Nisyros

 Having set my alarm clock and having a real purpose for getting up I was up with the lark.  I have no idea what time the lark gets up and there were certainly none in evidence on Kos on Sunday morning but I was up and at it (I do find clichés fascinating) at 07.30 despite not having got to bed until some time after 02.00.

I wandered down to the harbour, passing the now completely deserted ‘Bar’ Street, and had breakfast in a taverna, the breakfast bar in the place I was staying being closed, presumably because of lack of trade. The town is a kind of cheap alternative to Falaraki or Ibiza, buzzing until the small hours and dead in the morning. Certainly I was the only person staying in the appartments and the owner was nowhere in sight, obviously recovering from a disturbed night’s sleep and the prospect of €5 for breakfast not being sufficient to get him out of bed.  There were small groups of locals in several tavernas obviously enjoying early morning coffee in peace and quiet after the night before.  What do they make of the lewd and loud behaviour of British lager louts so much in evidence in ‘Bar’ Street at night?

Having got up with the lark, though failing to find it, I caught the ferry with time to spare and by 10.30 was on Nisyros and in a completely different world.  Despite small-engined, under-powered motorbikes/scooters buzzing around from time to time, Nisyros is all peace and quiet – ‘ησυχία’ in Greek. As a rule of thumb, anyone looking for a holiday characterised by ‘ησυχία’ should go for an island without an airport and put up with the temporary inconvenience of a stop-over on an airported island and a ferry journey the next morning.

It was good to be greeted by people I knew as I trundled my bags to the hotel.  I didn’t know them well enough to call them friends but they always seem pleased to see me and it is flattering and heart warming to be remembered.

Warm greetings in the hotel as always and I settled in by unpacking most of my stuff and stowing it in drawers and cupboards.  After buying a few essential supplies including bottles of water, bananas and nutbars, without which my life on the islands would be imposiible, I decided to walk up to the Paleocastro on the hill overlooking the town.

When we first came here Enfys and I ‘discovered’ the Paleocastro an ancient and massive fortress, completely abandoned and ignored but recent funding by the EU has seen it partly excavated and renovated with footpaths around it and through it.

The new information boards describe it as a ‘city’ and I guess for its time I guess it was.  The information at the entrance says it dates back to 400BC though some think parts of the walls date back to Mycenaean times about 1000 years earlier.  Whatever, it is very impressive in its size and the sheer scale of the building blocks.

Entrance to the Paleocastro

Each block precisely cut to shape and size

the end of the wall

Photographer on the edge

Photographer in the well

From the Paleocastro I wandered down to the beach at Hochlaki, black pebbles backed by cliffs with the Monastery of the Virgin of Spiliani and another ancient castle overlooking Mandraki and repaired by the Knights of St John in the 14th Century.

Time for my first swim of the year.  The waves at Hochlaki are of the ‘dumping’ variety, coming towering in and then crashing down with considerable force on the beach before sucking viciously back through the rocks and pebbles.  My technique for getting in and out is an undignified shuffle down into the waves on my bum until there is enough depth from a retreating wave to start swimming.  At this time of year the sea has not yet warmed up with the heat of summer so is very ‘fresh’.  It was great to be back in the Aegean.

Hochlaki beach with cliff-top monastery and castle behind

Dumping waves on a pebble beach, difficult and painful to get through for a swim

Photographer On Black Pebble Beach: £300K to Michael Scratchy if he’s still reading the blog (if he ever did)

Then back to hotel, clean up, beer on the seafront, shower, meal in the square …. and I was more than ready for bed.

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