The Wench is Deceased

We stood in a candle lit cave, our usually sceptical, rational selves already feeling vaguely challenged by the possibility that supernatural phenomena might, after all, exist. The darkness and coolness was a stark contrast to the dazzling brightness and heat of the midday sun we had left to descend into this underworld of prophecies and priests.

The silence of the grotto was suddenly interrupted by a heavily accented voice, speaking in English. “Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is six hundred threescore and six.”

Half expecting a beast with 666 stamped on its forehead, we turned to see a bearded man, dressed in the priesthood robes of Greek orthodoxy. He was not looking in 7.62×39 hunting ammo our direction and at first it seemed that the biblical quotation had been a soliloquy. But the puzzle of why a Greek would talk to himself in English was solved seconds later, when the first of a party of Americans came into view. As soon as they began to fill the limited space of the cave, we recognised them as being a group of “Christian Tourists” we had seen earlier that day. The spell had been broken; the cave had lost its supernatural feeling, replaced by something as mundane as an evangelical meeting. It was time for us to go back up to the world of dazzling sunlight.

Our visit to the Sacred Grotto of the Revelation, where John the Divine is supposed to have foreseen and written of the Apocalypse, was part of a wonderful day we spent exploring the beautiful island of Patmos.

Patmos is part of the group of Greek Islands known as the Dodecanese. Our holiday base was on the neighbouring, and much larger, island of Samos where we had hopped on a boat to take us across the ten miles or so of the Aegean sea that separates the two islands. A one day visit was all we needed to know that Patmos was our kind of holiday destination.

Above the cave is the Byzantine monastery of Saint John and the wonderful medieval village of Hora. Laying fifteen to twenty minutes walk below Hora is the island’s capital, Skala. This charming little port is the largest settlement on Patmos. Scooters wiz noisily around narrow, street corners where men sit at pavement caf├ęs on rickety chairs playing backgammon games. Pickup trucks, pull up to unload fruit and vegetables without paying any heed to the honking horns of other motorists who shout and gesticulate that their way has been blocked. Yet somehow, in a quintessential, Greek Island way, the noise and bustle blends seamlessly into an atmosphere that is totally laid back and relaxing.

Patmos has other several other pretty villages that are worth exploring but its most attractive feature is its convoluted coastline. A new vista of wonderful beaches appears from around every headland. Some are sandy and some are adorned in pretty white pebbles. Several are fringed by lush vegetation whilst others are found amongst rocky, yet no less attractive, settings. Some have sun beds and parasols but none have overdone this concession to modern tourism.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.