Patmos -- The Island of the Revelation
Travel Journal of NH and BJ, 2002
we reached Kusadasi, a tourist town because of the harbor and the visiting
cruise ships. Apparently many Greek cruises stop over here so that the
tourists can visit Ephesus, which is only about 10 min drives from here.
Kusadasi is a medium size town with many hotels and souvenir shops. We
went to Dianna Shipping, the operator of the ferry from Kusadasi to Samos
Island. Selcuk bought the tickets for us and told us to come here tomorrow
morning before 8 am, for the ferry will leave by 830 am. I asked him about
ferry from Samos to Patmos Island; but Selcuk said he had no idea at all!
Turkey and Greece are not in exactly friendly term and I guess few Turks
will go over to Greek islands, even though the islands are just right
opposite the Turkey southwestern coast.
From Kusadasi to Samos Island
the morning of Oct 27th, we woke up early and took a taxi to
the office of Dianna Shipping by 730 am. We were surprised to find nobody
there and the boss came only at 8 am, he took our passport and asked us to
proceed to the harbor (just 20 meters away) and waited for him – his
staff will deliver the passport and ferry pass to us. There was only one
more young man also waiting for the ferry, and I began to wonder if
anybody else wants to travel to Samos Island? By 825 am the staff of
Dianna Shipping still did not show up and I got a bit anxious – the
ferry is supposed to leave by 8.30 am, and I certainly don’t want to
miss this ferry, otherwise we won’t be able to get to Patmos. A few
minutes later the female staff finally came, I was relief but then she
told us the ferry will leave at 830 am, in one hour time! I was confused!
My watch showed clearly the time was 830 am then! So
asked her ‘what is the time now?’ and she told me it was only 730 am!
Only then I realized that perhaps on yesterday Turkey had just changed
from summer time to winter time (daylight saving); with clock moved
backward by 1 hr! So we ended up waiting at the harbor for two full hours!
As the time of ferry departure approaches, more and more passengers came
– these are people who know the system, they came leisurely, unlike us!
By 8 am we went through the immigration (rather straightforward) and
boarded the medium size ferry. There were some 40 passengers – the
ferryboat was more or less full.
|Leaving Kusadasi town.......||
This ferry boat took us to Samos Island
Island is actually very near Kusadasi. From the harbor you could see its
coast clearly in the distant. However, it took almost 2 hr to reach Vathy,
the capital and main port of Samos. The ferry trip was very nice, the sea
was smooth and scenery very beautiful, it was like taking a cruise in the
deep blue Aegean sea.
|Ferry map from Kusadasi to Samos' Vathi|
You can see Samos Island (a few miles away) from Kusadasi town (from our hotel)
Enjoying the cruise in Aegean Sea
|By 1030 am we reached Vathy. Greece custom and
immigration clearance were also no hassle, as Malaysian we do not need a
visa to enter Greece (and Turkey too), what a privilege! My first concern
is of course to get the ferry ticket to Patmos as soon as possible.
That’s why we came to Samos – Samos is the communication hub of the
southern Greek islands. I went to the first shipping agent in sight, but
the staff told me that there is no ferry to Patmos today! I was surprised,
a bit anxious, and insisted that according to the ferry schedule I
obtained from Greek Ferries web site there is one ferry leaving from the
Port of Pythagorion of Samos to Patmos in the afternoon! The staff than
asked me to go to the shipping agent in the next door – only then we
discovered that here the shipping agents operate individually, they
don’t sell ferry ticket for another shipping line. So finally we managed
to get the ferry tickets, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that the
one-way ticket costs only Euros 4.8 per person! In comparison, the return
ticket from Kusadasi to Samos costs USD 50 each person!
Beautiful Samos Island: Vathy Town
Vathy Town: You can relax here
While at home I have read about Samos Island and know that the Port of Pythagorion was about 10 km from Samos, and that the best way to get there is by taxi. So we went to the nearby taxi station and took a taxi (15 min, 8 Euros) to Pythagorion town.
The quiet little town of Pythagorion
This huge ferry approaching the Port of Pythagorion
is a relax; small town, named after the famous mathematician Pythagoros
who was born in Samos Island. There were many people in cafe drinking and
chatting. There were very little commercial activities here – this is
just a nice small town. We had a pizza lunch here, the food here was more
expensive than in Turkey, the prices are all in euros!.
ferry to Patmos was supposed to arrive at 245 pm, but we being new here
were not sure about the harbor and ferry system here so we went to the
harbor early, and ended up waiting there for a long time – in a strong,
chilly wind. We could have spent the time in the comfortable restaurant
relaxing! Finally the ferry came, it was a big, big ship that could take
probably 500 passengers, but there were less than 20 of us only!
