“Cruising the Dodecanese” is Peter Sommer Travels’ last scheduled cruise in Greece in 2017. This year, to give an impression of the experience, we are providing a diary of sorts on our blog. Rather than describing every day in detail (you can check our itineraries on www.petersommer.com for that), every day we will pick one image we took that day, accompanied by some explanations and thoughts.
The second day of “Cruising the Dodecanese” has been a reasonably busy and a very beautiful one, culminating in one of my favourite views in these islands!
In the morning, we took our guests on our first guided tour, to the Asklepieion of Kos, the island’s sanctuary of the god of healing that was world-famous in antiquity. Then, we began our cruise proper, dropping by the Turkish resort of Turgutreis and continuing to the Bay of Panteli on the little-known island of Leros.
We have not even been ashore yet, but our guests, Maria and I have been enjoying the view of Panteli, shown in our photograph, all evening.
It is quite a contrast with urban Kos: Leros is a stark and rugged island, like many of its neighbours, lacking coastal plains such as the one Kos Town occupies. Panteli is a place of many slopes and terraces. It forms one part of the island’s composite core settlement, consisting of two harbour villages, Agia Marina and Panteli, separated by a saddle on which stands a third village, Platanos, contiguous with both its neighbours. All three are characterised by numerous elaborate and large Neoclassical mansions, indicating the erstwhile wealth of the Leriot shipping and merchant families. These villages are lovely and breathe local tradition – a far cry from the Italian-built 1930s military town of Lakki on the island’s opposite, western, shore.
Panteli Bay is overlooked by the great medieval Castle of Panteli, a towering structure dating partly from the Byzantine era and partly from that of the Knights of Saint John (or Knights of Rhodes). We have praised its virtues on this blog in the past. Another visually striking feature is the row of six traditional windmills of the 18th or 19th century, reminders of a time when the then affluent settlements consumed what must have been large amounts of bread made from imported grain ground locally.
So, once again our view is one that conceals or reveals many different stories: of an ancient acropolis, of medieval rulers, of the island’s 19th century commercial prowess, of a major battle during the Second World War, and of a culinary tradition. Tomorrow, we will go ashore and find ways and places to tell them all…