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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.

 

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Somehow it is easier to relax and enjoy the trip when you know where you are going – and we knew that before nightfall we would be back on Psili Ammos. As always when you arrive by ferry somewhere there is a crowd waiting for potential guests for their hotels, guesthouses, etc.

However, we just got our backpacks unloaded in the shade, left our boys on top of them and headed towards the supermarket to stock up on whatever we would need for the next few days. There are a couple of supermarkets in Scala with a good selection of food, but a limited selection of other things. I was looking for a hairbrush and only managed to get a very big comb for my long hair. Not ideal.

The water melons are huge and you have to keep in mind how heavy they are and that you have to carry them – and of course, water, and more water. All in all, fruit and vegetables are so tempting that it is necessary to decide how much you want to carry before you buy the whole shop.

This time we had decided to live life a bit more luxurious than the year before. Instead of going by bus and hiking for hours to get to Psili Ammos we went to the taxi stand across the street and negotiated a price for a taxi for the four of us and for four big backpacks. It was 12 Euros to go all the way to Grikos. Incredibly cheap. So off we went and in no time – at least so it seemed – we stood at the beginning of the trail across the cliffs leading to Psili Ammos. We found the price so cheap that we paid the taxi driver 15 Euros. As Danes we are not very good at tipping – we only do so in restaurants in Denmark and not always as service is included and staff well paid – but over the years I have learned to do so when travelling abroad. Still, I only tip when I feel that I am pleased with the service that I get.  This taxi driver was great and very helpful.

Psili Ammos beach, Patmos, is not the easiest place to reach, but well worth the hike across the cliffs from Grikos.

Psili Ammos beach, Patmos, is not the easiest place to reach, but well worth the hike across the cliffs from Grikos.

It is quite a different sensation to overcome those cliffs without first having hiked for two hours from the bus stop. It took us about 20 minutes and there it all was as we had left it the year before. Nothing whatsoever had changed – and thank God for that!

Even though the thing we would have liked to do most of all was a quick dip in the sea we decided to find a place right away to camp. There are only so many tamarisk trees to find under which to pitch your tent, and under most of the trees there are the same tents all summer. People come to pitch them at the beginning of the season, leave them and then come back once in a while, maybe just for the weekend. It is actually not a very friendly thing to do as it keeps other people out. Some of the people there can get a bit unfriendly if you move in on what they find is their territory.  We found a great spot under a big tree with a small stonewall around it, but had to wait a couple of hours till someone would move a towel from that particular spot. Well, at least we could get our long deserved swim in the meantime.

The reward of a long day of travelling was a swim and then just to sit and watch the sun set over Psili Ammos, Patmos

The reward of a long day of travelling was a swim and then just to sit and watch the sun set over Psili Ammos, Patmos

Because we had to wait so long to pitch the tent, we only got one of them up before it got dark. Two of us could sleep in the tent and two outside in a half-open beach tent. It was a really windy night and the two who slept outside had a terrible night as they kept getting sand blown into their faces every time there was a gust of wind. They looked awful in the morning, both with streaks of sand in their faces and very tired from too little sleep.

Camping on Psili Ammos, Patmos, can be a bit challenging when the wind decides to play with your tent. You absolutely need big heavy rocks to keep your plugs in the sand in place.

Camping on Psili Ammos, Patmos, can be a bit challenging when the wind decides to play with your tent. You absolutely need big heavy rocks to keep your plugs in the sand in place.

After a swim and a good breakfast at the taverna at the other end of the beach the first project was to pitch the second tent and to continue building the stone wall around the camp to protect us from the wind. The wind kept being really annoying all day and the sand on this particular beach is so very fine that the wind made it find its way into every little corner of the tent and our backpacks. Building the stone wall was a never-ending project and eventually gave us pretty good protection from the wind.

Building a wall to protect our camp from the wind and sand was his main project while on Psili Ammos, Patmos, and there were rocks in abundance.

Building a wall to protect our camp from the wind and sand was his main project while on Psili Ammos, Patmos, and there were rocks in abundance.

As long as the wind kept being so strong we just had to keep our heads down which was no problem as we lived in the shade of our tree with our brick novels, ranging from Harry Potter to Cathedral of the Sea; just perfect for days with nothing else to do.

The taverna offered great breakfasts and late hot lunches. The thing to do is to have breakfast late in the morning and lunch around 4 pm just before the taverna closes down for business. And then you can order a salad or maybe some roast chicken or something like that to takeaway later in the evening. This was only for us who camped at the beach and a great service. The taverna is run by a family where some of them live in the room behind the kitchen throughout the season and some walk down every morning. How fit they must be!

