The name itself was enticing enough for me to explore the place. It was the first time I was taking a boat cum cruise ride for the whole day to reach an island surrounded by crystal blue waters of the Mediterranean.
The place I’m talking about was once a Leper’s colony in early 20th century. Officially known today as Kalydon in the Gulf of Elounda in Crete, it is near Spinalonga Peninsula which was a part of Crete Island once upon a time.
Today, of course the island attracts many visitors and has become one of the major tourist attractions in Crete owing to its pebble beaches and shallow waters. The island was a fortress built to protect ancient Olous (Elounda), by the Venetians until the Ottomans took over and created a Turkish village around it.
I took off from Agios Nikolaos in the morning with few of my friends and many unknown others for this one hour journey. Boats leave every day in the summers for the island from this town.
One can also go from Elounda which takes around 20 minutes to reach. The village of Plaka which is opposite Spinalonga is the shortest route taking only 10 minutes. You need to check with individual boat owns for the tour in winters.
The water seemed cool and it was breezy as we rode past the bay. It wasn’t long before we settled on the boat, contrary to the belief, the heat in the air called for some sight-seeing from the upper deck.
I was more than mesmerized by the journey. There was only cool blue water as far as I could see. All around me was quietness except on my boat of course. The boat ride was something I want to experience more than once in my life. May be every few months if my pocket permits.
Swimming has never been my thing, or should I say I have not been able to learn it yet. Though I enjoy dipping my feet in water, I can still just wonder how much my friends must have enjoyed taking a dip in middle of the ocean. One day I will surely try this. my Bucket List has one more item now.
Sunbathing after the dip was much relaxing as told to me by my friends who did jump in.
Reaching the island was cooler than I thought. Alighting the boat was not a task for us girls but rather fun.
Once we were on the island, I imagined how life would have been for those inhabiting the island. I had read that though it was meant only for lepers, yet the streets had shops, cafes, cinemas as well as a church. Parts of the island have been recreated to show how life was on this island more than half a century back. The houses were made with solid rocks and had wooden doors.
The colony was much planned. Had it been still a Fortress, I would love to spend my vacation here. Its the kind of place I look for when I need to write or take a break from people. Walking past the streets with houses on both sides, I could picture people on the island going about their daily chores just like in a quite Cretan village. There was also a hospital where patients were treated and care was taken to keep them clean.
Coming back after the tour, we were offered lunch and drinks on the boat. The half day tour left me with so much to learn about Greece. Every travel leaves us with memories and lessons in its own ways. I would love to go there again and experience the island in different ways every time.
If you plan to visit Greece, now is the time. Beautiful, pleasant weather, delicious food, and beaches to fill your holiday with fun.
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