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Clearly, finding a beach in Kos without parasols and deckchairs proved a challenge in such a touristy place, but we set out to do so and succeeded in finding a nice beach with no one else there during most of the day. Well, may be because there were no bars or other facilities, just the beach and the lovely clear water. Also, it was quite windy with waves and therefore not a place to go swimming with small children or suitable for snorkelling. However, we could sun bade wearing nothing and thus soak up some sun before heading back to Denmark where you can never be sure of the sun in the summertime. This beach is situated on the south-western part of Kos and features no tavernas or the like, but lots of goats.

Beautiful beach on Kos without deckchairs, parasols and people - only company was goats

Beautiful beach on Kos without deckchairs, parasols and people – only company was goats

It made a wonderful contrast to an awful place we went to the day before. I don’t know if you can call it a tourist trap as we didn’t pay to get there. It is one of these places that would be interesting if no one else were there, but – everybody was there. I am talking about the hot springs in Therma Loutra. Big stones sort of form a pool around the centre of the springs and the closer you get to the springs, the hotter the water is. But – be prepared to share this experience with literally hundreds of people, crowding together in the pool and surrounding area, all looking like boiled something. We thought this was too awful a place to stay there, so we took a quick dip and left again.

Therma Loutra Kos - hot springs with too many people to make it an enjoyable experience

Therma Loutra Kos – hot springs with too many people to make it an enjoyable experience

We found one nice restaurant in the old part of Kefalos town. She served us stuffed zucchini flowers which were really nice. No, they were not on the menu, but that’s what happens when you get to talk to people. They turn out to be very friendly and this woman’s teenage sons loved her stuffed zucchini flowers so she wanted to see what our teenage sons would think of them. They loved them and so did their parents.

One place that we can recommend in Kos is the old crusaders’ castle at Antimáhia. It is located high up in a desolate landscape with a beautiful view to far away. We spent a couple of hours there till just before the sun set and it was really interesting to see all the remains from that period. Some places it looks as if the authorities have wanted to do some renovation or installing various facilities, but gave up half way. Whether the lack of facilities is the reason that no one seems to visit the crusaders’ castle, I don’t know, but it is definitely worth a visit. We probable saw 5 other people while we were there.

Crusaders' castle on Kos - well worth a visit and you won't be bothered by crowds of people

Crusaders’ castle on Kos – well worth a visit and you won’t be bothered by crowds of people

Our last night in Kos and on the Greek Islands before leaving Greece this summer we spent in Zia high up in the hills/mountains. Apparently you can go there by bus from Kos town, but we went by car. It is very very touristy, but a must if you have the chance to go. You go there for one reason only – to see the amazingly beautiful sunset over the islands. But be prepared to leave your car at a parking lot when entering the town and then walk through the worst kind of tourist markets that you can imagine. Then find yourself a restaurant with a view of the islands and have your dinner there. Take your time and enjoy the scenery. In such a spot even Kos offers its advantages.

Blogger and husband at Zia - enjoying the beautiful sunset over the Greek islands

Blogger and husband at Zia – enjoying the beautiful sunset over the Greek islands

I hope that I have been able to pass on some of the information and experiences that we had on this first Greek Island Hopping trip of ours. Time to start planning our next backpacking trip to the Greek Islands.

The next day we went to try out the thermal baths in the old Italian spa hotel Therma Loutra. The first time we went there, we found out that it was only open for non-residential guests for a few hours in the afternoon. We came back when it opened, really looking forward to trying the baths which supposedly should be a great experience – only to find out that you have to be 18 years old to enter. What a disappointment! It meant that our children could not go and, of course, then we would not go. I wish we had known beforehand as we had wasted a great deal of time going there and waiting for it to open. However, if you are travelling without children it would probably be something to try. The hotel Therma Loutra looks like something from a different age – and it is. It must have been a very elegant and exclusive place when it was built.

