This blog aims to give a personal and totally biased view of the Greek islands I have visited. It is not intended to be a comprehensive guide to the islands. Two aspects of Greek islands that I love are seeing goats wandering around and the dawn chorus of cockerels crowing. Accordingly, each island I have stayed on will have a Cockerel Count and Goatiness rating.
Unless otherwise stated, all images are my copyright and may not be reproduced or copied. Should you wish to purchase a license for commercial use of my images please follow the link to my stock photography blog where you will find details of my agents. Comments are welcomed but reviewed before publication. Enjoy your visit. Regards, David.

Thursday, 1 June 2017

Tilos 2016 (Dodecanese):

Livadia harbour on Tilos island
On my three previous visits to Halki I have always made a day trip to Nisyros and its active volcano. For a change this time I decided to visit Tilos where I had a two weeks holiday in 2006. Not only would it be interesting to revisit the island after some ten years but it would also be a good opportunity to get some stock photographs. The only images of Tilos I had were just of the harbour front taken from the ferry whilst en route to Nisyros (Tilos is roughly the mid point of the journey from Halki to Nisyros).

It was great fun stepping aboard the Dodekanisos Express yet again and powering over to Tilos. The initial part of the circa 45 minute journey takes you past Kania beach then right up the length of Halki. Pulling into Livadia harbour was, of course, very familiar but it felt strange to actually be getting off there. Really, nothing much seemed to have changed once I got to exploring the town. I had some fun trying to spot the apartment where I stayed years before. At the time this was above the office of my holiday company Laskerina (sadly no longer in existence). I'm pretty sure I found it but as it is now a private house couldn't be totally certain.

One of the highlights of my holiday there had been walking up to the old abandoned village of Mikro Horio
The abandoned village of Mikro Chorio on Tilos
(about 45minutes walk) so I made this my first mission there. I knew there was some sort of off road shortcut there but couldn't remember where to pick it up so just used the road. I found it coming back however. After leaving Livadia and just past the side turn to Ilidi Rock hotel the road turns at right angles to the left. At that point scramble up the bank on the right where there is a rough path heading upwards through a ravine. This cuts out a lot of the road journey and provides some very welcome shade.

The old village is fascinating to walk through and you may well encounter sheep and goats scrambling about in the narrow streets. Not everything there is derelict - the churches and chapels are maintained as is the music bar where holidaymakers can come at night (they run a minibus bus service to and from Livadia). Sadly, it doesn't open until 11pm so no chance of a refreshing drink!

Back down in the harbour I had a great photo opportunity when yachts taking part in the Rhodes Cup race started appearing round the headland. Just a few at first then more and more kept coming. Eventually they all moored up together in the small inner harbour. I'd never seen so many in one place before. From looking at the boats it was obvious that people of many different nationalities were taking part in the event.

Rhodes Cup yachts moored in Livadia on Tilos
What I didn't have time to do on this visit was to take the bus to the far end of the island to see the Capital of the island Megalo Chorio. You would need to be fairly confident of the return bus times if doing this to ensure you didn't miss your ferry home. You could walk back along the road which I remember as being roughly two hours (with breaks) having done this on my last visit.

It was certainly interesting and enjoyable seeing Tilos again and the abandoned village was just as much an experience as I remembered and very photogenic. I know that many people split their holiday between Tilos and Halki and the short distance between them makes this very easy to do. I will certainly be returning to Tilos next time I stay on Halki. There was a low Cockerel Count on this trip but the Goatiness rating is high due to so many being around the old village. Regards, David.

Halki 2016 (Dodecanese):

Emborio harbour on Halki island
July 2016 saw me making my fourth visit to the lovely little Dodecanese island of Halki. I've posted here twice before on the island and as little has changed there (thankfully) I'm keeping this report down to some specific points rather than writing a full review of my two weeks there.

Departures and Arrivals:
Things got off to a great start when after queuing for check in at Gatwick for some time I realised I was heading for "The Gambia Experience". I'm sure that would have been lovely but it was The Halki Experience at the next check in that I was hoping for. A slightly delayed departure for the Enterair flight but pleasant and friendly cabin crew made up for this. I had slight concerns about the ferry connection due to the late arrival at Rhodes (especially when the Tilos bound couple in front of me were told they were being overnighted) but I was soon on a mini bus heading for Kamiros Skala. This was the first time in four visits it had been a mini bus rather than a full size coach and it became clear why after boarding the Nissos Halki when I realised there were just five of us making the crossing. I've never been in July before but I had expected it to be much busier than my last two visits in June. I have to say it was quite an emotional moment when we arrived at Emborio harbour -with a real sense of home coming.

