A visit to Spinalonga Island.
09.06.2013 - 09.06.2013 35 °C
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.