Where families meet

            Georgia and I first visited Nisyros in the summer of 1991. We had been to Greece many times before, and always tried to find destinations that had not been spoilt by tourism.  We stayed in the Porfyris Hotel, which then had the only swimming pool on the island.  During our stay we increasingly warmed to the island, and to the people who were so friendly and generous to us. We spent many evenings in "Café Bar Laderos", and became friendly with the owner Giorgos, who gave me so many free beers that I am sure his bar must have been running at a loss.


 Another regular customer in the bar was Yiannis, who was in charge of the electricity supply to the island. (We later found out that he is Giorgo's cousin, but then everybody in Nisyros seems to be related to everybody else somehow!)  Although he has since been moved to Rhodes by his employers, he still returns to Nisyros whenever he can. Yiannis told us about recent plans to build a geo-thermal power station at the top of the volcano to provide electricity for the South Dodecanese islands, using the natural energy of the volcano. He took us up in his old car to show us the sites where test bores had been drilled to ascertain the amount of energy that might be harnessed.  The picture shows the drill bits used to dig these bore holes.  (There was a lot of local opposition to this project, and the power station has not been built.  Such a huge industrial development would totally ruin the character of the island).


            During the holiday we saw the volcano, the eerily empty village of Emborio and the spectacularly pretty village of Nikia, perched precariously on the edge of the volcano crater. We also spent many lazy days on White Beach, soaking up the sun and snorkelling among the rocks.  When the time came to go home, we had already decided to return the next year.


            When we did return in 1992, Georgia was 6 months pregnant. People were even more generous to us! Babies are obviously very special in Greece.  Due to Georgia's condition this holiday involved even more lazing on White Beach. We had thought that we would get to and from the beach by the wonderful ancient bus that trundles around the island, but it was not running so I had to hire a scooter, which was a bit scary as I had not ridden one for about 15 years!  On this trip we were befriended by Lefteris, who has interests in several businesses on the island, and was very generous to us. 


            We came back to Nisyros in July 1993 with our baby, Emma. This time we stayed in an apartment in the centre of Mandraki, which was really nice. Everybody in Nisyros loved our baby, but were confused by her name, Emma, which sounds like "αιμα" - the Greek word for blood.


            We next visited the island in 1995. This time we stayed in an apartment on the edge of Mandraki, near the start of the path up to Paliokastro. This apartment is owned by Stelios Fotinis, a local plumber, and is one of two built above his house. It is very spacious, has two balconies overlooking the narrow street, and staying in it you really feel part of the local community. I can thoroughly recommend it to anyone with a small, young family. Sitting on the balcony at night you can watch a small owl perch and every so often swoop down to catch a mouse or insect.


            On the second day of our holiday, we met another couple from London, Phil and Caroline, whose daughter Lucy is the same age as our Emma. They discovered Nisyros in 1985, and go every year, sometimes for a month at a time, much to our envy. We got on very well with them and spent many an evening with them in Ilikiomeni Square, where our daughters play with the local children, while we enjoy the retsina.


            One evening we went to the annual festival in the monastery of St. John the Theologian near Nikia. There was traditional music and dancing, marvellous food and lots of retsina and beer. This is a genuine local festival, and not something provided for the tourists, as you find in many holiday destinations.


            It was this year that I first walked from Mandraki to the volcano, where I met with Georgia & Emma who had come up on the bus. I walked the easy route, around the west and south of the island, past St. Stavros monastery. The views over the sea to Tilos are spectacular.


            We had got on so well with Phil, Caroline and Lucy that the next year, 1996, we all travelled to the island together in September.  In the meantime we had visited each other's homes in London. 


            We went to another festival, this time in St. Stavros monastery, and again had a great time.


            I planned to walk up to the volcano again, taking a route that appeared to be shorter but steeper.  Again I planned to meet Georgia & Emma at the top. However I lost the path, ended up in Emborio, having climbed a mountain, and then had to descend 800 metres to the volcano crater, running to get there before the bus left without me. I just made it!