Dorothea Studios:
Restored chapel at the Crusader castle on Halki
My plan here worked and I was delighted and relieved to get the same delightful studio as last year. This is the one at the top with a stunning panoramic view over the harbour and its own private balcony at the side. See my review and photos of the Dorothea in an earlier post here. The lower studios have a view which is partially obscured by the roof of the houses in front and the other top floor one has a balcony that you enter from the corridor so is less private. Look for "Side sea view" when booking. The TV didn't work any more than it did last year but I stand by my claim that this is the nicest Greek island property I have ever stayed in. Only a couple of other apartments at the Dorothea seemed to be occupied when I got there and in the second week just one other that I could tell. In fact, many of the holiday properties around the village appeared to be empty during my stay -maybe it is a July thing. Only the Nissia properties showed much signs of life including the one at the top of the steps behind the Dorothea -which I eventually realised was the Laskerina property I stayed in for my first visit in 2005!

I know this is a subject dear to the heart of many so a quick word on the subject. I mainly used the Lefteris supermarket -being closest to my studio and my 1.5 ltr bottle of Restsina started off at 5euro. To my horror supplies ran out a few days into my holiday and I made to the trip to the Petros supermarket only to be charged 7euros for the same Restsina! Thankfully, Lefteris soon received fresh supplies though price now migrated to 5.50euro. They did run out a second time but had the alternative of the 500ml bottles at 2euro so substituted with those.
The Church of the Holy Trinity above Chorio on Halki

Walks to Kania:
I've posted before that the upgraded Kania beach isn't to my personal taste and much preferred the unspoilt cove it used to be - with just a lizard or two for company. Nethertheless, I still always enjoy the road walk to there and back (I just leave out the stopping bit in the middle!). It's always good to see those bee hives are still there as they always have been and those two huge abandoned trailer things are still parked up at the side of the road. I made a more concerted effort this year to try and see what they actually were but lack of any name plates or signage on them left me none the wiser. Some sort of refridgeration units connected to the old fish farm? Something to do with road building or power lines? In fact I was on the right track with power lines as a regular on the excellent Halki Visiting forum informed me that they were emergency generators intended for use during power cuts. It seems they arrived, parked up and were then never used. Looking at them now I think it safe to say they never will be used.

Castle renovation:
Old stone building by Emborio harbour on Halki
I reserved judgement on this last year as the work was very much in progress. I have to say that, overall, they have made a good job of this. Much easier path to reach it and some interesting and informative signage here and there. If I was afraid that it was going to become a crowded tourist attraction I needn't have worried -I was the only person there -as previously. A couple of minus points were that the numerous tall shrub like plants have now regrown inside the castle walls making photography difficult. It looks like having completed the work no further attention has been paid to it. It may well be that there is no budget available for this. Secondly, I was disappointed to find that the restored chapel was locked. I had hoped to see what they had done inside. Maybe it gets opened on special occasions (my visit not being one of them!).

Orange alert and Apaches:
My holiday this year certainly co-incided with a lot of events both in the UK and elsewhere. One such event was the attempted military coup just across the water in Turkey. This manifested itself on Halki in the following week when we had two ribbed patrol boats with guns fore and aft turn up in the harbour followed shortly after by two Apache helicopters thundering low over the island. I thought it was some kind of excercise but it turned out that the Greek military had gone to Orange Alert (combat ready) after reports of some Turkish military attempting to head for Symi after the failure of the coup. That was about it really but we did have the boats return a few days later before heading back towards Rhodes

The Greek flag flying at Emborio on Halki
Celebrity glamour:
My time in Halki was livened up by the presence of an U.S. actress (not a household name in the UK but she has appeared in numerous television and film roles). Initially on a yacht moored in the harbour, her and her family later moved to apartments close to mine. What was fun was that every night she organised games for the children on the harbour front. I never worked out exactly what the game involved but it consisted of her directing individual or groups of children to various points around the harbour (some sort of strategy game I guess). They all seemed to have a good time and one night there must have been fifty or so taking part! I'm not mentioning her name to maintain privacy (and she may well want to return to Halki another time).

Halki 2016:
So the end of another great two weeks on my favourite default island. As always, it is the little things that make it good. Toasted cheese sandwich and beer at Costas. The chickens clucking around by the cemetery. The goats on the road to the castle. And, of course, Prevelis gliding into the harbour with all the drama and excitement that causes. Cockerel count and Goatiness ratings were medium for this trip. I never thought I would return to any island four times but Halki has lured me back and, no doubt, will again in the future.  Regards, David.