Athens, Crete. A Homeric tale of gods, temples and losing ones marbles.

The ancient Greeks had literally hundreds of gods who looked after and caused mischief in, all aspects of the lives of us mortals, dishing out a reward here, a punishment there, so I thought it best to keep on the their good side when booking the holiday in Athens and Crete. Credit card payments were fine, so I made votive offerings to the goddess Airbus who would take us there as well as the deity Airbnb who would be providing shelter.

Outside Parliament

All was well and we’ve got a super place in the capital, what looks like a short walk from the Parthenon, so the first morning we start the trek up the hill. The temperature is baking, Helios is obviously riding the sun chariot somewhere close-by, probably doing those doughnuts that young kids do, in the sky above. However, what had looked like a casual morning hike, is now resembling the desert scene in Lawrence of Arabia, where Peter O’Toole goes back for Gasim.

Around town

We eventually arrive at the Acropolis Museum and spend a few hours admiring all the artifacts that the Brits haven’t stolen from the area. We actually watched a few films that are played in the museum, explaining the riches of the site, though the language is a bit strong as the words ‘Britain’‘theft’, and ‘stolen’ are casually tossed around, leaving Chaos and I feeling like fugitives?

Theater of Dionysus

Later we walk the short distance to the Theater of Dionysus, though he wasn’t playing on the day we went. It is however -yet again- a remarkable monument. We buy tickets for the Parthenon.

Are these Hipsters from antiquity?

Back at home and planning the important stuff; where to have dinner. We’re going to Delphi in a few days, and intend to ask the oracle where to find a good fish restaurant in Athens, but in the meantime we’re just have to use the internet. As usual, we can’t decide, so walk out into the city hoping to find something ourselves.

Around Plaka Neighborhood

We’re in Plaka, a nice neighbourhood in the city and there are plenty of small restaurants close by and we find a seafood place nestling on the side of a small park. Perfect. We install ourselves and proceed to empty the restaurants fridges and bar of produce. A wonderful evening.

The next morning, in the spirit of Sisyphus thought boulderless, we head up the hill again and arrive at the Parthenon. Not actually my first time, but still overawed. At places like this, I used to try and find a quiet spot, sit, close my eyes and try to imagine being on the same spot, thousands of years earlier when it had been built and the people and activities that I would have been amongst.

The amazing Balthazar Restaurant.

We have some friends from Costa Rica who are in town at the same time as us, so we arrange to meet for dinner. They have found the amazing Balthazar Restaurant and Bar. It is simply one of the most beautiful spots for dinner I’ve ever visited. Set in an old neoclassical building with fantastic gardens, we have the best evening imaginable, with food, drinks, setting and company are all getting two thumbs-up.

Off to Delphi. The town is perched on the side of Mount Parnassus, where Apollo hung out with the muses, probably what Hugh Hefner had in mind for the Playboy mansion, but without the cultural element? The archeological museum is really worth a visit, at least to see the impressive Sphinx of the Naxians, and the Charioteer of Delphi, who were the NASCAR drivers of their day. The scale of the ruins allude to the earlier grandeur of the city. There is also the Omphalos of Delphi that marks the city as the center of the known world.

The Sphinx of the Naxians.

Charioteer of Delphi

Delphi

Pythia giving advice.

I had hoped to meet Pythia the high priestess of the oracle so she could look over a list of forthcoming elections and sporting events that I’d put together, with best odds and accumulators and we could share the betting wins. She wasn’t there that day. Anyway, we had a great day walking around and concluded the trip at the Temple of Apollo. Stunning.

We have a morning flight to Heraklion, the capital of the island of Crete and home to the Minotaur. The first few nights were staying in a beautiful house, owned by some architects, in the town of Agios Nikolaos. It’s one of those places, that no matter where you look, there is some remarkable object or setting.

The Minotaur looking out for our arrival

I’ve booked the super romantic Lotus Eaters Restaurant in Elounda, run by a Brit Danny and his Cretan wife Andrea. Great dinner, and they’ve really spoilt us with flowers and cake as it’s Chaos’ birthday. Great job guys.

Erysichthon eating himself.

The rest of the stay in the town is just hanging-out and relaxing, enjoying the spot. Just as well, as I feel like Erysichthon, the guy who was cursed with insatiable hunger, and I walk from one taverna to the next, devouring plates of grilled seafood and tasty steaks.

Our Airbnb in Agios Nikolaos

We head off to the other side of the island for the last part of the trip and stay in an adorable village just outside the town of Agia Marina.

Again the accommodation is great, the hosts baking us cakes and homemade ice creams that in my best impression of Erysichthon I duly devour. We head off for Chania the old port town and find the super Pallas Restaurant, set a few steps back from the water, with a beautiful first floor dining area. We install ourselves for the evening.

Chania Port with a horse who has a great hair stylist

The beautiful Pallas restaurant in Chania

The next day we go to Knossos, maybe the oldest city of Europe, where the palace became the political and ceremonial center for the Minoan civilization, the first advanced one in Europe. Not so today, as the country has been suffering in recent years, their economy in tatters as they fell into bad company at the EU and foolishly tried to emulate the economic model of the Northern Europeans. Maybe they shouldn’t have bothered, as Mediterranean peoples have been doing quality living longer and better than most.

Anyway, a holiday in Greece is a real treat as you can perfectly calibrate the right amounts of relaxation and culture. More so, the truth is that a visit to Greece never really ends, as the country’s great ancient culture continues to call out to us in the faintest voice at all moments of our present day, a name here, an idea there, a way of looking at things at all times. Amazing country.

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