I finished my summer in Greece with a short stay on Kalymnos. Its population of 16,000, making it the third most populous island in the Dodecanese group after Rhodes and Kos, is considerably increased in the summer by tourists. However, unlike other islands, many of the visitors to Kalymnos are climbers, attracted from all over the world by the extensive limestone crags, especially in April/May and September/October, encouraged by facilities provided by the island council.
I’m not one for tourist hotspots so, once off the ferry, as usual I made straight for Emborios at the northern tip of the island. The tiny village is the epitome of the Greek concept of ‘ησυχία’ – peacefulness, tranquillity. The gardens of Harry’s Paradise (Anglicisation of Χαραλαμπος’)’ apartments and restaurant are a luxuriant, shady oasis in the summer aridity of the Aegean limestone. The beach is an enticement for climbers hot off the crags for a cooling swim.
The sheltered harbour is backed by dramatic crags rising to over 1000 feet ASL. A stiff uphill walk from the village is the ‘Kastri’, an ancient fortification set in a natural bowl, climbers waiting in the shade of shallow caves for their turn on the rock. Apart from it being a great place to be, with no broadband at this end of the island, I found in 2014 that with line-of-sight down Telendos Sound to the Vodaphone telecom masts at Mirties and the curving limestone cliffs behind acting as a collecting dish, this was the only place I could pick up a 3G signal for the SIM card in my MiFi to get internet connection so I walked up there most afternoons. Come 2015 and optic fibre broadband has been extended to the village with a first-rate network all over Harry’s and even down to the beach but a walk up to the Kastri followed by a swim before the late afternoon sun left the bay was still very enjoyable.
Around the headland from Emborios is the most northerly beach on the west side of the island. Rarely visited and with fine shingle it’s a great place for a gentle stroll, a swim and a bit of arty construction when boredom sets in.
There are only two buses a day from Emborios to Pothia but catching the morning bus as far as Hora opens a couple of opportunities for enjoyable short walks. An increasingly steep paved and stepped path leads up to the extensive castle perched on high cliffs dropping down to hundreds of feet to the west and the north with impressive views over the main harbour and across to Kos. The information centre and taverna may be open in high season but not coming into autumn so the habit of always carrying chilled water and a bite to eat paid off.
Only a short stay but a good way to round off the summer and pause for thought before heading for the Canadian Rockies and a starkly contrasting climate and mountain experience.