The Map of Skala Town: But you can never get loss in this tiny town!
The Harbor of the Town of Skala
Church of Agios Phokas facing the Port
finally we reached Patmos, the island where John was exiled and receive
the Revelation. It was an emotional experience as we physically treaded on
this island. On this island, the glorious Risen Lord appeared to John! No
wonder the Greeks call this island the Jerusalem of the Aegean Sea.
The Map of Patmos: Note the town of Skale and Hora (Where the Monastery of St John is located)
|The Docecanese Islands: Patmos (upper left corner) is one of the 12 beautiful Aegean islands here. Insert upper right is the map of Greece|
Patmos sea front
The Skala town as viewed from St John Monastery
Note the brown St John Monastery at the left, surrounded by the town of Hora. Beneath is the Skala Town.
was getting dark as we landed in Patmos. The ferry made a very brief stop
only at Patmos, perhaps less than 10 minutes, I told BJ we could take our
time to get out, so as we ‘slowly’ walked down the stairs to the exit
we were surprise to learn that we were the last to get out! If we tally
for another few minutes, the ferry would have left Patmos with us still in
the ship! Then we would have big problem!
though it was already dark, many shops in the harbor town (the name of the
town is Skala) were still open and there were some tourists wandering
around, I went to ask a shopkeeper how to get to Skala Hotel (I have
earlier booked a room in that hotel through internet) and was glad to know
that it was just 5 min walk away! This
is a nice hotel, as we entered the dark entrance suddenly the light was
on! We learned that the hotel uses automatic on-off lighting for the
corridors too. Apparently they did this to save energy (cut cost) for in
this time of the year, (winter
is approaching), there are very few tourists. So you have to walk by faith
here in this hotel – I mean, you have to walk straight into the dark
corridor believing that the light would be turned on automatically just
when you need it! And thank God it worked every time!
is a family style hotel; the room is not that big but is sufficient for
two of us, clean and simple. After settling down we went to the town (just
a few streets) for a walk, many shops still open, quite a number of
restaurants there, apparently because there is a cruise ship here staying
until late night. Many of the passengers of the cruise ship were enjoying
themselves here in the relax atmosphere.
A visit to the Monastery of St John
next morning we woke up early and found the balcony of the hotel an
excellent place for personal devotion. The sea is just less than 100 feet
away and from our room, which is on third floor, we had an excellent view
of the sea. We can see the breathtakingly beautiful sunrise! The place was
cool, with birds singing around, and now and then church bells ringing in
the midst of the quiet atmosphere. It was heavenly! As we prayed, a dove
came, like bringing the anointing of the Holy Spirit. Oh, it was easy to
pray and meditate while in Patmos Island.
were thankful to the Lord for bringing us here. It is not easy to get to
Patmos from Turkey. We were on our own once we left Kusadasi port, and I
had to depend on the information obtained from internet regarding the time
schedule of the ferry – our local Turkish guide knew nothing about from
Samos to Patmos! Since every day there is usually only one scheduled ferry
service between Patmos and Samos, and also between Samos and Kusadasi, we
had to plan carefully least we got ‘trapped’ in Samos Island for
additional day. Our plan was to stay two nights at Patmos for prayer and
were very few guests in the hotel and the breakfast served was simple but
sufficient. After that we went for a morning walk, I was anxious to get
the return ferry ticket first. However, when I stopped over a travel agent
to ask for ticket for ferry back to Samos tomorrow, I was told that there
is no ferry to Patmos tomorrow; the only one is today’s afternoon. I was
surprised and disappointed – that means that we have to leave Patmos
this afternoon! We certainly do not want to leave so soon!
by now I have already learned that you don’t just take the agent’s
word, for according to the information I obtained from internet there
should be a GA Shipping Line’s ferry back to Samos tomorrow. So I went
around to look for the sign of GA Shipping, and thank God it was just some
walk away. So we managed to get the ferry tickets to Samos tomorrow, at a
cost of 9.5 Euros each.
decided to visit the famous Monastery first and on the way downhill to
visit the Cave of Revelation. The Monastery of St John, built on top of a
200-meter hill, dominates the landscape of Patmos. While we were in a shop
earlier the friendly shopkeeper told us that one could walk up to the
Monastery using the donkey path, and it would only take 20 plus minutes.
