- Payal Nayar
A trip to Patmos in Greece
The year 1992 and Yes! Finally after months of working really hard at our jobs it was that time of the year when we could ease off work and plan our vacation. As always we totally absorbed ourselves in the world map trying to figure out our next adventure. What corner of the world should it be? This stage was and continues to be a very exciting part of planning our trips. We were very early into our careers so resources were limited.
The only advantage was the Free Of Charge flight tickets that I was entitled to as I worked with the airlines so we could afford a little luxury during the trip. After a couple of days of deliberation we decided to go to Greece. As this was our first ever trip to Greece we were open to suggestions on which island to visit. Our Greek friends and family recommended Patmos, a small Island in the Aegean Sea. After some research we were surprised to discover that Patmos was a special destination for the Christian Pilgrims. St. John The Theologian had written the Book Of Revelations after he was given a vision from Jesus in the Cave Of Apocalypse in Patmos. The pictures of the beaches were also so breathtaking that it felt like the perfect place to visit. Apparently the Monastery of Saint John the Theologian and the cave of the Apocalypse has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1999.
In those days Lonely Planet was our best companion and guide and we used it extensively to get tips on the places we visited. We are collectors with probably all continents covered and should be their platinum users or whatever the term is. Sadly we do not refer to them any longer with the Internet as our new traveling companion.
Anyways, so we arrived in Athens, spent a couple of memorable days with my sister-in laws family in their large farmhouse in Kapandriti. It is a town approximately 30 Kilometers North East of Athens. They welcomed us with such warmth and even though language was a barrier it did not seem to matter. My most vivid recollection of the days spent on the farm was one exquisite meal rolling into the next. All the fresh fruit preserves made at home with fruits straight from the orchards on the farm, home- grown vegetables prepared the Greek way, deliciously prepared meats and seafood was the highlight of the first leg of the trip.
Piraeus is the main port of Athens and a ferry from there to Patmos takes approximately 8 hours. We bought a one way ticket just incase we decided to extend our stay. We were told USD500 would be more than enough money for 10 days in Patmos so we decided not carry all the money we had brought with us on the trip. My sister in laws family kindly agreed to keep the money in safe keeping for us. It was a nice comfortable ferry going to Rhodes with Patmos as a stop. The sea was calm and a beautiful crystal blue.
Patmos did not disappoint, the first 4 days were magical. We stayed in the best hotel on the island. Ate at all the expensive family run taverns. Never started the evening without an aperitif or two or some evenings even more just watching the sunset. Rented a scooter and explored the island, the Monastery, the village, the town center of Patmos Chora and that of of Skala. We even splurged on a boat cruise by night. The beaches were mesmeric. It just felt so right to be there.
It was fascinating to see some of the villagers drying octopus on clothesline outside their homes. The smell, I remember was over powering and everywhere. The Octopus is a delicacy of Patmos. I found it quite delicious although it was hard to not be reminded of the stench and the look of it before it was served to us.
Now it is day 5, luckily we thought of doing a quick check on our funds and had a rude shock. The money had almost disappeared. We were left with less than USD200. We had to reluctantly check out of luxury and check into a hostel like space with common bathrooms. Sadly there were no more aperitifs and expensive dinners for us and even if we wanted to could not extend our stay.
In those days it was not possible to wire money at short notice so we had no option but to somehow manage the next few days. We kept aside enough money for our return journey tickets and on the last night had to sleep on the beach closest to the port. To add to our predicament the ferry back to Athens was delayed by 10 hours and I remember us literally counting our penny’s for the cheapest meal we could have to keep us fueled until we reached Athens.
The ferry was packed with holidaymakers returning from Rhodes so there was no space indoors to even find a seat on the floor. We spent 8 hours literally under a bench on the top outer deck to try and avoid the chilly winds mid sea. As soon as we got back home we invested in a sleeping bag!
You probably did not think this trip would end up with such a twist, well neither did we.