                        We had loads of days on the beach with the children and wonderful lunches by the peaceful fishing harbour at Palloi.  However, in Mandraki, the peace was shattered every so often by loud cracking noises. I thought that these were hunters' rifles or explosions on the nearby quarry island of Yiali. However, during one particularly loud one, I was sure I felt the house shake. Our landlord, Stelios, excitedly informed me that it was an earthquake. Apparently the island suffers small tremors from time to time.


                        We found out that every Wednesday a hydrofoil (flying dolphin) made a round trip from Kos to Rhodes and back again, stopping at Nisyros and Tilos, so we took a day trip to Tilos, a sleepy little island, well worth a visit.


            In 1997 our second daughter, Chloe, was born so we missed our annual trip to our favourite island. Phil and Caroline went and told us all the gossip when they got back. (Caroline is very good at finding out gossip!) Phil had been told that the earth tremors we had experienced the previous year had been getting worse, and had seen that several houses in the monastery corner of Mandraki had been abandoned as they had large cracks running through them. We saw this for ourselves the following year.  Expert seismologists have apparently visited the island and done all sorts of tests and measurements, and concluded that there is no danger of a large quake in the immediate future.


            By 1998 we could not wait to get to Nisyros and show off our new baby, so we went in May, (when it is not so hot). The flowers at this time of year are really spectacular. We were pleasantly surprised to find that the day before we arrived, 6 hire cars had appeared on the island. We became the first people on the island to hire one, see photo - the car has no licence plates, as it had not yet been registered! This made getting around with a 10-month-old baby so much easier, and we were able to go to places we had never seen before, such as Panaghia Kyra monastery. The car made a great difference to our holiday. We could breakfast in Mandraki, go and admire the view at Nikia, have a coffee in Emborio and then down to the volcano crater before a pleasant drive down to Palloi for lunch and an afternoon on White Beach.  In previous years we had been reliant on the bus or our own feet.


            However, having the car did not stop me climbing up to the volcano. Again I lost the path on the way up and went 'cross country' down the terraced mountainside. I found several tiny ancient stone houses, and the skeletons of two goats that had obviously been cooked in a bonfire.  I was later told that another walker had once found human skeletons in this area, but that story has not been corroborated. On the way back I at last found the correct path. I am told that the Nisyros authorities have been given money to improve these footpaths and mark them better.


 If anyone is thinking of walking up to the volcano in summer please learn from my experience. Do not attempt to do it in the middle of the day, it is too hot. Take a lot of water. Cover up and use plenty of high factor sun cream.  Wear good strong boots or walking shoes, and good sunglasses. Getting lost is not a serious problem as Nisyros is such a small island, but some of the climbs are quite steep and there are some long drops if you do stray off the path, like me. Make sure that someone 'back at base' knows what you are doing, so they can raise the alarm if you don't return at the expected time.


Our eldest daughter, Emma, had made friends with several local children, despite the language barrier, and one day was invited to the birthday party of the girl in the house next door to our apartment. I had to go too, as interpreter, and was really touched by the hospitality that was shown to us.


            In 1999 we went to Nisyros in August. When we eventually arrived after missing the boat and having to overnight in Kos, the people were as generous as ever. My daughter was invited to a birthday party again, and we were given plenty of fresh eggs and more figs than we could eat. 


I have never been to the island in August before and was quite surprised at how crowded it was. Most of the other visitors were Greeks, many from the USA, but there were also German, Dutch, Italian and French visitors.  There were however almost no British people staying on the island. There were, of course, the day-trippers who come over from Kos (up to 1,000 a day, mainly German, British and Dutch), and who make a significant contribution to the economy of the island.


I was also surprised at how many people bring their cars to the island, there was traffic congestion in Mandraki on some occasions, and Heroes Square became a car park.  We contributed to this by hiring a car, and once again it was very useful, despite getting a puncture at Emborio.


