9th/10th July 2016
Our day began at 11 o’clock when we left Halki and motored towards the vastly unpopulated island of Tilos. The sea state on the way was very bumpy and there was a large swell. We all didn’t feel like sailing in this. The weather, though, was very warm.
On entering the harbour, it seemed a lot smaller than it had in the pilot book and harbour magazine. The gap we had to park in was at the far corner of the harbour and seemed very tight, however, Geoff is a Yacht master instructor…..this means he can do anything! With help from mother and I, he parked very successfully nestled in between a fishing boat and another sailing yacht. The rest of the day was spent in the Gorgona restaurant, which looks over the romantic bay. For Geoff, however, the rest of his day was spent gloating at people, mainly us, about how well we had parked into this small and quiet harbour
Tilos is one of the most isolated islands of the Dodecanese, despite its location halfway between Rhodes and Kos, both of which are very cosmopolitan and touristically advanced. On the island there are two main settlements, and Lividai which is in the large, South Bay is better equipped for the tourism industry. However, the very UNpopulated village of Meglo Chorio contains much history-(more on this later!)-The main town also has a very sheltered harbour, and with newly dredged waters, boats under 50 foot long can moor up stern to on the harbour wall. This is where most of the islands tourist come from, and similarly to Symi and Halki, ferries from Rhodes come regularly.
The village has few inhabitants and is as quiet as a library for church mice. The island retains a lingering feel of 1970’s Greece. Next to the town is a long pebble beach that, during the summer time, gets populated by tourists from Rhodes who are on day trips.
The island of Tilos had been inhabited since the Neolothic period, as various archeological excavations have found.
And Like most of the Dodecanese islands, many groups have conquered this tranquil island since, dating back to the Mionians of Crete, then to the Romans in 42BC until 1310AD, when it was taken over by the Knights of Saint John of Rhodes-(even though during the 5th Century BC, both islands were part of the Athenian league and were strong allies before the Romans came!). After these conquers, as you probably guessed, the Ottomans came and placed heavy laws upon the islanders. They held it from 1522 until 1912 before the Italians came. During World War Two, Livadhia bay was once home to a large battle between a German patrol ship, and a British submarine. The outcome, was the sub sunk the Germans ship. Today the wreck of the ship still lays there 30 metres from the beach, and you can snorkel over the wreckage. Eventually Tilos became part of Greece in 1948.
Even though this all sounds very interesting, Tilos’s two most famous piece of history are Mikro Chorio, and Meglo Chorio. Mikro Chorio, is around 3km from Livadhia, but despite being very close, this old town is deserted. With a backdrop of old houses, and a renovated church, it is very similar to the deserted village of Kayakoy, near fethiye in Turkey. However, this very small and abandoned village is actually home to the islands only nightlife and one of the most unique nightclubs in the Dodecanese! There are free buses to the abandoned village, and apparently the “Party goes on until the sun comes up!” at its famous night spot!
Meglo Chorio is the capital of the island and is home to a very peculiar peace of history. On the hill above the town there is an old castle built by the Knights of St John which is full of many interesting artefacts and beautiful views which look over the Daçta peninsula, Symi, Rhodes, Alimia, Halki, Kaparthos-(on a clear day)- and Nissyros. But what’s even more impressive is the fact that in some nearby caves, the remains of 30 Pygmy elephants were found. These show that Tilos, was once united with Asia Minor, but broke away about 6 million years ago. This meant the elephants had to evolve to there new and poorer lifestyle. Because of these reasons, they gradually changed and shrunk to a height of 1.20 metres. A bit like an old granny!😀
WHAT TO DO BITS
There are of course Megalo and Mikro Chorio to explore, which can be reached by bus that leaves the port, but if you want to relax you can visit the many peaceful and tranquil beaches which dot the coastline. The waters are very clean but the beaches are pebbly, so bring water shoes and a towel to sit on. 30metres in front of the Sofia restaurant in Livadhia bay, which is on the beach front, are the remains of a German patrol boat which you can now snorkel out and visit.
The island is most popular amongst walkers and bird watches because of the many different species of sea birds and Hawks there are. However, on some occasions you can see the highly rare European bee eater. They can easily be distinguished by there brightly coloured feathers and long beak. This island seems better for outdoorsy people, than families.
On the north side of the island is the Ayíou Pandelimona monastery, and which is where the one road on the island ends! It is 8 km from Megalo Chorio. If on the bus trip, you stay there for an hour before heading back to civilisation!(more about this later)
Our morning started at quarter to eleven when mum and I left Geoff on the boat and got on the bus to Megalo Chorio and the Pandelimona monastery. When we got on the bus, we took our place in the seat. At first, i had expected that we’d have the bus to ourselves……but when we turned the corner, we were (once again), infested, with white capped, sunburned tourists. With sweat dripping off their clothes, they also took their places on the bus.
The road out of Livadhia was small, bendy and cut its way through barren fields with no types of vegetation. The trees that hung over the road were scorched and the goats that sat under the shade looked as though they needed a drink, but as we sped along this-(what seemed to be one lane road)-, a beautiful breeze through the open windows made the bus refreshing and cool.
The road from Megalo Chorio to the monastery was steep, small and 8km away from any houses. What was past the UN barriered edge next to the road was a sheer drop down to the ocean. The waves crashed onto the rocks and some sort of gull cackled over head as if it was a joke…..it wasn’t funny! From the monastery, the view over the sea showed the outlines of two lands. Closest to our position was Nissyros, which still has an active volcano on, and furthest away was the Daçta Peninsula a part of Turkey which we have visited.
The gates to Pandelimona were large and tall, but once inside the monastery it was cluttered with ladders and buckets of paint. It was still pretty though, the courtyard floor was made from painted pebbles, which made a pattern, and the view from the roof of the monastery over the see was stunning! However, mum and I do believe that Rila monastery in Bulgaria is our favourite.
Back on the road, we were now heading to the capital town of the island called Megro Chorio. Where we went to the museum which houses quite an unusual species of mammal….. It was closed, so for now I’ll keep you guessing what it is. More tomorrow!