Crete was the last stop on our Greek adventure and there were two main things that I wanted to do while we were there which were both close to Elounda. Unfortunately the only travel options took us in to Chania port and out of Chania airport, which aren’t exactly close to Elounda (Heraklion would have been much closer). We hired a car and the drive to Elounda was really easy, it’s just straight drive along National Road 90.
What we did:
If you’ve read Victoria Hislop’s The Island you will instantly recognise the name Spinalonga, I have wanted to visit for years after reading the book and finding out it’s a real place.
Spinalonga is a tiny island off the coast of Crete, opposite the village of Plaka. For such a tiny piece of land it has a really interesting history. Firstly it was a Venetian Fort and then it was occupied by the Ottomans. The last time it was occupied was between 1903 and 1957 when it was used as a leper colony for the citizens of Crete.
You can get the boat across to the island from either Plaka or Elounda, it’s slightly further from Elounda but a lovely boat ride.
We had about an hour and a half on the island which was enough time to explore the old walls and fort and the houses that made up the village where the lepers live. It was fascinating to explore and imagine who might have lived there and how their lives would have been.
There is a path that takes you around the island but you can also climb and explore.
We were there when the spring flowers were in bloom and the island was beautiful.
At the harbour where the boats dock there is a small gift shop, a cafe and toilets. Other than that the island is very much as it was with a few signs to explain what’s what.
Perfume Workshop at Bioaroma
Pip and ditched Andy and had a lovely girls only morning at Bioaroma.
Bioaroma is an environmentally friendly and sustainable cosmetics company based in Crete. They grow and process their own raw materials and ingredients. The factory, workshop and shop are situated in beautiful grounds, with a garden and peacocks, the shop is worth a visit in itself.
We started with a tour of the factory, which being a weekend wasn’t in use, to see where they process some of the flowers and plants that they grow themselves. We then had a look around the shop which has a small museum section with the story of Cretan cosmetics and the history of Bioaroma.
Then it was time to create our signature scents.
Perfumes are made up of base notes, middle notes and top notes so there was a lot of different scents to smell. I think I smelled every scent about 3 times as I couldn’t make my mind up, I’ve needed a new perfume for ages but have never found one that I really like. Pip on the other hand was really decisive and knew exactly what she wanted really quickly. Between scents there were coffee beans to small to clear your nose, Pip hates the smell of coffee so that kept me amused.
Once we had chosen our favourites it was time to make up our perfumes. Pip went for Chocolate, honey and vanilla, Lily and Passionfruit and I chose Vanilla, Peony and Verbena.
Elounda is a lovely little sea side town with some excellent restaurants and an souvenir shops. We spent some time watching the boats coming and going and pottering about.
A 10 minute drive down the coast is the village of Plaka. There is a lovely pebble beach where we watched the waves and did some stone balancing and some lovely shops to explore. We had lunch at Isla Bistrot and Coffee bar overlooking the sea.
Where we stayed:
We stayed at Elounda Garden Suites which is a gorgeous oasis right in the middle of Elounda. Our review of our stay can be found here.
Things we didn’t get time to do:
Just about everything on Crete, we really do need to go back and spent some proper time there. There is masses of history and lots of beautiful beaches and some spectacular hikes.
We hired a car from Greenways. We were really impressed with them, they met us off the ferry in Chania and we returned the car to one of the airport car parks at Chania airport. The car was new, very clean and all insurances included and a second driver free.
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