Travel Letters

Letters

Happy hippies go island-hopping

Can you tell me where to get information on Greek ferries in general and routes to the island of Halki in particular?

Sue Prutton

Norwich

Jill Crawshaw replies: About 120 of the Greek islands are connected by ferry or hydrofoil, with the largest number operating out of Piraeus. All services are considerably reduced between October and the end of May.

The routes usually connect groups of islands - the Cyclades routes, for example, connect 26 islands, the Dodecanese connect 17 or so, of which Halki is one. Travel between different groups can sometimes be frustrating and complicated. If you are intending to visit lots of islands, it is important to chart the connections in advance, and allow for possible delays.

Travellers were once able to hop aboard and then buy a ticket, but, as the island-hopper's bible Greek Island-Hopping warns, new computer ticketing means that you cannot always just get on the next boat these days and you may experience problems of double-booking. (Remember, boats get particularly full at the end of August when the Athenians return from their island holidays.) So, try to book in advance.

There are usually three classes of ticket on sale: from Piraeus to Rhodes (for Halki), for example, you could pay pounds 20 for deck class, pounds 30 for second class and pounds 40 to pounds 50 for first class. Catamarans and hydrofoils cost more.

Greek Island-Hopping 1998 (pounds 12.95 from bookshops or direct from Thomas Cook Publishing, tel: 01733 503571) highlights another scam - backpackers (foreigners in particular) are sometimes diverted away from areas with interior seating towards the open decks, although there is no such fare as "outside only". Anyone who experiences this should report the situation to Thomas Cook, so that evidence of this practice can be presented to the Greek minister for tourism.

As well as being a timetable, Greek Island Hopping also has details of hotels and tavernas, town plans, site plans and island maps.

Another useful resource is the free pamphlet Sea Domestic Schedules Routes and Fares, available from the National Tourist Organisation of Greece (send a large sae to 4 Conduit Street, London W1R 0DJ; tel: 0171-734 5997).

Back to your specific question: one of the least known and remote of the Dodecanese group, barren little Halki is reached by a daily ferry from Rhodes in about two hours.

The boat will land you at the attractive port of Nimborio where many of the houses have been converted to holiday villas - some quite smart. Many more are in ruins as islanders have left, unable to make a living from sponge fishing. The island has no fresh water supply.

You can take caiques to the bathing beaches round the island - the main one at Pandamos - or climb up the steep slope to the old town of Chora, topped by a castle. But Halki is an island for unwinding rather than sightseeing.

Other interesting islands linked via Rhodes include Kos, Kalymnos, Leros and Patmos.

Leave your baggage behind and take a royal ramble

We would like to attempt walking a long-distance footpath in the UK but dread the thought of carrying heavy rucksacks. We have heard that there are operators who organise accommodation and transport luggage. We would prefer to walk on our own rather than in a group. Can anybody help?

W Roddewig and I Williams

Croydon

The travel editor replies: Acorn Activities (tel: 01432 830083) can arrange independent packages of the sort you are interested in - for individuals - where your luggage is transported to the next hotel, while you do the walking.

It lays on walks such as Offa's Dyke, a 177-mile stroll along the border of England and Wales, from Prestatyn on the coast of north Wales to Sedbury Cliffs on the Severn estuary. There are plenty of hills along the way and you would be very hard-pressed to complete the walk in a week. (Two weeks would be fairly leisurely.)

Offa's Dyke may have the historic credentials, but the Pennine Way - the first official long-distance footpath in Britain - is even longer, running up the Pennines from the Derbyshire Peak District to Scotland. The walk, in its entirety, which can be pretty strenuous, would take at least three weeks. If you want to sample sections of the walk, call HF Holidays (tel: 0181-905 9558).

By the way, if you are worried by the possible downmarket aspects of long-distance hiking (camping, anoraks, etc), try Wayfarers (tel: 016973 22383). Its organised walks are distinctly upmarket - and expensive. Around pounds 1,200 will get you a six-night trip, all-inclusive, staying in very salubrious hotels.

With iodine, the drink's on you

We are going on an extended camping trip in the Alps and would like to be able to drink from mountain streams rather than carrying our water with us. Can you advise us about water purification tablets and the like. Do they really work? What about the bits of dirt and mud in the water - are they going to kill us?

