Dodecanese Islands – Part 2

After sailing from the port of Rhodes and stopping in Symi and the Turkish coast, we spent the rest of the week on four smaller islands – Nisyros, Tilos, Chalki, and Alimia.  Nisyros, known for its volcanic crater, is over over 150,000 years old.  The crater “valley” was pretty impressive, spanning almost two miles wide.  The largest of the craters is called Stefanos and activity is still visible today with its steaming pots and bubbling waters.  Tilos is known for its little port town of Livadia, with a large rocky beach and charming seaside restaurants.  Chalki had perhaps the best village (bearing the same name), where the colorful buildings seem to disappear directly into the water, sort of like the houses and hotels in Venice. It is a popular tourist port in the Dodecanese Islands and we saw everything from small fishing boats to large, multimillion dollar yachts.  Our last, but certainly not least, stop on our seven day sailing trip was the uninhabited island of Alimia.  Alimia, which means “one more” in Greek (it is considered an additional island to Chalki), was the site of a German/Italian WWII post, but is now a peaceful bay where boaters stop to swim on the way back to Rhodes.  We stayed the night in the bay and grilled out on our homemade campfire.

We pulled into the port town of Pali on the island of Nisyros just early enough to do some site seeing and catch the sunset at a hilltop village.  Our skipper (who luckily wasn’t drunk yet, since it was only about 4pm) wanted to take us on a scooter tour of the surrounding towns.  We got to wear some pretty rad helmets, walk around the dilapidated (but very charming) village of Emborios, and eat at a seaside restaurant (that our captain took us to, and we’re convinced he got a cut of the proceeds).

Overlooking Pali on the island of Nisyros

Our awesome scooter attire

Because it’s necessary to have to a close up

On the way up to Emborios, our captain wanted us to pull over to see the roadside sauna.  Essentially, the sauna was a tiny, closet-sized room that was a steamy 95-100 degrees carved into the side of a mountain.  The island of Nisyros (as I stated above) is a part of a larger volcanic island chain, so the sauna was naturally created.

Sa(o)una

In Emborios, we were graced with some stunning views of the Stefanos crater and a beautiful pastel sunset.

Mountaintop chapel in Emborios

Stefanos crater behind us

Amazing!

The crater is huge!

Doors of Emborios

We woke up early the next morning to visit the Stefanos crater and the highest village on the island, Nikia.  The winding road to the top of the mountain (did I mention I really don’t like riding on a scooter?!) offered some great views.

Figuring out the best way down to the volcano

Could be a scene from the Lion King

I’m jumping in the middle for scale. Crazy large crater!

Surface of the moon

It would be wise not to fall in the holes

Bubbles and steam

In Nikia, we got one last view of Stefanos and the sea beyond.

Yep, there he is again

Because we had to wait for our captain to get over his hangover, we decided we had enough time to stop at a lovely cafe in Nikia for a spremuta (fresh squeezed orange juice) and some coffee.  It was a typical Greek island village; all the buildings were whitewashed and highlighted in shades of blue.  I think they must be really proud of their country since everything in Greece bears the colors of their flag. :)

Nikia

Nikia shop

Nikia’s church

The lovely cafe

Inner courtyard

Group meeting

Intricate ironwork

After the incredibly hot morning at the volcano and Nikia, we were ready to beat the heat.  Luckily, our skipper was ready to go when we got back to the port town of Pali and we were off to island number four, Tilos.  Midday, we arrived in Livadia, Tilos’ main city and had enough time for an afternoon beach day.  Note to self: buy water shoes the next time we return to Greece because the rocky beaches are pretty painful! I didn’t take my camera to dinner (and now I wish I had!), but we had one of our best traditional Greek meals in Tilos at a family-run restaurant.  We sat on the patio with a view of the ocean under hanging lights.

Pulling into port

Livadia, Tilos

The very rocky, but beautiful, beach

We left the next morning for our next-to-last stop, the island of Chalki.  We stopped at a pretty incredible beach on Chalki’s northern coast for some swimming and lunch.  There were two beaches in the bay, and although the water was a little cold (because it was open to the currents from the ocean), the water was incredibly deep and crystal clear.

Two beaches, one bay

Getting ready to take the plunge

Lunch time!

Preparing for the cold water

Warming up after lunch

The town of Chalki, which our captain called “Venice” (it’s definitely not Venice, but I see his point) was pretty charming.  We were upset that we pulled into port at 3pm (we wanted to go to another beach), but our captain said we had to get there early to get a place to dock.  Apparently the dock was small and it was a pretty popular place.  Turns out, we could have just dropped anchor in the bay for the night and it wouldn’t have made any difference because we couldn’t get electricity at the dock anyway.  Come to find out, we know why we “had” to moor sooner rather than later.  By 6pm, when Bobby and I returned from taking some photos of the town, our skipper was already at a bar downing drinks.  By 9:30pm, when we returned from dinner, he was on a nearby boat plastered.  He literally couldn’t even stand up and was singing at the top of his lungs with some other Greek captains.  Did I mention he drank almost 5 fifths of vodka in a week AND other cocktails at the bar every night?  The next morning, we woke up to find the kitchen cushions overturned, pastry flakes all over the floor, and cigarette ashes all over the deck.  Needless to say we were speechless and had a “coming to Jesus” meeting with him about leaving on time and doing what we (the customers) wanted to do.

The bay of Chalki

Clock tower in Chalki

There were tropical flowers everywhere

Brightly painted houses

Stunning!

We trespassed on a sheep farm for this view back to the bay of Chalki :)

Dinner in Chalki

Our skipper took a couple dips in the bay to get over his hangover and we were on our way to Alimia, the last stop on our journey.  Alimia, as I said before, is uninhabited, so we enjoyed a peaceful day and a half swimming, cooking, and reading.  We found some sea urchins and we were convinced we could eat some for an appetizer.  After Francesco spent a few hours on his hunt, we came up empty-handed.  Apparently, you can only eat the females, which have viola-colored spines and orange eggs on the inside (the part you are supposed to eat).  We only found the black-spined males, and after opening one to “make sure” he was inedible, we threw the rest back.  For dinner, however, we were more successful.  We put the captain and Francesco to work (ha!) on grilling the meat we had bought the day before in Chalki – sausage, pork, and chicken.  It took a little longer than expected, but the result was amazing.  We all went to bed with our bellies full, while the captain stayed up and drank 3/4 of a bottle of vodka.  I’m not joking.

Francesco on his quest for sea urchins

Sea urchin

Male = Bad

Caught on candid camera

Francesco taking the dingy over to shore for the grilling of the meat (yes, that’s a knife in his mouth)

Fixing our dinner

Sunset on Alimia

After our week long sailing trip, we were pretty sad to pull back into the port in Rhodes.  One one hand, we were happy that we didn’t have to share a very small space with a drunkard, but on the other, we were sad the vacation had come to an end.  The seven days passed really quickly.  We had such a great time with our friends, good food, amazing swimming, and beautiful views.  Greece certainly is one spectacular country and I can totally understand why some of the oldest settlements were created in this paradise.

Kite-boarders on the way back to Rhodes

Rhodes castle from the port

Port of Rhodes

Comments

  1. tonya evans says:

    The last little village of Chalki was my favorite. I loved all the beautiful tropical flowers and the lovely colorful cottages and doors. Stephano’s view at Emborios was absolutely stunning. I am not sure about eating any sea urchins-not even the felmale ones! I would never making it on the Amazing Race! Ha!