But looking at the distance, we felt that it would be too taxing for us to
walk up the hill. So we decided to take taxi, the charge was 15 Euros for
sending us up to the Monastery, wait for us for 1 hr or so and then send
us downhill to the Cave of Revelation. It is expensive, for the drive up
to the Monastery took less than 10 minutes, but I suppose they have to
make a living, few people use taxi here!
taxi took us to the top of the hill via narrow, winding road and soon we
reached the foot of the Monastery. It is a town call Chora. The view of
Skala town and the lagoon from here was fantastic and breathtaking. Many
buildings (including the main part of the Monastery) are in bright white
and it gave us a sense of peace. The Monastery was very crowded at this
time because this morning a cruise ship arrived and all the few hundred
passengers from the ship came down to Patmos, most of them visited the
famous Monastery and then the Cave of Revelation.
The majestic bell tower of the Monastery
The Monastery, looks like a fortress
Inside St John Monastery
The paved road from Skala ends here, lower corner is the bus and taxi terminal. You have to walk up to the Monastery from here.
every angle the Monastery certainly is an imposing, massive building that
looks like a fortress. The Monastery was built about 1000 years ago by
Christodoulos. It was built like a fortress for defense purpose: there
were always pirates
around that might be interested in its extensive collections of treasures
and vast collections of antique books!
visited the monastery main chapel, and as expected, it is a highly ornate
building. Otherwise we just walked about in the corridors, alleys and
steps of the Monastery, enjoying the beautiful scenery. There were some
shops selling souvenirs outside the Monastery but things were expensive
here. As we came out, the taxi man was waiting for us anxiously; perhaps
we spent too much time in the Monastery walk-about!
The Cave of Revelation
Chora (town of the Monastery) to the Cave of Revelation (the local people
call it the Convent of the Apocalypse) is 2.5 km by the winding, narrow
road, but there is a short cut if you choose to walk, a donkey trail, I
|The Convent of Apocalypse, where the Cave of the Revelation is located.|
The Convent of Apocalypse
Fear God! (at the entrance of the convent)
The Cave was only about 20 by 20 feet and it has been converted into a small church with a few rows of pew. As we went in, there were a big crowd inside, they were touching and kissing the icons etc. We could not even come near to see the place where, according to local tradition, John once slept and rested. These were all passengers from the cruise ship. 10 minutes later they finished their business and left, and then there were only 4 of us left in the cave: myself and BJ, an American tourist and the monk stationed there.
Stairs leading to the Cave of the
The Cave of the Revelation, Notice the triple
fissure at the ceiling, and the corner between
the icons and the wall was where St John once
Left: Entrance to the Cave of the Revelation
You can sit on the pew to medidate
The donkey path
we can survey the cave in peace! In the cave. The place where St John once
slept, was cordoned off. The place where he wrote the Revelation was also
marked. We also saw the very ancient cross, said to have been carved by
John in the rock. At the ceiling there is a triple fissure, symbol of the
Holy Trinity, from which John heard the words of the Lord Almighty.
quite a while there was no other visitors. We virtually had the whole
place for ourselves! So finally we had the opportunity to pray, worship
and meditate in quietness and semi-darkness. As we prayed we were touched
by the Lord’s powerful presence. O this was the place where the glorious
Risen Lord appeared to John, indeed, how dreadful is this place! It is the
gate of heaven!
the silence was quickly broken by the arrival of a couple. The monk
greeted them and started to explain (in Greek) the story about the Cave.
So we decided to leave the Cave, for we saw some more tourists coming in.
