Arriving in Heraklion, one of the other guys was in the bathroom for what seemed like ages. Knocking did nothing.
I gathered my instruments and bags and stormed off the boat.
I must’ve been a little late, since there was no crowd, no gauntlet, and no taxis.
This is a big island, I remembered silently.
Well. . . what to do; what to do. I knew I wanted to see the palace at Knossos and find a nice beach or two. But how?
I saw some glowing hotel signs and began to walk toward them. My mind was racing. I was dying to take a leak and get a drink of water, but it was so early nothing seemed be open. I must’ve walked about half a mile and I was thinking how stupid it was that I didn’t plan this one out better.
Crap crap, crappity crap; crap crap crap.
Just as I was about to, a backlit sign flickered on and a friendly faced man with a white beard unlocked the glass door.
His name tag said Matthew and the backlit sign said, “Motor Club Rent a Car.” His mouth and his eyes both said, ‘welcome.’
Matthew was like a travel agent. I told him I wanted history and beaches. “Ahh. Ka-noss-us. You must go. But it is not open until 9:00. It is very early. You leave your things in this car, you take the key, and you walk up that street until you see a fountain of lions. Many cafes around there. They are open now. You get some breakfast, relax, and then we get you on the road.”
He really did start that many sentences with, “You.”
I said that was a fantastic idea and walked off to breakfast. I had a bougatsa and cream (or something like that) which was gooey and crispy and covered in cinnamon and sugar with a glass of fresh squeezed orange juice and a cappucino in a distinctly modern coffee shop adjacent to the ancient fountain. I shielded by eyes from the sun rising above the tightly packed buildings of downtown Heraklion.
At around 7:30, I decided it was to get the road on the show.
Matthew not only had a map waiting for me on my return but a route markimg the best ruins, beaches that I could do in three days. I shook his hand vigorously and thanked him very much and climbed in the vehicle.
My car was a tiny blue honda that might as well have been a clown car. But hell, it had AC and it moved, so I was alright. Knossos was a lot closer than I thought and I actually drove right past it the first time around. It was still early and not open, so I sat in the car and played my new Bouzouki, figuring out the majority of Stairway.
Freebird was next.
At Around 8:15, I got in with a student discount and was amazingly underwhelmed. It was obvious that in its heydey it was a majestic palace, but now it was mostly rubble. The famous paintings that adorned postcards and guidebooks were actually reproductions by archaeologists pieced together from only the tiny bits that remained. The brightly colored refliefs were painted in the 1900s or something. None of it was original.
At around 9:30, The InMo woke up. “Holy crap. This place is full of frickin tourists.” All of sudden I noticed how people were pouring in the entrance following someone holding a distinctive umbrella saying, “Follow me,” or, “this way, please,” in various languages. I was lucky enough to get there early enough that it was me and about five other people walking around the whole place. By the time I left there was a line out the door.
Glad I dodged that bullet.
I was going to continue to drive off Pirgos, get some lunch and decide where to go from there. Turns out Matthew’s map wasn’t exactly a great road map. It was more of a general idea kind of guide. Little towns began to look the same, highway turned into village roads to gravel and then to highway and then to two lane highways.
But I kept driving.