Monday, May 25, 2009

Crete is the word

So, I'm in Crete. Crete is ace. Crete is the word, as they should have sung (not that Greece in general is in any way shabby or unpleasant, but Crete's got it all).

Some things you might or might not know about Crete.
  • It is the home of the Minoan civilization, which was around bloody ages ago (even before I was born). Yesterday we went to Knossos which is the home of the most famous Minoan palace. This palace was built (most of it) between 1700 and 1400 BC. That's a long time ago, and it was massive. It still is in fact, and it took ages to wander round. Here's the wikipedia article should you be so inclined. I won't go into details about it, since you can read it all there if you want to, but it's really impressive. The bloke most responsible for excavating it, Arthur Evans, reconstructed some bits of it, which seems a tad controversial, particularly since he really didn't know what it was really like when it was still standing and he just basically guessed and stuck rooms on where he thought they should be. Still, I guess it's better than just digging it all up and shipping it to the British Museum.
  • The palace, having so many rooms, may or may not be also the site of the "labyrinth" which housed the minotaur. (With all due provisos about the fact that the minotaur is a mythical character etc etc and so on)
  • Crete was also the home of Deadalus and Icarus as well as being the birthplace of Zeus (with all due blah blah etc you get the picture)
  • Cretans seem like very nice people, despite the fact that in American English (as far as I can tell) the word cretin is pronounced the same way as Cretan, which seems a little bit rude. But in spite of this slight on their intelligence, they seem very friendly.
  • Samaria Gorge (into which we ventured on Saturday) is said to be the longest gorge in Europe (though this expert local disputes this). We managed to see it the worst possible way, by just deciding to do the first 3 km or so and then going back to the car. The first 3km, though, are straight down hill, for about 6 or 7 hundred metres, which we then of course had to climb back up again. Still it was good exercise, and it was spectacularly beautiful
  • The food on Crete is absolutely superb. And by absolutely superb I mean really amazingly wonderfully beautiful. Everything is so fresh and delicious. It's such a great change from home (I apologise to Hungarian and Romanian readers of this blog, but really food from pretty much every country on the Mediterranean sea walks all over yours. No offense. It walks all over English food too if that helps make you feel any better.)
  • Chania is a great little town. Until a week or so ago, I'd never even heard of it. Now I'd like to live in it.
  • Crete is so full of archeological sites that one day we found ourselves in Gortyna, the Roman capital of Crete, most of which is just a bunch of rubble lying in an olive grove. You can just wander around in it, tripping over columns and trying not to step on bits of pottery.
  • Did I mention the food?

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Most Dangerous Place in Europe

is, it would seem, Romania.

Take a look at the map here:

(Slightly bigger version can be found here)

Now, what this shows is the level of risk of death due to natural disasters. Green areas are lower risk, red areas are higher risk. Look at where the red bit of Europe is (Basically Albania and Romania). (I think if you look at the bigger map, you can just about make out that Bucharest is a huge angry red spot in the middle of a fairly orange country. I take it this refers to the expectation that there will, before too long, be a devastating earthquake in Romania, and Bucharest will likely suffer more than everyone else)

Taken from here.