My travel in Europe:
Day VI: Jeep tour to Gortinas, Phaistos and Skinakas:
Now we are on our sixth day at Crete. We have already done most of what we can do by going by bus. This day we decided to rent a car, a Jeep, because we shall among other things go up in the mountain to the observatory Skinaka. And by the way, a Jeep is more fun to drive!
An ordinary car had cost us about 40 Euro, for this Jeep we paid 55 Euro, both included insurance one day. If you plan the car rent in advance you can rent a car a whole week for not so much more money.
Google Map over Crete, travel to Gortinas, Phaistos and Skinakas:
We start our travel by the small roads through Kastelli region, as told earlier, we don't like the highways, we want to stop and see interesting things!
The weather is fine today and we stopped the car and parked it aside the road to get a view over the landscape.
At Wikipedia there is more to read about Kastelli:
Our rented Jeep, a Suzuki. Gunilla is the driver today and she like to drive the Jeep.
About halfway to Gortyn (Gortinas), everywhere we see olive trees.
In the background, the mountains, it does not look very promising for a visit at the Skinakas observatory.
Gortyn archaeological site:
Parking the car and walk to the entrance of the Gortyn archaeological site. To our surprise it was free entrance today.
At Wikipedia there is more to read about Gortyn archaeological site:
This look promising for some interesting hours here. But is it Roman or old Greek culture we see?
Saint Titus basilica, built on top of the older ruins.
The older ruins beneath the Basilica.
An olive tree holds some of the old stones, the tree looks to be very old.
I have read that the world's oldest tree is 3000 years old, and guess where it is? Here in Crete!
At Wikipedia there is more to read about olive trees:
A big panorama over the archaeological area.
I had to take a lot of photos to cover the ruins. We could read that this from the origin have been a Greek amphitheatre but later Roman takes over and reconfigured it to more Roman style. It's not big as other theatres we have seen. But this is not the only one, there are a bigger one up on the hill.
The building blocks of the wall.
The aqueduct that lead the water down to the city.
Gortyn code, found in the 1850s by an Italian archaeologist, there are much more of these stones inside the building.
Wikipedia has more information to read about the Gortyn code:
Up the hill you see the excavation of the other amphitheatre, much bigger. This one was not possible to come close to. On top of the hill is the Roman city Gordyn, the Roman capital city at that time.
We have now walked around here for one and a half hour, we need to speed up if we want to do everything we planned for to this day. The weather forecast say rain in two hours!
Phaistos archaeological site:
The next stop at Phaistos is not far away. But there is a marked in Moirai today with lot of cars and people and we need to pass that village. At last we found another road around the city.
The road up to the hill and Phaistos.
Just outside the archaeological site we found this, Church of Ayios Georgios.
Still fine weather and we enter the excavations quickly.
Even this museum is free today, I asked what so special today and the woman told me: "it's the European day". Good for us, almost half the car rent cost saved :-) .
Before we go down in the ruins I took this panorama over the old city.
A rest before doing the walk among the ruins?
Phaistos is an antique Minoan City, late Bronze age. The view over the valley are really wonderful, the Minoan people know where to built there city and palace.
Wikipedia has more information to read about Phaistos:
Water drainage channel, if we get rain today, will it still work?
A beautiful day and then suddenly it started to rain, a lot!
After I stood for a while under the protection roof the rain seemed to cease, I walked out again.
Didn't come very long until the rain started again. I rush over the big square to seek protection under a big tree.
This big square is the Phaistos' central court.
The tree didn't protect me from the rain, rush back to the roof that I stand under before, taking some photos on the run.
Proof, the drainage channels work, and they built them thousands of years ago! And they communicate the guide proudly told us.
Now we were very wet, rush up to the restaurant, take something to eat and try to dry up a bit. We had to leave the archaeological site because they decided to close it. We didn't manage to see everything, maybe two thirds.
A fast walk down to the car, start the engine and the heating system. More rain came directly.
Now there is only the Skinaka observatory left to visit today. The rain had stopped but still the weather don't looks very good and the mountain top is covered by clouds. But we must at least give it a try.
Here are some links to read more about the Skinaka observatory:
Maybe you can guess how this day ended.
The GPS show us that is 26 km left to the observatory, a very curved road.
The road is no problem with as long you stay on it. The GPS try to foul us, it recommend us to take short cuts, sometimes we were driven on very narrow and steep roads.
The last village we pass, now only rocks left along the road.
Now we has come up to the clouds, we were talking about if it was safe to drive further?
Now the free sight is only about 20 meters, still more then 20 km to drive, and what will we see with this fog and clouds, nothing! We decided to turn around and drive down to the valley we came from.
If you want to see more photos from the road here you have them here:
Above is from the page of visits to observatory sites I have done.
We found a safe place to turn the car around and started the downhill drive.
The valley with a big water reservoir.
This is the village Gergeri with Saint George church.
Narrow and steep streets, the streets was slippery also because of the rain.
Wikipedia has more information about the mountain village Gregeri:
When we get down to lower altitude we get better weather, but slowly driving because they are building a new road.
After 30 minutes we was down to the valley and the highway.
Highways are boring, turn left up on a smaller steep road.
From here we got views over the Heraklion and out over the ocean, much more exiting.
The last road to Hersonissos goes along the coast.
This is the Bikini Plaz, the best beach according to an earlier guide we had.
Last time we passed this beach it was crowded by sunbathing people, today we are almost alone.
After we had left the car at the rental station we took a rest at the hotel. When we wake up we was hungry, we didn't eat much during the day, to intensive with all thing we want to do. This evening we decided to walk up to the nice village we had visited before, Koutouloufari. Got an wonderful dinner and then walk back to the hotel, we slept well this night and it was also our last night at Crete, very sad.