The sun was setting as we swooped over the small volcano island of Nisyros, giving us the perfect view of the crater. I gazed at this gaping hole dominating the island and wondered what it was like.
As soon as the Thomson Holidays reps talked about the day trip to Nisyros taking in not only the volcano but traditional Greek villages I knew we had to visit.
The coach left our resort early and picked up guests from several other resorts along the coast before we met our guide in Kardamena. We divide into groups based on language and boarded the ferry.
The crossing was a gentle hour on the Aegean Sea with our destination hoving into view through the misty air. Despite the vigil of our children we didn’t spot the dolphins which sometimes come to fish in the warm volcanic waters between Nisyros and the neighbouring uninhabited islands.
There is nothing like seeing something for yourself. I hope you enjoy a peek inside our holiday K x
We arrived in Mandraki and after a short walk and lesson on the village’s history we had time to explore the village and buy lunch. Picture a classic Greek village and that’s what Nisyros’ villages look like. The house colours are protected by law and reflect the natural colours found on the island – green, brown, red and, of course, blue. Their construction maximises rain capture as with no water source on the island the locals rely on deliveries from Kos for their fresh water.
We wandered through the streets (stopping every few paces to take photos) until we came to a restaurant at the end of the sea front. We ate a delicious meal of fish before resuming our street wanderings. It is easy to lose yourself in the beauty of Mandraki and we almost missed the bus to our next destination. If you take this trip I advise you to turn back in plenty of time as running through the heat of the Greek summer is not to be recommended!
Safely on board the coach we began the ascent of nearly 700m to the top of Nisyros Volcano. As the road hugs the rim you appreciate the vastness of the main caldera – a whopping 2.5 miles across. Animals are grazed inside the caldera and were waiting for their afternoon water as we passed through.
As you approach the largest crater, Stefanos, the smell overwhelms you. Sulphur is in the air across the island but particularly strongly inside the volcano – it’s no wonder that the smell is attributed to the giant Polybotes farting in his sleep.
Walking towards the crate, one of three active on the volcano, the heat hits you. As Mr Kat and the children climbed down into it they said it was like stepping into an oven as the temperature is 4 degrees hotter inside Stefanos. Betsy and I watched from above, as I have asthma I didn’t want to risk getting too close to the sulphur vents.
This is the kind of experience which changes your outlook. Being inside an active (although not erupting) volcano is an incredible first hand learning experience and I’m so grateful we got to make the trip.
Boarding the bus once more we made our next stop at Nikia on the rim of the volcano. The narrow streets are a welcome relief after the heat of the volcano and if it’s possible it was even more beautiful than Mandraki.
Our guide told us that once hundreds of people lived in Nikia alone but now fewer than a hundred remain and there are not enough children to support the village school. While it may seem sad that so many people have to leave the island to find work, she also joked that when you are related to everyone on the island there is a need to hunt down fresh blood if you want to marry.
Nikia is has a largely elderly population. We passed them deep in conversation or quiet contemplation as we explored the village. Standing in front of the church looking down on Porta, the world heritage main square I struck up a conversation with one of the residents. She liked my pink hair and I asked to take her photo – all with gestures as neither of us spoke the other’s language.
As we made our way back to the ferry our guide spoke about the occupations of Nisyros over the centuries and how painting houses blue and white had been a way to emphasise the colours of their true flag.
I fell in love with Nisyros on that trip. Something about the slower way of life, brooms propped against the walls and people so closely tied together resonated within me.
Read about our holiday on Kos with Thomson Holidays. This day trip cost approximately €120 and is bookable on resort.
Our holiday was complimentary thanks to Thomson Holidays. To read more about this kind of post please go here. Thank you for always supporting the brands who support Housewife Confidential.