Actually, it should be: Phaistos then the City of Light.
We originally scheduled our trip for only Athens and Crete. Plenty to see in one journey, right? But somehow we ended up in Paris on the same trip.
(Only in Europe can you take a trip to Greece and end up in Paris… of course that may be because those two places are only in Europe, duh!)
Anyway, to make a long story shorter than it would be if I made it longer, after enjoying a great visit in Athens and Crete, we missed our flight to Lisbon from Athens because our flight from Crete to Athens experienced a significant delay. Since I had booked them on separate itineraries, the missed flight was our problem… so we were stuck in Athens with no ticket to anywhere.
I found a travel agency inside the airport while Carolyn went off looking for a dark corner with a cushiony carpet to lay on (as if), and asked the man to find us a way back to Lisbon. The next direct flight there was 24 hours later… and God-awful expensive. So I figured maybe we’d just stay in Athens for a bit longer; we certainly didn’t see everything there anyway. Whaddya gonna do, right?
The only problem was that it was a Saturday night and the middle of busy season and some sort of convention was in town besides, so the travel agent simply could not find anyplace for us to stay in Athens. He even looked well outside of Athens, and then he got down to one-star hotels, and then to cardboard boxes on sidewalks, all with no luck. Well, to be fair, the cardboard box people never answered the phone.
After about an hour of fruitless searching, we knew we were in for a night at the airport.
So I asked him what was the next available flight anywhere west that didn’t cost an arm and a leg. He came up with a 6:00 AM flight to Paris for a couple hundred euros each. I thought it might be a lot easier to get to Lisbon from Paris than from Athens, and that ended up being true. That flight turned out to be reasonable as well.
Ultimately, I shrugged and just booked the flight to Paris, and then walked back to Carolyn, who was crouching fearfully in a dark corner (not really). “Hey honey, guess what? We’re going to Paris!”
She didn’t believe me until I showed her the tickets.
After that, we discussed the idea that as long as we’re going to Paris, why don’t we stay there another five days or so? We thought that was a great idea, so I booked us a hotel and the additional flight to Lisbon while sitting in the Athens airport, and off we were to another adventure! Oh, the joys of retirement! Of course, that still meant we had to spend the night in the airport, which is why you see me in the picture above with a sleeping mask on. We actually got kicked out of a Burger King where we had hunkered down, because you can’t have indigents sleeping in your restaurant, I guess, even in an airport.
But before we get to Paris, there’s one last place in Crete I want to share, a place called Phaistos, or faistos, according to that sign.
There are several major Minoan archaeological sites in Crete, the best known being Knossos, which is the site of the famous Minotaur maze. It’s also the largest Bronze Age archaeological site on Crete, and has been called Europe’s oldest city.
While we were interested to see it, Knossos was way on the other side of the island from where we were, plus the reviews were a little mixed. They have rebuilt some of it instead of leaving it as discovered, and I guess it’s a bit touristy and crowded.
So we settled for Phaistos, which was much closer. We found it to be well worth visiting.
Phaistos is the place where they found the famous Phaistos disc, which may be where they got the name for it I’m thinking. Anyway, without the Phaistos disc, you may not have been able to read this blog, because they’re the ones who invented typography! Of course, I’m sure some of you may wish they hadn’t after reading some of my dumb jokes. Since the Phaistos disc has never been translated, I’m rooting for it to be a dumb dad joke.
We hired a tour guide to show us all the particulars… oh, wait, that’s Carolyn. No wonder the tour was so cheap!
Here’s a question for you: How many jars do you see here?
Two you say? Nope! The answer is three. There are the two big jars on the right, and then Carolyn’s mouth is ajar too! I know, I know, you’re wishing they’d never invented that Phaistos disc.
Here’s a closer look at some of the jars, sans Carolyn’s ajar one. Judging by the size of them, it looks like the Minoans invented Costco as well!
And I thought stairs weren’t invented until the escalator.
Here’s a view of some of the city from above. As you can see, the Minoans invented a lot of things we take for granted today, like fast food. It’s what ultimately led to their doom.
Phaistos was the home of Radamanthis, the brother of the king of Minos. In Greek mythology, Minos was the first King of Crete, and the son of Zeus and Europa. Every nine years, he made King Aegeus pick seven young boys and seven young girls to be sent to the labyrinth to be eaten by the Minotaur. Sounds like a lot of bull to me.
Phaistos is the second largest palace of Crete after Knossos.
The site was inhabited since the late neolithic era, which started around 10,000 B.C. To put that in perspective, it is about as long ago as the year 12,019 is ahead of us now.
Just like the other palaces of Minoan Crete, the palace was destroyed three times. This was rebuilt on the ruins of the old buildings in 1700 BC.
Despite its age, we were impressed at the sophistication of the layout, as well as the spectacular views afforded from its hilltop location.
The palace continued to be used even after its destruction in 1400 BC. It gradually lost its power until nearby Gortyn finally destroyed it in 200 BC. And no, Gortyn wasn’t the name of one of the minotaurs, it was another city/state on Crete.
Phaistos was inhabited from about 4000 BC; the first palace was built around 2000 BC.
This room rocks.
Pink Floyd would be proud.
Well: that’s a deep subject.
Why is it every hole is used as a garbage can, even in such an historical area?
In addition to the palace, they had a theater with a great view of both the palace and the panorama. There are no records as to which movies played in the theater.
Carolyn does her best Rocky impression.
This are the queen’s quarters. The fact that archeologists can figure stuff like that out will always impress me. I woulda thought it was the TV room.
… A few days later, we were sleeping in an airport waiting for an early morning flight to Paris. I was embarrassed to be seen with a sleeping mask on, so I wore the sunglasses to disguise myself.