The rocky, dry hillside in the distance should have given me a hint.
The island of Crete is the largest of the Greek islands and the farthest south. We landed on the port of Souda, a small but very industrialized area and took the city bus into town. We had thought about trying to walk into town. No way! It was a full 20 minute bus ride.
Chania is the city. Second largest in Crete. And quite frankly, Crete seems tired, beat up. Like Athens it's plagued by graffiti and except for the most touristy parts, it wasn't very well kept up or clean.
In World War II, Crete was hotly contested by the Germans and the British and the Cretans...not Cretins. It's value as a refueling and supply depot for either side, caused fierce fighting amoung brave partisans and their allies the British and the Nazis.
There is a large mountain with steep cliffs jutting out on one part of the island quite a distance from Chania. Standing the harbor, looking off at it, I couldn't help but wonder if that very site inspired Alistair Maclean's "The Guns of Navarone." If you haven't read the book or seen the movie with Gregory Peck...you should!
My one regret was not making it to the cemetery too far outside of town to walk and we couldn't manage renting a scooter. (Boy, did we try though.)
The old city and harbor was charming if you could manage to stave off the taverna and glass bottomed boat hawkers.
Despite the many days shopping,
We did not regret missing the Palace ruins where the labyrinth was. We heard the site has been picked over and all the best pieces are in a museum far away and it was five hours of driving.
Just before jumping on the bus, we found a local market and that's where we found the baklava. (It had almonds :( and the walnut flavor wasn't very strong. But seeing the fishermen's catch was wild especially for a landlubber like me.
The most interesting thing we saw? Queues at the Greek banks. People trying to get out the 60 euros allowed by the government each day due to financial crisis.