Assia Grazioli-Venier, who is the head of Internet TV for the Ministry of Sound, has been spending summers on the Greek island of Patmos since she was a child. This past summer, she was married on Patmos during a three-day celebration. Here, she shares with Indagare the advice that she gave her guests from around the world on visiting the island and on where to stay in Athens.
“Patmos (Πάτμος) is a small island in the Aegean Sea. It is the northernmost island of the Dodecanese complex, with a population of roughly 3,000 and an area of thirteen square miles. The highest point is Profitis Ilias, 269 meters above sea level.
Patmos’ main communities are Chora and Skala, the only commercial port. Chora is a medieval town built around the Monastery of St. John the Theologian. Other settlements are Grikou and Kampos. The churches and communities on Patmos are of the Eastern Orthodox tradition.
In the summer of 2006, Historic Centre (Chora) with the Monastery of Saint John “The Theologian” and the Cave of the Apocalypse, were declared by World Heritage sites by UNESCO.
Patmos is most notable for its mention in the Christian scriptural Book of Revelation. The book’s introduction states that the author, John, has been exiled to Patmos, and that there he saw and recorded a vision from Jesus. Very early Christian tradition identifies this John as Saint John the Evangelist. As such, Patmos has long been a destination for Christian pilgrimage. Visitors can visit the cave where John supposedly saw the Revelation. As a result, several monasteries on the island are dedicated to Saint John. Patmos is also home to the Patmian School, a notable Greek seminary.
Greek time is seven hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time.
THE ELECTRIC CURRENT
The standard in Greece is 220V AC (50Hz). Appliances from North America require a transformer and British ones require an adaptor.
The average weather in July is 86°F. Although during the day it can get much hotter, while at night the wind can bring some chilly (yet refreshing) air.
Meltemi is the name for the dry wind that blows from the north across Greek waters. While Assia grew to love this wind as it always provided very adventurous sailing expeditions, in the evening it can bring unusual cool air. During the day however it can provide much needed solace from the sun!
WHAT TO BRING
Patmos is a very relaxed island. During the day people often go around in sarongs, flip flops and tank tops.
Make sure to bring: Sunglasses, flip-flops, summer jackets, pashminas for the evening and all the usual beach necessities!
By plane and boat: The closest airports to Patmos are in Samos Island and Kos Island. (Kos is better for connections.) You can reach Kos a forty-minute flight from Athens via Olympic Airlines or Aegean Airlines.
From these islands the fastest way to Patmos is by hydrofoil or catamaran, which take on average about one hour.
By boat from Athens: You can catch a ship from Piraeus (Port in Athens) to Patmos. I suggest you pick up a schedule once you get to Athens (they are in the city’s newspaper). The Blue Star leaves daily in the late afternoon, and Patmos is usually the 3rd or 4th stop after other Greek Islands. It is $38 per person and a 6-7 hour trip. Or take the Blue Star 2, a more luxurious and relaxing choice, which leaves every Wednesday at 7:00 p.m. and Saturday at 11:00 p.m.
Another option is taking the Rodanthi ferry, which leaves from Piraeus daily at 6:00 pm (except Wednesday and Saturday). The ferry leaves from Patmos at 11:00 pm and arrives in Piraeus the next morning, so you must reserve a cabin. This is best if you have a flight out from Athens after 12 noon or if you want to stay in Athens for the day.
Helicopter The cost for hiring a helicopter from Athens to Patmos is about $6,500, plus $27 per person for airport taxes. The price includes VAT and is valid for up to 4-5 people (no bigger helicopters available).
WHERE TO STAY
Porto Scoutari Hotel
The Porto Scoutari Hotel is known for its romantic and tranquil atmosphere and its thirty-one individually decorated guestrooms. Rooms from $160. Scala Patmos Island; +30 22470 33123; fax:+30 22470 33175; www.portoscoutari.com.
Just as the name suggests, this is truly a paradise hotel! With only twelve rooms, it sits over a high cliff overlooking the water and has spectacular views. Hotel amenities include a sea-water swimming pool with snack bar serving Greek specialties, pool bar, main bar and restaurant. Sports facilities offered, include a fitness center with sauna, tennis court and a squash court. Rooms from $120. Kambox; (30) 22470-32624; fax: (30) 22470-32740.
Porto America Scala
This is a cheap and cheerful hotel near the main port—it has a pool and the rooms each have little kitchenettes. Basic yet large rooms, clean, organized and well taken care of. Each room has balconies and a direct view of the sun dipping into the sea at sunset! www.horapatmos.gr.
Cute, quaint and romantic! Located near Petra Beach, in Grikos Bay, these houses were built on the ruins of a 150-year -old house in 1997. Each has its own style and feel. They all have beautiful views of the bay as well as close proximity to the ocean. Gricos; (30) 2247-033169; email@example.com.
Near the main port, but away from the chaos, is this charming little boutique hotel. It has only five studios and is located right in the middle of the island. As with other smaller hotels in the area, each studio has a unique decorating scheme. Rooms from $80. 85500 Skala; (30) 22370-33008 www.kalderimi.com.
Villas are a beautiful way to feel at home on the island. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org The houses are gorgeous, range in price and level of luxury depending on the number of rooms and budget. Villas are booked on a weekly basis. Book quick as there are not many available!
HOTELS IN ATHENS
Hotel Grand Bretagne
With 321 recently-renovated rooms, this hotel exudes elegance. The look can best be described as classic and traditional. It is considered to be in one of the best locations in Athens with great views of the Acropolis. Rooms from $330. Constitution Square; Athens; (30) 210-333-0000; (30) 210-322-8034; www.grandebretagne.gr
Electra Palace Hotel
The Electra Palace Hotel offers 101 standard guest rooms, 30 Superior Acropolis view rooms, 9 Junior Suites, and 10 Suites. It has a beautiful indoor swimming pool and Jacuzzi as well as a gym equipped with a sauna and steam bath. The hotel is located in downtown Athens in the old town of Plaka (and very close to the Acropolis). 18-20 N. Nikodimou Street; (30) 210-337-0000; fax: (30) 210-324-1875; www.electrahotels.gr
Another newly renovated hotel, the St. George Lycabettus is home to 148 room and 6 suites. It’s located in the center of Athens in the Kolonaki area. Like the Hotel Grand Bretagne, it has wonderful views of the Acropolis from both the south-facing balconies and the rooftop restaurant/club called the SaintG. Rooms from around $185. 2 Kleomenous Street; (30) 210-729 -0711; fax: (30) 210-729-0439.
The Royal Olympic is in the heart of Old Town Athens (known as Plaka). It’s close to the Acropolis and has stunning views of the Temple of Zeus. It, too, has been recently renovated. Rooms from $225. 28-34 Ath. Diakou Str; (30) 210-928-8400; www.royalolympic.com.