With two small children, it was difficult to do much walking around the island but on the few walks I did take I was very disappointed at the amount of discarded rubbish that litters the countryside. In Mandraki and Palloi the streets are kept clean and the rubbish bins emptied daily, but as soon as you step outside the villages the ground is strewn with empty plastic water bottles, plastic bags, cigarette packets, etc. While the day-trippers may be blamed for dropping litter in the volcano and in Mandraki, I am afraid that the local people must take responsibility for polluting the surrounding countryside. In Nikea household rubbish is just thrown over the mountainside into the volcano crater, and the view into the caldera is marred by piles of trash, much of it non-biodegradable plastic, which will be there forever. Nisyros is a beautiful place, why do people not wish to keep it that way? It may seem impertinent for a visitor to seem to be criticising some of the inhabitants of the island, but I am doing so because we love the place and do not wish to see it disappear under a mountain of discarded plastic bottles.


We visited the folk museum in Mandraki, and had quite a long chat with the curator. He told us that money had been received to repair the houses damaged by earth tremors in 1996/7, and we saw (and heard) some of this restoration work going on.  Work on building the new archaeological museum has also progressed, with the outer walls of the new building almost complete.


            We also found out that plans to build the geo-thermal power station have been scrapped, and the test bores have been capped. I had not realised that a by-product of this plan would have been a supply of fresh water (from the condensed steam). Maybe it was not such a bad idea after all.


My overwhelming memories of our 1999 holiday will be the warmth of the sea at White Beach, the non-stop sunshine (apart from the partial eclipse) and once again the generosity of the people. We left looking forward to returning in 2000.


            So in August 2000, we made our 8th trip to Nisyros. Once again we had a great time. We arrived from Kardamena on the 'Chrisoula'. This boat leaves Mandraki every morning except Tuesday, sometimes stopping at Yiali to offload supplies or disembark workers from the quarry, and arrives at Kardamena about 9 am. It leaves Kardamena at 2.30pm for Mandraki and Palloi. We were met on the quay at Mandraki by our hire car and our friends Phil & Caroline and their daughter, Lucy. Phil and Caroline had arrived the previous week and were staying in the Romanzo Hotel. Also on the 'Chrisoula' was Veronica, Phil and Caroline's neighbour who had come to join them for a week. 


After retsina at the Romanzo we drove to our apartment at the other end of the village.  Again we were staying in one of the apartments above the house of Stelios Fotinis. These are large, fully equipped apartments, not the basic cells that English tour companies describe as 'villas'.  Also the rent is very reasonable.  Stelios is a really nice guy whose English is pretty good (a lot better than my Greek anyway!) and his charming wife, Poppy keeps the place spotless. If you would like more details about this accommodation, please e-mail and I will answer any questions and give you contact details.


We did all the usual things, beach, snorkelling, eating, drinking, and would have slept quite well if it were not for a particularly stupid cockerel that had not been told that it is not supposed to crow until morning, and so started about midnight (a nocturnal cockerel?)  On the beach we kept seeing these very fast space-age boats going past. In fact they are catamarans, the Sea Star and the Dodecanese Express. Both were new boats that only came into service that year.  We took our hire car to Kos Town on the Dodecanese Express; inside it is like an aircraft, air conditioned and very comfortable. In Kos we drove to the Aschlipeio, the first purpose-built hospital in the world, and to Therma, where hot springs run into the sea making it as warm as a hot bath.


On the first Saturday of our holiday it was our friend Phil's birthday, which we celebrated with lobster at Tony's Taverna on the sea front in Mandraki. Tony worked in New York for many years, returning to his native Nisyros to run his taverna with his wife and two daughters. The food is excellent and Tony also serves the only take-away food in Nisyros - gyros, what we would call doner kebabs in England, only much, much better.


