13.8.2007: A boat trip from Agios Nikolaos to the Leprosy - Island Spinalonga

We have hired a car and are driving to the north coast to Agios Nikolaos to do a boat trip to Spinalonga.

Shortly before Ierapetra: View over greenhouses und the town, with Dikti - mountains behind.

Today being very clear, the small island of Chrisi, situated in the Lybian sea about 10 km south from Ierapertra,  can be seen quite well.

Where the road from Ierapetra meets the Merambelo - cove, a nice beach makes us leave the car. Click into the picture for a larger version.

Pachia Amos, with the foothills of the Dikti mountains behind.

The small Isle of Psira ...

 ... and here zooming in

An interesting perforated stone on the beach. Are these holes from drilling scallops?

One of the next small coves, with striking turquoise - green (shallow) water. Agios Nikolaos in behind.

Arrived in Agios Nikolaos: In the centre of the city a small fresh-water lake, connected with the sea of the haven by a short canal.

Numerous boats in the haven, with the destination Spinalonga. We enter one of them.

Another boat attracts with underwater windows.

In the haven of Agios Nikolaos

Today it is so clear that we can see the  far distant mountains behind the Merambelo cove.

Off we go, ...

 ... and Agios Nikolaos is vanishing behind the stern waves of the boat.

View in western direction to the Dikti - mountains. One of them should be Spathi Madharas (2.148 m) - knowing that I have seen Agios Nikolaos from its summit

Afendis Stavramenos behind the cove, more than 15 km afar, tomorrow´s goal.

One of the very few places in Crete with green lawn: The golf gound near one of the most expensive hotels in Greece.

One night is said to cost up to 500 Euro!

The peninsula of Kolokitha is connected with Crete only by a narrow dam.

The trip now goes around this peninsula.

Rock escarpments into the sea.

Rocks towering up from the sea ...

 ... and small coves inviting for bathing.

A lot of other boats are on the way, however, ...

 ... so the small, remote cove described in the guide book looks rather crowded by people coming with boats. Our boat also anchored in the cove for 30 minutes, and many passengers take the chance for a short swim. Our boat is too big to be able to land.

Afendis Stavramenos

More rocks on the further trip

 ... at times with caves.

Finally, the isle of Spinalonga is in sight, offshore of the northern end of Kolokitha peninsula.

The Venetians, who occupied Crete from 1204 to 1715, built the fortifications to protect the cove of Elounda (between Kolokitha and Crete), where the Venetian Naval force anchored.

The cove of Elounda

Military fortresses. A good place to attack the enemy´s ships passing.

In 1715 the Turks conquered Crete and with it also Spinalonga, after having starved it for several months - it was given up by capitulation.

After that, a turkish village arised on the isle. After Crete´s independence in 1903, Leprosy patients from all over the isle (and in later years from all over Greece) were brought there and were not allowed to leave because of their infectious state. Of course, the turkish population soon left the place.

After WW2, Leprosy could be healed by drugs. So the colony was given up in 1957 and declined soon.

View over the cove of Elounda

Our boat is landing here, and we are leaving to explore the island.

Fortress near the pier.

View through rthe narrow canal to the open sea, Kolokitha pensinula to the right.

Our boat

Some of the houses have been restored, most are still ruined however.

The half round building in tghe centre is the cistern, to the right the small church.

Herre is a little pier, where food was brought to the isle.

Ruined houses

In the meantime, cactuses are growing here

A walk around the island: big fortresses on the "backside" viewing to the open sea.

The tiny cemetry, where the bones were collected a few years after the funerals, due to lack of room.

Nearly back at the pier now.

The trip back can start.

Rocks once more

 ... this cave is called "Barbarossa´s cave"

View over the Merambelo - cove to the Oros - and Thripti - mountains. The highest summit in the centre is Afendis stavramenos (1.476 m), tomorrow´s goal.

Agios Nikolaos comes in sight again.

View between the Kri Kri - isles to Afendis Stavramenos

Agios Nikolaos

Behind the haven the view to the Monastiraki - gorge in the Thriptis - mountains

The pier, with our boat (the last)

Our boat.

The square near the lake in Agios Nikolaos, this time in evening light

On the kids´ demand, we stop once more at the beach near Pachia Amos. The Monastiraki - gorge much more impressive now in the evening light.

Merambelo - cove in evening light

Fine sand between the rocks invites to play.

Pachia Amos