Oldest Advanced Civilization in Europe

Trip Start Apr 01, 2011
Trip End Apr 22, 2011

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Tuesday, April 5, 2011

We flew from Athens to Crete this morning across the Aegean Sea under blue skies. Knossos, the palace of the Minoans, was our first stop. Our guide Maria expounded on the merits of this earliest advanced civilization in Europe - roughly from 2500 to 1500 BC, depending upon whose timeline you're looking at - and showed us finds made about 100 years ago by amateur archeologist Arthur Evans. 

He called the civilization Minoan because he believed he had discovered the basis of the legend of the Minotaur, and the Cretan King Minos, who ruled when the monster roamed the labyrinth he'd created. It's all a bit speculative, and it seems that what we don't know outweighs what we do. Still, the finds are impressive - advanced plumbing, frescoes indicating exotic bull leaping competitions, multi-level palace complex, and indications that these guys dominated trade and economics, if not the military situation, for many centuries.

There are even theories that this is the lost civilization of Atlantis reported by Greek philosopher, Plato!

The afternoon was spent on the east side of the island in the mountain valley of Lasithi - at one time home to more than 7000 windmills. Now, it's a delightful slice of rural Crete. Lunch plans changed when the town in which we planned to eat, and start our walk, had a road construction project blocking our way. On the spot, we asked an empty local taverna (traditional restaurant) if they could handle 33 people for lunch. 

Neighbors and relatives were called, and the kitchen sprang to life. An establishment that normally only serves the occasional local farmer took about 45 minutes to pump out a tasty lunch of grilled pork, or lamb, or beef, and the healthy Greek salads we're already hooked on. 

We walked across the valley floor past farms, and a veritable forest of dilapidated windmills, all mothballed in favor of electric pumps to bring water to the fields. 

Our next two nights are in Reythemno, a town marked by several hundred years of Venetian influence on the north coast of Crete. 
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Dani on

Haha - love the combover pic!

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