We could not help noticing how crowded Nisyros was this year. This was because we had arrived just in time for the festival of Panaghia (The Virgin Mary). Many ex-patriate Nisyrians return to celebrate the festival, from all over Greece, Europe and the rest of the world, especially the USA where there are 2,500 Nisyrians in New York alone (compared to a population of approx. 1,000 in Nisyros itself). On the eve of the festival Mandraki was heaving, the harbour was jammed with boats from Kos and every taverna and bar was overflowing. You could not move in Ilikiomeni Square. On the day itself there was Mass at the Monastery in the morning, followed by a meal in the square and traditional music and dancing in the evening. I really enjoyed the spectacle but I must admit I was glad when the crowds had gone.


I walked up to the volcano again, and actually did NOT get lost this time! The path is deteriorating though, and is actually quite dangerous in places. Do not attempt this walk with small children!  At the volcano I met with our old friend Lefteris who owns the snack bar there and he was able to confirm a rumour that I had heard the previous year. It appears that a few weeks before her tragic death in 1997 Diana, Princess of Wales visited the Nisyros volcano as part of a private tour of Greek Islands. Lefteris showed us the place where she had sat. Also at the top of the volcano, a new amphitheatre is being built. This is to stage plays and concerts, but why they should choose to build a theatre in the windiest and most inaccessible part of the island is completely beyond me. The smell of the sulphur would also detract from the enjoyment of any entertainment - or maybe you get used to it. 


We visited Nikea, where there is now even more garbage spoiling the view of the volcano crater, and Emborio where more houses are being renovated and a road is being built to give vehicles access to the top end of the village. We went to a concert in the football stadium, which featured traditional dancing in the traditional red ladies costumes - only we could not see the dancers because it was dark!  We went up to the old castle above Mandraki, which I think, is my favourite place on Earth. We took the children swimming at the Hotel Porfyris' pool, and spent many days on White Beach.


We did not go to Nisyros in 2001, instead having a glorious 2 weeks in the Ionian Islands (Lefkada and Meganisi) and a very wet week in Germany, where we ate in a Greek restaurant in Potsdam (the only decent food we had in Germany).


June 2002 saw us back in Nisyros. We stayed a week in Stelios' apartment and had quite a few meals in Tony's Taverna, at our daughters' insistence as Tony's was home to a family of four kittens. Once again we hired a car from Ilias Diakomikhalis.  Hire cars are now available from Diakomikhalis Travel and Tourist Agency,  (Tel: 31459 Fax: 31527) and Enetikon Travel who are agents for Manos K Car Rental (Tel: 31180).


Also there is now a bank in Mandraki, which will give cash advances on credit cards - useful if funds are running low. Greece seemed to be adapting well to the Euro, and that year I didn't notice any significant price rises, such as we had heard about in Germany and France.


The weather was glorious and the sea as still as I have ever seen it. That did not stop us trying the swimming pool at the 'Haritos' hotel, which is right on the sea front, overlooking the harbour. Because it was so early in the season we had the place to ourselves - our own private pool and bar!


While in Mandraki I looked around the two houses then being restored by Paul Campanis, who runs this website. Both are in excellent locations in the centre of Mandraki, one is right on the sea front next to a taverna. I must admit that I feel more than slightly envious of Paul, to own property in such a beautiful part of the world.


After a week doing not very much in Nisyros we took the 'Sea Star' catamaran and went to Tilos for a week. The journey only takes 30 to 40 minutes and the boat is luxurious inside. Tilos is even smaller than Nisyros with a resident population of only 300. It has two villages, Livadia and Megalochorio ('Big Village!'). Livadia is the port and not much else, except a tourist resort. However in June it is really quiet with most of the accommodation empty. We stayed in a brand new apartment above the 'Blue Sky Taverna', overlooking the harbour. Despite the problems with the plumbing this was a great place to stay, although not ideal with two children as it was really designed for a couple. However the view from the balcony made up for any minor problems.


Megalochorio is where the inhabitants of Tilos live. It has a shop, two tavernas and almost no accommodation for tourists. There is also a small deserted ruined village called Microchorio ('Small Village') which is quite spooky as you walk around its deserted alleyways. Other than that Tilos has some nice beaches, good tavernas (and one or two bad ones!) and is very relaxing. To find out more visit This is the website of Tilos Travel who are based in Livadia. The office is run by David and his charming partner Lynda. They can arrange anything for a holiday in Tilos, including flights, and are really nice people as well.


