Thursday, 24 May 2018

Patmos - the Verdict

Well, we've been back now from our 18-day stay on Patmos for 16 days and counting, but the both of us wish in some ways that we were still there.

Patmos is well off the mainstream tourist trail, and for that those who visit the island can be grateful. Not that I'm decrying the 'mainstream tourist trail', but it would be a pity if all the islands in the Aegean were to become as busy as Rhodes. It's good that there are quiet havens of sanity away from the hordes, and Patmos, for me, is one of the best.


Agriolivadi Beach
The people seemed to us to be exceptionally friendly, as I've mentioned in previous posts. Their helpfulness is well illustrated by what happened when we spent the day on Agriolivadi Beach. Of course, this experience is by no means unique, but is becoming less common in the areas that have had mass tourism for decades now.

We walked to the beach from our apartment, which took about 25 minutes each way and was a pleasant amble, albeit up and down a couple of fairly 'aerobic' inclines. It's nothing that anyone who's reasonably fit can't deal with, though. When we got there we were the only ones on the beach. By the time we left, which must have been around 4.00pm, there were possibly a dozen people there. I know, it was early May after all, but the weather was wonderful and definitely in the 'taking a regular dip' category.

The sea was warm, impossibly clear and the bottom was shallow and sandy. All in all, it's the perfect beach. For a while we were joined by a sailing vessel, which slid silently into the bay, dropped its anchor with a muted clatter, and we watched as those on board set about taking a plunge and generally chilling on board in completely comatose surroundings.

Behind the beach there is a bar and taverna, both of which weren't yet open for business. There were a few men busily hammering, painting and fixing the canopy over the seated area of the bar, in preparation for their imminent official first week of the season. The women stood by and issued criticisms and commands. Next to the bar, the taverna already had its tables laid out and it all looked extremely traditional, essentially Greek and totally inviting. Apart from these two joined establishments, the backdrop is entirely rural.





After we'd been there about half an hour, we decided that if we were to be able to drink a frappé, then our paradise would be complete. So I pulled on my shorts and took a stroll over to where the men were beavering away. 

"Kali mera sas!" I said as I approached the burly-looking workers. I could see that the bar area looked pretty well set up to start functioning. A good sign. "Any chance you could fix us a couple of frappédes?" 

"No problem!" replied the youngest of the men, who must have been around thirty and had those annoyingly good looks that dark-haired young Greeks in their prime seem to ooze in abundance. His five o'clock shadow was carefully groomed and his chiseled features suggested that he'd have no problem attracting young female customers once the season got going. A few male ones too no doubt. 

He asked me how we took them and set about preparing the drinks for us. "We're not open for another week," he told me, "but anything you want, just ask. We've got beers and cold drinks in the taverna kitchen. No food though, sorry."

Full of gratitude for his accommodating nature (but it wasn't lost on me that he knew how to take the opportunity to earn an extra bob or two where the occasion arises, which is fair enough), I headed back to our umbrella with the iced coffees, which had only set me back four Euros. Now that, I felt, was a result. We were, after all, miles from anywhere. He could easily have asked me for five or six and I'd have had no choice but to pay up. In fact, we had a packed lunch with us for every eventuality, along with a chilled bottle of water, but when I headed back into the taverna a couple of hours later, he was there to serve me up a chilled bottle of Mythos and a cold can of tonic for the better half, and those two also cost me only four Euros. And it was a 500ml Mythos too.

The above illustrates something that we were surprised to find, in view of the fact that Patmos is quite 'select', if you like, and that was that the food and drink prices, generally, were cheaper than here on Rhodes. There were, of course, a couple of upmarket restaurants where one could empty one's wallet or bank balance with much more despatch, but choosing the more traditional tavernas (which we always do) and bars, we were able to eat out, including a half-litre of the house wine most nights, for well under €30 a pop. Well under. Most nights too we partook of a nightcap, which was a quintuple (they never measure!) Mastiha, for which we paid the princely sum of €3.50 each.

No doubt, you'll agree with me that the accommodation is a huge factor in how much one enjoys one's holiday. Well I can heartily recommend Suzanna Studios of you like to stay 'small and friendly'. I found her by Googling 'Patmos accommodation'. Suzanna (who spells her name Soza/Souzana in her emails) is a widow in her forties. We learned how she'd lost her husband, but it's not something she wants to see discussed. She lives on the premises with her teenage daughter and the whole atmosphere from the moment you arrive is comfy and welcoming. She showed us to our apartment, which had a wonderful view from the very adequate balcony and we were very impressed with the cleanliness. It's not in particularly modern taste, but that adds to the traditional charm of the place. Oh, and she met us from the ferry in her car to take us to the house, plus she took our cases back to the port for us when we left, we having chosen to walk along to the square for a final drink before our 1.30pm departure on the day we left.

If one were inclined to self-cater, everything is there. There's a very extensive crockery and glasses collection, well stocked cutlery/utensil drawer, a microwave-combi oven, a toastie-maker, a kettle, a fridge-freezer and a couple of electric rings. There was also a hair-dryer in the hallway near the bathroom. In fact, one could live there, it was that well equipped. Oh, and a filter coffee machine (the type with the glass jug on the warmer) too.

Overall, the accommodation added hugely to our enjoyment of the visit. But in general, as I probably said in a previous post, whatever I've looked for in a Greek island we found there. Next year, although it would by tradition be our year to go back to the UK for a visit, we're very, very tempted to simply hop on the Dodekanisos Express again and go back to Patmos for another helping.

Ah well, back to reality...

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