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Impressions of Crete, Greece

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Crete is not just another Greek island. It has very much its own identity, its own mentality and its own experience with history, a history largely determined by earthquakes. Crete developed its own Minoan civilisation five millennia ago, long before there was significant contact with the Greek mainland, and - on the other end of history - it did not join the modern Greek State until after the first World War, in spite of stubborn and committed freedom fights against Turkish occupation in the Greek independence war of 1821 and several violent revolts throughout the 19th century. So, on all accounts: Crete is special.

Therefore, there is a golden rule for renting a car in Crete: make sure that the vehicle has four wheels and properly working brakes, but above all no maps on board and certainly no GPS. You really want to get lost on the island. Lost on the narrow, winding roads between the villages on the lower slopes of Mount Psiloritis; lost for a while in between the tall rocky walls of a gap, until it suddenly widens onto the idyllic sandy beach of a dried out river mouth; lost at the 'plateia' (square) of a tiny, rustic village where three elderly men watch you being lost, amused and stoically sipping their Greek coffee at the wobbly street-side table of the only little café in sight, in a routine they have been repeating daily for the last twenty years; lost underway on the alluvial plains, until unexpectedly a worn and rusty signpost attracts your attention to an archaeological site of 4000 years old which is not even mentioned in your guidebook. That, that is Crete. Don't worry, no rescue teams will have to be mobilised to get you back to base, you are actually never really far away from one of the larger cities. The point is: do not visit Crete, explore it, and it will most certainly not disappoint you. For, there is so much more than the disembarking pier at Iraklion's port, the mass-visited site of Knossos and the crowded beaches near Aghios Nikolaos. So, join this exploration of pictures, you got to start somehow and somewhere.

Before visiting the place of your choice:

Aghios Nikolaos is a small provincial town by the sea, East of Iraklion, charming and pretty with its waterfront, its inner harbour and a little lake that was connected to the sea by a short canal dug in the 19th century.

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