Tristan Smith

Chester

Dr Richard Dawood replies: There are many fancy water-purifying gadgets on the market, but my favourite approach is the simplest, safest, cheapest and lightest: purify your drinking water with 2 per cent tincture of iodine - the standard solution available from any pharmacy.

The dose is four drops of iodine per litre of water - double the dose if the water is cloudy. You have to wait at least 20 minutes before drinking and longer if the water is very cold. On a tough hike, if you can't afford the time to stop, you may find yourself carrying quite a quantity of water with you while you wait for the iodine to take effect.

Ideally, very turbid water should be filtered before treatment, but this is not usually necessary. Most people don't mind the taste of iodine, but if you don't like it, iodine tablets are available that come with a neutraliser that you can add afterwards. Alternatively, try adding lime cordial or a few drops of squeezed lemon.

Dr Richard Dawood is the medical director of the Fleet Street Travel Clinic, 29 Fleet Street, London EC4Y 1AA (tel: 0171-353 5678).

Voices
Lucerne’s Hotel Château Gütsch, one of the lots in our Homeless Veterans appeal charity auction
charity appeal
Sport
Raheem Sterling of Liverpool celebrates scoring the opening goal
footballLIVE: Follow all the latest from tonight's Capital One quarter-finals
Life and Style
A woman walks by a pandal art installation entitled 'Mars Mission' with the figure of an astronaut during the Durga Puja festival in Calcutta, India
techHow we’ll investigate the existence of, and maybe move in with, our alien neighbours
Arts and Entertainment
Tony Hughes (James Nesbitt) after his son Olly disappeared on a family holiday in France
tv
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
people

Jo from Northern Ireland was less than impressed by Russell Brand's attempt to stage a publicity stunt

Arts and Entertainment
Sir Ian McKellen tempts the Cookie Monster
tvSir Ian McKellen joins the Cookie Monster for a lesson on temptation
Arts and Entertainment
Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels ride again in Dumb and Dumber To
filmReview: Dumb And Dumber To was a really stupid idea
News
i100
Travel
Tourists bask in the sun beneath the skyscrapers of Dubai
travelBritish embassy uses social media campaign to issue travel advice for festive holiday-makers in UAE
Life and Style
tech
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Ashdown Group: Data Manager - £Market Rate

    Negotiable: Ashdown Group: Data Manager - MySQL, Shell Scripts, Java, VB Scrip...

    Ashdown Group: Application Support Analyst - Bedfordshire/Cambs border - £32k

    £27000 - £32000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Application Support Analyst - near S...

    Recruitment Genius: Class 1 HGV Driver

    £23000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This successful group of compan...

    Recruitment Genius: HGV Class 2 Lorry Driver / CPC and HIAB Training Provider

    £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A HGV Class 2 Lorry Driver is required t...

    Day In a Page

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

    Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

    Scandi crush: Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

    Th Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
    Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

    Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

    The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
    La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

    Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

    The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
    Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

    Homeless Veterans campaign

    Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
    Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

    Meet Racton Man

    Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
    Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

    Garden Bridge

    St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
    Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

    Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

    An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
    Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

    Joint Enterprise

    The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
    Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

    Freud and Eros

    Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum
    France's Front National and the fear of a ‘gay lobby’ around Marine Le Pen

    Front National fear of ‘gay lobby’

    Marine Le Pen appoints Sébastien Chenu as cultural adviser
    'Enhanced interrogation techniques?' When language is distorted to hide state crimes

    Robert Fisk on the CIA 'torture report'

    Once again language is distorted in order to hide US state wrongdoing
    Radio 1’s new chart host must placate the Swifties and Azaleans

    Radio 1 to mediate between the Swifties and Azaleans

    New chart host Clara Amfo must placate pop's fan armies
    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'It's life, and not the Forces, that gets you'

    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'It's life, and not the Forces, that gets you'

    The head of Veterans Aid on how his charity is changing perceptions of ex-servicemen and women in need
    Torture: It didn't work then, it doesn't work now

    Torture: It didn't work then, it doesn't work now

    Its use is always wrong and, despite CIA justifications post 9/11, the information obtained from it is invariably tainted, argues Patrick Cockburn