Groovy in Greece – Eastern Crete

For two days on Crete, I have booked guided bus tours to see more of the island. It’s more convenient for me than renting a car, and this way I can possibly meet new people.

Today I will be going east, with a tour I prebooked on the website Get Your Guide. If you book local, I think the company is Altino Travel. I grab a coffee and a koulouri at the bakery stand right next to the hotel for a breakfast on the go. The pickup time for this tour is 730am (YAY!) because it takes forever to get everyone together. Many different pickups at various points in Crete. We all finally converge and hop onto one giant bus, and hit the road towards our first destination, Agios Nikolaos.

It’s a small seaside town that has a lot of charm. As we are dropped off and given a quick orientation, I’m trying to connect with a few people and start a convo, but it’s just not happening so I give up and will explore the town on my own. The main attraction here in Agios Nikolaos is Lake Voulismeni, a lake with some mystery.

It is said that the goddesses Artemis and Athens bathed in these waters. Some locals will tell you it’s bottomless and connected to the underworld. Regardless, it became really stinky after a massive earthquake blocked its underground stream so they had to carve a channel to connect it to the sea.

I cross the blue bridge and walk around the lake, and then I climb up the stairs to the little park above for some awesome views.

I wander through the small streets, looking in a few souvenir shops along the way.

I find this gorgeous church, the cathedral of Agia Triada located in the center of the town.

I have some extra time and have no idea when we’re having lunch, so I sit down at Asteria Café and order a slice of galaktoboureko, a custard pie with syrup.

I tried it in Athens and it was so good I have to have it again. I walk back down to the parking lot for bus pickup and it’s close to this cool statue, The Abduction of Europa.

That is Zeus disguised as a bull, tricking Europa and kidnapping her because he’s Zeus and he can do whatever the fuck he wants! He did make her Queen, so I guess that’s cool? Haha.

And now it’s a short drive to our beach spot at Elounda. It’s a pretty little fishing village; a popular spot to relax and soak up the sun.

I head over to the beach; you can rent a chair and umbrella but I’m not staying long enough for it to be worth it. I drop my stuff in the sand and decide to go for a quick swim. I get up to my shoulders briefly and I can feel these stupid little fish biting my legs. So yeah, that’s enough of that!

This is our lunch stop, so I wander over to the main street of the harbour and settle at a place called Vachus Taverna.

I order a beer, and dakos Cretan bread. It’s a soaked dry bread topped with tomatoes and cheese, drizzled with olive oil and seasoned with oregano. At many restaurants in Greece, a host will stand outside and call out to people to come and eat at their place. The guys at this restaurant are so funny…. they would talk about or make fun of everyone after they walked past. They were speaking Greek, but I could tell what they were doing. Haha.

After lunch I meet up with the group and we hop on a boat for a 30 min ride to Spinalonga Island. It is WINDY on this boat – like hold tight on to your shit windy.

And it’s windy on the island too. The Venetians built the massive fortress on Spinalonga, but from 1903 to 1957, the island was used as a leper colony. They were taken care of, as opposed to the poor living conditions of hiding away in caves. After the colony dissolved, it was left abandoned for many years until there was interest of making it a tourist attraction. If you like to read, there is a fiction novel called The Island by Victoria Hislop that helped to make Spinalonga famous internationally. I head through the entrance archway

and walk the paths and into a few of the old houses and this buildings.

This is one of a few buildings where they kept the lepers.

I end up on the outer path and I do a circle around the island. It’s really hot again today and there’s not much shade out here but at least the wind is keeping me somewhat cool. Here are some views from my walk.

You can climb up to the top of the fortress but the hike looks a bit too intense for me in this heat.

Nope. Not doing it

I’m sure the views up there are amazing! I find some shade while we wait for the boat to arrive.

You do NOT want to miss the last boat or you are stuck here overnight. Haha. Can you imagine? I bet this place is super haunted. On the way back to the mainland we anchor the boat for a swim stop. No thanks, not interested in jumping off this boat. And then we’re on the bus and heading back to Heraklion. I am listening to music and good thing I take out my buds because I find out I’m supposed to get off the big bus at this random stop and transfer over to a car that will take me back. Phew!

I don’t feel like doing much tonight after this long day so I grab a cup of pasta from Mailo’s The Pasta Project. Conveniently right outside my hotel. This place is brilliant…you choose the type of pasta and then what kind of sauce/toppings you want and they cook it up and throw it in a cup to go. I get the truffle mushroom.

So good. Anyone want to open a franchise here in Canada? Haha. I hit the sack fairly early since I have another early day tomorrow….

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