Revelation in Patmos! – Travel Like an Architect™
Revelation – 1. a surprising and previously unknown fact, especially one that is made known in a dramatic way. (Posting in a Travel blog can be dramatic right?) 2. the making known of something that was previously secret or unknown. (we didn’t know we loved Patmos until we went!) 3. used to emphasize the surprising or remarkable quality of someone or something (it was truly a revelation to learn that we could live on a Greek Island!) 4. the divine or supernatural disclosure to humans of something relating to human existence or the world (it’s got to be the CAT!)
WEDNESDAY OCTOBER 7 – Patmos Greece Our “goal” in Patmos was to see the Monastery (and Cave) of St. John. Again we did not purchase a tour so we had the freedom to do what ever we wanted to do. We pondered just walking, but when we looked out our window we realized the Monastery was WAY WAY up on a hill. It was “only” 4 kilometers, about 3 miles, but UP UP UP a hill. At breakfast we sat outside (buffet) on the back of the ship and watched a tour bus wind its way up the hill. Upon debarking we ran into Paul and Kimberly, some new ship friends – they said they were going to rent a scooter and go to a famous beach for the day. Kimberly mentioned a beach that was made of colored stones instead of sand…. We then ran into a couple who were looking for the bus stop. They said there was a bus for about $1.50 that would take you to the top (where the Monastery is), and you could easily walk down, see the cave, and continue back down to the city. We found a bus schedule, but it only ran ever 90 mins, and the next bus was over an hour. So we wandered across the street to the shops where we discovered Paul and Kimberly, and their scooter.
They said it had only been $20 for the whole day….. SO….
Next thing you know, we were on a scooter headed up the side of the steep mountain.
We wound around, got our land legs – and scooter legs. We did discover the scooter was not OUR motorcycles!! NO foot pegs, and full throttle was barely adequate to keep us moving up the hill at a speed that we did not just fall over. But off we went….. Since we are on our own schedule we are always free to stop to take a photo or detour of some kind..
The view from the road leading to the Cave of the Apocalypse…
Soon we arrived at St. John’s cave. This is a small chapel where St. John supposedly wrote Revelations. It is manned by a priest who HIGHLY enforced NO photos. So we didn’t take any, but found these online.
You enter here – then go down down down…. Wikipedia gets credit for this pic!
A tour guide brought in a small group and he talked and talked and talked. Unfortunately the priest does not ask the tour guide to SHUT UP!!! We left wondering why he was obnoxious about photos but didn’t seem to care about the disruptive talking.
We made our way back to our scooter, and headed up the mountain.
About 3/4 the way to the Monastery, we noticed a side road that had a COOL building shell that appeared to be abandoned before being completed. Would make a PERFECT Rob & Lynn home. So off we went in another direction, a back road I guess….. We rode, and rode, and rode. Seeing a unique part of the landscape. If you subscribe to our YouTube Channel you will be notified when the video of this whole day is posted – a unique sight seeing experience that I shot while riding on the back of our scooter that day.
After a bit we ended up in Chora, The “town” or cluster of connected homes and business on top of the mountain which the Monastery is part of. It was AMAZING! We parked, had a glass of wine, and checked our emails – all while looking over the beautiful bay and Village of Patmos below.
We found this cafe overlooking the bay – and jokingly wondered if they had some breakfast wine….
After our break we looked around the town square, and noticed signs to The Evangalimios Monastery (the Nunnery of the Annunciation). So we followed the signs to the entry. Why not right? We traveled on foot through the white roofless tunnels until we found the Entrance…. This destination had been on Rob’s Patmos Card.
Always stopping to record our experience with a photo! No photos are ever allowed inside and we choose to respectfully comply.
We poked our heads inside the entry and to our surprise an old nun “scolded” us. But then quickly a young nun came out and in a friendly manner asked if we were there to see the museum-and we replied YES! So in we went. We didn’t actually know there was a museum in there but it got us in the door. She explained that they were “missing one”, so only the museum was open, as the one was missing. We later learned there are only three nuns currently living there, and one was on leave, so it was just she and the old nun running things. As we wanded the small museum another young man, who spoke neither English, or Greek, arrived. The nun did her best, but there was NO common words. Her English was pretty good and she had kind eyes and a friendly smile. We learned that the articles in the museum came primarily from the past 1200 years of nuns who had lived, and then died, in the convent. It was primarily an Art collection and after looking, and making a donation, we asked, again, about the church, if it was open. At which point the young nun offered to lock the museum, and then show us their chapel.