We went outside to the garden to take turn reading through the whole Book
of Revelation. It was chilly now outside but what an experience it was to
read the Book of Revelation outside the Cave where John received the
the Book of Revelation, God has given us a clear picture of what is going
to happen in the future
you really believe the messages of Revelation?
you want to tell the messages to others, make sure first that you yourself
is an overcomer
you yourself take heed of the warnings of the letters to the Seven
spending some 2 hrs there, we decided that it was time to leave. However,
now there was no taxi available outside the Convent of Revelation! Of
course, one way is to call the taxi station but it is going to be
expensive. I read from the tourist guide book that there is a short cut, a
donkey trail, to the Skala Town beneath. We managed to get direction from
the staff of the Convent and located the donkey trail. It was just beside
the entrance to the Convent. It was certainly an interesting walk downhill
through the woods, but we had to walk carefully – the path was
originally meant for donkey! As we got near the town, the path becomes
very steep indeed! Soon we passed through houses, churches and shops, and
after 20 min reached the now familiar Skala town square.
evening we could feel that it was getting really cold. There were a number
of restaurants at the sea front and a modest dinner for two of us costs 25
Euros. The town was quiet this evening because the cruise ship had left.
Business activities here depend heavily on tourists from the Greek cruise
29th Tuesday was the day we left Patmos. Again, we have to take
a ferry to Samos Island, and from there we have to catch another ferry to
Kusadasi. Our departure from Istanbul was Oct 31st.
morning we saw another cruise ship in the harbor. Cruise ship is the
lifeline of Patmos Island.
Skala Hotel: just some 20 feet from sea
Skala Hotel (the arch is the entrance) and sea front
interesting figures about Patmos Island:
Our ferry to Samos was supposed to arrive at 10 am, just to
be sure we were there by 930 am, it was rather windy out there. Finally,
near 10 am, we saw the big ferry ship
(Daliana) coming into the harbor. There were only a few passengers
boarding the ferry. We were awed by the size of the ferry; it is like a
big cruise ship, bigger than the Star Cruise Gemini. However, the ship was
empty! There were rows and rows of seats and the whole ship could probably
take in 1000 passengers, but there were only 5 passengers! We went to the
restaurant area – with very comfortable sofa and ambient, and you can
occupy as much space as you like. There is even a gift shop here, with a
lady shopkeeper. However, the restaurant was not operating at that moment.
Such a huge ship carrying only so few of us, it was surely a losing
so in the ferry we had a wonderful time of rest, of prayer and
meditations. It was a four-hour ‘cruise’ through the beautiful Aegean
1 pm we could see the southern coast of the Samos Island. I could
recognize from far away the town of Pythagorion
-- the port that we left for Patmos two days ago.
In the lounge of the big ferry
The strait between Turkey (left) and Samos Island (right)
the Book of Acts, Luke writes about Paul’s journey from Greece to
Jerusalem via Miletus. ‘the day after
that we crossed over to Samos, and on the following day arrived at
Miletus’ (Acts 20.15). I always wonder why Luke mentions ‘crossed over
to Samos’. Well, it appears that this narrow channel between Samos and
Turkey mainland was on the major sea routes then. Perhaps as the ship
passed through the strait, Luke also asked some sailor the same question:
What is this island? And so he wrote down the name of the island in his
notebook – I guess!
the ferry sailed pass the narrow strait, we could see Kusadasi in the
distance. However, our ferry is a Greek ferry and it could only go to a
Greek port --- Port Vathy on Samos Island. That’s why it took us so long
to reach Patmos from Kusadasi: 6 hour in sea travel plus time of transit.
A direct ferry service would have taken not more than 4 hours.
lunch time, the cook of the ferry came to the restaurant with his full
seaman uniform. We ordered a set of sandwich and coffee, at least that
would keep us from hunger until we reach Samos. By 2 pm our ferry finally
reached Vathy (BAqY
in Greek). It was very windy at the harbor, perhaps because it was an open
space with the strong wind blowing from the sea. We noted that the sea was
quite rough today, and the ferry (named Princess) that sails between Samos
and Kusadasi was tossing about in the harbor! The crew of the ferry
nevertheless confirmed that the ferry would still sail today. So we went
to get the tickets confirmed at the shipping agent (MyShipping – again,
you have to go to the right agent!) so that our names would appear in the
list of passengers at the immigration office. We had to do the same thing
when we departed from Kusadasi three days ago; this awkward arrangement
between Greece and Turkey perhaps has to do with the long- standing
animosity between the two nations.
confirming the tickets, we went for lunch, and decided to try a famous
delicacy of the Greek islands: fried stuffed squid – we thought a trip
to the Greek islands is incomplete without trying the delicacy.
