Monday, October 06, 2008

Zorba the Greek

One of the lesser known museums in Heraklion is the Historical Museum of Crete. This has modern history of the island and most notably the library of Nikos Kazantzakis, author of Zorba the Greek. My only knowledge of this was from clips of the film based on the book, with Anthony Quinn dancing. An excellent multimedia display shows excerpts of films based on Kazantzakis work and relates this to the books and plays. The theme from the film "Zorbas" (Zorba's dance by Mikis Theodorakis), was performed at the wedding I attended at Palaios Panteleimonas.

The museum also has a pleasant cafe courtyard.

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Knossos Palace

Deciding it was time to sort through the papers on my desk from a trip Malaysia, Turkey and Greece in May/June, I thought I would mention highlights. The first is Palace of Knossos (Κνωσός) in Crete. There is not arduous journey involved, as it is a suburban bus trip from the centre of Heraklion, the capital of Crete. As with many Greek arecological site, first impressions are not good, with the bus stopping at a collection of roadside (actually on the road) souvenir stands. This is a very busy tourist attraction so it is best to arrive at opening time.

Just inside the gate there is a tasteful new museum shop and restaurant (which didn't seem to be open). The site is controversial with reconstruction by Sir Arthur Evans, not in keeping with modern archaeological practice. But it gives a good idea what the buildings may have looked like. Near the entrance there are a series of circular holes cut into the rock several metres across, which look to me like a three stage water treatment system. I couldn't find any explanation of the structures, but Crete is a very dry place and so water management was a big thing at the palace. Several sections have been rebuilt in concrete and painted. Much of the contents found are at the Heraklion Archaeological Museum in the city. If you are short of time, visit the museum and skip the palace.

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Thursday, June 12, 2008

Little Train Tours of Aghios Niollaos Crete

The town of Aghios Niollaos on Crete has excellent "Little Train Tours", to see the sights. Cretan olive processing and Byzantine Church of Panagia Kera. In Australia I frown on these little imitation trains, with a diesel tractor disguised as a steam locomotive, pulling rubber tired trailers full of tourists. But being a tourist, I found it a very enjoyable way to get around.

It is impressive how the train, with three trailers, can wind its way around narrow streets. The train is about as long as an articulated bus, but can negotiate streets a bus could not. The train is limited to 25km/h, but this causes limited disruption in slow narrow streets. Perhaps an articulated bus the size of the train would be a viable form of public transport in crowded inner city streets.

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