Island Hopping in the Winter - Part Two - Kalymnos

The waterfront in Kalymnos has many fine late 19th century buildings.  Like Symi it had an economic boom from the 1890s to the 1920s and many fortunes were made in the sponge industry.

The Alpha Bank is an amazing example of dressed stone work.  Our cameras really could  not do it justice.

An Italianate church on the waterfront  in Kalymnos harbour.

One of us is very energetic and went for a morning run up the kalderimi behind our hotel to the top of the ridge of hills that divides Kalymnos harbour and chora from the parallel valley and bay of Vathy.

Kalymnos has far more examples of these old footpaths than Symi and they are, by and large, seemingly in better condition.

Kalymnos has a population of around 18 000 inhabitants so is significantly larger than Symi.  

The Villa Melina,, a restored mansion that has been converted into a boutique hotel, was where we stayed for the night.  It is open all year round and the owners live on the premises.

Tourism on the island  is away from the main town, in small complexes of studios, apartments and low rise hotels along the coastal road. Rock climbing is one of the activities  on offer to tourists.

The view from the side balcony of our hotel room.  The archaeologia is not as  much  in evidence in Kalymnos as it is in Rhodes so there is a combination of old mansions and 1960s concrete all over the town.

Waiting for Dodecanese Seaways to whisk us away to Rhodes via Kos, Nissyros, Tilos and Halki.

We weren't the only ones waiting for the boat.  These men are from various fishing boats, waiting to load polystyrene boxes of fresh chilled fish onto the catamaran to send to Rhodes.

It is has been a wet and stormy week on Symi and the weather is not expected to clear until late on Sunday afternoon. All the rain we didn't have last winter seems to have fallen this week and we logged 60 mm in our rainwater gauge over 3 days.  We were very lucky with the weather for our mini-break, even if the photos are a bit grey as it was overcast.

We didn't have as much daylight in Kalymnos as we arrived there at half past 3 in the afternoon and then left again at midday the following day.  Once again we arranged to be met by the car hire on the quay and had pre-booked our accommodation to save time.  We arrived at the tail end of the Clean Monday festivities so there was quite a lot of traffic as we drove around the island, mainly of groups of people standing in the road, flying kites.  We drove through fields of cabbages and orchards of citrus trees. It seems that the hawkers we see at the back of Yialos are actually from Kalymnos, not Tilos as legend has it.

Although Kalymnos has a much bigger population than Symi, eating out options in the winter seemed to be just as limited as they are here and the only place we found open on the waterfront that was doing food was a pizzeria. Nicholas had an excellent rigatoni marinara and I had a small Garibaldi pizza which turned out to be big enough for 4 people.  We took half of it with us to eat cold on the ferry to Rhodes the next day!

Kalymnos port has an old fashioned 1960s vibe reminiscent of the Piraeus of Melina Mercouri's 'Never on Sunday'.  The side streets are full of small independent shops and we didn't see any of the big franchises and designer names that are characteristic of Rhodes.  Everyone seemed to be pottering along quite comfortably and we weren't aware of any 'for sale' or ' to let ' signs which have become part of the landscape on Symi and Rhodes in recent years. Perhaps the fact that the island has a diverse economy which includes sustainable fishing and agriculture makes it less dependent on tourism and they don't seem to have any huge high rise all inclusive holiday complexes to worry about.

We spent the morning before the ferry in the new archaeological museum near our hotel.  They would not allow photographs so I can't share that experience with you but it was one of the best museums we have been to - and we 'do' museums a lot!  Well laid out, well curated and well illuminated, it was a pleasure to visit.  There have been several significant archaeological finds, both on land and pulled out of the sea by fishermen, in recent years so there was plenty to look at including a group of well-preserved marble kouroi (young men) and a huge larger-than-life size bronze statue of Hera. A reminder that not everything in Greece has been discovered yet and many treasures still lie on the seabed or buried under terraces and old churches.

Well, we were very lucky with the weather for our trip.  If it has been like this week, it would have been dismal indeed. This is a risk one has to take when travelling in Greece at this time of the year.

Have a good weekend.  I'll be back to writing about Symi on Monday!


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About this Blog

I sailed into Panormitis Bay, Symi, by chance one windy July day in 1993 and have been here ever since. The locals tell me that this is one of the miracles of St Michael of Panormitis. A BA graduate with majors in English, Philosophy and Classical Civilisation, the idea of living in what is to all intents and purposes an archaeological site appeals to me. Not as small as Kastellorizo, not as touristy as Rhodes, Symi is just the right size. I live on a small holding which my husband and I have reclaimed from a ruin of over-grazing and neglect and turned into a small oasis over the course of the past 22 years. I also work part-time for Symi Visitor Accommodation, helping independent travellers discover and enjoy Symi's simple pleasures for themselves.

This page is kindly sponsored by Wendy Wilcox, Symi Visitor Accommodation.

Adriana Shum

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