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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.

Snorkelling, reading, eating, and relaxing in the shade – these were the daily activities on Psili Ammos beach, and most of them took place without wearing any clothes. I say this to illustrate why the next event could happen.

One afternoon when we were about to dress to go to the taverna my husband grabbed a polo shirt that had been left for a few days in the beach tent where we stored most of our stuff. The moment he pulled the shirt over his head he felt something that stung him. He looked inside his polo shirt and saw a – scorpion!

 

Scorpions on Psili Ammos, Patmos, who would have thought so

Scorpions on Psili Ammos, Patmos, who would have thought so – my husband got stung on the side of his neck and lived to tell about it

He yelled out loud and fortunately ‘J’, our Dutch neighbour who lived a few meters away from us in a hammock, was around and came running. He was a very special guy, very friendly and very spiritual. He does a lot of things with the sandstone rocks that you will find all over the place and has made this perfect and very large spiral in the area behind where we camped. He lives on Psili Ammos all summer and in Scala all winter with his Greek girlfriend.

 

Psili Ammos, Patmos - a perfect spiral - made by our Dutch neighbour

Psili Ammos, Patmos – a perfect spiral – made by our Dutch neighbour

He knew of scorpions in Greece, but had never actually seen them and didn’t know how poisonous they were. First, he helped my husband sort of catch the scorpion in a small pocked in the shirt and then helped him get the shirt off. Next, he suggested that I should try to suck at the place where my husband had been bitten. However, I doubt that would do any good.  And then, the three of us went very quickly to the taverna to get help.

On our way to the taverna I was already beginning to think about how to leave the beach with the boys and get home in case my husband died. A lot of thoughts went through my mind in the couple of minutes it took to get to the taverna. From my travelling in Australia I knew that the small brown scorpions (this one measured about 2-3 cm) were the most poisonous ones, much worse than the big black ones that I had come across in Indonesia many years ago.  ‘J’ told the family what had happened, and they asked to see the scorpion. And then they laughed…

What a relief. It turned out that this type of scorpion was not dangerous at all, and the bite no worse than getting stung by a bee – which can be bad enough, but not compared to what we thought it would have been. The grandfather just stepped on it and it was no longer in this world.  I kept a close eye on my husband for the next 24 hours and we learned to shake all pieces of clothing, etc. before putting them on.

We spent lots of time snorkelling a bit out in the water, but not quite out there where the cliffs end as the sea and waves would be far too rough. I am not the courageous type and like calm water when I snorkel. But the thing is that when you get out there and dive under the surface, the water is completely calm, and the light is fantastic. It feels like diving in a huge aquarium surrounded by beautifully coloured fish and plants.

 

Psili Ammos, Patmos - snorkelling in a big aquarium - or almost so

Psili Ammos, Patmos – snorkelling in a big aquarium – or almost so

We also saw this huge mussel shell, which I later learned was a ham-mussel. Apparently, the mussel had somehow left the shell or probably something had made it leave if by eating it. The shell was enormous compared to the shells that we see in Denmark. It was barely hanging on to a big rock and came off when I touched it. Since the mussel wasn’t there anymore I took it with me when we swam back in to the beach.

It was about 20 cm long and orange inside with white mother of pearl, really beautiful. As usual my husband said that there was no way that it would make it back to Denmark, but he forgot about the water bottles which serve many purposes. So, I wrapped the shell in paper towel and cut open a couple of water bottles and stuck the whole package together with gaffer tape. It made it back to Denmark without breaking and I have added it to my shell collection.

At night it is totally black at Psili Ammos where you only have the moon and the stars to shine on your camp. As wonderful as that is, it wasn’t quite sufficient when the four of us wanted to play Uno at night, so we made lamps out of our water bottles.

We had brought some tea light candles along as we knew we would need some kind of light at night, but we hadn’t counted on it being so windy all the time that it was impossible to keep the candles going. So, we took an empty plastic water bottle, took off the cap, filled the bottom with sand, cut a small window in the side of the bottle where we could insert the candle into the bottle on top of the sand – and voila – we had sand lamps.

 

Leaving-Psili-Amos, Paytmos, very early in the morning to catch the catamaran to Leros

Leaving Psili Amos, Patmos, very early in the morning to catch the catamaran to Leros

Eventually, it was time to move on and leave Psili Ammos and Patmos to go to one of the nearby Greek islands that we had passed on the way to Patmos – and where we had friends waiting for us – Leros.

 

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.