>> Monday, March 6, 2017 – Dodecanese, Dodecanese Seaways, island-hopping, Leros, Leros Mental Asylum, Marc Dubin
|Lakki, the second town on Leros, was laid out by the Italians in the 1930s and has many fine examples of Italian Rationalist architecture. Unfortunately the Second World War interrupted the building of the town so Lakki is a strange mixture of modern Italian buildings in various stages of restoration or abandon and completely vacant lots.|
|Leros is part of a close archipelago including Kalymnos and many other smaller islands, most of them deserted and many of them of strategic interest.|
|This abandoned Italian building was originally a barracks and then part of the notorious Leros Mental Asylum which was opened in 1957. The mentally ill, the mentally or physically disabled and anyone who was deemed inconvenient for one reason or another was shipped here from all over Greece, creating a community of about 4000 people. They became a forgotten people with little medical care and no prospects. This dreadful place was finally exposed by the British newspaper, the Observer in 1987 and the BBC made an undercover documentary which blew the story wide open.|
|From the Kastro, looking back towards Lakki. Those asylum buildings seem to haunt one from wherever one looks.|
|Another view from the castle, this time looking down from top towards Turkey.|
|Back in Lakki, this is the Italian clock tower. This has been restored to a reasonable level and there are shops and the post office on the ground floor. We bought our morning coffees from the bakery on the corner.|
|Whoever painted this was remembering the face of a loved one.|
|The compositions are also more fluid and reflect the trends in modern art in the Sixties rather than the traditional format for religious paintings.|
|Leros has a small airport at the north end of the island. While we were there an Olympic Airways prop plane came into land. Definitely only for those with strong nerves and stomachs. I think I will stick with Dodecanese Seaways, thank you!|
|The waterfront in Agia Marina as we waited for the ferry to take us to Kalymnos.|
|Fishing is evidently good in these waters and the caiques are big enough to have ice makers on board. The polystyrene boxes are for packing the catch for market.|
We traveled with Dodecanese Seaways, taking the 9.20 from Symi on Sunday morning. It is worth sitting upstairs for the view and going out onto the side decks whenever you approach a port. We arrived in Leros about 1.30 and our prebooked hire car, arranged through the hotel, met us in the port with the car and paperwork which saved a lot of time.
We stayed at the Miramare Hotel in Lakki. This is a family-run hotel that is open all year round. We found it to be spotlessly clean, well equipped, good value for money, very friendly and helpful - and nothing like the negative reports given on Trip Advisor which goes to show how flawed those reviews can be. It is always worth remembering that in small places on line reviews are easily biased as business owners get their friends and relations to talk their own businesses up and the competition down! We are glad we ignored the negativity and stayed there.
My next blog will give you a taste of Kalymnos.
Tomorrow is Dodecanese Day a regional holiday celebrating the incorporation of the Dodecanese into the modern Greek state on 7 March 1948. The bunting is up, the children are practising their marching and it looks as though the rain won't reach us until Tuesday evening.
Have a good week.