Sheep watch warily from behind a thicket of bare shrubs at a farm property in a valley near Kastro village on Sifnos
A flock of sheep approaches the main highway from a side road leading to the Grikos Bay resort area on Patmos island
Mass transit: One of the things we appreciate most about our Greek Island vacations is our temporary escape from the commuter chaos that clogs the city streets during the morning and afternoon rush hours back home.
That doesn’t mean we escape traffic problems altogether when we’re in Greece. It’s just that the ones we encounter are generally a lot more interesting and usually quite entertaining to see.
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A sheep stands on a bend on the main Amorgos highway near Chora. We also passed many goats on the roads while driving around the island …
… including these three, who were in a herd of several dozen goats ambling along a stretch of highway between Egali and Chora on Amorgos
Highway hazards: One of the features we love best about the Greek Islands is the beautiful beach, sea, mountain and village scenery, and our favourite way to see it is on foot. Some islands, including Amorgos, Folegandros, Paros and Sifnos, boast excellent walking and hiking routes, with networks of well-established footpaths and donkey trails criss-crossing scenic mountain and valley terrain. Santorini has some fantastic footpaths, too, including the famous clifftop trail between Fira and Oia that presents spectacular caldera views every step of the way. And on some islands, including Kos, Milos, Naxos, Patmos and Samos, mountain bike rentals have offered a fun fresh-air option for getting around and seeing the sights.
When it’s not practical or feasible to hike or bike to the places we want to see, we usually rely on local buses — a cheap and easy way to get around islands like Mykonos and Santorini. But since we typically travel in low season, bus service can be infrequent or unreliable, particularly on some of the smaller islands that aren’t as popular with tourists. So we have occasionally rented cars to tour around islands and see places we couldn’t reach by bus.
We don’t enjoy driving while on vacation, though, because we like to check out the scenery and take photos — something that’s difficult for a passenger to do (and impossible for the driver) when you’re speeding down an island road or highway. So you could count on just one hand the number of times we have rented cars in Greece (only once on each of Amorgos, Crete, Mykonos and Naxos).
But when we have used rental vehicles to get around, we have quickly discovered some typical road hazards and dangers that first-time drivers in Greece should be aware of before getting behind the wheel and heading off on a road trip.
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A horse on a hillside near Chora on Patmos
Island gem: Patmos was the second destination on our 2010 island-hopping holiday in Greece, and one of our favourite Greek islands so far. What a gem! It offered the things we enjoy best about Greek islands: spectacular scenery, great hiking and walking routes, beautiful beaches, friendly locals and wonderful food. Our only regret was that we didn’t schedule more time to spend on this island, since there were a lot of places and things we didn’t have a chance to see. But that give us a great reason to go back!
What we liked most about Patmos:
The food. We dined at tavernas in the Grikos Bay area, where we stayed, and enjoyed every meal. The food was excellent, especially the home-cooked meals at Flisvos Taverna. Their roasted chick peas were incredible.
The scenery. Patmos is a very pretty island, with gorgeous views of the sea, the coastlines, beaches, bays, and hillsides.
The hiking. We never took a bus on Patmos because we walked everywhere we went. Literally. We hiked up the mountain to Chora several times, and hiked into the port village of Skala several times, too. And we hiked up to the village of Kampos. Next time we visit Patmos, we’ll rent mountain bikes so we can see even more.
The views from our hotel. We stayed at Hotel Golden Sun, which sits on a hillside overlooking scenic Grikos Bay. We had incredible views from our room’s seaview balcony, and each morning got to enjoy fantastic views from the hotel’s outdoor breakfast terrace.
The people. Personable and friendly, but very laid back.
The animals. We met a friendly horse and donkey, and saw more cats, goats and sheep than we did people.
At some future date I hope to post a more detailed report on our visit to Patmos. For more information about the island in the meantime, check out the PatmosWeb online guide.
A view of Chora and the Holy Monastery from a ferry approaching Patmos
Sapsila Bay on Patmos, between Skala and Grikos
The crystal-clear waters of Sapsila Bay
Approaching Grikos Bay on the road from the port in Skala
The Hotel Golden Sun on the mountainside high above Grikos Bay on Patmos
On the balcony at our room at the Hotel Golden Sun…
…where we had an amazing panoramic view of Grikos Bay
The Hotel Golden Sun’s breakfast terrace view of gorgeous Grikos Bay
I never got bored of looking at peaceful Grikos Bay and Traonisi Island. Occasionally, we could hear some of the goats that live on the island
Stormclouds move past Patmos the morning after a violent overnight thunderstorm thrashed the island with heavy rain and non-stop lightning strikes.
The curved sandy beach along Grikos Bay
We had the best meals of our holiday at Flisvos taverna at Grikos Bay…
…where the home-cooked specialty, oven-roasted chickpeas, was delicious
Petra beach and bay are just a short walk past Grikos Bay
The water is gorgeous but there’s no sand at Petra beach — just stones. Ouch!
Stayrou bay and its beach are just a short walk from Petra beach
A donkey carries bales of hay on a farm near Stayrou Bay
We saw this goat while climbing up the mountain from Grikos to Chora
Another local resident we encountered while hiking up the mountainside from Grikos to Chora
A peek at Petra Bay beyond a terraced mountain slope below Chora
The view toward Aspri bay and Meloi bay from the hillside below Chora
Approaching Chora and the Holy Monastery of Patmos (the Monastery of Saint John the Theologian), which was constructed starting in 1088
A mountaintop view toward Skala, the port and main town on Patmos
A mule on a hillside overlooking the town of Skala on Patmos
Churches along a street in Chora on Patmos
A view of Skala, the port and main town on Patmos
A goat and a tree high above the sea on Patmos
Skala harbour on a cloudy afternoon following a rainshower
A cruise ship dominates views of the port in Skala
Overlooking Agriolivadi Bay from the highway between Skala and Kampos
There were only two people on Agriolivadi beach when we passed by … perhaps from the sailboat anchored in the bay
Looking out to sea from a hillside above Agriolivadi Bay and beach
Yet another scenic bay and beach area on Patmos, Kampos Bay
A late afternoon traffic jam on the road near Grikos