Elounda is a small village 12 km from Agios Nicholaos, I tell you about this charming town in my next travel page.
First some info about Elounda.
You can reach Elounda by bus from the airport Heraklion that takes about an hour drive.
I think Elounda is still famous because the movie "who pays the ferryman" is recording here.
The restaurant still has lovely pictures on the wall of the movie and on top of this restaurant is a big neon "who pays the ferryman"sign so you can’t miss it.
To our nice surprise the former owner was still present in this restaurant, he helps his son who has taken over the restaurant.
Walking in the opposite direction of the restaurant, you pass a lovely small harbour with lovely painted boats, making a picture their you see the church along the shore.
This small church is worth a visit, my children light a candle for all their beloved ones.
This track leads up to the higher part of the island, where there are further defensive ruins and some spectacular views out across the bay, as well as a birds-eye view of some of the ruins of the old leper hospital.
When you get off the boat you have 1 hour to see the island. You're faced with a choice of which direction to set off in - either through a tunnel to who-konws-where or up a path that leads onto the curtain wall of the fortifications. The second route looks (and is) the most picturesque, but the first route leads directly to the ruined town. This is potentially more interesting, and you could look at this and then dash around the rest of the island. We did it the other way, and strolled around the island taking in great views and interesting architecture before having to hurridly look at the town. More time would be better, or two trips. Choose what it is you want to see the most and keep an eye on the clock.
The island of Spinalonga was once a defensive fort and later a leper colony and it still retains a lot of evidence of both. The fortifications are still very impressive and the ruins of the leper town are poignant as well as picturesque.
Some parts of the village are better preserved than others - one of them being the church of course. Another part is the row of tourist shops that opens up in high season (they weren't open when we were there in spring). There are some lovely arches and tunnelways around here, and one of the tunnels is the one you could have come in through right at the start of the walk. As I said then, the village is quite intersting and picturesque and if you think you'd like to spend a while there, either do the walk clockwise or else don't dally on the walls part of the walk too much.
Back down at "ground level" you'll come across the ruins of the old leper hospital and village - they're quite picturesque. For a while this village was also a Turkish enclave until they finally left.
A couple of more views across the gulf of Elounda. The colour of the water here is divine and so, so tempting. In the distance are some exclusive apartment and hotel developments. I'm not 100% convinced by the aestheticness of their architecture
This is one of the first sights you see if you take the anti-clockwise route around the island. It's the church of St. George dating from 1661. Like most churches, it's still well maintained and in use, even if infrequently.
This is the track up to the castle walls. Ultimately it leads right round the island and you will end up at the village last. You can also branch off it to get to the highest point of the island and some more of the fortifications. The views from the walk are lovely, especially with the spring flowers.
Here we are on the boat to Spinalonga Island - or rather here's a view of Elounda looking back as we speed away. The trip to the island takes only about 10 minutes and you get lovely views of Elounda, the hills behind and the surrounding bay. And of course, good views of the island as you approach it.