Ikaria … and a Little Patmos

7-3-2016-Skala, Patmos, Greece

I just arrive in Patmos this afternoon, after spending about four days on Ikaria, to the north (officially now I’m no longer in the Northern Aegean Islands and am in the Dodecanese). Ikaria was great, so far easily my favorite (new) island I’ve been too this trip. I started off in the south of the island, at the main port of Agios Kirykos. It’s a typical little Greek Island port town, not super exciting or anything, but a pleasant enough place. Lonely Planet describes it “dated, but dependable.” I can definitely understand the “dated” reference—most or the place looks like it was thrown up in the early sixties and has undergone little change since then. I don’t quite get the “dependable” part, though. You can depend on it being dated?
This town is in interesting surroundings, though. Ikaria is rugged, big mountains sticking out of the sea basically. Agios Kirykos is situated on a tiny coastal plain and backed with fast-rising mountains so high their tops are shrouded in shifting mists. Like Samos, the island is quite green; I did some hiking and was surprised at how dense foliage there was, how many big trees greeted me. Things got a lot more interesting, though, when I headed for the north coast …

There I stayed in a tiny settlement called Kambos, at a little place called Rooms Dionysius, run by a wonderful Greek man and his Greek-Australian wife. On my first night there they took me to a village festival down the road, where I got to hear some good music, eat abunch of goat (not my favorite meat, but not bad), and drink way too much Ikarian wine. It was easily my best night on this trip—finally I got to feel that I was part of something beyond the tourist trade …

Like I said, I’m now in Patmos. This is not a stop that particularly thrills me. I went to this island my last time thru. It’s a nice place, in regards to landscape, and it has a pretty vocal fan-base of travelers. But it’s not my thing. It’s a little glitzy (though admittedly in a low-key way), one of those spots that seems to have adapted itself almost entirely to the tourist trade. It strikes me as the kind of place that would be neat to sail around if you had your own yacht: there are lots of little inlets, hard-to-get-to beaches that must be fun to explore from that angle (then again, most places are probably fun to explore if you’re doing it from your own yacht).

The main reason I’m here is that it’s one of the best places in all the Greek Islands to get boat connections (unlike Ikaria, which I discovered is pretty limited in this regard). Still, I only explored parts of the island last time around, its north. So this time I’ll try heading south, for a day or two. Then it’s off, probably to the north-east, to a little speck of an island called Agathonisi
Notes:

Major bummer. I brought two adapters for my camera chord so I could transfer my pictures to my iPad—and now both, on the same day, stopped working! So until I can find an electronics store of some size I can’t post pictures (I can take pictures with my iPad, but that’s not practical when I’m out and about). This could take awhile. The first likely place I can find something like this will be on Kalymnos, which is still at least a few islands away. Hopefully I won’t have to wait until I’m back on Crete. It’s going to suck if I’m photo-less until then …

Back home I’m both gluten and dairy free (mostly). For the first several days I was here I managed to do pretty good in these areas. Now, though, I seem to be getting buried in the stuff. What’s for dinner. Braised gluten in gluten sauce, with a side of fried gluten topped with gluten shavings. Then for desert, dairy cubes topped with whipped diary and more gluten shavings. I need to take control of this situation—I’m definitely not feeling good, digestion wise …

I realize it’s only just starting to be high season here, but everywhere I’ve gone, except Crete, which seems the same as always, has been really slow in regards to travelers (people on every island I’ve been to have mentioned this to me too, so it’s not just me). I’ve also been amazed at how few people are on the island ferries and especially today how few got off here. Patmos is a pretty major destination—if it’s hurting most other islands have to be doing worse …

The lack of tourists is being reflected in the room prices. I have my tent with me, but I’ve yet to use it. I usually camp here mainly to save money (unless I can camp right on the beach I don’t particularly enjoy camping in Greece—the camp grounds tend to be hot and dusty and a fair ways from most anywhere else you’d want to be). The rooms are so cheap, though, that there’s not much reason to pitch the tent. For example, I’m in a place now that would be good accommodation for a family of three or four—I have a kitchen, three (!) beds, a TV, air conditioning, etc. In the past I’d likely never stay in a place like this—this time of year it in the past would run 50-70 euros, at least. I’m paying 25. And it’s been like this everywhere I’ve been off Crete! Good for me, bad for Greece. At least in the short-term this place seems to be in a lot of trouble …