In the morning we took a stroll along the harbour to watch the last of the fishing fleet return one by one where family were waiting to take the catch, clean and gut, grade and sort and put out on iced beds under the shade of umbrellas for sale whilst keeping vigil and waiting for customers. Out all night but there was no immediate rest for the fishermen because whilst this was going on there was more work yet to be done untangling, repairing and storing the nets, cleaning the pots and clearing down the decks.
We were booked on the eleven o’clock ferry to Kalymnos so after a desperately disappointing breakfast at the otherwise excellent hotel Kosta Palace we took our bags and walked all the way around the harbour again to the ferry port. The modern featureless hydrofoil arrived and left on time and we made our way to the open top deck for the short journey. As the island of Kos started to fade into the distance I noticed how it resembled a resting crocodile with its central mountain peaks for a jagged spine and a long tail disappearing into the heat haze to the south and on its flanks brown fields divided into neat squares for scales.
Out on deck the wind rushed through my shirt, tugging at the sleeves and clawing at the buttons and it was most exhilarating even though I prefer the older slower Greek ferries which due to a combination of age and economics are becoming increasingly scarce as one by one they are removed from service and replaced with a modern fleet of ferries which sadly lack the romance and the adventure of the old boats.
After a while Kalymnos came into view and as we approached the harbour town of Pothia I thought it looked rather like Symi with Venetian mansions clinging to the sides of the hills and I could make out delicate arches, iron balustrades and bright pastel shades and I imagined that this is how Kos may have looked before the calamity of the 1933 earthquake. As we got closer I could see that it lacked the charm and grace of Symi but it was nice enough and I was glad we were here.
It was larger than I expected as well and the hotel was farther away than I had imagined so, slightly disorientated and weighed down with bags we broke the no taxi rule and climbed into a cab which surprisingly turned out to be good value, a pleasant journey and a helpful and informative driver, he told us proudly that Kalymnos ‘is not touristic’ and that we were sure to enjoy our short stay.
Lawrence Durrell described Kalymnos thus: “The hills are shaven as smooth as a turtle’s back, the bare rock has the slightly bluish terracotta tinge of volcanic rock. There is nothing much to see except the fine harbour” and on the drive across the island to our accommodation I was beginning to understand what he meant. Kim would have agreed with him because on arrival I could tell that she wasn’t particularly thrilled with this choice of location or the studio room which could only really be described as basic. On the other hand I liked it immediately, it was Cycladic blue with a large tiled balcony and there was an old-fashioned mini-market close by.
After a walk to the seashore and along the sand we choose a bar and once again a couple of Mythos provided a whole new perspective and we located a bus timetable and established that there was a service to the port and Kim began to cheer up and agree with me that this was a perfect place for two days of relaxation and I was pleased that she came to reassess the place in a positive way because it suited me perfectly and I looked forward to two days in a simple room, swimming in the crystal clear sea, salt streaked sunbathing, long afternoons with a book and a beer and then an evening meal and an ouzo or a metaxa to finish. This year’s adventure needed a beach break and this was it.
On the balcony the ferocious heat of the late afternoon sun chased us inside but we ventured back outside as the sun began to drop over the adjacent island of Telendros and I felt a sunset moment coming on so grabbed a camera and dashed to the seafront to capture it. On the way back I re-examined the bus schedule and discovered that there was only a reduced service on a Sunday so there was only one thing for it – I stopped and arranged a car hire instead.