It was FANTASTIC. Far better than the St. John Monastary and if you are reading this because you are doing research in preparation for a trip to Patmos we highly recommend it. It The icons in the church date back to the 15th, 16th and 17th century. The small church of Agios Loukas (Saint Luke) the Evangelist (1613) was built by the monk Nikephoros, in order to express his gratitude to the Saint when he recovered from a fatal disease. Many of the same murals are duplicated in the convent as the main monastary, only they have not been ruined by use (oil lamps and candles) as is St. Johns. The young nun is an asset to her calling. She patiently, and in an unfamiliar language, explained the murals, icons, and her life there. Far more friendly than ANY other religious representative we met. On the way out we stopped in the gift shop and picked up a postcard and a hand made key chain souvenir for Cody, our daughter’s room mate.
While we were walking the maze of topless white tunnels I began collecting photos of unique doors – I hope you enjoy – I sure had fun taking them…
Leaving the monastery we asked for “directions” for the Simantiris family’s Patmian House, the oldest house in Chora. Another treasure Rob had found online that was on our index card for this destination. We had NO CLUE that we were accidentally RIGHT there, I think one of the walls may have been connected to the Monastery!! We arrived at Mrs. Simantiris’ House, where there was a sign on the steel entry grate that said to knock – which we did. We heard noise, and knocked again. After a 2-3 min (seemed like 5) wait an old woman with a hugh smile opened the door, and gestured for us to enter. She was alone and we stepped inside, and onto a landing that had stairs leading down into a living area filled with plants, lights, and birds, and up up up to someplace…. She gestured for us to go up – and we did. We arrived to a large living area, complete with photos of her family. In her broken English (Italian is her first language) she explained this was the oldest house in Chora, and had been in her family for 10 generations. She showed us photos, and paintings of her family. We wandered thru living areas and bedrooms – it is a living museum showing how a local family lived. Upon seeing “everything” she showed us a table with a “donation box” of 2 Euros each, and all kinds of crafts. We got some REALLY cute crocheted booties for “George” (our not yet born Grandson), hand made, by this Most Elderly Woman living with 17 (we later found out) birds in her family home.
We wonder what will become of this when she dies. Her kids do not seem interested in a subsistence income generated from donations. Maybe there is more to her story……
After leaving her home, we wandered the NARROW streets back to the town square, and our scooter. We then “attempted” to continue on to St. Johns. Unfortunately we took the senic route – as signs with arrows to “monastary” point to BOTH the Evangilimisos, and St. Johns. We learned to drive like locals, our scooter zipping up and down cobbled streets that were 5′ wide, and STEEP. You can see how the pathways have had scooter ramps added to them so you have to swerve to hit the ramp just right and it seems like EVERYTHING is up hill!
At one point Rob gave up. We arrived to a street that was steps, with a NARROW, 9″ slope on the edge for the scooter. Took Rob 10 mins to turn the scooter around, but the motivation was REALLY strong! FINALLY, we found the Monastary. Well the building, but not the entry.
We parked in a field of scooters at the top of a wide street, next to this cute little structure…. wondering what it’s purpose is at the base of the HUGE monastery! But they say there is one church for every 10 people in Patmos. Even more than Rockford! I think I might actually agree with this – many cultures have a prayer room in their home where one person can spend time in quiet reflection alone, which I believe to be more beneficial than attending a sermon where someone tells you what to think at some mega church with 1000s of your best friends. We have always said that our church is our outdoor hot tub 🙂
BUT NO obvious entrance! After much wandering we heard people, and saw them walking on the other side of an inconspicuous gate. Out of sheer dumb luck, the gate was not locked, and were were able to enter the Monastery, just not through the main entry. Yes, we did go back and pay the small entry fee. I think we scooted in the employee entrance, lucky is what I call it as we only had about 20 minutes to explore because they were preparing to close…… We entered the complex, and through the courtyard to the chapel and again a priest was “guarding” it, making sure we did not take ANY photos. It was a duplicate of the Cave, and Nuns building, only larger. A main room, with a second side chapel.
Our understanding of the two chambers is the smaller side chapel was the actual cave, and the main chapel, built later. Not a clue why the churches mimic this. St. Johns has a third, VERY small chapel that Lynn discovered. It has some type of remains in it, under a grating. It was full of fragerant flowers. We wondered if that was because the remains stink…. The entire building is “tired” and worn out. Just like most of the religious structures we visitied. Icons are protected under glass, but murals and woodwork are soiled by centuries of soot from candles and oil lamps. YES, they are STILL using incense, oil lamps, and candles. We donated a buck at all the “happy places”, lite a candle, and gave thanks for our lives and those we know-which might include YOU!
We had to leave St. Johns earlier than we had wanted, as it closes for about an hour mid-day. So…. We headed back down the BIG hill to Skala. We parked the scooter at the gate to the ship and went on board for our lunch, and drinks.
