Aaaahhhh Kalymnos – a small Greek Island in the Dodecanese Islands, closer to Turkey than mainland Greece. It’s arid, rocky and looks inhospitable as you fly in but when you’ve been there a few days you start to love it and before long you’re trying to work out when you can return. This was Mike’s inaugural visit, Trish’s second … it won’t be our last. This is why we love it …
In case you didn’t know, this holiday is all about swimming, to be precise it’s the annual VladSwimSwimAdventure. Trish decided to come this year before she’d even finished last year’s. But then along came Mike, who couldn’t swim. Three lessons with Vlad before we left Sydney and some quiet determination in London soon fixed that – Mike swam 10km during the week … pretty impressive for someone who couldn’t swim 50m six months ago.
The swimming is cruisey … the water is warm and clear … the coastline dramatic … the underwater scenery divine … the people relaxed and friendly. It is the perfect holiday.
If you’re not into swimming or images of crystal clear water then you may want to leave the blog now … although we’ll keep some spectacular sunsets for the end as a reward if you get that far.
We arrived on Saturday 5 September in the late afternoon and headed straight down for a quick swim followed by beers and a meal – every dinner in Masouri costs €15 no matter what you eat or drink, strange but very good.
It all started in earnest on Sunday – everyone jumped on their scooters or into one of the cars and headed north to Emporios. Most of us swam about 6km, some swam 4km, some swam 2.5km (Mike – huge PB). We also all tried stand up paddle boarding … very amusing.
Monday we went to Palionissos, an inlet on the northwest coast of Kalymnos. To get there you wind up a steep mountain, past goats and fallen rocks and then back down through a series of hairpins. Two-up on a 50cc scooter made it a challenging ride for all the wrong reasons. We did two swims with, of course, copious amounts of food from the fabulous Sevasti in between (Sevasti is our Kalymnian host, she provides us with amazing food every day for lunch, morning tea and a couple of breakfasts … and a wonderful dose of her vibrant sense of humour).
Tuesday was rest day … most of the gang were doing a tour with Sevasti but we shared our day with our Marrickville neighbours, Dean and Kylie. We all started with a huge breakfast at Sevi’s, high on the hill looking out towards Telendos and then wandered down to Ambiance Hotel for coffee. Then off to the capital of Kalymnos, Pothia, for a wander, a cut-throat razor shave for Mike and Dean, a new pair of thongs for Trish and ice-creams all round. Lunch and a dip were at Vlichadia … you guessed it, more warm, crystal clear water and ample delicious fresh food.
On Wednesday we all became channel swimmers. Dean conquered the English Channel just a few weeks ago but every one of us conquered the channel from Masouri to Telendos. There were plans to swim around Telendos this year – 11–12km – but it was too windy and choppy so we had to settle for a channel crossing and then a swim along the coast and around the headland to the beach on the other side. Oh, and then we swam back to Masouri after lunch.
Thursday we went to the island of Plati. No, we didn’t swim there, we went on a fishing boat, then leapt overboard and swam and swam and swam through the clearest waters of the whole trip … sooooo beautiful. No-one lives on Plati but there is a church (there are churches everywhere) and a wharf where tourist boats pull in for a swim and lunch.
Friday was the last full day and we went to Vathi – it’s a beautiful, long, deep inlet with a marina and a swimming area featuring ‘the leap’. It’s also the only part of Kalymnos where they can grow fruit and vegetables so it’s surprisingly green. Two separate swims traversed each side of the inlet – the first swim out to a deep cave where a rock climber was practising his overhangs (climbing on the ceiling) and for some, continuing on around the point to another stunning beach. The second swim along the other side included stops for a bit of synchronised swimming and other larking about … we were pretty relaxed by now.
And now for those who have made it through the plethora of swimming photos, the beautiful sunsets we promised. The island of Telendos dominates the view where we stay and creates some of the most amazing sunsets.