Traveling with a Toddler – Crete, Greece: Kissamos & the Cave Church of St. John

Unfortunately the forecast our last day in Crete called for severe thunderstorms. Given the treacherous nature of the roads even when dry and sunny, we opted not to stray too far from home.

Roadside church with resident goats

We drove to Kissamos, a small town on the coast just north of where we are staying. There’s an Archeological Museum, seaside walk and plenty of restaurants. Unfortunately for us, while the sign outside said it should be open, the caretaker for the Archeological Museum decided to take the day off, and the museum was closed.

Ornate ceilings inside the small church at Kissamos Square
The town square in Kissamos features plenty of outdoor cafe seating

After lunch we walked in search of the local fire station. Despite our start to the trip, we’ve otherwise seen no signs of a medical system. I’ve yet to see a hospital anywhere, and have seen only one ambulance back in Athens. Public services have been scaled back over the years as the Greek economy struggled.

The Kissamos fire station has tanker trucks but no ambulances
They had three of these vehicles

We continued walking towards the beach and passed by the Bishop’s Palace by the seaside.

The Bishop’s Palace, Kissamos, Crete

At first glance, I thought it was a municipal building or home of a celebrity. It was only then I noticed the crosses topping the flagpoles that I realized this was a religious-affiliated building.

Lifeguard stand at Kolpos Kissamou, Greece

We hit the jackpot when we rounded the corner and saw a large public playground with slides, swings and monkey bars. Greece has a fair number of public playgrounds. We’ve run into one at almost every tourist destination.

Two slides but the left is just much more appealing
Church next to the fire station

We opted to drive back early to Villa Irene as we didn’t want to get caught in the rain. As we exited Kissamos, we were able to make a quick stop at a small church built inside of a seaside cave called Cave Church St. John.

Saint John Damialis Church & Cave
Altar inside the cave

The church was built in the 10th century. There’s a natural rock formation that provides a dramatic ceiling for this special church.

A structure sits to the left, and on the right within the cave are multiple altars
While we were alone, multiple candles were shining brightly
Water drips through the porous rocks and from the ceiling of the cave
Gilded figures line the walls

I entered the church with the black and white floor carefully. The floor was wet and slippery and the whole area dark.

Confessional booth within the church
Religious icons
Looking out at Kissamos Bay

We made it back to Villa Irene just before the thunderstorm unleashed torrents if rain, wind and lightening on the coast. Our instinct to get home before the storm was on point. Driving in the storm would have been dangerous and nail-biting.

Tonight I’ll start packing up for the flight back to Athens tomorrow. It’s hard to believe our trip is coming to a close.

Venetian Fortress of Kissamos, 1579-1582 AD.
#1 Toddler was tired after the playground
Kissamos Beach

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