The most eventful part of our 2002 holiday was the journey home....


Our flight was from Kos on Wednesday afternoon. As there is no ferry between Tilos and Kos on either Tuesday or Wednesday we took the 'Sea Star' back to Nisyros on Tuesday afternoon with the intention of taking the 'Chrisoula' to Kos early Wednesday morning. We arrived in Mandraki and checked in to the Haritos hotel for one night, but were disappointed to find that the pool was empty. The proprietor explained that the sea was rough and the water too dirty to fill the pool. In the evening we checked the departure time of the 'Chrisoula', to be told that it would not be running as the sea was too rough. We were woken Wednesday morning by the wind and could see that water in the harbour was so choppy that boats were unable to get in or out.


 This was serious. Our flight was from Kos at 1 p.m. and we were stuck on Nisyros.  I made a lot of telephone calls and found that if we could obtain a letter from the Mandraki harbour master explaining the situation I might be able to reclaim the cost of buying new aeroplane tickets from our travel insurance. This took a while but the people in the Mandraki Port Police office were marvellous, and I was so glad that I had learned to speak some Greek. I knew it would come in useful one day! Meanwhile Ilias Diakomikhalis made some calls and found out that the day trip boats were still coming that day. (Being much bigger they could sail in the rough seas.) This meant that we would be able to get to Kos, although we would miss our 1pm flight. All we could do was sit and wait until 3pm, when the day-trip boats return to Kos. We spent a very relaxing day! Having accepted the situation we were resigned to the fact that we were going to have to find a flight back to anywhere in the UK (or maybe Paris or Brussels) and get a train back to London - and it was going to cost a lot of money that we might not get back.


So, we took the boat to Kos at 3pm and then a taxi to the airport, arriving 4 hours after our flight's scheduled departure time. There we found huge crowds outside the terminal building, queues everywhere and a lot of very unhappy people. Due to a French air traffic controllers' strike and a Greek airport workers' strike the airport had been closed for most of the day and our flight had not even started checking in! Our flight eventually left at 8pm - 7 hours late, and we must have been the only happy people on it!


Despite all of that we couldn't wait to return to Nisyros in 2003, and we were lucky enough to be able to take 3 weeks holiday. Fortunately we did not have any dramas with weather and flights this time.


We spent our first week in Kalymnos. This is a much bigger island than Nisyros, with quite a different atmosphere. There is a fair amount of tourism but it is concentrated on the western side of the island, which has the best beaches, and is fairly low-key.  We stayed in a sleepy village called Vlichadia, and found it very relaxing, putting us nicely in the mood for the following fortnight in Nisyros.


We once again stayed in an apartment above Stelios' house, where our next door neighbour in the other apartment was Artin, the photographer. The island was very crowded because we had again arrived in time for the festival of the Virgin Mary on August 15th. There were many Nisyrian Americans over from the USA, and we became friendly with Nick Politis from New York and his wife and two daughters. Nick's Mother has a house in Mandraki which she visits most years, and Nick told me what life in Nisyros was like when he used to visit as a child in the 1960s.

It seems that a lot of money is being spent on Nisyros. Many more houses in Mandraki, Nikea and Emborio are being renovated and the roads have improved a great deal. There is now a passable road down to Avlaki, which we visited for the first time in 10 visits to Nisyros.  We swam in the crystal clear water of the small harbour. There is only one inhabited house there, with several in ruins and a small monastery, which looked as if it had recently celebrated a festival.


This year the island had a good bus service, connecting all the villages and the volcano, running 4 or 5 times a day, and by Greek standards the timetable was fairly accurate in 2003. (See 2004 below!)