Unfortunately this dish was so tedious to prepare that it took more than
30 min for preparation, meanwhile we (particularly myself, I am the type
who don’t take chance) got more and more anxious as the departure time
of our ferry drew near. Finally the delicacy was ready, but we had only 5
min to swallow the delicious food!
ferry was the same ship that took us from Kusadasi to Samos, apparently
this is the only shipping company running this service, and so it was
rather full. Must be very profitable also!
our trip from Kusadasi to Samos, the sea was calm and many passengers went
up to the upper deck to relax under the gentle sunshine in Aegean Sea.
However, in this return trip, the sea was rough, the (relatively) small
ferry was tossing about in the sea and we were a bit tense. The crew,
however, were all very calm, perhaps this is nothing to them! Almost
everybody stayed in the cabin for from time to time waves splashed into
the deck. We were praying much of the time, until later on we saw a
rainbow and started to relax a bit.
Aegean Sea can be really rough at time, and we can imagine in Paul’s
days the danger of sailing in the sea with ever smaller and much less well
we reached Kusadasi at 6 pm. We were thankful for the safe arrival and
proceeded straight to the hotel that BEF Tourism booked for us.
Kusadasi, the tourist town
The next morning (Oct 30th); we had some time to explore Kusadasi. Not many people like Kusadasi, feeling that it is too commercial and ‘tourist’-oriented. Yes, we saw a lot of tourists here, many cruise ships also stopover here. Many tourists use this town as the base to tour Ephesus (less than 10 miles), Miletos and some other ancient Greek ruins (within 1 hr drive) or even Pamukkale (3 hr drive away). There are many tour agents offering various excursions from Kusadasi, and many taxi drivers also offer to take you to Ephsus, Miletos etc for USD 60. The town is modern looking and has not much history and heritage of its own. Price is high here; even the taxi charges double the normal rate!
|This is the tourist town Kusadasi|
walked to the town (a 20 min walk, by taxi will cost 6 million TRL or
RM14) mainly trying to get a mini battery for BJ’s watch. Well, there
were lots and lots of shops selling jewelries, leather goods, souvenirs,
clothing, and of course – the very sweet Turkish delights (Turkish
sweets), but we could not find a watch-shop! The shopkeepers were mostly
men, many of them very persuasive. When you just stop to look at the
window display, the shopkeeper would come out and try his best to persuade
you to go into his shop, once you sit down, he would give you a cup of
Turkish apple tea, and you would feel obliged to listen to his sales talk!
You have to be very determined to say: ‘No, thank you!’ to walk out of
the shop! As we visited several shops, the shopkeeper would exclaim that
their goods are very cheap now ‘because the season is over!’
-- By November the number of cruise arrival at Kusadasi will be
minimum, many shops will be closed them.
owner of a leather shop we visited had his unique way of persuading us to
buy the more expensive leather coat. He would take some coats with a low
price tag, threw the coats on the floor forcefully, saying, in disdain,
“These are cheap stuff! Surely you don’t want these!”
and then he showed us the expensive one! It was hard to tell him
that we wanted the budget stuff!
From Izmir to Istanbul and to Kuala Lumpur
returned to the hotel in the afternoon, and by 6 pm the prearranged
airport transport sent by BEF Tourism came. The driver sent us to Izmir
Airport – a 1 hr trip. He was an old man, and by the time he drove near
the airport entrance, he switched on the car interior lamp and BJ wondered
why. Of course I knew, this was his way of reminding us to prepare tips
for him! Taxi drivers in Turkey expected small tips!
Izmir we took a night flight to Istanbul. Upon arrival we took a taxi to
the nearby Holiday Inn – I booked through internet a month ahead and so
was at a big discount – USD 62 for a double room. Holiday Inn was so
different from other Turkish hotels we stayed in, it was very American in
ambient and room design and decoration, and you hardly know that you are
in Turkey if you stay in a Holiday Inn!
next morning we took the free airport shuttle provided by the hotel to the
airport. Two years ago when we left Istanbul we had a bad impression of
the pushy porter, and were mentally prepared not to let them touch our
baggage this time. However, as we reached the airport, we found that the
Airport authority has also learned the lesson, no more porter there! You
have to get the trolley yourself, but the rental is 1.5 million TRL (RM
3.4). The security check of the baggage was quite thorough. After checking
in we went into the transit area. Two years ago we were on transit in this
Airport too, and I remember having lunch at one of the Chinese restaurant
in the transit area. So we went to search for the Chinese restaurant again
– however, it’s gone! Chinese foods do not sell well in Turkey, I
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