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When our boat sailed into Patmos, we used the harbour at Grykos, rather than the main harbour at Skala. We shared the jetty with the Old Fisherman. The crew of our boat said that he was almost always there, patiently sitting in his little red boat, mending his nets. When he was out fishing, you know he’ll be back, when you see his three friends waiting for him.
Two cats and a seagull would sit on the nets waiting for him, for he always had a fish for them, no matter how meagre his catch. It’s a sharp contrast to the island’s main port of Skala, where the ferries and cruise-ships call, and where the tourists usually hang out.
But, there are still as many fishing boats as pleasure boats in Skala’s harbour, so the tourist impact isn’t too great. However, that small amount is slowly starting to creep down to Grykos, where the shell of a half-completed hotel stood, condemned and abandoned. It failed an inspection, I was told; they tried to save money by using beach sand, and didn’t get all the salt out of it. I wonder what happened to it. Was it eventually completed, demolished or just left to decay?
Patmos’ third face attracts pilgrims as well as tourists. It was to Patmos that St. John retired, after the death of the Virgin Mary, who had been given into his care by Jesus. Here, he wrote the Book of Revelations, and you can see the cave where the saint is said to have written this work.
High on top of the hill, surrounded by the charming old white-painted town of Hora stands the Monastery of St. John. It’s marvellously photogenic, even if you aren’t interested in matters religious. I wanted to photograph a priest with a magnificent black beard, who sat quietly reading in the shade. I asked his permission, and thought it had been refused. So, I didn’t take the picture, and only later remembered that, when a Greek says something that sounds like ‘nay’ … it means ‘yes’!
We had climbed the hill from Grykos in an assortment of hire cars and mopeds … the crew knew the best place to hire these. We had been advised to get up here early, before the bulk of the tourists arrived. And, it’s not a good idea to wear shorts if you’re going to visit the monastery; those sarong things that they hand out to cover your legs if you do look damn’ ridiculous on some people! However, I understand that things have changed a little since my friend Margaret visited in the early 1960s. Several people told her that her skirt was too short, and inappropriate for a holy place … in Skala!
Another reason for arriving early is that there’s not too much of a crush in Jimmy’s Balcony Restaurant, noted for its superb views if the harbour … we were lucky enough to be able to watch the arrival of one of Star Clippers’ sailing cruisers.
It’s also noted for its excellent omelettes, which are almost worth hiking up the hill for!