Spinalonga, Crete

On our last full day on Crete, we took one final expedition, and it is a word just as windy as the island was: Spinalonga!

Greece2016-8131
Relaxed all day in the pool and then floating in the ocean, squinting toward that mythical little place, we become a little curious about the round little world so close.

So here are the history deets: the island of Spinalonga is a small 21 acres that was actually once connected to Crete. But hundreds of years ago, the Venetians cut it off for strategic purposes, and a fort was built on the island in the early 1700s.

Greece2016-7744
The island underwent a history similar to Crete until 1903 when it became a leper colony. The lepers didn’t know what to expect, but once they arrived, they surprisingly hhad access to clean food and good amenities (which they didn’t have on the mainland). The leper colony ended in the 50s, and the last inhabitant left the island in 1957.

To me, the best part of the island was that it was floating in these transfixing waters. Like some fairy had just flown by and dropped in a gallon of blue and a few drops of green food coloring.

Greece2016-7742

Greece2016-7873

We left in the late afternoon to blaring sun and boat breezes. And to credit the Greeks for being extraordinarily visitor friendly, we couldn’t find an ATM to pay, and the boat waited 10 minutes for us although we kept saying to go ahead. This is actually our full boat, waiting for us.

Greece2016-7710
We took the boat from Plaka, which seem to leave every 30 minutes, but regular boats also leave from Elounda and Agios Nikolaos. We were on one of the last boats of the day, leaving around 4:30pm.
Greece2016-7719

After a short 5 minute journey, we docked on the island

Greece2016-7771
and paid an 8 euro entrance fee to enter the fortification, and wandered up and down the paths.
Greece2016-7832
Greece2016-7775

Exploring the ruins is like walking through a puzzle you can’t really decipher.

Greece2016-7819

Greece2016-7786
Greece2016-7938

Greece2016-7934
Greece2016-7929
Greece2016-7911

Greece2016-7777
There are few signs, so it’s unclear what each room was used for, but exploring the towering old rooms and being allowed to enter every open door was fun.
Greece2016-7821

Greece2016-7789
Greece2016-7806
Greece2016-7802
Greece2016-7792

Other than the Peter Pan waters, what I’ll remember about this island is its bluster. SO win-dy. Windy enough for the blown sand along the path to needle our legs. Windy enough to push me down into a squat. Windy enough that I was worried that Walker climbed up here to shoot and would get blown down!

Greece2016-7863
I thought things were windy in the Faroe islands but this was crazier and actually a little scary. But my mother-in-law and I persevered and made it around the perimeter in about 30 minutes.
Greece2016-7982

This, right here, was the windiest corner! You’d never know . . .
Greece2016-7996

Greece2016-7972
Walker was off wandering around seeing lame things like this up at the top of the island.
Greece2016-7898

Greece2016-7876
Greece2016-7837
Greece2016-7863

The boat returned for us a little after 6pm, when the island closes for the evening, and the crowd surged a little aggressively, but we all made it on.

Greece2016-8033

Greece2016-8011

Again, you can’t really tell, but the ride back home over the white-capped wave chop was a bouncy house.

Greece2016-8020

Greece2016-8030

If you visit, there is also a small cafe and bathroom facilities, and the walk around the island has unparalleled views; it’s worth going around. Spinalonga was surreal and we’re so glad we made the last boat for the time there.

Greece2016-7954

Next up: Santorini!