“I would stare out the window at these telephone wires and think, how civilisation had caught up with me and I wasn’t going to be able to escape after all. I wasn’t going to be able to live this eleventh-century life that I had thought I had found for myself.” – Leonard Cohen
There was very little change in the morning and the strong wind continued to rush in and chase through the balconies of the hotel, rattling the shutters and rearranging the furniture as it went.
There was a lot of cloud as well and it was quite cool but not inconveniently so as we set off quite early after breakfast to return the bike to Adamas. On the way we stopped again at Sarakiniko to take some photographs before people started to arrive and we clambered over the smooth chalk white cliffs and down to the waters edge where waves were dancing energetically as the wind whipped them into salty columns that were leaping over the shoreline rocks.
While we were exploring there were a few heavy spots of rain and some thick grey cloud passed overhead but it kept going and behind it the sky was left clear and blue.
We couldn’t stay long and we left as others started to arrive and drove to the port, handed back the bike and waited for the bus to take us back to Pollonia where we had a thirty minute wait for the little ferry boat to take us to the nearby island of Kimolos just twenty minutes away. The sea was still choppy and the boat was only small but it seemed reliable enough so we were confident about taking the risk of getting back to Milos later.
It was just after midday when we arrived in Psathi, a sheltered little harbour where the most noticeable thing was that nothing at all seemed to be happening. At the back of the beach there were a couple of bars in a dreamy setting under the shade of leafy trees and just a single road leading out of the port and up towards the Chora. It was so quiet and no evidence that Kimolos still has a mining industry and produces Bentonite which is an absorbent clay which is used for (amongst many other things) the manufacture of cat litter.
Kimolos it seemed was an unspoilt get away from it all sort of place and although I like the idea of peace and tranquillity I couldn’t help thinking that this might actually be getting away from too much. As we walked to the town it occurred to me that this is how the other islands would have been fifty years ago or so and although the concept of a Robinson Crusoe holiday might sound idyllic perhaps on reflection it might not be.
The Chora was just as lethargic as the port, a few inquisitive visitors wandering aimlessly around the picturesque narrow cobbled streets and in between the whitewashed houses with paintwork cracked and splintered by the sun but with less than a thousand residents across the entire island there wasn’t a great deal of local activity to observe. In the tight, sinuous streets paving stones have been edged in white and decorated with flowers, hearts, sailboats and slogans: “My Kimolos, my paradise”. Lovely.
At the top the tall cathedral seemed somehow too big and out of scale with the tiny streets and boxy houses. The streets were ramshackle and without order or planning as they wound their way to the centre and the sixteenth century Kastro, much of which was dilapidated and in ruins with heaps of rubble from collapsed and abandoned houses.
This was the Messa Kastro, or inner castle, the original town where people lived before they moved outside to the Exo Kastro, the outer castle, as the town expanded outside of the restrictive confines of the walls. Inside, some people were clinging on to occupation of houses with only very basic facilities that would certainly be declared unfit in the United Kingdom.
The Kastro is an important historical monument and there are plans to restore the buildings and some early work has begun but it is likely to take a very long time because current funding from the Greek Government and the European Union is totally inadequate which leaves the project financially beyond restorative reach.
It was a pleasant walk around the exterior of the Kastro, past one or two tavernas and traditional shops and through streets of houses with yards and balconies bright with flowers in gaily coloured pots and baskets and then we had seen all there was to see so we returned to the sleepy port and had a simple lunch at an untidy taverna close to the gritty beach next to a shallow sea as perfectly blue as a butterfly’s wings and waited for the ferry crossing back to Milos.
In his book about the Greek Islands the author Lawrence Durrell recommends avoiding Kimolos on account of its relative inaccessibility but I thought that it was well worth the visit, it was one of the most unspoilt and authentic islands that I have ever visited but I am not certain that I would need more than an afternoon there.
On the return journey there was one last defiant spit of rain and then the last of the grey clouds moved reluctantly aside leaving behind a silky blue sky and endless sunshine – the poor weather it seemed had passed and the early evening was a complete contrast to the two previous and the sea was calm enough now to go for a swim.
This was important because I was conducting a hair self cleansing experiment that meant only sea water and lemon juice instead of harmful chemicals and a wash was overdue. At the halfway stage in the holiday the experiment seemed to be going rather well and I was predicting no more expensive shampoos for me any more!
This was our last night on Milos and we had enjoyed visiting again, repeating some of the things we did last time and exploring some new places as well. We didn’t do anything exciting, just walked into the village along the edge of the moon polished water, had a final meal and looked forward to moving on in the morning to Folegandros.
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