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Having spent a long and cold winter in Denmark thinking of last year’s experiences in the Greek islands of Patmos, Tilos, Nisyros, and Kos, it was time to plan for new adventures to come.

An important change from the previous year was that this time we knew a lot more about how everything worked with ferries, transport, car rental, etc.

We knew for certain that we wanted to return to Patmos and Psili Amos, our paradise beach, where we had only spent a few days in 2011. Also, we knew that we wanted to limit our ferry travel as it was such a heavy burden on our budget. Furthermore, in 2011 we had made new friends who had been coming to Leros for more than 20 years every summer. This time we would go to stay with them and let them show us an island which they loved so much.

Our experiences from 2011 where we had booked a hotel through hotels4u.com and medhotels.com and been treated in an infamous manner that we would not have believed possible, had taught us not to book through these online services again, nor was it necessary at all to do so. Every time we stepped off a ferry or bus, hotel owners would be standing there with their offers and photos of their hotels or pensions.

We simply bought plane tickets through Norwegian Air from Copenhagen to Kos. Because we wanted to go back to the Dodecanese islands there was no way of avoiding flying to Kos, and so we did. Also, when you travel on a budget as we do, we arrived at 3 am in the morning. However, this time we knew our way around the airport. We went outside right away and turned left where there was a somewhat protected corner that would easily fit our four sleeping mats. When we woke up a few hours later, we bought coffee in the departure hall and got ready for another backpacking adventure in the Dodecanese islands.

The first bus leaves at about 8 am from right outside the airport and takes you right into Kos town. It takes about half an hour and costs 3.90 per person. You may take a little nap as you don’t miss out on much on this bus ride. When you get to the Kos town bus stop you need to walk to the port to catch the catamaran which comes in on the outer part of the port and you have to pass the crusaders’ castle to get there.

Ferrysign showing all the destinations from Kos to Patmos, Leros, etc.

Ferrysign showing all the destinations from Kos to Patmos, Leros, etc.

On your way there you pass the indoor market and a small pedestrian street will lead you towards the waterfront. In this small street you can buy your tickets from one of the travel agents for the catamaran for Patmos and everywhere else, and it is by far more convenient than buying it from the small ticket booth next to where the catamaran departs. Last year that was just what we did as we thought the tickets would be less expensive here, but they weren’t, and instead we were frying in the sun for an hour. Never again!

By the way, tickets to Patmos with the catamaran were 29 Euros per person. Usually the catamaran is about twice the price of the a ticket from Blue Star ferries, which is much more comfortable to travel with, but it only leaves a couple of times a week and at very inconvenient hours of the day – or rather during the  night. The catamaran from the Dodecanese Seaways leaves for Patmos at 11 am.  Click for timetable for Dodecanese Seaways  can be seen here. And off we were to Patmos.

The ferry calls into port and the whole island is wide awake for a little whileHaving bought our tickets for the ferry to Patmos we got in line for the catamaran which arrived soon after. When you get on board, the staff asks you which island you are going to. The catamaran stops at several islands and therefore it is practical to divide the luggage into piles for each island to avoid chaos when getting off the ferry.

As coffee is sort of what you can buy on the ferry, it is a good idea to bring your own food for the ride. Make sure to buy it in Kos Town before you head out towards the catamaran as there is only a small coffee place where the catamaran leaves.

It is such a blast to sit on deck and watch when the ferry enters a port. There are people everywhere saying hello or good-bye to friends and family and there are hotel or house owners looking for potential guests to occupy a house or a room for a few days. The islands are dependent on the ferry to bring them supplies; some of the islands do not have their own water and need to have it brought from e.g. Kos.  Leaving Port - Dodecanes Islands

It is obvious that the arrival of the catamaran or ferry is the main event of the day. When it has left again the place quietens down and settles into its usual slow rhythm.

The ferry ride is a great way to see the Dodecanese islands from the outside. You really get an idea of how sparsely populated they are. In some instances there is only the one town where the ferry calls into.

On the ferry itself you can sit on deck and work on your tan – remember a good sunscreen – or sit in the shade indoor. In the case of the catamaran it was fun to stand or sit up front on the deck and almost get blown away by the wind.

We had planned to go straight to a place where they would sell us a ticket to go to Tilos as we wanted to be part of the festival taking place just then. However, it turned out to be a No Go as we couldn’t find a ferry for Tilos till the next day. We thought that ferries would sail every day in peak season, but no. We could get as far as to Nisyros, but no further than that.

So, why go south when we could catch a ferry north? We had no intention of staying on Kos which was by far the most touristy of all the islands that we went to. Also, we had booked a really nice hotel at the end of our trip in Kos Town before leaving Greece (even though we didn’t get the apartment that we had paid for, but that’s another story that hasn’t seen an ending yet, which is why I’ll wait a while before I write about that).

In fact, there was a ferry leaving for Kalymnos, Leros and Patmos a couple of hours after we arrived in Kos Town. Perfect. A really friendly woman at one of the travel agencies gave me all the information that I needed including prices of the tickets. Well, I thought, it’s probably more expensive to buy them from her, so instead I’ll buy our tickets down at the ticket place next to where the catamaran would leave. Bad idea!

Not only was the price of the tickets exactly the same as at the travel agency; the man who soldA list of beautiful Greek islands to hop if you can find out when and where the ferry leaves them let us stand outside the ticket place to fry in the hot hot sun. He left us there for more than an hour and only began selling our tickets a short while before the catamaran actually left. I can only recommend that you buy from a travel agency inside Kos Town and to do it before you go to towards the catamaran as it is quite a long walk away from the other ferries and boats.

There are two types of ferries; the one from Blue Star Ferries is a really big one coming from Piraeus and the catamarans leaving from Kos to do a sort of round trip. The price of tickets for the big Blue Star Ferry is only about half the price of that for the catamaran, and the ferry is far more comfortable. However, it doesn’t leave as often as the catamarans, and also the time of arrival at our destination was very inconvenient in comparison with that of the catamaran.

Nowhere is the sky as when you are among the white houses of the Dodecanese islandsArriving in Kos Airport what struck me first was the heat (compared to Denmark). When we left Denmark, we were in the midst of the wettest summer ever recorded, and we went from that to above 35 degrees Celsius and bright sunshine. Wonderful!

We arrived in the middle of the night, but still we were met by a very friendly and helpful staff at the airport where we spent the night till the first bus for Kos town left at 8 am.

The friendliness of the Greeks was everywhere we went. You may think that they would be fed up with all the tourists crowding their beautiful country, but that was certainly not the impression that we got. If we asked for information, we got it right away. If we asked for assistance, we got it, even if it meant giving us a lift somewhere to get us what we wanted.

Unfortunately we had no choice in when we were going – it had to be in thGreek economy may constitute a bomb under the Euroe middle of the high season – even for the Greeks. So we expected crowds everywhere and that it would be difficult to find a place to stay – when we wouldn’t be camping at the beaches, but no. So many places were quite empty, even restaurants and bars etc. A young Greek couple from Athens told us that due to the financial crisis 8 out of 10 Greeks stayed at home this summer. They could not afford to go anywhere.

The financial crisis wasn’t generally something that we felt, but – as Danes we are not surprised that they have a crisis. Compared to Denmark there is little control with regard to tax-paying in Greece.

Last time I was in Greece – many years ago – they had their own currency, the Drachmas, it was not such a costly experience to travel in the country. Now the prices are almost like prices in Denmark, which was a chock, although not quite unexpected.