Undiscovered Aegean Cruise Day 7 - Patmos

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June 7th 2015
Published: July 21st 2015
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As a number of followers have noted - we are not on holidays any more, we are back home in Australia. In fact, we've been home for a number of weeks, but I just don't seem to have found the time to finish blogging our holiday!! This will be the last entry that I 'Publish' to provide you with an email alert. I will (eventually) 'Quiet Publish' blogs for the last week of our holiday for anyone who cares to check in a few days (or weeks??) to read all about how we spent our last few days abroad.

Last night we sailed 138 nautical miles at an average speed of 12 knots before anchoring this morning in Patmos, Greece. Although we were politically back in Greece, geographically we remained closer to Turkey than to mainland Greece.

After breakfast we took a tender boat to shore. Once again we had been warned that the peak time for going ashore would be between 9.30am and 11.00am. We wanted to walk up to the Monastery of St John and, having seen from the ship that it was going to be quite a hike, we decided that we should head off sooner rather than later. We went down to the gangway expecting to join on the end of a really long queue but, very fortunately for us, we walked straight onto a tender and, with just a few more passengers boarding behind us, we were soon on our way to shore.

Patmos Town's claim to fame is that St John is said to have written the Book of Revelation while taking refuge in the town. We planned to walk to the Monastery of St John the Theologian on top of the hill, by way of the Cave of the Apocalypse. With only a very sketchy map to guide us we started walking in the general direction of the monasteries. Within minutes we were on the outskirts of town. We could see the monastery perched on top of the hill, but it was hard to know how to get there with no signs pointing the way to the Monastery of St John. We could follow the road or, if we could find the footpath shown on our map we could take that route. With all the switchbacks shown on the map we could see that the road would be a much longer walk ... even if not as steep?!

Fortunately some people (locals?) came along and pointed out the barely visible footpath to us. Wow, it was so grassy and overgrown that we never would have found it without being pointed in the right direction!! We set off up the steep, cobbled pathway determined to make it to the top by the shortest route possible even if it proved to be somewhat more strenuous. With all the food we've been eating we needed to burn some kilojoules.

A little way along the path there was (finally!) a sign that pointed us left towards the Cave of the Apocalypse ... by way of a path that was little more than a goat track ... or straight ahead to the Monastery of St John. As we had planned to visit the cave on our way to the top of the hill we veered left onto the goat track. Hmmn, the sign said five minutes to the cave and pretty soon we felt like we had walked more than five minutes and still hadn't found it. Maybe we were spending too much time admiring the brilliant blue Aegean Sea?!

We had started contemplating re-tracing our steps, convinced that we had missed the cave, when we happened upon it. Thank goodness, it was too hot to be wandering around in circles trying to find what we were looking for. The Cave of the Apocalypse was declared a world heritage site by UNESCO in 2006. The cave is also known as the Holy Grotto and legend says that St John saw visions of Christ in the Cave of the Apocalypse. For €2.00 each we were able to see the spot where the evangelist reputedly slept in the ancient grotto.

After the coolness of the cave it seemed even hotter outside and we still had to climb the rest of the way to the Monastery of St John on the top of the hill. There were a few other intrepid cruisers making the trek up the hill in the sun. We stopped for a breather at one point only to be told by the couple ahead of us that they had just seen a SNAKE!! That snippet of information made it even harder to continue the climb - I absolutely hate snakes and was horrified that there might be more of them about.

Finally, dripping with sweat, we made it to the top of the hill. After using the facilities we paid our €4.00 and made our way into the Monastery of St John. We encountered quite a few other tourists from the boat who had negotiated reasonable rates to be driven to the top of the hill. You could tell which ones they were - they weren't bright red and dripping with sweat like we were!! On the plus side we'll have no guilt about eating dessert tonight.

After being almost deafened by the priest ringing the bell in the courtyard at 11.00am we explored the Ecclesiastical Museum of Patmos which is located in the premises of the monastery. It houses a small but interesting collection of portable icons from the Byzantine and post Byzantine eras. We are always amazed to be able to look at documents that have survived intact for a thousand years or more.

Although we were quite captivated by the classic old windmills on the next hilltop we decided not to walk over to view them up close. We settled for some photos from the monastery looking across to windmills on the next hill. Ha, we should have bought more water at the supermarket down in Skala. We needed to buy another bottle of water each before embarking on the walk back down the hill, but had to pay the inflated hilltop price which was about twice what it cost down in the town!

Back at sea level, Bernie wanted to walk to Skala Beach for a look because the sign said it was only 150 metres. Hmmn, 150 metres feels like such a long way with the noon sun beating down on your head! And, when we got there, it wasn't really a beach - it was a narrow strip of pebbles! Despite this fact, our tour brochure claimed that this rocky beach is the most popular beach on Patmos. I guess when the choice is between the pebbles of Skala Beach and the black sand of Meloi Beach near the port that any Australian is going to think that's no choice at all. We are so spoiled with our extensive coastline that boasts so many beaches with fine, golden sand.

After a short wait we boarded the tender back to the Thomson Spirit. Even when stationary the ship seems to create its own breeze so we found that it was much cooler back on board than it had been making our way around Patmos. The breeze made for a pleasant afternoon lazing around on deck after our exertions of the morning!

On our last night on board we enjoyed (yet another!) pig out dinner followed by the show in the Broadway Show Lounge. Tonight's show was 'Westend Wonders' which, obviously, featured music from London's Westend shows. Bernie loved it. Poor Bernie, he hasn't really been a huge fan of the nightly offerings in the show lounge because he's not terribly keen on musicals.

Steps for the day 16, 285 (11.09 kms)

Additional photos below
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21st July 2015

worth the effort
Looks like you were rewarded well for your exertions!
21st July 2015

Great commentary.
Thanks for the update Tracey, glad you're back - so are the 'children' too I bet! Tom and I went to Patmos from Samos [where my daughter was living back in the late '80's] and visited here as well. Isn't the history just awesome? The Greek islands certainly are very scenic. When's yr next great adventure?? I'm currently planning a trip to Cambodia next April [with Heather, Vicky & Dorisi]; after which Vicky and I are travelling on to the Holy Land via India. I have such a strong feeling that if I don't see the Holy Land soon then maybe I'll never get there. The threat of IS is soooooo menacing and real. My daughter is not happy with my decision at all; she considers the area is far too risky to visit. I'm going regardless. C u soon perhaps? Would you like to join our walking group? - Thursday usually.

Tot: 2.443s; Tpl: 0.057s; cc: 34; qc: 142; dbt: 0.0849s; 2; m:saturn w:www (; sld: 2; ; mem: 1.7mb