Greek Sailing Odyssey Day 16: Leros - Kalimnos / by Honza Cervenka

Today was yet another day when me and my dad woke up early to go sightseeing before we sail off--this time our destination was the Platanos castle.  We caught the 7:43 bus, which was on time!  Amusingly, the bus driver kept on honking throughout the whole trip, frequently but irregularly enough to catch you off-guard and make you yank instinctively each time.  You see, there are many reasons to honk in Greece: a vehicular 'hello' to a car--any car--passing you in the opposite direction, a warning to pedestrians, or an alert to general traffic when the bus was approaching a turn; the streets were often quite narrow and cars could easily crash into the bus if they didn't know it was right around the corner.  Noble and sociable as the reasons were, the constant fanfare from the bus must have been greatly enjoyed by anybody who lived by the street at such wee hours of the day.

Greece-Leros-Bay-Honza-Cervenka
 5 of the 6 windmills.  Where did the last one go??

5 of the 6 windmills.  Where did the last one go??

 Approach to the imposing fortress.

Approach to the imposing fortress.

The bus dropped us off on a little square on Platanos, where are honking escapades ended.  It was still quite a trek to the castle itself and we decided to prolong it some more and walk by a sextet of windmills by the castle, which you could see in my earlier blog post, rather than going straight up.  The high-up vistas en route were absolutely spectacular:  We saw the opposite side of Platanos to the one where we moored, and many mountainous islands on the horizon.  Once we got to the top of the hill, it was very windy.  The castle was supposed to open at 8:30am, but we reached it a little early and found it, surprisingly, well, OPEN!  How un-greek!  

 View from the top of the castle

View from the top of the castle

We soon found the reason for their promptness--an old lady came to clean the castle church after a wedding last night--she probably wasn't invited otherwise she would have surely still been in bed.  We exchanged a few words with the lady who spoke just enough English to chit chat for a while, and she showed us around the church.  There was a curiously tiny door off of one side of the chapel and I wondered how anybody could fit through it--I sure couldn't.  But then the lady--bless her--was hunching quite a bit (with age) and it turned out she fit in perfectly!  I had noticed many of these small doors in the Greek churches, they must be a way of segregating the youth from the hunched-old.

Other than the church and the beautiful viewpoints, there was little to look at around the castle. They had some information boards mounted at various places, but no information on them. There was nothing to see inside in terms of rooms either.  Oh well--this one was meant to be appreciated from afar.  

We descended straight to the square and managed to catch the 9:30 bus back, eager to honk our way back to the harbour.  Oxalis, our ship, was locked up--Maurizio and Lisa must have gone out, so I went to sit down at a cafe and read a book; there was little to see around Lakki that we haven't already. Once Maurizio and Lisa returned, we sailed away--by 11am we were at sea.

I took the steering wheel for the first hour and a half and had a smooth sail.  Then Lisa took over and then my dad--we all took turns throughout the journey so it went by quite fast.  Once ashore, I decided to pass on swimming and read a book instead.  I ended up waiting for the rest of the crew for almost two hours to come back so we would all go to town together.  But since they didn't come back I decided to venture out on my own.

 View of the monastery atop the hill.

View of the monastery atop the hill.

At first I thought I'd only go for a stroll in the vicinity of the harbour, but then I noticed a monastery up the hill and decided to head there.  I asked some locals for the way, who were astonishingly enthusiastic and radiated glee as they answered--they gathered the whole family around just to figure out the best way to climb up.  The walk up took about 40 minutes, but it was well worth it.  The view of the harbour got better with every step on the way.

 steps up to a church inside the town.

steps up to a church inside the town.

 A typical Greek siesta--just make sure your railing is painted blue!

A typical Greek siesta--just make sure your railing is painted blue!

The walk up took about 40 minutes, but it was well worth it.  The view of the harbour got better with every step on the way--look!

 View of Kalimnos and its harbour

View of Kalimnos and its harbour

 Some cool solar-powered lights up the road to the monastery.

Some cool solar-powered lights up the road to the monastery.

 And there she is!

And there she is!

 Once inside the monastery, I must have walked in on some sort of a mass baptism, so the church was quite busy.  I peeked inside and the church was absolutely gorgeous.  It felt a bit odd to be taking pictures, but I couldn't help myself and took a few covert ones--literally every inch of the church walls was covered in beautiful frescoes.

Greece-Kalimnos-Monastery-Frescos-Honza-Cervenka
 Top of the monastery church building.

Top of the monastery church building.

Once I satisfied the inner spy I sat outside the church to enjoy the gorgeous views some more.  And guess what--I ran into Maurizio and Lisa--here they are together of some more pictures from the top of the hill:

Maurizio-Lisa-Honza-Cervenka
Greece-Kalimnos-Harbour-Honza-Cervenka
 Fun zig-zagged pier in bottom left corner

Fun zig-zagged pier in bottom left corner

We then headed back to the boat together, bought some groceries (1 kilo of tomatoes cost a record low of €0.60) and stayed by the boat to make dinner.  At around 10pm we went for an evening stroll around town, noticed bare remains of an early Christian basilica.  Tomorrow we are headed to Astipaliaia and will have to set sail at about 7:30 since it is a long journey, and most of it will be against the wind.  Better get a good night sleep!

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Moored in Kalimnos at 4:20pm. Traveled 40.8 km/22.1 nm in 5 hrs.  See map for the route sailed during the Odyssey and click here for more posts from the Greek Sailing Odyssey.

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