We had the usual leisurely lunches in Palloi, where the beach has been cleaned up. This is now a great place for swimming with the children because the sea is so still, being inside the harbour wall. We also spent many days on White Beach and had some excellent lunches in the beach bar there, which is now run very efficiently by Yiannis, the son of the owner of the White beach Hotel.


Has anybody else noticed that White Beach is shrinking? And it is most definitely not white any more, most of the white sand having been washed away. By far the most popular beach on Nisyros in 2003 was Pachys Ammos, beyond Lies Beach. There was a community of at least 25 tents camping there, and many more daily visitors using the new car park at the end of the road to Lies and walking along the treacherous path round the headland.


We went to Tilos for a day on one of the inter-island ferries, and met some people we had befriended the previous year.


This year we could not help noticing that prices of almost everything have increased significantly since 2002.  This can partly be explained by the strength of the Euro compared to the UK pound, but even so things seemed a lot more expensive.

The festival of Panaghia (the Virgin Mary) once again passed with music, dancing and crowds of people, although I felt that there were not as many visitors from nearby islands as in previous years.


Nisyros seems to be slowly changing, smartening itself up, perhaps to attract more visitors. However it still remains as beautiful as ever and I continue to hope that it will not fall prey to the uncontrolled mass tourism that has spoiled so many other Greek islands.

            A wet spring break to the Ionian in 2004 whetted our appetites for another trip to the Dodecanese in August and we once again decided to combine a stay in Nisyros with a week in Tilos. Unfortunately the ferry ‘Nissos Kalimnos’ no longer does the daily run from Kalymnos to Rhodes stopping at Nisyros and Tilos so we had to fit our travel plans round the twice weekly ferry from Piraeus or the Tilos ‘Sea Star’. This meant that we had 5 days in Tilos, a week in Nisyros and then 2 more nights in Tilos. As we were going to Tilos first we flew into Rhodes, which we have never done before. This was a pleasant surprise as Rhodes airport seems better organised than Kos, especially when it comes to finding taxis. We arrived at Rhodes Town harbour (also known as Mandraki!) minutes too late to catch the big ferry. No problem, we thought. We would just catch the Sea Star at 6.30pm. We bought our tickets, left our luggage on the boat and went for a drink. We returned at 6.00pm to be told that the Sea Star would not be sailing as the sea was too rough for the catamaran, which skims along the surface of the water.  


Retrieving our luggage we went to the Tourist Information Office who found us a room at the Hermes Hotel near the harbour front. Basic and clean but there was only a 3-bedded room available. Chloe thought this was great as she got to share a bed with Mummy!  We had a look round Rhodes Town, with its impressive ramparts and had a meal at a nice Taverna in the market square where I actually managed a conversation with the waiter in Greek! More about him later…..


After breakfast the next morning we walked down to the harbour to board the Sea Star. The weather seemed just as windy as the previous evening but the catamaran sailed. It was ROUGH! The catamaran crashed into waves and every so often seemed to drop from the top of a wave and land heavily a second later. I don’t get sea-sick but Chloe really suffered and by the time we arrived at Livadia harbour in Tilos she had turned a delicate shade of green.


We were met by David and Lynda from Tilos Travel who had booked our accommodation, the ‘Kalokairi Oneira’ (Summer Dreams) apartments. They introduced us to Maria, who was to be our landlady. She is originally from Tilos but now lives in Australia with her husband, Mike. They return for a couple of months every 2 years to help her sister look after the 4 apartments that she owns behind the sea front tavernas in Livadia. These apartments are excellent for families as they have 3 bedrooms (a double and 2 singles). The 2 downstairs apartments have a large, flat, safe area where children can play and the upstairs ones have a balcony. To book call 0030 2241 023435 or 0030 2246 044026. I have some photos if anyone would like to see them. Talking to Mike I discovered that he has several relatives in Palloi, Nisyros.


Once again we hired a car from Tilos Travel and spent a pleasant few days pottering around the island and swimming in the sea. From the mountain road in the north of the island there is an excellent view of Nisyros on a clear day.

