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  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.

 Peacocks chattering away and cicadas making an incredible noise formed a thick wall of sound all around us. The cicadas were hard to spot, but not the peacocks. They were everywhere. The big colourful cocks, the brownish hens and their small chicks. We felt that we had a great chance to look into the lives of these beautiful birds. The noise from the cicadas was quite consistent throughout the day, almost from sunrise till sunset. Along with the eucalyptus trees that line the campground it makes Plaka Beach a very unique place.

Plaka Beach Tilos - At midday the only place to be is under the big eucalyptus trees

Plaka Beach Tilos - At midday the only place to be is under the big eucalyptus trees

It is not as if the place was crowded at all. We saw a couple of camper vans and then a small tent. We set our tents under the shady eucalyptus trees as by now we knew that shade is of paramount importance in the hot Greek summer when camping like we did. The ground was covered in leaves and bark from the eucalyptus trees which formed a nice soft bed under the tents as well as had a nice spicy smell. Really pleasant. Later I read that the smell from the eucalyptus trees keeps the mosquitoes away. And true enough, there were no mosquitoes. (Nor had we seen any in Psili Ammos, for that matter.

After a nice swim we began to have a good look around the place. And, even though we had read somewhere that there is a well with fresh drinking water, we never found it. And also, the toilet is – at least when we were there – so disgusting that there was no way that we could use it. Our neighbour D, part of the Greek couple in the tent next to ours – about 50 m away – was sure that he saw a rat there. This was one of the reasons that we made the taverna in Agios Andonios our base. It had great toilets 🙂

 We quickly realised that a car was a must if we were to go anywhere as 1½ hour hike from Plaka Beach to Agios Andonios was not an option every time we wanted to leave the peacocks and cicadas behind for a while. Our neighbours, a lovely couple from Athens, turned out to be a great help. He is an engineer and she studies statistics at the university in Athens. Bright young people and so helpful!

Great Greek neighbours at Plaka Beach, Tilos

Great Greek neighbours at Plaka Beach, Tilos

D and M had rented a car when they arrived at Tilos, and the next day they took my husband back to Livadia to the tourist information/car rental to get a car for us. We should have done that when we arrived but how were we to know that we could not do without it. D and M were also a great source of information about the Greek society and the present financial crisis in Greece. They were curious to know how we had found out about Plaka Beach as apparently guide books is not a common thing in Greece.

In Denmark we pay sky-high property taxes on our houses, but D and M told us that in Greece people avoid paying their property taxes by not finishing their houses completely. That is just one of many differences between Denmark and Greece which apparently is in no way as controlled a society as the Danish is.

Well, I got sidetracked and better get back to Plaka Beach, Tilos.