The day will come when I will die. So the only matter of consequence before me is what I will do with my allotted time. I can remain on shore, paralyzed with fear, or I can raise my sails and dip and soar in the breeze.--Richard Bode

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Waiting for my ferry to Athens

Hi everybody ---

Crete is interesting. It is making the history I learned back in my college years come alive for me. Now I understand so much better what I only learned on a superficial level back then.

Since this blog is as much a record for me (sort of a journal) as it is a ride report for my readers, I will probably be boring many of you with this post today.  If so, please join me again at a later date.

So, here we go --- it is time to go visit the oldest civilization in Europe, and one of the oldest in the ancient world. I am talking about the Minoans who settled this island many years ago and built their kingdom here.

Sorry, Odysseus. They don't let motorcycles into the castle ruins. You will have to stay here in the hot Cretan sun. At least you have another motorcycle to keep you company. From the looks of the stickers on it, that motorcycle has seen a big part of the world also, so maybe you two can compare notes.

The castle I am visiting today is named Knossos. It is pretty much smack dab in the center of the north Crete coast. This area was first settled 128,000 years ago. That is a lot of thousands. Can you imagine what life must have been like back then. That was the stone age. Civilization, meaning cities and trade with other countries, didn't get started until 2700 years before Christ. I wonder what everyone was doing during those missing 125,000 years. Hmmmm.

That 2700 years ago date -- that is about 500 years before Abraham's story starts in the Bible. There was a strong Egyptian civilization on Africa at that time, and an early Babylonian civilization in Asia (Mesopotamia), but the Minoan civilization that I am visiting today was the first in Europe.

The symbol of the Minoan civilization was the double bladed ax. It is called a labrys

The labrys is scratched on the hallway walls all through the ancient palace of Knossos. Knossos was quite the place back then. This is what anthropologists think it looked like.

The hallways in that place went every which way and often ended at dead-ends. It was a regular maze in there. And remember, I said  there were labrys (or double-headed ax) symbols scratched into the hallway walls, so the place came to called the labyrinth. Got that? Good.

Lets take a break. It is too hot. I have to go buy a hat. Do I look like Indiana Jones it it? Wait, did somebody say I look like Jed Clampett.? I'll get you for that Ha.

The Minoans worshiped goddesses.

Now, I was told by a guide that one of the religious rituals involved boys and girls who, when they turned 12, leaped over a bull in the public areas of the huge palace. You can see them doing that in one of the murals found in the palace.

There were dozens of murals found when this city was uncovered sixty or seventy years ago. They were not all of kids leaping over bulls. In the murals, females are always white and males are always red.

After the city was destroyed by fire, and after it was buried by earthquakes, Homer, the Greek poet, told the myth of a bull-like monster who lived in the labyrinth and ate young girls. Later, in the myth, a hero from Athens, Theseus, killed the monster. The name of the monster was the Minotaur (Do you remember that story from your long-ago college days?). I guess this myth built up over the years from the old practice of bull jumping.

In its day, the palace of Knossos was really advanced.  It had the first paved road in all of Europe.

It had clay pipes that brought fresh water from a distant mountain.

It had flush toilets, and an elaborate drainage system that separated rain water (used for hand and clothes washing) from the brown water coming from the toilets.

The palace was several stories tall and had a marvelous system of ventilation.

I could go on longer, but I doubt that anyone besides me is interested. As I say, this is my journal, so if you are still with me all I can say is "thanks"

I will try to do more motorcycle riding stuff in future posts -- stuff that might be more interesting to the majority of my readers.

Today, I am mostly killing time while I wait for tomorrow's ferry to Athens. I have done a wash (something I very much needed to do), and my clothes are hung up to dry. I went for a long ride to the eastern end of Crete this morning, but it is too hot for that sort of thing (nobody but me rides in boots, jacket and pants around here, and I can see why. Whew!).

I don't know if there will be a lot to post about from Athens. I will be meeting my daughter, Jessica, and my son-in-law, Renaud, there. We have an apartment rented.

I will be in Athens with them about a week, and then I head back toward Germany. My flight home is on the 14th of August. After I leave Athens, I think I will try to go to northern Italy. There is a famous pass over the Alps from there. It goes to Austria. I bet the weather will be a lot cooler up there. (I hope).

More later,