29th Jun 2011 - Crete
Visit to the Capital Heraklion
Bus into the capital
Greeted by cloudless blue skies and just a slight breeze this morning. After a couple of hours lying by the pool we went to breakfast, where we met Nick and Cheryl. At 10.30am we all set off to walk up the lane to the main road to catch a bus into the capital Heraklion. Just as we found the bus stop the bus appeared, which was just as well as it was 30C+ and there was no shade. I was a bit disappointed with the bus – I was expecting a Turkish style dolmus with no windows that rattled along the roads, and instead we were greeted by a state of the art coach with air conditioning and TV. Actually the air conditioning was a godsend. The 30 minute trip along the coast into Heraklion cost 2.20 Euros which was not too bad. The bus took us right into the centre and the bus station which is a couple of minutes walk from the harbour.
We walked round the small harbour which was filled with fishing boats, and along the wall to the Venetian fort which is clearly a big attraction to visitors. From here you can look across to the port, which I suspect is used mainly by the large Cruise Ships now rather than any freight. We then walked up the hill into the centre. We are in to the second day of the general strike today, and there were posters everywhere urging strike action. We also saw a couple of municipal buildings which had small crowds with banners gathered outside and there were some speakers in one of the mains squares. Heraklion is not particularly big (290,000 population) and it is easy to walk around the mains areas of the centre, a lot of which is pedestrianised. Boutiques mix with tourist shops and markets and there are lots of thin streets to stroll down where you can find some shade. There are the remains of some of the old city wall here and there, but not a lot of photogenic buildings, although plenty of graffiti. We stopped in a side street cafe for a beer, wandered around a bit more, then headed back to the bus station where we managed to find our return bus without too much trouble.
By three o’clock we were back at the hotel – Nick and Cheryl went for another beer in Georges Bar, whilst Tracey and I cooled down on the balcony which does not get the sun until late afternoon. Later, we went down to the beach, and Paul went into the sea. You can walk out an extremely long way here before you need to start swimming, and it is sandy not pebbly underfoot, however there are strong currents, and we have seen the red flag out on the beach a number of times, so caution is needed.
After an early dinner, we retired to the balcony, and as has become a habit, watched the lit up cruise ships go by in the distance, and watched the planes come in from the north and turn in for the airport (although not till after 10pm tonight due to the strike).
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