In the vulcano Nisyros Greece

Walking around in the vulcano on Nissiros Greece

We went to see the volcano and it is a must. Make sure you wear solid shoes when you go. The surface is quite hot in some places, and if you want to walk around in the area, wearing sandals is definitely not a good idea. When we parked our car a guy came up to us to sell tickets to enter the area. At first, we were not quite sure whether this was someone trying to make money on ignorant tourists, but as we hadn’t really run into this kind of problem here, we trusted the guy – and he turned out to be quite legitimate. He was quite helpful in telling us where to go – and where not to go. In some places the smell of sulphur was so strong that we had to hold our noses and breathe through our mouths. Down in the crater itself, there were steam holes which you don’t want to get too close to. The walls of the crater were in all kinds of beautiful colours, and it was a truly fascinating experience. We kept having the feeling that the volcano could explode anytime….

At the top of the volcano there is a small village, Nikea – beautiful architecture, with the most stunning view of the volcano and surroundings. It’s worthwhile taking a walk around the narrow alleys where you never seem to put your camera down. Again, people are extremely friendly and put up with the tourist with a smile.

 

Pretty village of Nikea sitting at the top of the vulcano on Nissiros Greece

Pretty village of Nikea sitting at the top of the vulcano on Nissiros Greece

As I have mentioned before, in spite of our island hopping the Greek islands in the midst of the peak season July August, there was plenty of room everywhere (almost everywhere!). In Mandraki town we saw many bars and restaurants with few or no guests; especially the ones along the ‘tourist’ street going from the harbour toward the centre of town. We recommend continuing further along the road, past the post office, and a bit further yet till you come to town square in the old centre of Mandraki where we didn’t see many foreigners. However, this was where all the Greeks seemed to come for dinner, drink coffee or whatever. We went to ‘Taverna Irene’ where we felt welcome, had great food and Greek coffee. The atmosphere was so different from the restaurants along the ‘tourist’ street.

The next morning we were off to hand in the car and catch the ferry or rather the catamaran. Tickets for the catamaran ferry are bought the same place where we rented the car which is very practical. And also, next to the ticket office – car rental was the grocery shop where we could stock up on supplies for the ferry ride.

However, going from Tilos to Mandraki in Nisyros was only the one stop and didn’t take that long. We had met some other Danes that had been to Nisyros and had recommended a hotel that they had found nice. When we arrived in Nisyros I left my family sitting in the shade while I figured out about where to stay. Actually, we had been considering going to a hotel with thermal baths, but later I was really happy that we didn’t. More about this later.

I didn’t particularly like the hotel in Mandraki that had been recommended to us. I don’t know – small balconies etc. Instead I continued to the street behind it and found a super place called Romantzo. For Euros 60 per day I got us a room on the second floor with four beds, a small bathroom, air-condition, a fridge and even a TV. We could have done without the TV! Best of all was the enormous communal terrace stretching the full length of the floor. From here we had the most stunning view of the Aegean Sea. I might have been able to get the room for less, but I really thought it was worth every cent. Google maps has placed it in the wrong place. Stand with your back to the ferry and take the road to the left behind the harbour front and you will find it on your right hand. It’s a five minutes’ walk.

 

Terrace outside our room at hotel Romantza in Mandraki, Nissiros /Nisyros, with a wonderful view of the Aegean Sea

Terrace outside our room at hotel Romantza in Mandraki, Nissiros / Nisyros, with a wonderful view of the Aegean Sea

 

The reason for going to Nisyros was of course, like everybody else, to go down into the volcano of the island. Also, we wanted to try the thermal baths at the old hotel which was somewhat out of reach on foot. So, we rented a car J Expensive, but again, hard to do without if you want to see more of the island than just Nisyros town.

Nisyros mainly consists of rock and can’t boast of the same beautiful beaches as we have visited on Patmos and Tilos, but there was one beach with black sand that we had heard of and wanted to go to. We drove as far as we could and left the car to continue to the black sand beach. It was still quite a hike after that, and as part of it was on narrow difficult trails I wouldn’t recommend people with bad knees etc. to go there.

As it was late in the afternoon the sun had moved away from this side of the island and most people had already left. The sand was fine, but because it was so dark the water didn’t seem nearly as appealing as it had done everywhere else. On the way back we went to a small village with some great fish restaurants – very reasonably priced. We already felt comfortable with the island and it was still only our first day on Nisyros.