Megisti or Kastelorizo! Name it what you may, but one thing is certain… you have never seen or imagined anything to be as perfect, yet as simple as this. I had never expected to fall in love with this “speck” in the Aegean. A colorful, serene, simple island inhabited by a mere 200 people; most of whom are Greek-Australians who have decided to return to their roots.
I had a 5:30am flight to the island of Rhodes to catch and then another to the island of Megisti. I was a bit hesitant or intimidated at first because I found out that the 19-seater plane would land on a small landing strip between two mountains. I put my fear aside and decided that this adventure would turn out to be fun; at it certainly did!
The landing did indeed tie my tummy into a million knots, but all went well and the little plane with just six passengers myself included, finally came to a halt. The door opened and we got out. I looked around to see the airport – which airport? It was just a little room with a window serving as the control tower. What a laugh! How primitive! How simple and how amazingly wonderful!
I noticed a car with a taxi sign and approached it. It was George, the one and only taxi driver on the island; not that it needed more, I eventually realized. He drove me and another three passengers to the bottom of the hill, down to the waterfront where all the houses, were lined along the promenade, actually embracing the bluest sea I had ever set my eyes on.
The smell of seaweed was just so strong – mesmerizing!!!
I got out of the car and paid a small fare, thanking him for all the information he had so willingly given me. Mind you, he had found out practically everything about me by the time we got to our destination. I was an outsider you see, whilst the other three passengers were residents of Kastelorizo who had popped over to Rhodes to do some shopping.
George was also the owner of the one and only tavern on the island. He ran the business with his wife Sophia – a lovely couple indeed. The music played at the tavern was from the 1970s; I believe that, that is when time stopped on the island.
I found a lovely room to rent near the bakery which I visited on a daily basis to buy cheese-pies and fresh bread which I devoured. The clean air certainly gave me an appetite; one that I satisfied at George and Sophia’s little tavern, eating the freshest fish I have ever tasted.
I spent the day walking and exploring the little island which is a small distance away from Turkey. In fact you could easily swim across and I say that, not being a great swimmer myself. The islanders visit Kas – on the other side, to buy their fresh produce and many other things which they find cheaper than in Rhodes. The Turks from Kas and the islanders share an excellent relationship.
I climbed up the steep, narrow streets to see where they would take me and found myself at a big square with a Church and a school. A big monument – the bust of a woman in the middle of the square and a huge Greek flag next to her. This was the famous Despina Ahladiotou, also known as – Kyra tis Ro. She lived on the tiny island of Ro on her own, dressed in traditional Kastelorian clothes and would keep the Greek flag raised, validating the fact that this was and is a Greek island.
I also found some stairs which I climbed to find the tomb of Lykias – a 5th Century tomb carved into the rock. The view from up there was breathtaking and the climb down was scary – I had been drawn to the beauty of my surroundings that I had completely forgotten my fear of heights. I managed to crawl down and headed towards the seafront.
On my way down, I met almost everybody living on the island. They all spoke English and that was so refreshing. I found it so strange that people who had lived in a big country like Australia could actually get used to living on a tiny island like Kastelorizo.
The architecture is simple and definitely influenced by Turkey; colorful houses, one right next to the other. Simplicity and beauty all in one.
I have since visited Kastelorizo another three times. Nobody can resist returning to this amazingly beautiful rock adorning the Mediterranean Sea.