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An active taste of Crete with Tania Hird Designs and HairFlair Aus by THD - a Travel Blog.

Crete is an extraordinary Island, the home of the Minotaur, the Island of Zeus, and home to one of the oldest civilisations due to its Minoan history and Neolithic relics. I love history but the main draw card was two fold. I’ve always wanted to hike the Samaria Gorge and doing the Via Ferreta with Will was a dream come true !

The Via Ferreta, Crete

A Via Ferreta is a cross between hiking and rock climbing. The difference is that where the rocks become too steep and sheer, cables, footholds and ladders are bolted into the rocks so that you can make that impossible climb or scale that unachieveable peak. The Via Ferreta in the Asterousia mountains in south Crete is not for the faint hearted. Certain parts require a good level of physical exertion and others mental but it is definately a “must do” if you love a challenge and nature and are looking for a memorable activity with Teenagers. We had the mountain to ourselves, save for the 8 vultures circling, the mountain goats and the odd lizard passing by. The view out to the Libyan sea is also worthy of mention.

Pictured: Wearing a Black HF Sportif visor under my Helmet ! This is the go to choice when you want a flat pack elastic visor for all your active Travel needs - Also available in Golden Straw

Shout out to fabulous Kosta from @clmboncrete who ensures your safety and is exemplary in his attention to detail, teaching and equipment.

Accomodation: 3 Pines Design Living. These apartments 1.2km from the city center are new, clean and sport a rooftop area, lovely ( small) pool and well equipped gym. The staff are welcoming and helpful . Location is excellent.

Palace of Knossos, Crete

It was the Iliad which first mentioned Knossos and the Minoans thus spurring the search for this most ancient of palaces and cities. Vases were uncovered, pieces of tablets and treasures from Millenia before. The discovery occurred in 1878 when Crete was still under Turkish occupation so Evans, a British explorer, bought the land for 200,000 pounds to ensure he could excavate. Notwithstanding this purchase he had to wait until the Ottomans left to begin. His labour of love took 35 years from 1900 after which he gave back the land to Greece - Amazing!

The site is fascinating. A 4000 year old expansive area of a former Palace set close to the sea back then, next to a river and of immense wealth and power. There are no fortifications showing the wealth, power and success of the then Minoan civilisation. The only sea faring civilisation, trade and peace meant that they prospered over Egypt, the Phoenicians and Mesopotamia. The palace is vast, the foundations showing the great storage areas, the royal apartments and recreated areas by Evans to show in places what is now and what was then. Vast columns, frescoes reminiscent of Egyptian stylised figures showing a small mediterannean race, a language - one of the first- still to this day not deciphered on tablets - Phonics , symbols, telling of a religion worshipping the Bull, snake, cult and sacrifice. Axes etched into the limestone, the first theatre in Europe, games of Bull jumping and adrenaline. Eventually, earthquakes and volcanoes ended the economy and the civilisation of Mycanae would take over but much of the palace would remain . Yes there is evidence of the fires the Mycaeneans used however they also used the palace so it was never fully destroyed .

Incredibly, this is the background on which later Greek religion based the tale of the Minotaur - the half bull, half man inspired by the Horns and Bull worship, who lived in the labyrinth that was the Palace of Knossos. The building wasn’t visible but the stories were told and the myth created about the building. 22 000 square metres , a 1500 room palace, a population of 80,000 in the Building and City , the oldest theatre in Europe

Crete Archaelogical Museum

The Crete Archaeological Museum is a must do in conjunction with the Palace. A superbly presented museum which follows Crete from the Neolithic age through its history of Minoans, Mycenaeans, the Hellenistic period, Romans and Ottomans to the present day. We particularly loved the model of the labyrinth that was Knossos, the coin collection, the pottery and changes the different periods brought. It contains fabulous examples of the Bathtubs and small sarcophagi used by the Minoans to bury the dead and the treasures buried with them for the afterlife and the cremation urns used by the Mycanaens.

Samaria Gorge Hike, Crete

The Samaria Gorge Hike, the longest gorge in Europe, has been on my bucket list for some time and was not to disappoint. You can shorten the day by staying in Chania however we chose to reside in the same apartments in Heraklion and take the very long, full day bus tour. From the moment the hike begins in Omalos, the sheer cliffs, pines and incredible greenery is a sight to behold. One descents 800m over a distance of 4 km to the gorge floor and then meanders through rocky terrain and shallow streams as the canyon reduces in size. Natural springs pepper the national park to ensure drinking water is never far away, the old Samaria settlement is an interesting spot to rest and there are myriads of park tables should you intend a picnic .

After 16km of serious walking over stones, rocks and pebbles, the gorge ends at Agia Roumeli. A swim in the completely clear waters of the Libyan sea is a necessary & welcome activity as is an oversized glass of freshly squeezed orange juice the minute the national park ends. From Agia Roumeli the ferry boat takes you to Chora Sfakion where your driver or bus will return you to Heraklion

Pictured: Wearing an oversized cellulose acetate Hairclaw from HairFlair Aus by THD in Vanilla Cream and Lovebird Trim, a Black HF Sportif visor (A flat pack elastic visor for all your active Travel needs - Also available in Golden Straw) and Sterling Silver and Jade earrings from Tania Hird Designs.

All available from

The Beaches, Crete

Unfortunately we did not have time to visit the beaches of Crete as we went straight on to Santorini !! Time to catch a Ferry , stay tuned ...

xx HairFlair Aus and Tania Hird Designs

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