It is in my mind as the most beautiful and distinctive Greek island I have ever visited. Patmos, the ‘sophisticated lady’ of the Dodecanese, is a real revelation! – by Maria Th. Massoura
“And what am I going to do inside the churches in the middle of August?», I asked my pals when they dropped the idea to go for a week to Patmos. I could n’t imagine myself in the middle of summer on an island called ‘the Island of the Apocalypse’, (where John the Theologian wrote the Revelation), which has been nominated a “Holy Island” by the Greek Parliament because of the big number of churches.
Immediately they answered back: “You’re exaggerating. For you to know, Patmos is a very chic island, with nice quality tourism (Italian and French).David Bowie has a home there “. I did n’t know that! It didn’t take much to be convinced. Ziggy and Milanese, I am coming!
A Landscape of Energy
We took the ferry and, after seven hours journey, (take a cabin if you decide to go, or at least an airline seat, otherwise you will have a hard time), we arrived at Patmos. I don’t know if it was my illusion but as we went down to the island, I felt a strange energy to penetrate me, something I was feeling during my stay there.
I realized that I had a completely wrong picture of Patmos. Not only is the island of Orthodoxy as they say, but also one of the most atmospheric and mysterious islands of Greece. We went down to Skala, the port where there are all the cafe, bars and shops. I would give everything for a drink there in the café that is literally on the beach. However, first,I had to dive!
Swim till the end of the world !
In Patmos you shouldn’t expect to find white sands and blue waters. There, nature is classified in the “Wild Beauty” category. For example, at Agrio Livadi, you will find dark brown sand, at Vayia huge white rocks are mixed with deep blue water, at Lámpi, you will collect coloured pebbles and, in the most beautiful beach of the island, Psili Ammos , you will face the most spectacular waves.
If you like organized beaches you should make your way to Kato Kampos (do not miss to visit the beach bar at George’s Place), Groiko and Agrio Livadi. At Livadi Yeranou and Lygino (beaches for nudists) at Vayia, things are in a more …physical form! We, however, spent our whole day on the beach.
Now I am thinking about all these , only at the beaches of Patmos I have felt so calm.
High up at Chora
In the evening, we took our bikes and set off to Chora, the highest point of Patmos with the gleaming white mansions, that looks like a small-town castle.
At Chora, I experienced something strange: As I was going up the stairs and walking through the dark white alleys, I got impressed by the fact that I could hear nothing and see nobody to move around. What happened? Was everybody asleep? Where were the Italians and the French they promised me to see? Moving along to the square, I heard laughs and music of a bygone era. I looked upwards. On the balconies and the terraces of the renovated mansions I saw groups of people gathered together. My hopes for getting socialized became a reality as, after a couple of minutes of walking, (and after we managed to get lost in the streets) we found ourselves in the square. What have we said before about sophisticated chic tourism? Mediterranean graceful and sunburnt faces were gathered in the coffee shops and the bars of the small picturesque square drinking beer and wine. What I still remember from there are the colourful scarfs around the Italians’ neck ! HowbeautifulPatmosis !!!
At Saint John’s place
It is one of the two most important sights of the island. You can’t go there without visiting the monastery of Saint John, the Theologian. So, for one day we left the beaches and we began discovering the other side of the island.
Before starting your way up to Chora, somewhere on the right lies the monastery. I have gone to several churches in my life but what I have seen there was unique. A sensational church that looked like a castle with a beautiful yard inside, full of colourful geraniums. A picture I haven’t seen before. The library and sacristy also deserve a visit.
Our next stop was the cave of the Apocalypse, found on the way from Skala to Chora. The exiled John went there in 95 B.C. and it is said that, the voice of God heard from a crack in the rock, dictated him to write the Book of Revelation.
You cannot imagine what you may learn from your vacation ! If you cannot visit Patmos in summer, it is worth visiting it at Easter when the atmosphere in the island of Apocalypse is unique..
- You will certainly need a motorbike to go around the island. Don’t worry, the roads there are very easy and simple.
- Whenever there is wind at Psili Ammos, you may go for a swim to Vagia and Agrio Livadi on the other side of the island. And vice versa….
- Take a boat from from Skala and go to Marathi, a small islet with crystal waters and visit the famous Pantelis Tavern.
- While you are at Chora, you’ll find atmospheric hangouts. Down to Skala things are more vivid with many choices of cafés, bars and clubs.
- On Easter Sunday, in the Convent, they read the Gospel of the Resurrection in seven languages and in the Homeric dialect.
- Benetos: Get dressed casually and go for dinner to Beneto’s at Sapsila, the most gourmet restaurant in the island (and the most favorite of the Atheneans and celebrities like Valentino and Richard Gere). Tip: make a booking 1-2 days in advance (+ 30 22470 33089)
- Vegghera: A restaurant down to Skala, where a mixture of French and Greek cuisine is served. (+ 30 22470 32988)
- At most beaches, there are small taverns and restaurants. The most classic ones are Tarsanas (+ 30 22470 32159) and Leonidas (+ 30 22470 33232)
- Apocalypsis: A relatively new restaurant with a cuisine based on local products of the island as wells as with other Greek and Mediterranean delicacies. (+ 30 22470 32800)
- Astivi Café 1673 : For drinks and a dinner go to this elegant and beautiful bar at Chora. (+ 30 22470 31895)
- Patmos is famous especially for its octopus. Try it in any restaurant. It is served stewed, grilled, etc. Fish and seafood are a must of the local cuisine. Marinade fish, stuffed squids are some of the dishes served at local taverns.
- Taste Patmos cheese pie filled with local cheese.
- Get ‘tasty’ souvenirs. Patmos specialties are “pouggia” so called because of their shape. Made with local pastry, they are filled with almonds, walnuts and honey and sprinkled with sugar.
Published in Cosmopolitan Magazine , Cyprus, in August 2007. The tips have been renewed.