Open the photo gallery >>

What’s the Story?

Spinalonga Island is towards the east of Crete near the resort of Elounda. There’s an old Venetian Fortress, which later became a leper colony and then a prison. It’s now a tourist hotspot.

I’d actually been to Spinalonga before, but that was about 10 years even before I met Kas. I went to Crete for a week with one of my old school mates in between finishing university and starting work. We stayed in Elounda, so Spinalonga was nearby. However that was nearly 35 years ago, so I didn’t really remember much about it. Much water has passed under the proverbial bridge since then.

In the Morning

Because we’d got quite a way to drive we had breakfast a bit earlier than previous days. We hopped into the car at about 10am, assuming this would be more than comfortable to make our scheduled boat journey at midday. I’d booked boat tickets online the day before. The drive across was easy but a bit slow.

When we got to Elounda the car park at the port was already very full, but there’s another one up the back where all the tourist buses go and park. There was loads of room up there. We had plenty of time to walk back down and find our boat.

Spinalonga Island

The boat trip out was pleasant enough and we got to Spinalonga in good time. That’s where we hit the “issue” for the day, though. They’d only allowed for us to be on the island for an hour. That didn’t seem very long and it immediately made us start wondering what to do with our hour. I didn’t check the small print for the boat trip and had wrongly assumed we’d have a couple of hours at least.

I quickly gave up on the idea of doing all of the geocaches on the island. Two were right up at the top, through a maze of passageways and paths not visible from below. Trying that would have taken our whole hour, so I didn’t bother.

Instead we walked around the perimeter pathway just above sea level. That took us past one of the geocaches as well as taking us through some of the more interesting bits of the old fortress/colony/prison. It was pretty hot again so the walking was quite slow and we welcomed whatever breeze we found. The loop around the island took us to about 50 of our allotted 60 minutes, so while the girls say under some trees waiting for the boat I nipped round the corner to grab a second of the four caches on the island. That one involved scrambling over rough rocks at the base of the fortress walls, but there was evidence plenty of other people did it, so why not? I think it’s a way of getting into the fortress without paying the entry fee.

The boat back again was also swift and pleasant.

Dry Land

Back on Terra Firma we popped into a nearby bar to get some refreshments. These were mainly milkshake-based and were most, well, refreshing. The bar we were sitting in was showing the England vs Spain game from the UEFA Women’s Euros. We’d missed the end of that because it was played on the evening we were getting ready to travel. I think I gave up watching it not long before Spain scored, so basically missed all the fun. When we arrived at the bar the re-run was at the point where Spain had scored by England had yet to score. So we made a point of sitting in the bar at least until Georgia Stanway’s winner went in. Anyway, if got us in the mood because we’d realised that today was the England vs Sweden semi-final. That was due to kick off at 10 pm Greek time.

With only having 1 hour on the island we were done a bit earlier than expected, so we drove back home, arriving at about 4:30pm. That gave us some time for snoozing, which the ladies seemed to appreciate. Well, I appreciated it too, if I’m honest.

I went to hand back the keys to the car at about 6pm, when the guy came back. He was relieved to discover I hadn’t broken this one. So we promised to meet again at some later point so I could rent another one for 3 days in our second week.

And then we retired for dinner at about 7.

Come on England!

To watch the football we set up iplayer on my laptop and after dinner I had just enough time to walk down to the supermarket and buy a handful of beers so we could watch it in our room. The beer was cheap (and pre-chilled). OK, we were at an all-inclusive hotel, but that didn’t include stocking the mini-bar with premium beers. They didn’t allow drinks to be taken away from the restaurant/bar.

The England Team did rather well. A comprehensive 4-0 victory with one completely scandalous goal from Alessia Russo. Game on. When’s the final? Oh! Sunday evening. Cool.