Thursday we were in Chania, Crete. I did not have a tour scheduled for this port, there were very few private tours that I found and in the research that I had done it seemed to be a fairly straighforward port. Take a shuttle to the Old Town…hang there.
It really did not turn out to be that simple. Chania has been a city-state in Greece since around 1100 BC, but before that it was the center of the Minoan civilization. I had read about an Archological Museum that had a collection of Minoan and Pre-Minoan items so I really wanted to see that! We bought tickets on the shuttle no problem and hopped on the bus for the 15 minute ride into town. This is where our best laid plans started to crumble.
We got off the bus and started to look around. I didn’t really see any signs for “Old Town” but I may have missed them…There was a map right at the stop, but I am strangely terrible at map reading so its probably not in everyone’s best interest to follow me around!
True to form, I started off walking and it was soon apparent that I was going the wrong way! Nothing about where we were walking looked like a quaint, historic Old Town Harbor. We ran into our table mates from the ship, and turns out they were lost too so maybe, just maybe its not totally my fault!
By this time TJ and Mom were starting to get a bit fed up with walking around not finding things. Plus, it was super hot and mostly uphill. They decided to just head back to the shuttle and go back to the ship. OD and I stopped for an iced coffee, wifi and a deep breath. I gave him the choice to continue to walk around or head back, he wanted to soldier on…Minoan history and all that. After getting us turned around AGAIN in the wrong direction (albeit not the same direction as before) I was totally ready to give up and head back. So as we were standing at the bus stop to catch the shuttle back, I said, “What about that way?” We walked about 50 feet, turned the corner and BAM! Old Town Harbor was right in front of us. At this point we had walked up and down the streets of Chania for more than an hour in the hot sun. So. Lesson learned here kiddos? DON’T EVER count on me for directions. Planning? Yep, I’m your gal, but actually finding what I’ve planned to do? Not so much! Also, if you are in Chinia, just get off the bus and walk forward, no turns. It’s right there.
So this is old town! It is super cute! The harbor is in the shape of a horseshoe out to the Venetian fortifications. But, we are looking for the museum and without too much further ado, we found it.
It is housed inside a katholikon of the Venetian monastery of St. Francis. During the period of the Turkish occupation it was the Muslim mosque of Yussuf Pasha. The exterior is totally nondescript with just a little sign by the door but once inside the architecture alone is beautiful even before you get to the collections.
The museum has artifacts dating back 5000 years, no surprise when you think that this area has been continuously inhabited since the Minoan times. Unlike many other historic sites whose population ebbs and flows, Chania has been continuously populated since the NEOLITHIC era, one civilization following another from Minoan, to Mycenaean, to Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine, Venetian, Turkish all the way up to its present day inhabitants. Pretty darn impressive.
Many of the artifacts are remarkably intact and well preserved. It is easy to see how they lived their lives and even easier to see it was not that different from our own. Toys for their children:
And of course family portraits:
The one downside to the museum is that it is not air conditioned, so it can get hot and steamy. Also, the restrooms are outside in the courtyard..they ARE air conditioned and super modern! Not that you can tell from the outside:
HeeHee!! I’m just kidding…this isn’t the bathroom, although it is the courtyard, and the bathrooms are really modern and clean. Still I thought the museum was really cool and I am very glad we finally found it. After the museum, we wandered around the harbor a bit. We saw the Venetian fortifications:
And quite a bit of the Turkish influence:
On our way back to the bus stop, we found a bunch of cute little shops and ended up at yet another honey tasting!
All in all, I would say that I really did enjoy Crete…even though it took me a while to find the charming heart of Old Town. Oh and the sail in/out is absolutely beautiful!
Our next stop?? Athens! My most anticipated stop!!