The Minoan Palace at Knossos & Heraklion

The Minoan Palace at Knossos & Heraklion

by | Oct 3, 2021 | Place Going & Thing Doing | 0 comments

This year I crossed off a bucket list item when we went to Crete: The Minoan Palace at Knossos. We couldn’t have gone at a better time. The crowds were still low thanks to COVID travel-hesitancy, and the weather was cool and moody. The clouds sat over the hills brooding and making the weather really quite pleasant. I wandered around the ruins imagining the Minoan center of government bustling with people coming and going, thinking themselves so modern.

Standing in the home of the legend of the minotaur and the labyrinth, in my mind’s eye I pictured Theseus storming down the walkways, rushing down stairs and through corridors to vanquish the Minotaur…with a ball of thread marking his path. It was great. Absolutely worth the travel.

We took the ferry from Athens to Crete overnight. It was a beautiful sunrise which quickly turned to rain. We walked a short distance from the ferry dock up to the bus station. We considered our options: should we leave our bags at the bus station bag check and take a bus out to Knossos? Nope, we decided to walk down the street a short ways and rent a car.

I think we absolutely made the right decision. Despite the absolute nuttiness of driving a car in Heraklion where the signs are in Greek, the traffic is fast, and everyone except us knew where they were going. Add to this insanity the fact that our car felt like it was one speed bump away from falling apart (we got the only car they had available that day since we hadn’t made a reservation before hand!) and The Man hadn’t driven a stick shift in many years…so there was much stalling and jerking for the first many miles.

When we got out of Heraklion and into the countryside it was magic. We rolled down the windows and smelled the freshly-rained Greek hills. We listened to the Greco-English radio stations. We enjoyed the moment and purposely took the countryside fork when we could have gone straight to Knossos on the left. It was wonderful.

After driving through the countryside for a bit, we headed back towards Knossos and parked at the palace parking lot. We were hungry, so we crossed the street to a little cafe called Minotavros. I loved every bite! I highly recommend stopping. The hosts spoke perfect English and we were the only people there.

We shared a delicious omelette, fruit smoothie, Greek yogurt drizzled with honey, and Turkish coffee. The fruit and honey came from the local Crete farms. There are herbs similar to sage which grow in the hills the bees eat which gives the honey and amazing depth. And the fruit was obviously fresh and so flavorful. I wish I could have eaten more but I was too full.

Finally, we walked up the street to the palace and opted for the self-guided tour because I wanted to just wander around and enjoy. Although the tour guides spoke perfect English and seemed extremely knowledgeable, I wanted to be free to stand and look at things as long as I wanted to, or not, without being hurried along to the next scheduled point of interest.

And wander we did. After visiting the palace, we drove back to Heraklion and found our way to the Archaeological Museum. Finding a place to park and dealing with the winding narrow hills and blind corners of Heraklion was stressful, but totally worth it. We parked in something of a valet lot where the parking professionals squeezed cars into spaces like a fat woman in skinny jeans; truly they were masters of space. From there we walked through Heraklion over to the museum.

The museum was spectacular. I absolutely recommend it, and I especially recommend going *after* you’ve visited the palace because you’re better able to appreciate the marvelous craftsmanship of the pottery, the intricate wood recreation of the entire palace, and all the displays resurrected before your eyes to recreate the Minoan past and journey through time as the history of Crete unfolded.

More about Crete later!


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