…Pothia and Vathy…
21st/22nd/23rd July 2016
Today, we left Kos island and motored out into the water that separates Turkey, and the Greek islands. The weather forecasts had said that the large winds would be gone today, but when we checked this morning, it seemed that the winds had decided to come back from the dead.
We immediately noticed them when we got out there. It wasn’t what you’d expect when out sailing in the Greek islands! You imagine beautiful still blue waters, these were black and ominous and similar to sailing from Falmouth to Fowey!
Today, we were heading towards the 3rd most populated island in the Dodecanese, which holds lots of ancient history, and many small, quiet bays. This island is called, Kalymnos.
The island of Kalymnos is mostly associated with sponge fishing and climbing, because of the large cliffs, especially on the west side of the island.
It is located in the far north part of the Dodecanese, south eastern parts of the Aegean and is next to Leros, Kos and Pserimos, and fairly close to the Turkish coast. Since it is quite close, many patrol boats are placed here and Kos because of the currently ongoing refugee crisis.
Unlike the many other Dodecanese islands, the island of Kalymnos has an airport, and is also accessible by sea.
Tourism has only really started picking up lately, because the picturesque and quiet city is a wonderfully peaceful place to holiday.
The islands capital, Pothia, is the main fishing port, ferry port and all round tourist destination. It is laid out like an amphitheater on the slopes of the rocky hills, with many brightly coloured buildings that dazzle you on entrance. During the day, the capital seems like a calm and sleepy place, but during the night, it comes alive with many “loveliness shops!”.
On the hill that towers over Pothia there Is the “Agios Savvas Monastery”, which translates as “Saint Savvas monastery”. Here, there are many frescos and wall paintings, aswell as a beautiful chapel. Buses are available to it. ( NB ) We discovered that these run infrequently, just once a day, it’s a whole island tour deeper ting the bus offices at noon daily.
Further up the coast from Pothia, is the fjord like bay Called Vathy, where there is a small town with restaurants and shops. ( NB ) We tried to anchor here on the way out of Kalimnos but the depths are slight and the rudder was virtually touching! Any swell or wash would cause touch!
The first inhabitants on the island were there during the Neolothic times. They were the Carians who colonised the island from Asia Minor. They were followed by the Mionians and later the Dorian’s from Argos who built a city on the island and called it “Argos”. Homer tells us that the Kalydian island took part in the Trojan war. The Kalydian island, were the group of islands that surround Kalymnos.
In the 5th century BC, the island was taken over by the Queen of Halicarnassus, which was an ally of Persia. After the Persian wars, the Queen lost her power and it was then taken over by the Athenian league, a group that contained Kos, Rhodes and Symi. Later, it was taken by the Romans, and then the Venetians. That was the time when the old capital, Chorio, and the castle were built.
In 1306, the Knights of St John controlled the islands, until 1522, when the Ottomans took charge. Turkish rule finished in 1912, when it was occupied by the Italians. Under the Italians, the people of Kalymnos became famous for resisting against the forces. This caused many people to paint there house into Blue and white, the two national colours of Greece. Many of these building can still be seen today, but they have faded since.
In 1947, the island was incorporated into the Greek republic along with many other Dodecanese islands.
WHAT TO DO BITS
Kalymnos is best known as the home for the worlds finest sponge divers, which is why many people attacked and conquered this island.
The picturesque landscape is perfect for walkers, and there are many cliff faces for climbing, with routes of all classes and also routes still to be discovered! The clear blue waters are also wonderfully clean and are brilliant for scuba diving and snorkelling.
The small capital town of Pothia is very nice and has many backstreets for exploring. Many shops dot each corner, but during the siesta ( which seems to be getting longer the further north we go ) they are closed. Our experiences on the island were fascinating. When we explored the town, we visited the archeological museum, folklore museum, sponge factory-(where the sponge is collected and sold)-, and the Agios Savvas monastery. All of them are worth a visit. The lady in the Folklore museum is passionate about Kalymnos’ history and gives most visitors a personal tour!
We had, however, missed the 12 o’clock bus that goes around the island, so I came up with the idea of walking up to the monastery. This, turned out to be a bad idea because it was way longer than expected. Thankfully, a man that looked very similar to Peter Andre, pulled up besides us and offered a ride. We got in this random strangers car and even he said that it was a bad idea walking in the heat of the day, and it’s a lot safer in the evenings and mornings.
Once we got there, the large monastery looked over the town, and as we entered, we immediately realised what we had just done. We had come up this very(VERY) high hill, with no way of getting down, (apart from walking) in 34 degree heat, and only two bottles of water ( see, we are learning since the Chalki Castro experience when we only had half a bottle between us! )
On the up side, there was a very nice view!
From up there, you could see Kos, Pserimos and in the far distance the outlines of Nisyros were all visible. On leaving, we began to trudge slowly down the hill, hoping not to use all our energy all in one go when out of nowhere, a small, white minibus with “Minibus Tours” brandished along the side sped around the large swooping bend and came to a halt at the entrance of the monastery. At first, mum and I thought there would be no room on the bus for us, but we could easily see that only two passenger seats were taken. So we asked if we could jump onboard and grab a lift back down to real people, not priests and monks!