Leaving Patmos was no easier than the last time, but at least we had the company of friends to look forward to.
We had been to the supermarket to buy breakfast which we intended to eat on the ferry to Leros, but as we had bought tickets for the Flying Dolphin, we quickly realised that there was no way that we could sit down to eat nor drink anything while on that boat. It was a fast, but extremely bumpy boat ride which I won’t recommend if you have other options such as the Blue Star ferry or the catamaran. The tickets we bought just before departure and they were 16 Euros each from Patmos to Leros. Departure was 9.15 am.
On Leros we were going to visit our friends and spend time with them. They had been staying at the same place for the past 20 years, the Krithoni Bay View. You would think that we would naturally be staying at the same place, but as the owners of Krithoni Bay View only rented out small flats for a month or more at a time, we had to find another place to stay on Leros. So, when we got off the Flying Dolphin we had to deal with the crowd of locals who wanted us to rent a room or flat from them. It was very unpleasant as they were almost fighting with each other to get the chance to be the lucky one to have us as their guests! Fortunately, our friends called us and said that we were welcome to stay at Krithoni Bay View as their hosts had a flat vacant for just the few days that we would need it.
The Americans as John and Pat are known as on Leros own a big beautiful house with a number of lovely flats. The house overlooks the bay and you just have to cross a small road to get to the local beach. John’s mother was born in the small house adjoining the big one where we stayed, so he is Greek-American whereas Pat is American. They are absolutely the friendliest and kindest couple that you can imagine, and no doubt that our stay in Leros would have been a very different one if we had stayed elsewhere. When they were younger, they ran a real American restaurant downstairs which supposedly was a very popular place. Now they have retired and spend their summers on Leros and winters in the States. What a life!
Having settled in, the next thing to do was to rent a car and John helped us get one for 30 Euros a day. It was a Fiat 16 and quite small, a must when driving on Leros where the streets are often so narrow and steep that you are sure that you can’t possible go there by car, but then you see everybody else doing it, and yes, it is possible. So, if you are looking for excitement, just go to Pandeli, a small town with very steep and narrow streets.
As we had a nice little kitchen with a fridge in our flat we went shopping for groceries, well actually mostly water, watermelon, yogurt and that sort of thing. We went to a rather well assorted supermarket in Laki and couldn’t help being shocked by the prices of just the most basic foodstuffs. We were wondering whether there was such a thing as a ‘Greek’ button at the cash register. By that we mean, would there be a way to enable the locals to pay a different price, maybe get special discounts if they showed proof that they actually lived there and were not just tourists like we were. The prices were often as high as in Denmark, even of locally produced products. How can people afford these prices? But what is strange is that eating out in restaurants is not expensive at all, so you really have to be on a very tight budget to choose cooking your own meals over going out to a restaurant for dinner.
And we did go out most nights as that was part of the experience. Some nights we went to Agia Marina which was within walking distance, other nights to Pandeli where we went by car. I was happy that I didn’t have to do the driving as I believe my courage would have failed me.
At Agia Marina you will find lots of restaurants, small shops, a great bakery – probably several, but we especially visited one which sold great baklava. You could claim that Agia Marina is touristy and I guess it is, but in a nice way – and still quiet and very pleasant. This is also where the Blue Star ferry comes in.
We went to Pandeli a few times which is, of course, also quite touristy, but a lot of tourists are Greeks, and they know how to have a good time. A couple of interesting places:
The town square – or at least so it looks – surrounded by a number of small restaurants and everybody is eating outside at long tables. There was live Greek music and lots of Greeks dancing Greek dancing. Fantastic atmosphere.
At the waterfront the restaurants lie one next to the other. The food is great and you can almost sit with your feet in the water while eating. There is also a great place there for desserts with ice creams etc.
One night when we were doing just that – having an ice cream after dinner, lights went out all over the place, maybe all over the island. It was dark as in black. The staff brought out candles which was fine, but we had to make it back to our cars and to get back to Krithoni Bay View. Fortunately, we always bring flashlights when we go out at night in Greece which helped us back to our cars, and as soon as we turned on the headlights, we were fine – sort of.
Keep in mind the narrow and steep roads and the total blackout on the island. Here we are driving along really carefully when suddenly we only just missed a scooter with two people on it and no lights! We were shocked! I know that I have mentioned it before, but there is a reason why there are shrines every few hundred metres or less in these islands. So many people get killed this way and we were really lucky not to become involved in a serious accident that night at Leros.