Greece Advanture -- Day 4 -- Part II -- Be Careful What You Wish For!

Guess what happened here in 1823...

After a very mild and cultural afternoon at the Knossos Ancient Palace, and the Heraklion Museum, Albert wanted to do something "adventurous" on our last day on Crete. I happily agreed, so we took out the map and decided to check out one of the caves on the tourist map. It was bright and sunny when we left the museum, we thought it would take maybe half an hour more on top of our 1-hour drive back to the hotel before it gets dark. Little did we know this map totally misrepresented how hard it was to get to the actual cave inside the mountains.

The map we used. On our way back to the hotel in Elounda, we picked "Milatos Cave" to pay a visit.

In downtown Heraklion, 5 cats enjoying their afternoon snacks. Picture taken before we left for the cave.

After about 5 wrong turns, misreading those Greek road signs which do not look like the English map that we had, we were driving in the middle of nowhere, climbing up the hills, on a winding single lane double direction road, with signs saying "Milatos Cave" every few miles. We climbed higher and higher, the temperature got lower and lower, roads became less well paved, as the sky was getting dark and our little powerless rental car started to run out of gas.

An hour later, the low gas warning light was on, and we hadn't seen any other cars or homes or people near by. At every single turn, the car sounded like it was using its last drop of power to climb up the hill. We even turned off the radio, the air conditioning, to save some power. Looking out of the window, we are on top of the hill, looking into the ocean and the sky. However, I was too busy worrying about getting lost in the middle of this mountains, that I did not appreciate the view at all.

Climbing up the hill to find Milatos Cave
Another 20 minutes went by, the very few signs we found along the roads started to not match what I saw on the map. We then started to drive down the hill and we began to think that we missed the cave entrance. Will the cave be open when we finally get there? What are we going to do if the car runs out of gas in the middle of nowhere? Our cell phones don't work. Nobody knows we are here. Are we going to die here? What exactly does this cave look like? Whose idea was it to come to this stupid cave???? These questions were all that we talked about

Finally, after driving past a small chapel and a goat farm down the hill, we saw an old man cutting a tree along the road. I asked him for directions and he told us that we already passed it. The old man said we needed to drive back to the top and park the car at a big stone that says Milatos Cave, and then walk along the mountain ridge for about 10 minutes to see the entrance of the cave. I then asked the old man, "It's getting dark already. When is the cave going to close?" He laughed and said, "What do you mean? It is always open!" (WHAT? There is no parking lot? No ticket booth?)

To give you an idea of how scared I was, seeing him was when I stopped worrying about dying in the middle of nowhere, and started concentrating on blaming Albert for this stupid idea and worrying about running out of gas. Despite how scared I was, I refused to give up. Risking running out of power even more quickly, we still turned around back to the top looking for the big stone.

There was indeed a stone that we missed. (see it in the first picture of this entry; and the car we drove was parked behind the stone.) We parked the car and walked along a stone-paved road into the mountains. After a brief walk, we saw the entrance of the cave! But it was pitch dark inside. I came up with this brilliant idea to take pictures with my digital camera with the flash light, so that within that second, we could see what was ahead of us. Also, we could see the picture on the screen to see what the cave looked like. I briefly enjoyed my brilliant idea for about 3 seconds until I realized the camera was running out of batteries too....
One of the very few pictures I took. You can see the corner of that small chapel.
Imagine this: we were cold, tired, super hungry, needed to use the bathroom, holding onto a camera out of batteries, driving a car almost out of gas, and we finally got to this cave that was just completely dark with nothing for us to see.

We were about 50 meters into the cave, the camera just died, and we were about to give up and head back -- something else was in the cave in front of us! There was a tiny little chapel inside the cave. The most creepy part was a pile of unknown objects covered by a Greek flag in the chapel. I was happy and scared at the same time. Happy that we at least saw something in the cave. Scared that something else unexpected might be near us and I just wanted to turn around and run to the car. It was just a very creepy feeling that was very hard to describe.

Albert and I escaped out of the cave and we gave each other a much needed big hug. We then drove to a nearby small town, got gas, used the bathroom, and then headed back to Elounda. By the time we got back, it was already 9:30pm. We had a quick dinner at a little restaurant by the ocean in downtown Elounda, and then went back to the hotel. I sincerely hope Albert was happy about this "adventure" before we left Crete.

Pictures of the cave I later found on the web.

Two nights later, when we finally got internet access at the hotel in Santorini, I looked up Milatos Cave and kicked Albert to wake him up in the middle of the night. "Do you know that thousands of people died in that cave? That unknown object, covered by the Greek flag was probably human bones... " In 1823 when Turkish invaders attacked this area, over 2000 people hid inside Milatos Cave. The cave is actually huge, with 2100 square meters. After a 2-week struggle, most people were burned or killed inside the cave, while some children and women were sold by the turkish troops. The little church inside the cave was built in 1935, together with a memorial with the bones of those slaughtered by the Turks.

If you are not too scared, you can read more about the historic drama here.

Now I know where that creepy feeling came from.

1 comment:

joyce said...


how lovely that you and albert took the time to relax :)

see you over christmas

xoxo joyce