It was late evening by the time I arrived at the Port of Patmos. Unbeknown to me the hotel that I’m staying at has a transfer service. I guess I’m not used to this kind of luxury and hoik my luggage to the hotel regardless.
Elen greets a bedraggled and exhausted me at reception and tells me she has a nice room with a Chora view on the first floor for me or if I want to take a room on the ground floor this is available to me too. A good view will win over a set of stairs any day!
By the time I shower and change it’s nearly midnight and I do have to walk about a bit before I find anywhere that is open. Sagittarius Taverna right on the front comes to my rescue where I have tzatziki and chicken souvlaki with a glass of wine.
I only have one and a half days on the island so am up early as soon as the breakfast room is open at 8am. The breakfast is a good standard Greek buffet breakfast and judging from the amount of people doing the sign of the cross several times before eating I’m guessing that they are here on pilgrimage to the Cave of the Revelation and the Monastery.
I’ve been to Patmos twice before – once many many years ago for a 4 day stay and the last time was about ten years ago as a day trip from Samos with my husband. Of course I remember the trip to the monastery and the Cave of the Revelation well having been twice but my memory of the rest of the island is foggy.
There is a good bus service on Patmos and it is easy to find the online schedule. There is a standard fare of 1.8€ to anywhere but today my first port of call is Chora.
As we climb the mountain past thickets of pine trees and up past the Cave of the Revelation this becomes very familiar to me. I disembark at the top and admire the skill at which the driver can do a three point turn on so a narrow road! Then I stop and admire the view!
Now it may be known that I am a bit of a door and window fanatic. More than that I’ve become rather obsessed with door knockers and one thing I do remember from previous visits to Patmos is that the Chora is door knocker paradise! The streets and alleyways here are home to some grand mansion and captains houses – a place where the rich and wealthy built their homes in the 16th century.
I start by taking a gentle amble around the streets and then detouring off any alleyway that looks as though it may be rich pickings for door knocker photographs – and that literally is any and every alleyway or street in the Chora. It gets to the point when I seriously begin to hope that that is the last I’ve seen of the door knockers – but Oh no – it goes on! At the end of the day I have over 70 individual door knocker photographs to add to my collection and to be honest – some unique ones that I haven’t seen before.
There is no denying that this is a very beautiful Chora!
Whilst hunting down the door knockers I’m consciously trying to make my way to the windmills. After a few twists and turns I get there and have a scout around. Sitting outside the middle windmills is a priest – there is a sign outside so guess that it is a shop. The priest greets me and invites me inside. Thinking about my already overladen luggage I purchase a small packet of incense for my husband. I explain to him that my husband is a Coptic Christian and the smell of incense reminds him of home. His face lights up as he tells me that his father is from Cairo and his mother is from Patmos. We have a nice little chat whilst I tell him about the village where my husband is from. He says it is a shame that my husband isn’t with me as he has been asked to conduct a Coptic service on Thursday and would like to have invited my husband along. That was a very kind offer. It seems some American Copts are coming to visit Patmos – hence the service the following week. He tells me a bit more about the windmills and that one of them still operate and makes flour which available for anyone to come and purchase. Now a bag of flour definitely isn’t coming home with me!
My amble continues up towards the fortified 12th century Monastery of St John. I wasn’t going to take another visit but whilst I’m hear I may as well. It is 4€ entrance and luckily I have brought a large scarf to cover my shoulders. I remember all of it, especially the pretty courtyard and bell tower.
It’s pretty hot now so I take a break for refreshments at a café that offers great views over Skala. Ice cream and cola does the trick! I’m so glad that I brought my Chinese parasol with me to give me some respite from the sun.
I have explored west of the Chora so head back over to the East of Chora which really is a maze of streets with vaulted alleyways and many twists and turns – some that will lead you to a dead end and others in a completely different direction. It isn’t long before I’ve become completely disoriented – even Google maps can’t help me to get my bearings. It obviously did its job against marauding pirates!
The streets are deserted but I do eventually stumble across and old lady and try to mime the word “bus”. She get my drift and points me in the right direction. If I miss this bus there is a long gap before the next one and I want to take the bus to Kampi later in the afternoon. There is a track down from Chora to Skala but I already feel overheated so don’t want to risk heat stroke.
Before I leave Chora, I pass some of the tourist shops close to the monastery where one of them is selling a fantastic array of door knockers. I ask if it’s OK to photograph them and they tell me of course. I explain to her my fascination of door knockers and that I’m trying to find out more about the origination and symbolism of them – for example the hand door knockers. I’d thought that the ones with wedding rings may have been gifts to newly betrothed couples for their new home. She tells me that the symbolism of the hand is that we use the hand to knock on the door. I’m not so sure about that however, she does tell me that the reason there are so many door knockers in Chora is because many of the big houses have courtyards and so need some mechanism of hearing people when they come to the house. Now that makes sense!
