(written May 2005)
In the winter the town of Kuşadası is a sleepy little backwater, but come the tourist season it is a thriving, bustling hive of activity. On the day we, er, when I say “we”, I am referring not to just myself and T. but to another couple who we were travelling with for this holiday, so four of us equals “we”… So, as I was saying, on the day we arrived there was a large luxury liner, MSC Orient in port. In contrast to its towering bulk, across the quay was a wee island hopper we were taking to the Greek island of Samos – the difference surpassed being rendered as a contrast, more like night and day differences.
Speaking with a chap on the quayside, he informed us that it would cost $5000 for eight days on the luxury liner…. a big steel hotel that moves.
We had been told that there was no onward ferry from Samos to Patmos that day, and so we had planned accordingly to spend one night on Samos before continuing our journey. However on arrival in the port of Samos on the island of Samos we learned that indeed there was a ferry, and it was a hydrofoil, and it was leaving leaving the same day from the port of Pythagoreio. We hastily arranged for a taxi to take us over to the opposite side of the island to the port from whence the hydrofoil sails.
The hydrofoil was sitting in a picturesque harbour across the narrow strait separating Samos from Turkey. The hydrofoil wasn’t large, it was brightly painted and lying low in the water like any normal boat.
When the departure time came, being May, the tourist season hadn’t really commenced and so there but a few people on board. The hydrofoil parted company with the quay and made its way out of the harbour and headed south towards our destination, the Greek island of Patmos.
As the boat picked up speed, it gently lifted out of the water leaving the friction of the ship bottom clear of the water as she sped along, held high by special struts extending down into the water with distinctive foils – it is these extraordinary foils that as the speed of the ship increases raises it out of the water, reducing drag and allowing it to go even faster.
Sitting in the very front of the ship, the rounded windows provide a full view forward of the ship offering a tremendous panorama unfolding before us. Travelling south swinging southwest we travel down the east coast of the island of Samos, the barren rocky mountain sides plunging down into the sea, occasionally in the form of dramatic cliffs.
As we were leaving the harbour and making our way out, we sailed some through sail boats, some of their number were heading south and and others north from Pythagoreio. At first,as they exited the harbour they were under motor power, and later, when free in the Aegean, under sail.
We continued our journey through the trackless wastes of the Aegean and, in time rencountered large luxury ferries making the passage between Samos and Turkey, a series of them almost like a wagon train making it’s way across the surface of the sea.
Thankfully the sea was clam like a mill pond, and so provided a smooth surface for the hydrofoii to rise and fly, only occassionally the gentle swell would result in a heaving motion, a bit to the right, a bit to the left, a bit up. Nothing spectacular, but enough to remind you that you are on the sea.
To the left – uh, I guess I should say port, er, unless it is starboard, hmm, better say left, to the left, through the murky haze the indistinct form of an island slowly resolved into view. Unclear, not far off, but forever like a dream or a phantom – there but not really.
As we sway and ride through the sea, our peace is distrubed by an odd sound. No idea what it is, but they slowed down abit. We never did suss out what it was.
When I say we slowed down, we were still flying right along and we caught up with one of the luxury liners, gracefully making her way southward. They may travel in style, but we will get there long before them.
Again off to our left two freighters hove into view, plowing northward – possibly to a Greek Island, Izmir, Istanbul, or the Black Sea, like our mystery island which we almost saw, so too the destination of these ships, hull down on the horizon is hidden from us.
Halfway into this one hour hop – the same journey is four hours by normal ferry – and another form congeals into view, now on the right side. And another and off to the west, not yet revealing its form, the hint of another island. Hidden depths, places and locations that we are flying past.
The hydrofoil slows and the ship settles back into the water for a slow cruise into Skala, the port of Patmos. On arrival we were greeted by a lady who was, in broken English inviting us to examine her B&B.
So we did. It looked ok – but I wanted to see if there was a something better in Chora, the main town on the top of a large hill, not the highest hill, but a substantial and significant hill, so….
We went back to the town centre, where it was discoverd that I had forgotten my PIM in the room when we looked at it (a PIM was a device in 2005 that was like a poor tablet or Chromebook – this was in the time before smart phones, iPads and such). So Roger went to find the lady, Yvonne went back to the B&B, Tulin sat down and watched the luggage and I rented a motorbike to zip up to Chora and “check it out”.
So off I roared on the two wheeled thunderbolt and wound my way up the mountain to Chora. At the top, the town spread over the summit and spilled down the sides and I had no idea where I was going, so I took a random turn, then a hairpin to a higher street and finally I entered the maze of medieval streets that is Chora. One narrow lane to another, turn here and there, looking for a B&B, looking for a street wide enough for a car – and not finding one. And slowly, getting in deeper, winding my way further without finding a B&B; as a matter of fact, I wasn’t finding anyone.
Things were getting awkward. I wasn’t finding a B&B and now I couldn’t find my way out.
One street ended in a dead end. Another took me to the Monastery, which looked more like a castle to me, another was too narrow for the motorbike (!), and still another ended in stairs.
What to do?
Slowly I made my way back, via the maze and found a way out and broke free from the grip of medieval street planner.
I think this was one line of defence, the enemy comes into the town to attack the monastery, and gets lost in the streets.
Anyway, I was found, I was free, back on a road that was wider than the bike. And so I began to head back.
And the engine faltered. What’s this? Don’t know, but it was working fine….. And now it has stopped. And it won’t start.
So, as it is viturally all down-hill, off I go, silent in the sun, down the hill, around the hairpin curves, past the cave of the Apocalypse to the town at the bottom.
I push the bike into the shop, get another one, with a stern exhortation to go buy some petrol, which I promply did.
We decided, as there didn’t appear to be any B&B in Chora to take the first B&B we looked at. Ah… ah…
Later in the evening, after spending more money we didn’t really have for the evening repast, we sat on the ample terrace that is shared between the two rooms in the B&B and chatted with our holiday companions over a cup of tea.
Yesterday we were in Istanbul! Wow! Amazing, one day in Istanbul, the next in Patmos.
A lot of driving, two different ferries and we are here – and yet, still probably in less time than it took John to come here from Ephesus…..