Traveling with Bart and Ann is effortless fun. Here we are making the best of a day of unpredictable weather.
After our stop in Heraklion we met up with Bart and Ann again and travelled east to a fairly low-key resort town called Elounda. The town was okay, but the surrounding area was really beautiful. The Spinalonga peninsula juts out from the mainland near here, forming a gorgeous bay. Beyond the peninsula, Crete’s eastern mountains loom, so that views in every direction feature bands of various shades of blue. The bay is dotted with beaches in various directions, so you are never too far from a good swim.
High atop Spinalonga island
Two things did go wrong with our visit here. First was the weather. This is my fifth visit to Greece, and I’ve rarely ever encountered anything other than hot, dry weather. It almost never occurred to me that anything else existed here. And September is supposed to be an ideal time to visit. But we just had a few days of moody, rainy, grey weather, with an occasional respite of sunshine.
The second problem is that we rented an apartment on AirBNB that turned out to be a loser — one of those that looks much better in the pictures than in real life. Jim and I generally avoid AirBNB because of the wild unpredictability of what you get. But Bart and Ann are bigger fans, and it can be fun sharing a house with friends. But this place just felt crappy. Two of the three bedrooms were on an entirely subterranean floor, with the only light coming from the below-ground portion of a light well. These rooms were dark and depressing. Furnishings and towels and bed linens felt like cheap hand-me-downs from someplace else.
But none of this could stop the four of us from having a great time. We beat the weather by playing lots of cards. We survived the poor-value apartment by making lots of jokes. And when the weather took a surprise turn for the better we reveled in the sunshine on a wonderful beach. And of course we talked politics incessantly, as we are wont to do with these two.
And last, but not least, we also visited a leper colony. Spinalonga island is not just any leper colony. It’s an island dramatically situated in the bay with ruins of a 16th century Venetian fortress, later Turkish reinforcements, and the town that served as many as 1,000 resident lepers in the early to mid-20th century. Best leper colony we’ve ever been to.
A beach taverna in gloomy weather still has a certain charm, as taken in by a pensive Ann
Frolicking on the beach under moody weather
The pool and terrace were the nice part of our house, especially on the morning when the when the weather started to turn our way. The photos on the AirBNB site were all taken from masterly angles so that you had no idea these ugly electric wires were there.
Once the weather turned nice we settled on this amazing beach. That’s Spinalonga island, the former leper colony, on the right.
Approaching Spinalonga island on a ferry
Climbing among the fortifications on Spinalonga island
Jim reaches the summit of the island
One of the dramatic entrances to the leper colony
Jim poses with his namesake in a chapel to St. George on Spinalonga island