Day nine of my trip to Greece was a bit more relaxed than the one before. A lot of time sitting on buses, exactly what I needed.
I had a long day of travel planned, from Chania to Iraklio, from there to Agios Nikolaos and from there to Plaka. My reason for going 2/3 the way across Crete, a book. The Island by Victoria Hislop was recommended to me when I was thinking of going to Greece. I loved the story and had to add visiting Spinalonga to my list of destinations. So while the advice is to generally stick to one side of Crete if only there for a few days, I’m not good at sticking to general advice and I decided to do both.
The travel all went smoothly until a staff member at Agios Nikolaos bus station had a brain fart and told me my bus wasn’t mine until it was too late and it had headed off to Plaka without me. That first world problem was solved by a ticket on the next bus and some souvlaki in the meantime. Tough gig.
I took a few photos as we left Agios Nikolaos, it had been on my list of places to visit but was culled when time became pressured. It looked lovely though and I would love to return one day.
The rest of the bus trip, along the coast past Elounda to Plaka was quite spectacular.
I was quite excited to get my first glimpse of Spinalonga, the island I had read so much about.
I will take a minute to explain why I stayed in Plaka when there is so much more accommodation to choose from in Elounda or Agios Nikolaos. As well as reading The Island I also watched To Nisi,, the television series that was made based on the book. Plaka featured heavily in both so I felt quite a connection to it. I also got the sense that Elounda was quite resorty and wanted to stay somewhere a bit more authentic, and I wanted to be able to walk to the dock.
It wasn’t easy to find somewhere to stay in Plaka as there isn’t a lot of accommodation there, but I stumbled across an Airbnb that was family run and just perfect. One block from everything, well actually everything in Plaka is one block from everything, it is a very small village. One thing to note when looking for accommodation in Plaka is that there are actually two of them on Crete. Easy to look at the wrong one.
My Airbnb was called Stella Mare and was a group of apartments managed by a delightful woman whose parents lived on site. She waved to me as I walked up from the bus, introduced me to the whole family, gifted me some wine and snacks and did my washing! Well her mother did. I was still contemplating what to do with the clothes I wore in Samaria Gorge and burning them was still on the table but I decided to ask if there were any washing facilities. She offered up her mum who did a whole load for me. Cretan hospitality.
With a mid afternoon arrival I had plenty of time to wander the village before dinner. A local lady saw me taking photos and pointed out the Spinalonga doctor’s house. The village is lovely and, while obviously relying on tourism, it does it in a classy way. Lots of lovely boutique type shops, nothing tacky and mass produced.
One thing that really intrigued me, coming from sandy beach country, was the rocky beach. The stones were quite smooth and made a delightful clacking noise as the tide came in and out. It was very relaxing and so different to any beach I had ever been to.
As you do, I asked my host for a recommendation for dinner and found myself in a quiet taverna having a delicious meal and a wonderful conversation with the staff. And the cat.
I travelled a long way this day but found myself in a relaxing place with big plans to finally visit Spinalonga tomorrow.
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