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.
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.