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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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Crusaders' castle at Mandraki, Nissyros

Crusaders’ castle at Mandraki, Nisyros – actually the weather  was way too hot for sightseeing, but the castle was still well worth a visit

If you are interested in proper sightseeing on Nissiros (it is spelled both ways, Nisyros and Nissiros), there is a fortress near Mandraki town, a medieval fortress built by the crusaders of the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem. Supposedly, it’s only a 15 minutes’ walk from Mandraki town, but as we had rented a car, it brought us there in no time. You can’t help being a little impressed by the solidity of the construction of the castle and how big everything was. However, it was hot and we were more inclined to go swimming.

Hunting for spectacular snorkelling on Nissyros we passed another one of those beautiful white and blue villages of the Greek islands - even the churches are white and blue

Hunting for spectacular snorkelling on Nissyros we passed another one of those beautiful white and blue villages of the Greek islands – even the churches are white and blue

On our way south we passed another of these pretty villages that offered a fantastic view of the Polivotis volcano. One looks a lot like the other, white houses with blue paint, but it looks fantastic. Even all the small churches are painted the same, and if it wasn’t for the bells, you may not distinguish them from other houses.

Perfect view to the Polivotis vulcano on Nissyros, Greece

Perfect view to the Polivotis vulcano on Nissiros, Greece

I have already mentioned the black sand beach Pahia Amos where we went on our first day on Nissiros, but it didn’t quite appeal to us. We took a look at the map and figured that there had to be some kind of beach at the end of the road at the south coast of Nissiros. We were right.

It was not a beach, but a small rocky harbour with a small wooden pier at what looked like the ruins of an old seaside hotel. The water was just as clear as everywhere else we had been while island hopping in Greece, and there were so many interesting kinds of fish in there. The boys went snorkelling most of the time as they saw some fish that really caught their attention. One, in particular, that looked like something in between a fish and a squid. It would be a pretty safe place to go with children, also the younger ones, as it was a very protected mini harbour with only a couple of metres to the bottom and there is so much to look at.

Some of the best snorkelling so far in the Greek islands was on Nissyros

Some of the best snorkelling so far in the Greek islands was on Nissiros on the very south coast

Back in Mandraki we enjoyed our last night on the great terrace outside our room at the hotel Romantzo. It’s the taller white building in the back with the blue shutters. If you chose to stay there, make sure to get a room at the top floor for the view. We had not expected much from our stay in Nissiros, but we were pleasantly surprised with what it had to offer. The next day we packed up and headed back to Kos.

Hotel Romantzo, Mandraki, Nissyros, with the blue shutters

Hotel Romantzo, Mandraki, Nissiros, with the blue shutters – basic comforts, but it has a fantastic terrace and it offers the best of views of the Aegaen Sea

Equipped with a car and a detailed map of Tilos opened up for so many new possibilities. Plaka Beach itself is not ideal for snorkelling so we took a good look at our map and asked our Greek neighbours for advice.

The map that can be purchased when you rent your car is very detailed and shows the main roads around the island and also the not so accessible dirt roads that will take you to the best beaches that hopefully no one else has found. Well, of course they have found them, but just not at the same time as you.

Trail to Skaphi Beach Tilos Greece for a full day of snorkelling

Trail to Skaphi Beach Tilos Greece for a full day of snorkelling

By following a dirt road for quite a while past a big goat farm that can be smelled from far away we got as far as we could by car. The rest of the way to our pick of the day Skaphi Beach we hiked with our daypacks. To this specific beach there is a clearly marked trail, but other beaches that we went to were not equally easy to get down to. However, the Greek scouts help tourists and other hikers by building small stone cairns to help them find the best way to and from e.g. a beach.

We were well rewarded for making this effort. A beautiful beach and not a soul around. We had it to ourselves all day which meant that we could skinny-dip without bothering anyone. Also it meant that all four of us could share the same snorkelling experience instead of going in twos or threes. Snorkelling at Skaphi Beach was beautiful. Fish of all colours, shapes and sizes didn’t move an inch till we could almost touch them. One big brownish striped fish didn’t move at all and if so only towards us and sort of told us to go away or it would do something nasty to us. We weren’t quite sure what kind of fish it was, but as it looked really unfriendly we decided to move.

Skaphi Beach Tilos for a full day of snorkelling and watching the goats on the steep cliffs

Skaphi Beach Tilos for a full day of snorkelling and watching the goats on the steep cliffs

On the way to Skaphi Beach we passed a goat farm. Lying in the sand we could watch the goats grazing on the steep cliffs on the right side of the beach. Incredible that the goats can find a footing, but who knows – maybe once in a while a goat drops to its death in the water and thus helps fish like the one that looked at us with such an unfriendly eye to an easy meal. We could see that there were a lot of caves into the cliffs where the goats gathered in large numbers to get out of the sun. Smart goats!