The only bad part of our stay on Tilos was Emma being stung by a jellyfish. Fortunately it was not too bad and the sting lasted only a few hours. However I subsequently heard of 2 other children that I know being stung in the same month, one in Nisyros and one in Kalymnos, a very nasty sting that has left a scar. Was there a plague of jellyfish in the Dodecanese in 2004? 

During our trips to Greece we like to escape London ‘civilization’ and avoid television and newspapers. However, in August 2004 there was no escaping the Olympic Games. Greece was rightly proud to be hosting the games and every taverna had at least one television on all the time showing all the action. We saw some of the opening ceremony at a taverna in Tilos and much of the action on one of the four (!)  televisions in Iliokomeni Square.

            After chilling out in Tilos we were ready for our week in Nisyros, where we stayed in one of Paul Campanis’ newly restored houses in Mandraki. What can I say? It is fantastic! A genuine old Greek house, NOT purpose-built tourist accommodation. See the photos elsewhere on this website. It is right on the main ‘road’ into the village and staying here you really feel part of the community. There is a staircase up to the roof from where the views are spectacular. However, although this is a traditional old house it has a modern fitted kitchen and shower room/WC, with a washing machine. The kitchen even has its own well, which can be useful during power cuts (which seem to be getting more frequent), as the pump for the water is electric.


While we were in Nisyros there was a wedding, which seemed to last for 3 days and involve the whole village. We were privileged to be able to watch some of the proceedings and procession from our balcony. As part of the celebrations our friend Stelios the plumber was handing out silk bags containing sugared almonds, and made sure that our girls received one each. This is a tradition at Greek weddings – I wish I could remember what they are called!


Once again we met with our friends Phil & Caroline, who were staying at the ‘’Romanzo’ with their daughter, Lucy. This hotel on the harbour front has had some refurbishment, with new en-suite facilities. We spent our days on the beach, often accompanied by Sofia, daughter of Michelle from ‘Enetikon Travel’. The girls all got on really well, which made it a great holiday for all of us. The bar at White Beach still served great lunchtime food, and the beach at Palloi is now clean and pleasant. The path round to Pachos Ammos beach has been improved but is still not easy with children (or vertigo!). The beach is spectacular, but be aware that it is popular with nudists, and there is almost no natural shade until the sun goes down late in the afternoon.


Yet again we hired a car from ‘Diakomihalis Travel’ at a very good price – almost half what we paid in Tilos, and he has some nice new cars. We went to all the usual places, volcano, Emborio, and Nikea, which has a new taverna, with a spectacular view over the sea to Tilos. On the days that we did not have the car we used the buses, which unfortunately seem to have returned to their old unpredictable timetable. We had to resort to calling Babis who runs a taxi service and the ‘Nisyros Taverna’. I highly recommend both businesses!


After spending our last afternoon at the ‘Haritos Hotel’ swimming pool we returned to Tilos, again on the ‘Sea Star’. We spent 2 nights there, swimming in the sea outside our apartment and eating both evenings at the ‘Armenon’ taverna on the sea front. Fresh food and a different menu every day.    


We returned to Rhodes on a Wednesday morning, again travelling on the ‘Sea Star’ watching the Olympic triathlon as we went. We arrived in time to have a look around the shops and buy some ‘Athens 2004’ Olympics souvenirs and have lunch at the same taverna we had been to 2 weeks previously. After my success in speaking to the waiter in Greek I decided to engage him in conversation again, and found out that his wife was from Nisyros! Her family own a taverna in Mandraki.


All too soon it was time to find a taxi to the airport. As we climbed into the Aegean sky we had perfect aerial views of Tilos, then Nisyros and then Kalymnos.


For 2005 we decided to combine a week in Nisyros with a week in Kos. We arranged to stay the first week in Paul Campanis’ great-grandparents’ house, which has been recently restored (see elsewhere on this website).


