Somewhere deep in Crete's mountains is the cave where Zeus was raised. As you might recall from Greek mythology, Zeus was the supreme god, the one with the unnerving ability to throw thunderbolts. He was born into what today might be called a dysfunctional family. His father wanted him dead. But his mother, Rhea, who knew a trick or two, hid her baby boy to be raised in a cave on Crete's highest mountain.
Crete, Greece's largest island, just may be one of the most perfect vacation spots in Europe because virtually all vacationer's whims can be met on this 130-mile-long chunk of sea-bound rock. And it should get even more attractive once the 2004 Olympics arrive in Greece. Football matches will be held at the 27,000-seat Pankrition Stadium in Iraklion, scheduled for completion this December.
Its beaches rival those of the Caribbean but its resorts are cheaper. The price-conscious Brits Discovered it years ago and run daily charters to the island. The island boasts 300 days of sunshine each year. Its mountains are breezily cool and inhabited mostly by goats and their herders. It also has stunning historic sites like the famed 4,000-year-old Minoan palace of Knossos. For more energetic visitors, Crete boasts one of Europe's finest mountain hikes, down the Samaria Gorge. Its seaside towns are so romantically charming, you'll be tempted to hang out at the harbor at sunset, sip cool drinks under a table umbrella and watch the boats bob.
Splayed out against an ink-dark sea, the beaches are superb-and plentiful enough to escape from all those German tourists who insist on parading around in the buff.
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