A quick look around our fellow passengers on the small boat from Plaka was not enough to tell us how many were visiting to see the Venetian fortifications, the Ottoman remains or the scene of Victoria Hislop’s successful novel, The Island. For the record, our interest stemmed largely from Ms Hislop’s book, and judging by the bookstall in our hotel shop, many of our fellow tourists had the same idea. Positioned in the east of Crete, the island itself is very small but rather impressive, with well-preserved Venetian fortifications giving it a dominant position in the sea lanes leading to Elounda and Agios Nikolaus. The honey-coloured rock has a real beauty in the Mediterranean sunlight, a beauty best seen from the boats that swarm around the island. Controlled by the Greek government’s department of antiquities, this is no tourist trap. The story of the island is told in simple rooms which have recently been restored near the two entry points, but the beauty of the location cannot make up for the sadness of walking in Europe’s last leper colony, which closed in 1957. We chose the shortest crossing from Plaka, because this is central to the book’s story. We also chose it because it is not used by the big tour companies. Spinalonga has few facilities (a snack bar and toilets at the landing point), but Plaka has several enticing restaurants. We ate at the Taverna Gorgona and enjoyed excellent service, despite my gluten free diet, and splendid views of Spinalonga.
Questions Where and what is Spinalonga? What three phases of its history are mentioned in the text? Why did the author cross from Plaka?
What do you think these words mean in the text? Highlight for definitions
fortifications – defensive buildings remains – old, ruined buildings a scene – the place where an event or story happens to judge by – to follow evidence to a conclusion dominant – controlling, difficult to miss sea lanes – places where ships pass to swarm – to gather like bees around a nest a leper colony – a place where people sick with leprosy were isolated a crossing – the route between land and an island enticing – interesting and inviting
Grammar Participle clauses. Can you find the three participle clauses in the text? Highlight below for solutions … and judging by the bookstall in our hotel shop, … Positioned in the east of Crete, the island itself is very small… Controlled by the Greek government’s department of antiquities, this … These clauses are used to provide extra information, like complicated adjectives. Notice that the main clauses that follow them follow normal English word order.