I have just an hour or so before catching the bus to Kampi. All of the buses go from the port by the roundabout and so far have run exactly to schedule.
I decide to get off the bus at Kampi village which is before Kampi Beach. It has a large white church and a cluster of taverna’s. After a quick scout around I follow the road that the bus took. I then take a path which looks like a much safer route for the descent. It takes me down through the valley until I reach the beach side settlement. I haven’t come prepared for swimming to go to a beach restaurant called Sun and Sea for a drink. They give a very friendly welcome and from what I can see on other people’s plates it does a good range of sea food. It seems quite upmarket – a little bit “designer wedges, thongs and flowing kaftans” in my opinion but still a nice place to spend some time.
The beach is a nice sand and pebble beach with parasols and sunbeds a-plenty! There is also tamarisk trees along the beach offering shade. Let’s take a minute to say “Hear hear!” to the tamarisk tree. A very undemanding tree that seems to be able to grow in the most inhospitable places and yet offers such a great service in return!
After an hour or so the bus returns me to Skala.
The town of Skala is busy and the centre of all the action with a number of taverna’s and tourist shops. I had seen earlier in the day that the Aegean Film Festival was taking place on Paros and Patmos and that evening there was a showing of Danny Boyles film Yesterday at the Akti Beach Resort in Gryko – an outdoor cinema on the beach sounded fabulous! It did say on the Festival’s Facebook page however, that it was open to people with the special festival passes and guests staying at the Akti Hotel. I sent them a message anyway just to see if it would be possible for me to get a ticket.
Anyway, I’d assumed that they didn’t get my message until later that evening, someone from the festival had messaged me to say that as an exception they would arrange a ticket for me. Oh how disappointed I was not to have seen this message in time. Oh well – you win some and you lose some!
The following morning after breakfast I pack and check out, leaving my luggage at the hotel. Elen has arranged for me to be taken to the port at 15.30 for the 16.00 ferry to Arki. After checking the bus schedule I have time to catch the bus to Gryko to have a look around.
The bus stops outside the Akti Beach Resort – a very upmarket looking hotel. I follow a path around to the beach. Now this begins to look familiar. I start on the left and walk to some little fishermen’s cottages – there doesn’t seem to be a way beyond here so I turn around and walk along the length of the beach. The middle section of the beach is for the residents at the Akti Beach Hotel – and to think I could have been here last night watching a film!
At the end of the beach I get back onto the road which takes me down to Petra Beach and across the salt flats to the Rock of Kalikatsou. This is definitely familiar – it must be nearly 20 years since I was here last though but you sometimes just get that feeling of familiarity.
It feels so peaceful here in Gryko and especially here at Petra Beach and much more agricultural and yet it is still very close to Chora which can be seen high up on the hill across fields of vegetables – zucchini, tomatoes and more.
Not wanting to miss the bus, I make my way back to the Akti Hotel where there is a small café which is the perfect waiting place with a cup of tea.
When I get back to Skala I still have a couple of hours before needing to return to the hotel for my transfer to the port. I don’t usually eat a big meal in the middle of the day but right now – I just feel like it. I take the street that starts at the Post Office and head inland, past the hubbub of activity until I come to a tavern with a nice shaded garden called Yiamas!
After being handed the menu I spot something that piques my curiosity – Grilled Plourotous Mushrooms with Garlic and Persil – so of course I ordered it, along with zucchini balls and tzatziki and a glass of wine. Well it isn’t a glass of wine that arrived but a half bottle. Now I don’t often drink during the day and I do have a ferry to catch in just over an hour but what the hell – live dangerously now and again!
The meal is very nice – a selection of appetisers is perfect for a light lunch and as for the wine – well that went down all too easily!
I decide to take the back alleyways on the return to the Effie Hotel which presents me with yet more door knocker opportunities and it seems also the access point to the track up to the Monastery.
The Effie Hotel was a last minute reservation as I changed my mind from Lipsi to Patmos. It is probably one of the most expensive accommodations I’ve stayed in on this trip so far at 45€ a night but this did include breakfast which technically bring it back within my budget of around 30 – 35€ per night. Elen has been the perfect host and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this hotel to any anyone!
The transfer to the port is short but very much welcome with my overpacked luggage plus parasol and beach chair. The Dodekanisos Pride comes in on time and I head off on the short journey to Arki which I’m very excited about!