When asked where in Greece am I from, I start naming nearby, more tourist popular islands because if I simply say Kalymnos, I get a blank stare. Most have not heard of this small island in the Aegean Sea. It’s not a destination that comes to mind when planning a Greek vacation unless you are a rock climber, your family is from there, or you happened to visit while island hopping.
My mother and father were born in Kalymnos and although they moved to the U.S. when they were young, their love for the island never waned, and that love was instilled in me. So, in 1998, I decided to build my home on Kastelli Bay, Kalymnos. Every year, my family and I would go and spend our summers there. As the children got older….okay, okay, we got older too, it got more and more difficult to take time off as a family, so we made the decision to start offering it for rent. In 2017, our home in Kalymnos became The Villa at Kastelli Bay.
At first it was difficult having strangers staying in our home, but now I’m happy to share it with so many wonderful people from all over the world, so they too can see why I love my island home.
What I love most about Kalymnos is its people! The kindness, generosity and hospitality of the Kalymnian people is hard to find. Once you meet a Kalymnian, you’ll be treated as a friend, and they never forget you. If you visit a year or two later, they will remember you and welcome you as a long lost friend. Yes, most Greeks are hospitable, but I’ve never met a people as friendly, warm and generous as the Kalymnians. This fact alone is enough to make your vacation in Kalymnos, unforgettable!
I love that it’s a small, off-the-beaten-track island that is not dominated by tourism and because of this, it has stayed authentic to its culture. The downside to this is, it’s a journey to get there. You can fly directly to the small airport on the island, but because it’s small, when winds pick up, your flight gets postponed or cancelled. So, to be sure you get on a flight, you can fly from Athens to Kos, and then take a taxi to a port and a boat to Kalymnos. Yes, it’s a journey and as much as it sounds as an inconvenience, it actually adds to the memories and makes you appreciate the island even more.
I love the dramatic, imposing mountains covered with sage, thyme, and oregano. Every time I visit, the first thing I do is close my eyes and take in the scents of Kalymnos. These mountains once considered a curse to the inhabitants have proven to be a blessing. An Italian climber visited the island in 1997 and discovered its mountainous terrain and fell in love with it. He inaugurated 40 climbing routes and it all started there. Today, there are over 3000 routes to satisfy every climber from beginner through advanced. The island of Kalymnos is now on the map as a top destination for sport rock climbing.
I love the food and I will confess, when I’m there, I do indulge. Some of my favorite local foods are, “Mirmizeli,” a local salad with tomatoes, red onion, olive oil, local cheese and a barley rusk that soaks up the salad juices; “Muouri,” a traditional Easter meal with goat stuffed with rice and cooked in a clay pot overnight in a wood-burning oven; octopus served hot off the grill with lemon and shot of ouzo; The local honey flavored with the island's thyme is wonderfully delicious and so good for your health.
I love that deep blue color of the Aegean Sea. That sight melts any stress away! There are many beaches around the island, some sandy, some with pebbles, but my favorite place to swim is right in front of the Villa at Kastelli Bay. When I’m there, I forget about the rest of the world, listen to the waves and just enjoy the beauty that surrounds me.
There are many beautiful islands in Greece, lesser known, that are not advertised on travel sites or in magazines, but are totally worth visiting. Kalymnos is one of those. So, if you plan a vacation to Greece, consider making a stop in Kalymnos. I am sure that, once you’ve experienced this gem of an island, you’ll want to visit again and again.
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