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A Cunning Plan

It’s more or less mandatory to go to Knossos when you visit Crete. I’ve been before on both my previous trips, but they were a long time ago, so I was happy to go again. However, the fact that it’s more or less mandatory means that it gets busy.

Getting There

We made an early start and discovered that there were not many people in the hotel restaurant at 7.45 on a Sunday. Even with us, one of our number was there in body but not in mind. But we needed to get up early because we were planning to get in and out quickly, hopefully before the majority of tourist buses arrived. We were ready to leave before 9 am.

We’d still got the trusty bright-red Fiat Panda and it got us from home to Knossos in half an hour. I thought it might take a bit longer but it was really quite quick. The site may have changed in the 23 years since we were last here, but we found ourselves entering a massive and pretty much empty car park. I chose to go and park at the very bottom end – away from the huge bus-sized spaces and under some trees. That meant walking all the way back uphill through the car park.

It took a little while to spot the actual entrance. We found a machine that advertised tickets and I shoved a card into the machine, only to discover it was just an ATM. Ho hum! Not all was lost – we were running short of cash Euros anyway so I grabbed some more while we were there. And then we went to look for the real ticket booth. The real one was a lot more manual – it involved a real person and a few words of discussion.

Time-Team on Steroids

Despite being only 10 am when we were entering, it was still really hot. And I was reminded of the previous trip to Knossos by the near-deafening noise made by the local insect population. At least there were areas around the outside that were in the shade.

Meanwhile, back at the actual site of historical interest….

There may be a temptation to take everything you see on site as being original and authentic. The reality is somewhat different. It was excavated over a period of 35 years from 1900 onwards. The excavation was led by British archaeologist Arthur Evans, and it’s fair to say that a lot of the descriptions and restorative work that was done is based on Evans’ interpretation of what he was seeing. Several things were obvious, but many areas were open to interpretation. Indeed, the “main” bit that you see in tourist photos, the bit of wall with three red columns, was restored by Evans’ team based on his interpretation of it being part of a formal processional entry into the city. Not a massive leap of faith in this case, but still it’s worth bearing in mind that much of the site is open to interpretation.

By the time we got halfway around there were quite a lot of people doing the interpretation. Was guessed that the tourist buses had begun to arrive. The site in general is quite interesting to walk around though. It covers quite a big area and it’s easy enough to understand why it took the team 35 years to dig it all out and restore enough of it to be safe for tourists.

Slow Service

We spent a bit more than an hour walking around before going in and retiring for a drink at the cafe by the entrance. That’s probably the most ridiculous “fleece a tourist” location on the island, but it turned out to be OK for price.

The speed left something to be desired, though. V was the one who hadn’t had any breakfast, so she needed some brunch now. She ordered some chicken nuggets and chips but I think they forgot to put the order through to the kitchen. It took at least 50 minutes to arrive, by which time we’d all long-since finished our drinks. Once they did arrive they were fairly good, apparently, but after that length of time maybe hunger was taking over from sophistication of palette.

Back Home

The car park was a bit more full than when we arrived, with both vehicles and people engaged in Brownian Motion. But soon enough we were back on the road and away.

We got home from Knossos at about 1 am and Kas fancied some lunch. She went alone ‘cos the rest of us weren’t at all hungry.

The afternoon was spent mainly snoozing. There was some serious football-watching to be done in the evening, so we didn’t want to peak too early.

C’mon You Lionesses

The footy was due to kick off at 5 pm in the UK, which meant 7 pm in Greece. Which meant we’d need to eat dinner quite quickly. I don’t think any of us was especially hungry anyway, so that didn’t matter.

The kids had no interest in watching the football, so Kas and me retired to the terrace bar without them. We got a table right on the edge and set up the ipad using my phone as a hotspot. The video streaming wasn’t great. I’m pretty sure that was the fault of the BBC iplayer rather than the local 5G service. It was adequate though.

Which is just as well, because it was a cracking match. Lots of good quality football. Quite a few missed chances, some robust tackling and ultimately a victorious England team. Whoever wrote the script for the final did a decent job. We were joined at our table from about the 75th minute by Dan and Casey, from somewhere or other. They seemed to be the only other English people in the bar who were interested. They were just getting score updates on a phone though. So gawping at live action on a relatively small ipad screen was a step forward for them.

Blimey! An England football team actually won a tournament. The captain, Leah Williamson, who once received some career guidance from our friend Jools when she was at school in Milton Keynes, now gets to stand alongside Sir Bobby Moore. They are the only two England football captains to have led a team to a major trophy.