Just across the water, only 20 minutes on the Kalymnos Star or 50 minutes on the Apollon and a whole different Greek experience opens up to you. Kalymnos is very different to Kos in many ways. It is much more traditionally Greek in appearance for one thing, one of the main reasons for that being that it didn't suffer the damage that Kos did in the last big earthquakes and so wasn't largely rebuilt by the Italians as Kos was. Tourism hasn't had such a big impact on Kalymnos either and so the normal rhythm of life carries on to a greater extent than it does here.
Whether you choose to go across with the fast boat or the more leisurely ferry, the approach to the harbour in the town of Pothia is equally picturesque; sugar cube houses painted in different colours set in front of a totally barren landscape. Kalymnos is in effect one big rock with the only significant vegetation in Vathi where there are beautiful orange groves.
There are many beautiful churches and monasteries, some of which seem to be glued to the heights of the rocks.
On the hill behind the town you can still see the remains of the old village which as built in a higher position for the usual reasons here - earthquakes and the subsequent tsunamis and to see who might be invading next!
Pothia is incredibly busy and noisy with motor bikes racing around all over the place. A lot of the streets are too narrow for cars and so they are the logical way to get around. Hidden in the back streets you can find the new archeological museum which is worth following the signs for - it is full of very interesting treasures, many of which have been fished out of the sea by local fishermen. The architecture on Kalymnos is very interesting with some fine examples of neoclassical houses with extraordinary balconies.
Kalymnos is also famous for its sponges and at the moment the sponge beds are producing a healthy crop. Local Greek sponges are of much better quality than those that have been imported from America and other places so it is usually worth paying the difference in price.
When the sponge boats come in the sponges are laid out in the main square where they are auctioned off to the wholesalers who will then treat them and export them all over the world. You can still see the process being carried out in the warehouses in Pothia where you can buy local sponges. The sponges are still clipped using Sheffield steel sheep shears!
Kalymnos is not only Pothia of course and there are organized excursions offered that pick you up from the ferry to take you to other parts of the island. The likelihood however, is that from Mastihari, you will wander around the town. As I have said, it is noisy and busy and bustling with life which all but disappears early afternoon when everyone goes home for the main meal of the day and a sleep. It is interesting and different and very Greek with the harbour full of fishing boats and some very good tavernas and cake shops. The local buses will also take you to Massouri, Kantouni, Elies and Myrties or take a taxi to Vathi or to Empories at the top end of the island. You can hire a car or scooter when you get there which is often more economical than taking one over on the ferry.
Latterly, Kalymnos has also gained a reputation for some very good climbing and people are coming from all over the world to climb there. The temperate winter climate makes it ideal and the ferries run all the year round.
Have a trip over - you won't be disappointed.
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