Tilos: compare and contrast

Breakfast doesn’t begin until 08.30 in the hotel I’m staying in but I got up at 07.00 as usual and pottered around a bit.  I was first one down in the breakfast area by a good margin.  Breakfast is very similar in content and every bit as good as in the hotel on Nisyros but is served rather than buffet … and very large.  I took my time eating it, after all, I am on holiday on Tilos.

The owner of the hotel, great bloke, showed me to my table and asked me in very rapid Greek what I planned to do today.  At least that’s what I think he asked me. I had a couple of ideas in mind but no fixed plan but, suddenly confronted with the question, or what I thought was the question, my brain went into early-morning-overdrive and I replied in Greek with my 3-second-old plan. This entailed walking to a beach on the other side of the island.  I may have got his question wrong because he then resorted to English, in which he is quite fluent. and said he hoped I was taking my mobile phone with me in case of unforeseen problems.  He also made sure I had his phone number.

I have to backtrack here and record a conversation I had with a Greek guy in English on Tuesday just after I got here.  I still struggle to understand Greek being spoken because it is so fast but this guy asked me in flawless English if I understood Italian.  I’m not too bad in French but my Italian is pretty much limited to restaurant-Italian and enquiring about the location of the loo. Minor digression: I love Italian food and think it much under-estimated.  Anyway, he was trying to phone somebody in Italy and kept getting a rapidly-spoken automated message which he couldn’t understand.  Brashly I said I would give it a go.  After all it may have been a dial-a-menu service.

My slow brain had just about kicked-in to the torrent of Italian when I recognised it was a Vodafone answering service which, after the rapid-fire Italian, kicked-in to English (as it does with the Greek phone service) which said simply that the phone he was ringing was either switched off or didn’t have a signal and to please try again later.  I must confess I played it straight and told him the message.  He thought, still thinks, I speak fluent Italian and I didn’t want to embarrass him, and myself, by saying that had he listened 30 seconds longer he would have got the same message in English.  I felt my reputation, and my self-esteem, needed a boost after confusing Greek computers with Government Departments.

Back to Wednesday.  I stuck to my declared plan and walked to the secluded beach of …..  Why should I tell you that?  Suddenly everyone will want to flock there.  Like the ‘Quiet English Pub with Really Good Food’ which some unemployable upper class prat gets paid by an old college mate to write an article about in the Weekend Paper and ruins it for those of us who like the quiet English pub with really good food just as it is.  Well – find it for yourself like we did.

It was a brilliant walk.  The paths on Tilos are very different from those on Nisyros.  At this times of year, as Dedicated Blog Followers will have appreciated, the paths on Nisyros are strewn with dried grasses and ancient strains of oats and barley.  None of that on Tilos.  The stony paths pick a way through the herbs and the very many spiky plants which bite your ankles.  And, amazingly, there didn’t seem to be the vast numbers of spiders bobbing around in mid air to ensnare your face and hair in web.

Multi-coloured rocky paths

Path through herbs and prickles

I had a violent sneezing fit about 10 minutes after I got onto the main path I was following.  It didn’t take long to work out that it was the aromatics from the wild sage.  It was really powerful.  Not like on Nisyros where, though there are herbs, they are not as dominant as the Gramineae and the cereals.  Less oregano than on Nisyros but far more sage and thyme.

I also noticed that some of the very spiky plants which I had seen on Nisyros with closed flower spokes had started to open on Tilos so it may have been warmer for longer.  I also came across some shrubby trees with flower spikes.  We had seen similar on Symi but with blue rather than pinky-white flowers.  Enfys had said that she thought they were called Vitex.  I checked on the internet, now that I‘ve got a reliable connection in the hotel, and it does seem that they come in different colours.  It also appears that they are very much prized for medical purposes with web sites offering them for sale.

Flower opening on pretty comprehensively prickly thistle

The other main difference is the rocks.  The most common rocks on Tilos seem to be sedimentary, limestone in particular, but in places, including where I was walking there are major outcrops of vividly coloured other rocks.  Some are very shaley and loose, others are iron-hard extrusions and nodules.   The result is a profusion of reds, greens, purples and blacks as well as the whites and greys of the limestone.  I know from other visits to Tilos that there are also deposits of pumice, laid down by ash clouds from volcanic eruptions on other islands.

Encrusted rocks

Multi-coloured cliffs behind the beach

It seemed very much hotter than it had been on Nisyros but I was told that it had only just turned hot as the wind had gone round to the South.  Certainly at times it was very windy indeed and it was like a hairdryer.

I had the entire beach to myself for the entire time.  Then I walked back to the ‘town’ side of the island with its 2-mile beach and had a frappé and a 5th or was it 6thswim of the day.  The water is crystal clear on both sides though there were 2 significant differences.  On the far side of the island the beach was multicoloured pebbles because it is backed by multicoloured cliffs while on the town side it was mostly grey-white limestone pebbles. The water on the town side of the island was also noticeably warmer.

Crystal clear water on the Livadia beach


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