Have you read the book The Island by Victoria Hislop? I highly recommend it as a great book for beach reading!
I visited the Island of Spinalonga around 19 years ago whilst on holiday in Crete. And spent 2 summers after that, living and working in the town of Elounda, which faced the island.
I can’t remember when I bought the book, but the blurb interested me, having visited the island myself.
This summer we holidayed in Crete and I set my sights on doing the Spinalonga boat trip with the family.
We went on day 4 of our 7 day holiday, which was perfect timing as it broke our holiday up nicely.
In preparation I re-read the book.
We were picked up from the hotel at 8am – which meant we had to get up a bit earlier than normal.
The coach took us out to Aghios Nikolaos and then followed the road to Elounda.
It was a really emotional trip and I was so excited to be going back after 18 years.
The road into Elounda looked just the same and as we came down into the town it was clear that a lot hadn’t changed in that time.
We headed straight onto the boat – both kids moaning a bit, but I think they actually didn’t hate it as much as they were making out!
The boat headed out across the bay – me pointing out places and memories.
The guide that took us around the island was great and really knew what she was talking about. We went on the 27th July, which by all accounts was the saints day for the Saint Pandelaimon who was the Saint of the island, so there was a fair amount of activity on the island.
It was really interesting to note the historical accuracies of the book by Victoria Hislop.
There has been a fair amount of restoration on the island over the past few years and you could see a lot of the buildings that were referenced in the book – the hospital, the tunnel, the market, the churches.
It was very hot but the children didn’t moan too much!
The island was a leper colony at the turn of the last century – right up until it finally closed in 1957. It was fun to try and explain that to the children! Rachel was quite interested to hear that it only closed when her grandparents were around her age. It was harder for them to understand how people had to leave their families behind – including children – to be taken to the island to live.
We walked all around the island before heading back to the boat and sailing back across the Mirambello bay to Elounda.
As part of the trip, we had lunch by the sea in a taverna with a floating deck. Surprisingly, we actually managed to convince the fussy kids to eat some of the food, as it was not tailored for the kids in any way. And they really enjoyed feeding the fishes with their crumbs of bread!
After lunch, we wandered over to the beach and had a swim in the lovely warm water. A trip down memory lane for me. Just another beach to the kids!
We grabbed some souvenirs before getting the coach back to our hotel in time for some more pool action.