After an extended 9 days in Tilos, I had to force myself to leave Tilos and head for Nisyros. It’s not that I wasn’t looking forward to it, I was just a bit sad leaving Tilos.
Nisyros is another small island in the Dodecanese group of islands (only 41 sq km) and only 1000 permanent residents. There are a couple of attractions like the monastery, the white-washed villages and with the highlight being the volcano. The island is popular with people staying on the bigger Greek islands (such as Rhodes and Kos ) who come across on day trips. It’s funny to watch (in an irritating kind of way): at 10.30am about 3-4 large boats pull up and the camera-toting tourists pour off the boats and half go onto a bus to visit the volcano and the cute white-washed village of Nikia, and the other half walk through the main village of Mandraki to the monastery.
After lunch, they switch over. Then at 4.30pm or so, they all pile back on the boat, and the island peace is restored again.
Mandraki is the main village and the port town of the island, where most of the tourist stay and eat. It’s fairly touristy in that there are a lot of restaurants and gift shops throughout the village –but it’s also just a normal village of locals going about their business.
The roads through the village are very narrow – some will only just fit a car; others will only fit a motorbike.
These small 3-wheeled vehicles are quite popular here – and practical. I wish I got a photo of the big burly bloke that I used to see squeezed into the tiny cab as he zipped around the village.
The houses are built right on the street – when you open the front door, you step out onto the street. This means they essentially don’t have any privacy, especially from the boatloads of tourists that come through on a daily basis snapping photos of every cute doorway, cat and alley – just as I was doing too, obviously.
It’s no wonder that there doors are mostly closed during the day and the windows shuttered up. I felt kind of sorry for the locals who are to put up with the daily invasion of their privacy – that’s why I don’t take many photos with people in them. But I do take lots of photos of their pretty and colourful entrances.
I don’t know what the deal is with the white paint here – but Greece must have invested heavily in the white-paint industry somewhere. The majority of village houses in Greece are white with blue windows – and as I understand it, this is because blue and white are the national colours. I get that. But what I don’t get is why EVERYTHING is painted white.
Like the rocks.
And the stairways..
Thisarea looks like it’s had heavy snowfall.
During the middle of the day, it’s blindingly white – sunglasses are a necessity here. But IS pretty.
A Nisyros road trip
I decided to hire a scooter for a day to explore the wider island. The last thing I wanted to do was to visit the sites with 8 busloads of people, so my aim was to get up early and hit the road. And so I did.
And what an amazing drive it was. Very little traffic and first I had stunning views of the ocean, and then as I turned inland, I had beautiful views of the volcano as I wound my way down the big hills on the ziz-zagging road and into the volcano caldera.
When I arrived there were only another 3 people there – you can see one of them in the photo below which gives you an idea of the scale of the crater.
This is an active volcano, although not erupting – but it has steaming and bubbling fumaroles in the craters.
There were no signs, guides or anyting advising what areas were safe to walk in and which to avoid. I walked up close to the fumaroles, but wasn’t keen to get much closer. The ground that I was walking on was cracked, and each step I took was on slightly spongy ground. I did wonder if the hat seen in the photo below was a reminder of the last person that got to close…?
There were a few of these holes with sulphur deposits, but not many.
I thought the views here were stunning.
Oh oh – the buses have arrived. It’s time to move on!
White-washed village of Nika
This was a gorgeous, picturesque little village that sat high on the rim of the volcano. (The view at the top of this post was taken by looking over the back wall of the village down into the crater). As I drove up to Nikia, this is the the view that I was hit with.
How gorgeous is that?!
I parked the bike at the edge of the village and wandered through, stopping for a Greek coffee in the town square just to give me some time to sit and take it all in. With sunglasses on of course, otherwise I’d risk white blindness.
From Nikia, I could see this cute little white and blue church even higher up the hill. It was just begging to be checked out. So back on the scooter and up I went.
And the views just got better. Although the photo below is slightly distorted, you can see how the church overlooks Nikia village (the rooftops in the centre of the picture) on the edge of the volcano. I spent a good 1/2 hour there just sitting in awe of this beautiful view below me.
A bit reluctantly, I jumped back on the scooter to head back down to another much smaller village called Emboreios – and hopefully find some lunch. The village is mostly abandoned with only 27 people now living there, but I saw signs of some work being done to restore some of the buildings. And one renovated place was even for sale.
It’s not quite as pretty as Nikia or Mandraki – but it has a certain decrepit kind of charm, in a creepy kind of way. I was also pleasantly surprised to find a small restaurant where I could grab a late lunch. I decided on two meze dishes and they were some of the tastiest mezes I had in Greece!
Here kitty, kitty
I don’t think I’ve mentioned cats for at least a couple of posts, so this is probably overdue! Just as there is in Turkey, there seemed to be a lot of cats on Nisyros (and Tilos too, I should add). Most are strays, but they are generally well looked after by the wider community who bring them fish scraps or cat biscuits every day. Here are just a few:
I try to ‘talk’ to them, but they just look at me blankly. I guess they are Greek purring cats, not English. Anyhow – enough of the cats already.
I came to Nisyros for a week, but after 5 days, I knew that I had seen everything that I wanted to see so decided to return to Tilos for my final two days in Greece. It was a last minute decision, but one that I was quite happy with. I couldn’t wait. See how happy I was? That’s Tilos in the background.
Slideshow: Just in case you haven’t seen enough photos, there are a few more thrown into the slideshow for you.