It was sort of cool that it was convenient to do this today…. we sat on the pool deck with a view of the town and had our complimentary (built into the price of the cruise) lunch and wine! The food was always great on the Azamara Journey but what we enjoyed most is the complimentary adult beverages – no counting or keeping track – they just keep your glass full!
After a delicious meal at the burger bar, we returned to our scooter that was 50 yards from the entry ramp on the ship. Our gas gauge had read EMPTY when we rented the scotter. We ASSUMED it was just broken, but it was dropping as we drove. So the first thing we did upon returning was go back to the rental store…. to ask about the gas gauge. At first the proprietor said YES, we had gas. When we showed him the gauge, he said “NO – you need petro” – DUH!!! So we went strait to a gas station where we put 4.5 Euro, and only got half a tank of gas. We considered this GOOD insurance and headed off to explore the rest of the island. We buzzed along the shore and then inland in another direction towards Kampos the other (there are only 3 villages on the island) village we had not yet seen. We wound up and back, arrived at the village, and found a cross road. We picked the direction with photos of “buildings” rather than beaches. We did drive by, but could not get into, three small chapels. At one point the road got more and more narrow, and we appeared to end up in a farmer’s home/field. We waved, smiled, and turned around. If you really want to experience this check back for the video – I spent most of the day running the video on my phone while riding on the back. You will be able to see it when it is posted if you subscribe… to our our YouTube Channel.
We returned to Kampos and still had some time so decided to take the other road that said “to beaches”. Remembering what our ship friend Kimberly has said about the stone beach, I wondered if this is where we would end up…. The road we were on took a hairpin curve and then literally ended in a large parking lot at a beach. We parked the scooter, alongside 2-3 scooters and cars in the lot and headed for the water… Yep – this was it! This is not a “beach” like we know and are used to. It is ALL ROCKS. They start the size of baseballs, and end the size of peas. We took off our shoes, and headed into the water. They call it LAMBI Beach – The word Lambi means shining and is derived from the sun reflecting against the beautiful stones and the clear waters of the bay. To my surprise as soon as I stepped into the water my feet sunk in the rocks! It was kind of scary, like a loss of control, I was now captured by the stones up past my ankles…. I stayed for a while took a video so you could appreciate it!
As the waves come in there is the most soothing sound of the stones tumbling. There was a sign threatening us not to REMOVE any rocks. Do they REALLY think they will run out??? The island is nothing but rocks – the size of cars, down to the pebbles on the beach. At one point someone picked up many of the smaller rocks and piled them into walls that ramble all over the island. We THINK they may be fences to enclose sheep. Most strange, and LOTS of work you can see these in a full day video as well. I struggled loose from the stones I had sunk into because we noticed a small bar/café about 50 yards away – so there we went for an afternoon break. We walked by a family from the ship, and as we got close to the café, there was Paul and Kimberly having a drink. Such a small island. And they do and enjoy EXACTLY the same things we do. We joined them.
We found our new ship friends at the beach – where there is a darling restaurant that Google doesn’t know about!
They told us a story about how they had been sitting there, and a local had sat down with them to talk. He enjoyed them so much he bought them a bottle of wine. We also got a bottle, enjoyed their company, and the seaside. We all left together headed back towards the town and ultimately the ship. Lynn shot a video of Paul and Kimberly from behind because she thought when else can you get a video of yourself riding a scooter on this amazing journey.
We rode back to Skala together but when we were almost there Rob fell in love with these tiny fishing? boats? We stopped so Lynn could get some nice photos, so lost track of Paul and Kimberly…. temporarily. The boats are like 1/8th scale size, but fully operational adult boats. We would love one of them. I am pretty sure we could live on the Island of Patmos! “Our Revelation”?
Despite the detour for boat photos, we arrived back to find JUST Paul driving TOWARDS us, and Kimberly walking – they had gotten back to the village, but could not find the scooter rental place. Luckily Lynn knew exactly where it was, and we eventually returned the scooter in exchange for Rob’s drivers license. At one point, Lynn asked Rob IF they had looked at his license to see if it was for a motor bike. Rob responsed, NO, they TOOK and KEPT it. We wondered what would have happened if we had been pulled over…. although we never saw any police…. maybe they don’t need any 🙂
We finished up our day with a bit of shopping – we got an evil eye for our door and then sat down for a generous plate of Baklava with Coffee and of course wifi!
I think we returned to the ship at dusk – one thing Azamara is really good at is LONG STAYS in the destination ports of call! When you Travel Like an Architect™ you get the best value by seeing and doing as much as you can!
We hope you enjoyed this post about our day on the Island of Patmos! We are Travel Agents booking and planning travel for people like you every day!
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