Nisyros: buses, bubbles and toe holds.

The public bus service on Nisyros isn’t what it used to be.  When we first stayed on the island in 2001 and for a few years after that there were 5 buses a day to the crater-rim villages and it was a free service.  Last year and this there are only two buses a day.  At the moment they leave the harbour at 11.00 and either 14.15 (weekdays) or 15.15 (weekends) and there is a charge of €2 or €3 depending on destination.  A few days ago there was near riot on the bus as one of the locals objected to paying anything for the service.   The Greeks are very passionate about some things and this was evidently one.  The argument seemed to run “why should I pay anything” as against “if we don’t pay we lose the service”.  I guess this is one effect of the austerity measures reaching out to the furthest corners of Greece.

The reason I mention the bus service now is that it is due to change anyday soon so I decided to take advantage of it while it is still running at reasonable hours and go back up to Emborios in order to have plenty of time to mooch around the mountain in the vicinity of the lava bubble.  I was nearly thwarted as the bus broke down before it left the harbour and the driver had to set-to and effect a Heath-Robinson repair to a water-hose with tape and jubilee clips.  A very smartly dressed lady onlooker getting  a little too close to see what was going on was roped in to hold her finger on the offending pipe while the driver ran off to find an appropriate sized clip.  I think she might have been Dutch so knew what to do.

Fairplay to the driver, and his assistant, he got it sorted and we left only 5 minutes late.  In the UK we would have sat there while the repair team were sent for.

After the drama, as soon as we reached Emborios I headed for the Balcony Taverna for a frappé.  I think it’s the most dramatic location for a drink I have been.

The Balcony Taverna and its great view into the caldera

Once again caffeine-up I headed along the path to the lava bubble and spent a good while trying to improve on angles for photos.  The problem is that the mountainside drops away very steeply on loose scree so you can’t step back to improve the width of the view.  The lava bubble rises very spectacularly about 50-60 feet up from the path but there is clearly more out of site higher up again.

Approaching the lava bubble from Emborios

Rucksack for scale at the bottom

Standing back, the rucksack can be just about seen, bottom right

Looking straight up at the ‘roof’

Zooming in on detail

So, having done what I could from close to the path, and with plenty of time in hand, I decided to go ‘off-piste’ and climb up the side of the bubble to get shots from higher up.  It was a combination of scrambling and climbing, in places trying to move more quickly than the looses scree and collapsing stone walls of terraces obeyed gravity and slid downwards.  Every step and handhold had to be tested very gingerly before trusting it.  Great fun and the reward was a perspective on the lava bubble probably not seen since the folk who lived up here abandoned the terraces and moved to where life was easier and safer.

Looking across the top section of the lava bubble with Emborios beyond

Zooming in

….. and in detail

Having safely extricated myself from my toe-holds I headed back down to the coast and a visit to Hochlakos Beach for a refreshing swim.

Hot springs from the volcano come out at Hochlakos as evidenced by the sulphur deposits on the cliff and the path

…. and so to the beach


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