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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.

When you pick the Flying Dolphin as your means of transport from Patmos to Leros, be prepared for a wild and bumpy ride. Keep that breakfast in your bag till you have landed safely again.

When you pick the Flying Dolphin as your means of transport from Patmos to Leros, be prepared for a wild and bumpy ride. Keep that breakfast in your bag till you have landed safely again.

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!

Krithoni Bay View - Leros, Greece. This place and our hosts made all the difference to our stay in Leros. The location of the house was superb and the hospitality of our hosts was unparalleled.

Krithoni Bay View – Leros, Greece. This place and our hosts made all the difference to our stay in Leros. The location of the house was superb and the hospitality of our hosts was unparalleled.

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.

Agia Marina, Leros, full of life both during the day and at night. Although there are many tourists here, it is also a place where people go about their usual business like this fisherman is doing.

Agia Marina, Leros, full of life both during the day and at night. Although there are many tourists here, it is also a place where people go about their usual business like this fisherman is doing.

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.

Pandeli, Leros - the Greeks are dancing Greek dancing in the town square

Pandeli, Leros – the Greeks are dancing Greek dancing in the town square

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.

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The next morning we were off to hand in the car and catch the ferry or rather the catamaran. Tickets for the catamaran ferry are bought the same place where we rented the car which is very practical. And also, next to the ticket office – car rental was the grocery shop where we could stock up on supplies for the ferry ride.

However, going from Tilos to Mandraki in Nisyros was only the one stop and didn’t take that long. We had met some other Danes that had been to Nisyros and had recommended a hotel that they had found nice. When we arrived in Nisyros I left my family sitting in the shade while I figured out about where to stay. Actually, we had been considering going to a hotel with thermal baths, but later I was really happy that we didn’t. More about this later.

I didn’t particularly like the hotel in Mandraki that had been recommended to us. I don’t know – small balconies etc. Instead I continued to the street behind it and found a super place called Romantzo. For Euros 60 per day I got us a room on the second floor with four beds, a small bathroom, air-condition, a fridge and even a TV. We could have done without the TV! Best of all was the enormous communal terrace stretching the full length of the floor. From here we had the most stunning view of the Aegean Sea. I might have been able to get the room for less, but I really thought it was worth every cent. Google maps has placed it in the wrong place. Stand with your back to the ferry and take the road to the left behind the harbour front and you will find it on your right hand. It’s a five minutes’ walk.

 

Terrace outside our room at hotel Romantza in Mandraki, Nissiros /Nisyros, with a wonderful view of the Aegean Sea

Terrace outside our room at hotel Romantza in Mandraki, Nissiros / Nisyros, with a wonderful view of the Aegean Sea

 

The reason for going to Nisyros was of course, like everybody else, to go down into the volcano of the island. Also, we wanted to try the thermal baths at the old hotel which was somewhat out of reach on foot. So, we rented a car J Expensive, but again, hard to do without if you want to see more of the island than just Nisyros town.

Nisyros mainly consists of rock and can’t boast of the same beautiful beaches as we have visited on Patmos and Tilos, but there was one beach with black sand that we had heard of and wanted to go to. We drove as far as we could and left the car to continue to the black sand beach. It was still quite a hike after that, and as part of it was on narrow difficult trails I wouldn’t recommend people with bad knees etc. to go there.

As it was late in the afternoon the sun had moved away from this side of the island and most people had already left. The sand was fine, but because it was so dark the water didn’t seem nearly as appealing as it had done everywhere else. On the way back we went to a small village with some great fish restaurants – very reasonably priced. We already felt comfortable with the island and it was still only our first day on Nisyros.

  One of the highlights of Tilos or should I say a ‘must see’ on Tilos is the monastery which is placed high on top of the island on its very north-western part. We decided to visit the monastery which should be quite easy to find as we just had to continue along the same road that had taken us to Plaka Beach. We drove for about 5 minutes uphill and the road turned a 90 degree to the left. My husband stopped the car right there. He is really afraid of heights and announced that there was no way he would drive up to the monastery.

The scenery at that spot is just spectacular. On your right you have the steep cliffs going down to the sea and you have the most stunning view of the Aegean Sea. The road runs quite near the cliffs which is why my husband refused to go any further. We could stand there and watch the road winding its way up the cliffs till it reached its destination – the monastery of St. Panteleimon. I was considering hiking up there, but the sun would be setting shortly afterwards so I gave up and just enjoyed the view.

The road to the monastery on Tilos winds its way to the top very near the cliffs to the Aegean Sea

The road to the monastery on Tilos winds its way to the top very near the cliffs to the Aegean Sea

The cliffs on this part of Tilos are supposedly the home of a long list of threatened and rare birds. We didn’t see that many rare birds, not that we knew of, at least, but we were in the company of peacocks all the time when at Plaka Beach. Precisely at the time when we were there they were losing their long tail feathers which were just lying around on the ground. Well, not just the long feathers, but also the orange ones from their bellies and tiny ones with a full ‘peacock’ pattern on them.

I carefully (remembering how we were once attacked by a capercaillie in the woods of Sweden picking mushrooms) gathered a big bunch of these beautiful peacock feathers which I wanted to take home as my Greek souvenir. I thought that the least the peacocks could do in return for trying to steal our food. Even though we would hang it up high, they would try to jump to get at it. But at least they kept at a couple of meters distance when we were near the tents.

Peacocks at Plaka Beach Tilos were not afraid of us and in their search for food sometimes looked inside our camp

Peacocks at Plaka Beach Tilos were not afraid of us and in their search for food sometimes looked inside our camp

My husband was shaking his head and asked me how I intended to bring the feathers home without ruining them. We still had a long way to go before leaving for Denmark. I needed something like those tubes you get when you buy a poster and that was not readily available on Tilos.
This is where I got creative and got a brilliant idea as how to solve this challenge:

1) Take a look around you and do not throw away all those empty water bottles
2) Take the first water bottle, cut off the top
3) Take the next water bottle, cut off the bottom
4) Take as many water bottles as the feathers are long and cut off top and bottom
5) Now you screw the bottle with its top cut off into one that is without bottom and top
6) Next screw another bottle without top and bottom into no. 5 and so on
7) Eventually your tube is as long as your feathers
8) Now carefully place your bunch of feathers into the tube so that the feathers rest on no. 2
9) Finally, screw the bottle without bottom but with it top onto the tube
10) You now have a perfect tube for peacock feathers

I had no problem travelling with my peacock feathers on ferries etc. It was easy to handle and super lightweight. I was a little worried about getting through customs with it going back to Denmark, but as the bottles were made from transparent plastic, the staff just smiled and asked about the feathers. A great way to strike up conversation, and they never bothered to check anything else in my pack.

Well, now we were ready to leave Tilos and head for Nisyros.