For a week we had looked upon Spinalonga an island visible from the resort we were staying at - The Blue Palace. Reticent to exert any energy whatsoever to sightsee (this was the last leg of a rather tiring trip) we daily debated whether to visit Spinalonga, the second most popular archaeological site on Crete.
On the second to the last day of our stay we ventured forth, albeit abetted by a rather lovely British couple who were determined to visit the island. The wife had read a popular book, "The Island" and husband in tow shared a boat with us from our resort to Spinalonga.
Here, in a most dramatic setting, are the remains of multiple civilizations - Arab, Venetian, Ottoman. Most remarkably Spinalonga was for many years a leper colony, a highly functioning community with an urban infrastructure that had markets and theaters and was one of the first locations in the region to have electricity. The island is beautiful.
When I returned to the states I read "The Island" and gained additional insight (and respect) for this barren and rocky outcrop that has nurtured so many cultures and become a haven for those afflicted with leprosy. It's hard to imagine life on Spinalonga for those who were exiled there, with views to the mainland to which they could never return.