos. This proved conclusively that the physical road layout in this region was entirely different to the one on the small map given to us by the car hire firm that we were using at the time.

However, we weren't to know that at the time, and so driving round in circles trying to find what should have been a major place in the area got a bit frustrating. It actually got a little bit surreal and Blair Witch like, as we passed through two villages that according to our map were on entirely different roads, without a hint of us having taken a turning or junction.

And then, whilst we were puzzling over that, the car was attacked by a dog - literally.

A snotty scruffy white little thing in Kounavi took exception to our car, and started chasing us through the village. We stopped, and I gave it a good old "Ελα! Ελα!" to shoo it away (I assumed it only spoke Greek).

To no avail.

Within ten metres it was back, jumping at the wheels of the car, whilst an impatient 4x4 tried to overtake us on a bend as we tried to avoid killing the dog. Fortunately, the dog took even more exception to the 4x4, so set off in hot pursuit of that instead.

Of course, it brings into focus that you are driving in a foreign country, and don't know all the rules of the road. I mean, had we killed the dog in England we would have knocked on nearby doors and apologised and helped clear it up. In Greece? Who knows?

We eventually found Archanes, and it seemed to be a lot smaller than described in the guide book. We settled for a taverna by the small square, and tried to relax after the stress of getting to Knossos and then the near canine murder incident.

Our host didn't have a menu, or much command of the English language, and so showed us what was available by bringing out a tray laden with a small taster dish of the five things that they had on offer.

There was a bit of confusion as to what was going on - I thought he was just giving us free stuff, yay! - and then we realised that aside from a Greek salad we had also inadvertently ordered one of everything on the menu - dolmades, meat balls, beef in tomato sauce, pork, and giant beans!


What a day this was turning out to be!

At first we were worried about the price and how much food was going to arrive, but we shouldn't have been. It is quite a Cretan thing to order a wide selection of dishes, and we pretty much managed to polish everything off.


Fed, watered, and (slightly) calmed down, we set off for the next part of our journey - to find the Lasithi Plateau.

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Wanting to move to Greece one day I read your blog from beginning to end. The part on getting electricity, phone and internet done are very interesting.

Me and my girfriend spent a fortnight on Kriti june 2006 to see whether Kriti is a place for us. Based in Agia Pelagia we drove around Kriti. We have been to the east, as far as Vai. A good place to propose marriage, and so I did :). To the west we have been as far Xania. I have written an offline blog about our travels. It is still not online yet, other things had more priority.

However some things that may interest you:

We did buy a Map of Kriti too. The part of the Map describing the Villages above Rethimnon is not correct either! So I doubt your map is correct. I still wonder why there are no TomTom maps for Greece.

Some of our discoveries:

In the mountains just south of the New National Road halfway between Agios Nikolaos and Sitia there is a biological restaurant. Altough simple the food is probably the best we tasted on Crete.

On the new National Road between Rethymnon an Georgiopolis there is a hot choclat cafe that serves hot choclat that is just fluid. Stick a spoon in it and it stays upright. The Cafe serves choclats in various delicious tastes. It is on the south of the road and in the most western part of a building. On the other site of the road there are some large hotels and a place to park your car.

If you want something different, spent an afternoon in Amoudara, a suburb of Heraklion. If you need some groceries, there is a Care Four and a Lidl supermarket nearby. However the fun part is Technopolis Cinema, a very good cinema We saw the Da Vinci Codec in the afeternoon. A whole cinema for just the two of us was a weird experience. Some parts of the Da Vinci Codec is in French with Greek subtitles. My Greek is just good enough for shopping and my French is even worse. That made it interesting.

After the movie we tried some Dodonis ice cream in the ice cream restaurant just outside the cinema. If you like Ice Cream, you will love Dodonis Ice cream according to a local expert. I must admit it is really good Ice cream. We have been to Texnopolis to see two other movies to later. It just had a relaxing atmosphere.

So far some usefull good experiences. I will post all of our experiences, good and bad online on a later time.

Being in IT as a Software Engineer too, I still wonder how you can make a living on Crete. Did you find a job there or did you find some remote online job???

Καλοσ ταχιδι,

Hans Kruse

Maps ???? I am off in September 2008 to Crete to seek out the many civilian war memorials. Many seem to want to forget including Archanes. There is a memorial there somewhere but archives appear to be very vague. I have some thirty village memorials to find. I will find them and when I stand in my uniform playing my pipes, the memories will all come back to those who have forgotten the price paid for the freedom we have to traverse Crete.
Bill Jenkins (74)
Liverpool (UK)


I did it. 35 villages and laid a wreath at each one. Archanes was one I deliberately missed out. Letters to the mayor and others went without answer. I got the feeling that Archanes wanted to sweep history under the carpet. I placed a wreath dedicated to the victims of Arcanes on the memorial in the centre of Heraklion.Othwise a wonderful experience.


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