After a morning swim it was time for breakfast at the other end of the beach. Walking in that direction required getting dressed, something that is not necessary at the other end of the beach where we camped.

After a morning swim it was time for breakfast at the other end of the beach. Walking in that direction required getting dressed, something that is not necessary at the other end of the beach where we camped.

The family was really friendly and helpful. Even though we had decided to be unplugged for the duration of our stay on Psili Ammos I still used my smartphone to write notes and it took so much of my battery that I risked running out of power every second day and the solar charger that we used wasn’t any good for my smartphone, but no problem. I just left my phone in the kitchen and they recharged it for me. Sure, we were good customers, but still…

To pick the wild herbs that you can smell all the time at Psili Ammos, Patmos, you have to climb the cliffs. At the same time we had a spectacular view of our camp under the tamarisk trees to the left.

To pick the wild herbs that you can smell all the time at Psili Ammos, Patmos, you have to climb the cliffs. At the same time we had a spectacular view of our camp under the tamarisk trees to the left.

The days went by quickly with only few activities, one of which was climbing the cliffs behind us to pick wild herbs. You can actually smell them on the beach, sage and thyme, and the goats eat them as well before we eat them :-).

The taverna at the other end of Psili Ammos, Patmos serves great food at very reasonable prices. I got this piece of goat for my birthday. What a treat!

The taverna at the other end of Psili Ammos, Patmos serves great food at very reasonable prices. I got this piece of goat for my birthday. What a treat!

We picked quite a lot and then left the herbs to dry. For that very purpose I had brought along a pair of old nylons – yes, old nylons. I use them to dry nuts here in Denmark and I thought that they would serve the purpose and they did just perfectly. The remainder of the trip it looked as if I was travelling around with a couple of thick black snakes (smelling from wonderful herbs :-)).

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.

 

It didn’t take us long to wish for a cooling swim at Psili Ammos beach, but instead we had a long hike ahead of us at the hottest time of the day. We were sure that it couldn’t be that bad to walk with our backpacks to the road to Hora where we thought a bus would pass by. No such thing happened and we ended up walking for more than two hours with our backpacks all the way to Hora where we arrived at about 4 pm at the monastery. On the way there we ran out of drinking water and we were actually getting a little worried about the boys and whether they could handle the rigours we made them go through. We passed a woman who was watering her plants and asked her to soak our hats in water to cool our heads for a little while. She was very friendly and it helped for the next few minutes.

Leaving the wonderful beach of Psili Amos, Patmos, hiking over the cliffs on our way to Hora

What we could have done – and should have done, would be to call a taxi when we came down from the cliffs from Psili Amos. There is a small restaurant there where I’m sure we could have used the phone. The money for a cap would have been well spent!

We knew we were getting close to our destination when we saw the first souvenir shops and a group of tourists with a guide in front of them with a raised flag. I remember one of the very few times in my life when I have joined such a group – in Varanasi in India. The guide kept shouting that we should follow the stick! The thought of that always makes me smile and I tend to notice what kind of object the various guides use to keep their flock together.

The monastery is quite small, but very richly decorated. There is a nice little courtyard where you can relax in the shade, and the priest asked us if we would like to leave our backpacks with him while we took a look around. Another very friendly Greek!

Afterwards, we walked to the bus station where we caught the bus going back to Scala. The bus driver was the same young guy who had left us a few days before at Grikos. He asked us what we thought of Psili Ammos. I think that he had been there himself and didn’t appear surprised to hear how sorry we had been to leave the best beach we had seen for a very long time.

Patmos, Psili Amos, is the closest I have been to paradise for many years. Read this piece before you go to know what to expect and what to bring.

As it is a long way to the nearest shop of any kind, make sure to include the following items in your backpack before you start your climb down to Psili Ammos beach:

  •  Cash – it is a long way to the bank from Psili Ammos
  •  Flashlight and extra batteries – it gets very very dark at night
  • Wide brimmed hat – a must in Greece
  • Sun tan lotion
  • Diving mask and snorkel
  • One or two brick novels
  • Canned food
  • Toilet paper

At the taverna you can buy bread and water, may be other things if they have something to spare, but usually that’s it. The taverna opens around 8 or 9 in the morning and you can have great breakfasts there that’ll last you till way into the afternoon. It closes again about 5 pm so make sure that you have had a solid meal there before that time. They make great zucchini balls, Greek salads, goat stews etc. at very reasonable prices. The owners are very friendly and will let you buy water and bread if they have any at the end of the day – which they fortunately always did. They only accept cash! On Psili Amos, Patmos, beautiful sunsets were followed by incredible beautiful starry nights with fine shooting stars

