Today is our last full day and we want to make the most of it. We decide to head for Knossos so I walk up the lane to see if Mr Perseas will do us a deal for one day’s rental. He is, unfortunately, “all dealed out” and reckons that all he has to offer us is a Jimny for €40. Seeing as it’s already 11am, this seems an extortionate price so I decline, walk back to the apartment and we agree to take the bus.
We gather up our stuff and head off up the lane to the main road and bus stop #18 that will take us to Iraklion. It is very hot already and although it’s a shallow climb up the lane, we take our time and arrive at the bus stop just in time to see the front end of the coach appearing over the brow of the hill. He pulls over, the conductor descends the steps to say “no, full up” and with a hiss of compressed air, the door closes and it speeds off down the road. It’s only 15 minutes to the next one so we sit in the shade of the bus shelter with perspiration running down our backs.
The 11.45am arrives bang on time and there’s room on this one; we climb the steps and take a double seat. It is STIFLING on the coach; the aircon isn’t on and passengers are visibly wilting. Whatever the outside temperature is, it must be at least 10C hotter on board and I hear a gruff voice at the back barking at the driver to put the aircon on. A female passenger also walks to the front of the coach and gabbles at the driver too. He seems totally unconcerned and the aircon remains off all the way to the bus station in Iraklion by which time we have all lost at least 5 kilos of body weight. I really don’t think I have ever been so uncomfortably hot in my life and when the doors finally open, the warm outside air feels positively refreshing.
We stroll to the small ticket office that sells tickets just for Knossos; there’s a #2 bus waiting to go, so we pay the very reasonable €2,60 return fare and take a seat on the bus which DOES have it’s aircon running at full blast. The bus pulls away and seems to take a very different route out of the city from what I remember. In fact, it takes us a full 45 minutes to reach Knossos but at least we’ve been sat in the cool.
We are quite hungry having had no breakfast so we walk up the main road to the Pasiphae taverna which sits on the brow of the hill. We are ushered to a table and we order beers plus a Greek salad, pita bread, and a dishful of crumbled feta mixed with various herbs and spices. The food is fine and reasonably priced but when the bill arrives, they’ve added on almost €7 for stuff we certainly haven’t had. I finally get the attention of a waiter who takes the bill, "discusses" it with the maitre d’ then returns to tell us that it’s “a mistake”. Strange as it might seem, he has also made the same “mistake” with several other tables adjacent to ours so we leave the exact money and walk back down the hill to the entrance to the site.
We pay the €6 entry fee and walk towards the old turnstiles where you enter the site proper. It’s fairly quiet here, we saw no coaches in the car park so this seems a good time to visit. As with the other sites, I’ll let the pictures do the talking but Knossos is quite different from when we last visited in 2005. There are some new sections available to view, some old ones ( such as the fresco of the maidens) which aren’t on display, but we are pleased to note that there is far less scaffolding and plastic sheeting visible. We take our time to ensure we see all on show although there is a large tour group of approximately 30 Germans who hog all the best viewpoints and steadfastly refuse to move even when I ask politely. So, I stop asking politely and do what they do and shoulder my way to the front and sod the lot of them.
We spend about an hour and a half inside the site before deciding to return to Iraklion. There’s a bus just coming from Iraklion, he deposits his passengers, does a u-turn, then pulls up to let us aboard. The route back to the bus station is as I remember it, via Eleftherias Square, and then taking a side road that curls down to the hangars from where it’s a turning right into the station. We go to the main ticket office for the tickets back to Anissaras; the system is efficient – you pay your fare, and are given a printed ticket which shows bus number and time of departure. This is confirmed on an overhead screen so we head back outside and board bus # 43 , bound for Malia and get the two front seats immediately behind the driver.
Departure time arrives but there’s a lot of shouting going on; the driver gets off, then gets on again and presses a few buttons. Then KTELs equivalent of “Blakey” appears on the scene and there’s more shouting and gesticulating, the driver gets off, another one gets on, he gets back off and then the driver reappears to say “bus kaput, new bus number 68” so we troop off and follow him across the forecourt where another coach sits steaming in the sunshine. We still manage to get the front seats after some pushing and shoving and fifteen minutes late, we pull out of the bus station, still unaware of what the “kaput” issue is.
We arrive back at Anissaras and stroll down the lane to Mikes. We nip into the shop to see Andreas and we spend a few minutes talking and buy four bottles of Mythos to wash the dust from our throats. We go up to the apartment and drink them on the front balcony as we watch the world go by on the beach road. We shower and change and decide to dine again at Maria’s. She has been so kind and friendly towards us and we so enjoyed the talk after dinner last night. Besides, there aren’t that many places to eat in Anissaras and we really don’t want to have to walk all the way down to Tritonas.
We have a couple more beers first at the bar and tell Antonia, who is serving, that this is our last night. “Will you come back?” she enquires and we assure her that we will. We finish the drinks and wander up to the restaurant. Maria offers a slow-cooked lamb dish and having had no lamb at all yet, I opt for this. C goes for the pork schnitzel and within a few minutes, two huge platefuls appear on the table. We do as usual have the house wine which is as good as ever and after 20 minutes’ eating, we are stuffed.
Maria is quite busy tonight so we decide not to hang around for too long but to return to the room where we still have a beer each left in the fridge.
Neither of us can believe how quickly our time here has passed; OK, we have virtually a full day tomorrow as we don’t need to be at the airport much before 8pm but it’ll be our last night in the room and our last night enjoying Andreas and Eleni’s company and hospitality.