Knossos in Crete
In Athens the previous week we’d stayed at the Nefeli, in Plaka, the old part of town and the only part we’d consider staying in again; the Plaka is charming and, at least nowadays, feels quite safe. Returning to Athens in afternoon traffic. and coming from the west, we saw the worst of the town and the worst of the traffic. After dropping Phil and Roz off at the railway station, we changed traveler's checks and sallied forth to Pireus, where the overnight ferry for Crete awaited.
That ferry is a good one. A clean stateroom, a good dining room, and the next morning an early arrival in Crete. Our trip was enlivened by another of the chance encounters we’d been enjoying throughout: a Japanese woman, an art historian, traveling with her daughter who was Jeannette’s age. We ate dinner together and found that we had a lot in common.
The following day went to the Iraklion museum together: the one where all the glory from the Palace of Knossos and the other Cretan sites is stored. I don’t think any of us had any idea how approachable and fascinating the artifacts in that museum would be. The Cretan civilization was 2000 B.C.- and many scholars believe it was a matriarchy. There are many ways in which we all felt we’d be right at home there today!
It was raw and rainy in Knossos, but Rina and Teruko, the Japanese women, were only there for the day, so we set off for the Palace of Knossos. I’ll never forget their faces poking out of the giant plastic garbage bags they bought to cover themselves as we stood in the rain to hear our guide. Interestingly, Knossos was one of the few places that, despite the weather, was crowded with tourists. The ruins are impressive, but so reconstructed that the Minotaur does not seem to be present.
[note from 2000: Rina and Teruko have remained in touch all these years: I visited them in Kobe; they visited us in Rhode Island and in Massachusetts. A chance encounter in Greece has led to many more.]