OK, so here are some pictures CRETE, or το μεγαλύτερο νησί ("the big island) as it is known. I have stolen all these photos off the internet, so all credit to those people instead.
Balos Lagooon & Gramvousa
Balos Lagooon & Gramvousa
is popular with tourists. Not featured in this image: lobster-red tourists, billions of boats, and beach umbrellas, AKA this place used to be nice before the tourists ruined it!
There’s a Venetian-era fortress on the island (Gramvousa) for the adventurous.
This cave, also known as Dikteon Cave
, is the mythological birthplace of Zeus, so it’s probably better than your
local cave. Other than that, a pretty standard cave experience on rails. Go in winter, when it’s dark, cold, and you won’t be surrounded by tourists!
VAI BEACH AND PALM FOREST
This beach is home to Europe’s largest natural palm forest (see center-image). It’s generally thought that the palms (not native to Crete) grew after Saracen pirates/Romans littered the beach with their dates. Typical bloody tourists, eh? The area is also known for producing tiny bananas, which you can buy on the roadside around there in season.
There are a lot of gorges on Crete. Samaria’s probably the most famous. It’s a total tourist trap in summer as people saunter down the ~16km (~10 miles) of mountain scenery to the beach in unsuitable footwear.
PACHNES - CRETE’S MOUNTAIN DESERT
Yeah, we have mini-deserts too. In the winter and up to around April/May time, this is covered in snow. In the summer, it looks like a good place to stage your spaghetti western, particularly with Vai across the island for those “oasis” scenes.
This used to be the islands capital (it’s now Heraklion, home to Knossos and ugly as sin) and a town full of history from Ottoman and Venetian invasions. I’d recommend anyone coming to Crete and looking for “one town” to look at to go here.
This is my local big smoke. It has a big castle which sometimes smells of urine in summer (tourists) and also hosts music and stuff. Like Chania, signs of the past are everywhere, but I think Chania has it beat for prettiness.
I’m skipping Knossos with its blinged up Minoan history and archaeology reconstructions in favor of Phaistos, which is where the Phaistos disc was found. Nobody is quite sure what it means, so it must be important and Minoan.
If you go to the Zeus Cave, you’ll have a view like this. It’s spectacularly cold in winter and nice and cool in summer. This is a fertile region that is famous for its potatos, which makes it the Idaho of Crete but more interesting to look at, possibly. Idaho doesn’t have any God birthplaces, after all.
This is just of the south coast of Crete, and the souternmost point of Europe. On a clear day, I can see it out my window. The chair is there for reasons
and is not human size. You’d have to climb onto it. Gavdos is a biblical island
- St. Paul got shipwrecked here en route
to Rome. It’s also a candidate for Kalypso’s Island from the Odessey (that’s the one where O gets stuck on an island with the ultimate clingy woman for 7 years). Today it’s home to a lot of hippies and two mad Russian scientists (from Chernobyl, no less!
PSILORITIS / MOUNT IDA
This is the highest mountain in Crete - I see it a lot en route
to Rethymno. It’s covered in snow at the moment, as helpfully illustrated in said image. This mountain has another claim to being Zeus’ birthplace, but with an additional “he was raised here, too”. Where was Zeus born? We may never
AKA “pink sand beach”. Don’t got in summer if you want to look at the pink sand. That’s a winter thing. Also, even if it was pink in summer, you’d have to step over the hordes of lobster-red tourists and flotilla of tour boats to get a nice picture.
What do you do when you have a leper problem? You ship them all off to an island! That’s the history of this place. The lepers are all dead now, but the history of this place is very interesting, and it’s a good day trip if you like that sort of thing.
This is a fortress on a beach. It’s most notable in my book
for its sexy ghost legend of “dew men
” - an ethereal ghost army that’s doomed to march in the early morning mist at a certain time of year having failed to defeat the Turkish invaders. They do not fend off the new touristic invaders
This is a special monastery for Crete; during the Cretan Revolt of 1866 (against the Turks), the monastery was beseiged. The situation was rather hopeless for the 1,000 inside, who opted to blow themselves up rather than surrender to moustache-twirling Ottoman villains. Their death was not in vain; the rest of the world sat up and noticed, and it was very bad
PR for the sick old man of Europe.