When making travel arrangements I was surprised to discover that the ‘Chrisoula’ no longer runs. It has been bought by Enetikon Travel and re-named the ‘Nisyros’ but still departs from Kardamena at 2pm – just 10 minutes too early for us to catch it due to our flight being delayed for no apparent reason and with no explanation from Excel Airways. In the past this would have meant an overnight stay in Kos but this summer Enetikon’s other boat the ‘Agios Konstantinos’ was doing a later crossing at approximately 5pm – on this day delayed to 7pm. After a very rough crossing we eventually arrived in Mandraki at about 8pm having spent about 5 hours travelling and 9 hours waiting for various forms of transport that were inexplicably delayed, oh – and being grossly overcharged by a dishonest taxi driver in Kos. I have since been warned that this is regrettably an increasing problem. This is very disappointing to me as I have always been impressed by the honesty of Greek people.


We arrived at Paul’s house to be soothed by the wonderful views over the sea to Yiali and Kos, and up to the monastery, which overlooks the house. This is a lovely old house, sympathetically restored to keep its historic charm, but with the added bonus of a modern shower room and washing machine. This was even better after I had worked out why the water heater was not working, and we didn’t have to endure cold showers! (Actually it wasn’t so bad. The weather was so hot that the cold showers were quite refreshing!) The house is right on the sea front, next door to Stella’s taverna and right in the middle of Mandraki village life. Due to the fact that this was the week of August 15th, the Festival of Panaghia there was an awful lot of village life to be in the middle of…


I had been unable to reserve a hire car from Ilias at Diakomihalis, as he was fully booked, so I got one from Manos K, on the harbour front. Slightly more expensive and older, but still it only broke down once! We had to keep the car at the harbour because cars were not allowed into the village due to the congestion and parking problems! It is hard to believe that only 14 years ago there were almost no cars at all on the island. 


We used the car to go to all the usual places, especially the beach. We found that White Beach is even smaller still, and hardly anybody goes there now, most people preferring the town beach outside Palloi, which is very safe for children swimming. The taverna at White Beach is still excellent, though. We also went to our favourite place, the magnificent castle overlooking Mandraki and the sea, which seems to be undergoing some kind of restoration and archaeological excavations. And, of course no visit to Nisyros would be complete without a trip to the volcano, if only to see our old friend, Lefteris at the taverna there.


Although we had a great time in 2005 I noticed that Nisyros is noticeably changing. As more houses are restored and more money seems to be coming into the island, it is becoming more commercialised. We often come in August but I have never seen so many people staying on the island before. The music bar close to the house sometimes played loud music into the early hours, which did not amuse me at all. One of our reasons for going to Nisyros for our holidays is to avoid noisy resorts. The crowds meant that the popular tavernas were full early on and service was slow. I guess the lesson must be to avoid going in August but when you are limited to UK school holidays it is difficult to go any other time.


For the second week of our holiday we rented a small new purpose-built holiday home on the North coast of Kos. This is one of just 4 built and maintained by Leo Stephanidis and his French wife Blandine. For details and bookings go to . Kos was a refreshing surprise. For the past 14 years we have passed through Kardamena en route for Nisyros and watched it sink deeper into British drink-fuelled depravity. We wrongly assumed that all of Kos was like this but this is not the case. Mastihari in the North is a holiday resort, but a quiet one, with a nice sandy beach and some good tavernas. In the South of the island are some spectacular sandy beaches most of which are uncrowded. For some reasons all the British seem to huddle together on one small section of beach where they can be grossly overcharged for car-parking, sun beds and umbrellas, and spend their days trying to bury the sand in a layer of litter and cigarette butts. This leaves huge expanses of sand for everybody else to enjoy. An added bonus is the views of Yiali and Nisyros.


Our journey home was once again a nightmare of delays and misinformation. Having spent almost an entire day at Kos airport, once again due to the incompetence of Excel Airways, our 2-hour delay at Gatwick on the outward journey seemed pleasant by comparison.


I am not sure if we will return to Nisyros in 2006, but we will certainly not be going in mid-August, as at that time of year it is no longer the relaxing place I remember from previous years. Such is progress…