The major business of the tavern is when the boat from Scala comes in about 11 am which it does if the wind is not too strong. We experienced a couple of days that it didn’t arrive. They were very quiet days on Psili Amos with few people and big waves. But when the day tourists come to Psili Ammos they rarely venture more than 50 meters away from the taverna. The rest of Psili Amos beach was left to people like us who camped there and the campers also kept to themselves as at our end of the beach we would spend all day without clothes on. Only when we went to the taverna or to use the facilities did we put on a sarong in order not to offend anyone. The facilities (toilets) were fine, by the way.

Psili Ammos is a beach with wonderful fine sand and lots of fairly large pieces of rock which you can use to build small walls around your tent to protect you from the wind on days when it is windy or else to partly protect your things from the sun. There are very few trees on Psili Amos and they all have tents under them that profit from the shade they offer. We brought two small tents with us and a beach tent, one of those in bright colours that is open at the one side. That beach tent was a big success as we used it to store all our stuff. Our tents were only meant for sleeping with no room for our backpacks.

Watching the goats pass from one side to the other before the sun rises above the cliffs

As I mentioned on the ‘must bring’ list, a diving mask and snorkel are so necessary, not just on Psili Amos, but for all the places that we went. At Psili Ammos the snorkling was spectacular, not just for the fish, but in some places out there we felt as if we were swimming in a huge aquarium with the sun streaming down through the water.

There is a huge area behind the area where the tents are that leads up to the cliffs that surround Psili Amos. If you are up early in the morning, you can watch the goats cross from one side to the other. They spend all day eating the herbs such as thyme and sage that grow all over the place. You can almost imagine how great the meat from these goats tastes.Psili Amos, Patmos, is the place to go if you want to do nothing but hang out, dive and swim. Nothing much is really going on - and that is the beauty of it

Psili Amos is one of those places where you could stay on for a long time, but we had planned island hopping in Greece and that means going from island to island and not staying on Patmos all the time even though we were tempted to do so. Before leaving Scala the day that we arrived we bought our ferry tickets to our next stop, Tilos, which unfortunately made us less flexible in staying on than we could have wished for.

On the day that we had to leave the boat from Scala arrived as usual and we had hoped to be able to return to Scala that way, but the captain wouldn’t sell us tickets as he said that the boat was too crowded as it was. This was what we had feared as it meant a very long and very hot hike back to civilisation.

At midday it is hot on Patmos and a shady bench in a nice place for a napDon’t worry about not finding accommodation when you get to Patmos. When you get off the ferry at Scala, the major town on Patmos, you are met by local owners of houses or rooms to let, camp site managers etc. They will all have a very good offer for you, but they are not too persistent if you say no thank you. Actually, they are quite helpful with information, should you require that. If you are interested in e.g. renting a house for a few days, you can probably make a good deal as the price they will mention at first will be negotiable if you stay for say 3 nights or more. However, as soon as we mentioned that we were going to Psili Ammos beach, they lost interest in us. Well, as it was 2 p.m. they said that we would need accommodation for the night as the boat for Psili Ammos did not leave till the next morning. We decided to get organized, and in order to get organized we needed to get into the shade as it was rather hot in the middle of the day, a heat that sometimes could make it difficult to think of anything else than a cold drink or one of the great ice creams of Greece. Even the locals themselves are seen to enjoy a nap in the shade.

Next to the local police station we located the Patmos tourist information with a very helpful and skilled woman inside. She was equally fluent in Italian and English and I guess Greek. However, as I only know very few words in Greek, that’ll be a guess on my part. When I mentioned Psili Ammos, she said that it was a very nice beach, but if we went there, we probably would not see anything else on Patmos. Another 10-15 minutes and we had made it to our destination Psili Amos on Patmos

We found out that a bus would leave at 4 p.m. for Grikos via Hora, the white town in the middle of Patmos. The bus ride didn’t take long – may be 20 minutes. When we got off the bus, it was still very hot, but fortunately it cooled down a bit before we started on the last bit up and down the cliffs to get down to Psili Amos beach. From Grikos we walked for about 2 hours till we reached our destination which was everything that we had hoped for. But – if money is no obstacle you can hire a taxi in Scala to take you to the cliffs and you will only have to hike the last bit up and down the cliffs. If I was to go again, I might just do that, but we saw a lot of the countryside walking and that was part of the experience.