The main centre of population is the port of Emborio where the ferries arrive and, to my mind, the approach to Emborio is one of the most attractive views of any of the Greek islands I have visited. Pretty pastel coloured houses, the imposing white Town Hall, the bell tower of the Agios Nikolaos church (the tallest bell tower in the Dodecanese) and, above all, the tall stone clock tower all make for a stunning first impression.
|Agios Nikolaos bell tower|
Emborio has a small selection of tavernas and cafes on the harbour front and a couple of mini markets as well as a bakery for fresh bread and cheese pies. One feature of the village is the number of old derelict stone houses, often with trees growing in them which certainly made for good photographic subjects. On my second visit quite a few of these had been restored to life though a good number still remained. Do visit the Agios Nikolaos church where as well as the bell tower there is also a pebble mosaic "Hoklakia" courtyard. Intricate designs are made up of numerous black and white pebbles from the sea and make for interesting photographs.
|Chapel above Pondamos beach|
For a longer walk head for Kania beach by taking the inland road from Emborio and then the first turning on the right. This is quite a climb up into the hills above Emborio and then down into Kania. This is just a pretty rocky cove which you might even get to yourself. In 2010, there were no facilities there at all but I gather there is now some sort of temporary taverna in peak season (though do not rely on that!). Allow 45 minutes or so for the walk there.
On my first visit I took the islands taxi to the Monastery of St.John which is near the far end of the island and is the sight of a major festival each August. Maybe it was just me, but I felt rather unwelcomed by the few people working there and left after a brief look around. On the plus side, the long walk back (a good couple of hours) was highly enjoyable and offered excellent views over the island.
|Old windmills above Emborio|
|Crusader Knights castle|
wards two small chapels and then scramble up a path to reach the castle. There were no concessions to Health and Safety when I was there and I was able to explore the castle ruins at will -standing up on the ramparts to enjoy the view and exploring inside the castle chapel (just be careful not to fall down the very
deep looking well!). As expected, there are great photographs to be had here.
One of my interests when on Greek islands is watching (and photographing) all the activity in the harbour and Emborio certainly has plenty of that. Look out for the regular Dodekenisos Seaways fast catamaran, which is the one you are going to get if you take a day trip to Nisyros island to see the volcano (see my previous post on Nisyros). You could also pay a visit to Tilos using this as well (tickets are available in advance from the travel agents in the harbour). Several times a week you might see the massive ANEK lines ferry come in which always looks impossibly big for a small harbour. Notable on Halki as well is the regular visit from the water boat which brings in precious water from Rhodes.
|ANEK Lines Ierapetra L ferry|
Cockerel count on Halki is medium but Goatiness gets a high rating here. Don't be surprised to meet goats wandering along the road both in Emborio itself and further inland.
Halki then, a Dodecanese island full of charm. Not overly touristy at all. Lovely walks, a castle, boats and goats! Halki is in my top four favourite Small Greek Islands -and I'm delighted to say I'll be returning there in 2015 giving it the distinction of being the only island I have made a third visit to. Regards, David.