After visiting the Christodoulou monastery in Chora we hit the road in our hire car, heading north this time. We had heard that there was a traditional wooden boat yard at the top of the island and boat yards are like catnip to us so off we went. When we eventually reached the site of supposed boatyard it actually turned out to have been turned into a shooting range and all that was left was a large winch. For some reason, going back through our cameras, it seems that neither of us thought the place sufficiently photogenic to be worthy of immortalisation, unlike the goats who had taken over that end of the island. They seemed to be fairly feral and we saw no signs of ear-tagging or other forms of flock marking.
Patmos has a lot of arable land in comparison to Symi, with generously sized terraced fields, threshing floors, wells and meadows. Although there is quite a lot of tourist development it seems to be mainly low-rise and unintrusive, unlike the hotel complexes fringing Rhodes and Kos. The island has a large reservoir, out of bounds to tourists, as well as two large – and functioning – wind turbines.
The third village on Patmos after the port of Skala and the old town, Chora, is called Kampos. We stopped there for lunch on our way back. The only taverna open was a real time capsule. The walls were lined with old black and white family photographs, venerable patriarchs and matrons and, somewhat surprisingly, a black and white cat, all looking straight ahead in the formal poses of the day. The radiators were welcome against the chill. We would have sat outside at a table in the sun but that was the smoking zone and already occupied by a young Greek couple, wreathed in clouds of roll-up tobacco. The proprietor was busy loading massive skewers of whole chickens onto rotisseries over a bed of coals in the back kitchen for an event in the evening but he was happy to have a couple of lunch guests if we didn’t mind having something already prepared. We had braised lamb shanks cooked with roasted red peppers and apricots and a stifado. Both were delicious and we felt no need for a substantial meal in the evening.
By the time we got back to the hotel Skala was waking up from the brief winter siesta and we went for a stroll around the shops. As the museum shop at the monastery was closed we went to see what the town had to offer by way of mementos. One extremely dusty book shop yielded a copy of Cavafy to add to our collection but the souvenirs on offer were a bizarre mix of oriental bric a brac, discontinued Staffordshire pottery in a design that goes with nothing we already own, last year’s unsold Easter eggs and some very expensive icons. We moved on to investigate the other two bookshops we had noticed the previous evening as well as the bio food shop and the newspaper shop. In the newspaper shop we ran into the Croatian woman who was earnestly helping the young South Korean to select the best out of a bad collection of Patmos fridge magnets having resisted her exhortations to add an ungainly coffee mug to his suitcase. The woman behind the counter was familiar – she had served us in Jumbo the previous evening (we bought a deliciously chintzy kitschy kitchen clock for a friend on Symi). Even Patmos has job-sharing, it seems.
Supper that evening was a picnic in our room of hummous, pita and other bits and pieces from the AB supermarket down the road from the hotel while perusing the glossy picture books of Patmian icons and museum artefacts that the hotel keeps for the use of guests.
Sunday morning, before our departure, was set aside for a trip to the Church of the Apocalypse, the cave where St John the Divine had his famous revelations. Of which more tomorrow.