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Agios Nikolaus

A visit to Spinalonga Island.

sunny 35 °C
View Red and Annie's European Journey on Gibbo54's travel map.

We already realise that 2 nights here is not nearly enough. We have 1 full day here only. Church bells woke us up this morning. We are right in between a Monastery and a 14th Century Church.
Doing research back in Perth on Crete and where to stay while we're here, we came across some information regarding an island not far from Agios Nikolaus. It's called Spinalonga Island. I knew it rang a bell with me, and realised that a couple of years ago I'd read a book called "The Island" by Victoria Hislop. It was set in Crete on the island of Spinalonga - a leper colony from 1903 until 1957. It is a fictional story but based on fact - a really good read. I read the book again just before we left on this trip nearly 7 weeks ago - to familiarise myself. Today we visited Spinalonga - and it was a brilliant day. Only last week UNESCO declared the island of Spinalonga a World Heritage Site.
It only took about 30 minutes to drive up the coast - words don't do the scenery justice - amazing! How many times have I used that word?!? We passed through Elounda, arrived in the tiny town of Plaka and took a boat trip (about 7 minutes in duration) to the island. The weather has been just perfect today - as you'll see by the photos.
We arrived on the island and walked through the tunnel - taking the same steps as poor people suffering from leprosy did - all those years ago. There is a Venitian Fortress on the island - so much history here, I just don't know where to begin. We spent 2 hours walking all over the island - right to the very top where the views were simply spectacular. The water so blue and green, the sky so blue, the mountains so rugged. This is such a beautiful part of Crete.
Just after 1pm we hopped back on our little boat and made the short journey back to the mainland. We had a relaxed lunch in a Seafood Restaurant in Plaka - right on the edge of the water, looked straight out over Spinalonga, and watched the fishermen reeling in their fishing nets - the old fashioned way. Unforgettable.
We got back in our car and headed back in the direction of Agios Nikolaus taking in the breathtaking scenery once again. Headed inland towards Kritsa and the Ancient Archeological Site of Lato. We got there at 3.15pm - it had closed at 3pm. 3pm - are you kidding? We then drove to a 13th Century Church called Panagia Kera whose walls are adorned with stunning frescoes. We got there at 3.45pm - it had closed at 3.30pm. What?!! There was a family there who had also missed out on seeing the church. They are from Amsterdam. We had an interesting chat with them for about half an hour - a husband, wife and daughter in her early 20's. This lovely young girl helped me get up on this high wall in front of the church (well, I call it high), so that I could peak in the window and see some of the frescoes.
Never to see them again, we wished these folks a safe and happy holiday - and took off in the direction of Agios Nikolaus. We ended up in the centre of town trying to work out how to get back home. These streets are so narrow - and confusing! We made it back - a sigh of relief. Home safe once again.
I took off on a walk around the town - taking some photos in the late afternoon. For the last few hours we've been in our apartment - doing our own thing, and watching the light fade away. Another wonderful day on the island of Crete.
Our view of Spinalonga while we had lunch in the village of Plaka.

Our view of Spinalonga while we had lunch in the village of Plaka.

A beautiful lunch in a Seafood Restaurant - Plaka.

A beautiful lunch in a Seafood Restaurant - Plaka.

Plaka - Crete.

Plaka - Crete.

The large building in the middle of the photo was the hospital for the lepers on Spinalonga Island.

The large building in the middle of the photo was the hospital for the lepers on Spinalonga Island.

This is Spinalonga Island - Crete.

This is Spinalonga Island - Crete.

The Michiel Demilune - Spinalonga Island.

The Michiel Demilune - Spinalonga Island.

Stunning scenery on Spinalonga.

Stunning scenery on Spinalonga.

Fortification walls on Spinalonga Island.

Fortification walls on Spinalonga Island.

One of two dormitories on Spinalonga Island - a home for some of those suffering from leprosy.

One of two dormitories on Spinalonga Island - a home for some of those suffering from leprosy.

Some buildings on Spinalonga are in disrepair.

Some buildings on Spinalonga are in disrepair.

Anne standing in the main street of the town - which was developed in to a lively community - for those suffering from leprosy.

Anne standing in the main street of the town - which was developed in to a lively community - for those suffering from leprosy.

Looking across to Plaka.

Looking across to Plaka.

On top of Spinalonga Island.

On top of Spinalonga Island.

Selfie - on the highest point of Spinalonga Island - Crete.

Selfie - on the highest point of Spinalonga Island - Crete.

Elounda in the distance - view from Spinalonga Island.

Elounda in the distance - view from Spinalonga Island.

Standing at the entrance to the tunnel on Spinalonga - where lepers walked through to start their new life on the island.

Standing at the entrance to the tunnel on Spinalonga - where lepers walked through to start their new life on the island.

The port in the little village of Plaka.

The port in the little village of Plaka.

Agios Nikolaus' 13th Century Church of Panagia Vrefotrophos. Our apartment is literally next door.

Agios Nikolaus' 13th Century Church of Panagia Vrefotrophos. Our apartment is literally next door.

Late afternoon in the centre of Agios Nikolaus.

Late afternoon in the centre of Agios Nikolaus.

The bridge in the centre of Agios Nikolaus - it features in most tourism photos of the town.

The bridge in the centre of Agios Nikolaus - it features in most tourism photos of the town.

The busy sea port of Agios Nikolaus - Crete.

The busy sea port of Agios Nikolaus - Crete.

Roadside stall - Kritsa.

Roadside stall - Kritsa.

Byzantine Church  Panagia Kera (13th Century) - displays 14 scenes of the secret life of the Virgin Mary.

Byzantine Church Panagia Kera (13th Century) - displays 14 scenes of the secret life of the Virgin Mary.

Walls of the Venetian Fortress on Spinalonga Island.

Walls of the Venetian Fortress on Spinalonga Island.

Main street of the town on Spinalonga - these buildings were shops and houses for members of the leper community.

Main street of the town on Spinalonga - these buildings were shops and houses for members of the leper community.

Buildings from the Ottoman period on Spinalonga Island.

Buildings from the Ottoman period on Spinalonga Island.

Posted by Gibbo54 09:31 Archived in Greece

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