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lunedì 8 ottobre 2012

My Mediterranean summer. First part: the Greek bliss Chapter II: Across the Aegean

On the day I left Antiparos I was very sad but I was also worried since the winds were so strong that the sea was really rocky. I hade to reach the Dodecanesus islands in order to meet a very good friend of mine who was travelling around there. There actually was a ferry which reached the island of Kalymnos from Paros but it was cancelled so I had to take a catamaran to Santorini, spend the night there and then leave the next day by night ferry to Kos and then another catamaran to Kalymnos. On the way to Santorini I thought my stomach had reached my ears but once we started approaching the island it became better. I had been in Santorini about twenty years before and I remember the Kaldera at sunset while approaching the port with all the pink and red lights of the sun . Now, Santorini is unbelievably beautiful but I HATE IT. I hated it at the time and if possible I hated it even more now. I am sorry but I think that as far as landscape is concerned it is stunning. But the rest: traffic like being in Milan at the rush hour, trash shops and people, noises, lights etc. No that's not for me. The beaches are black because of the volcanic origin and to be honest not that nice. Plus the wind is so strong that until the afternoon you can't possibily stay in the sun or in the sea. Fira the capital is a mixture of trash,noise,lights,bars, discos , cheap restaurants, and loads of people. Oia which is the most beautiful place on the island is famous for the sunset so all the tourists (literally)of the island go there every day to watch it. Same thing: marvellous but in order to see it you have to push your way through backpackes, baby strollers, cameras of all types, and of course a lot of people... Fira by night Oia I was staying close to the black beach of Perivalos in a small not so nice hotel of which I don't remember the name. Most of the time I was cursing and the rest I was travelling around the island by bus. There are a lot of buses connecting all the places all the locations on the island which are crowded to the limit and most of the time you end up standing up for the whole duration of the journey. In one of this journeys I was basically molested by one of the ticket controllers who was stading behind me until a young Turkish woman came to my rescue. Well, what I forgot to say in addition to all the things I have said so far, is that like in most of the touristic islands locals tend to be rude and unfriendly. No I definitively won't go back to Santorini ever again . While I was waiting for the bus to take me to the ferry I had one of this fish pedicures that are very popular on the island. Another experience I probably won't try again . Not unpleasant but not one of those things you absolutely have to do once in your life. I took one of those luxury ferries to Rhodes where I spent the night on an air seat like the ones you find on the plane. I was there with 50 chinese people who were sound asleep nothwitstanding the light, the noises and two Greek couples talking from one side of the room to the other.Needless to say I didn't sleep at all and when I got to Kos I had to wait five hours before the other catamaran to Kalymnos. I didn't see much of Kos but I didn't like it either. I got there at 6 a.m. and people where just coming out of the disco, totally wasted and drunk. I waited until the bars opened to have some breakfast and then walked around for three hours in order to avoid to fall asleep on a bench. Dodecanesus islands are very different from the Cyclades and because of their Venetian origin they have lovely buildings and architecture in that style.However Kos is not my cup of tea as the English who populate the island would say. So finally after another 45 dreadful minutes of catamaran on the rockiest sea ever I finally got to Kalymnos. Not bad right? It's a lovely place famous for the natural sponges industry. Two things though. First of all as I said Greek islands are not as they used to be before, in terms of crowds and traffic. Yes traffic. Even in Kalymnos there were so many cars... I stayed in a little studio by the sea close to Massouri, the most frequented part of the island and I went every day to meet my friends in the village at night, risking to get run over by cars and motorcycles all the time. Secondo problem is that there is a not so pleasant smell in the area because of the sewage system and also sometimes you get some suprises in your bathroom i.e. giant cockroaches coming from the sewer into the shower.. One evening I found two and I ran yelling outside in my underwear.Then I realized it was not proper and got hold of my jeans to ask for help to Alexis the owner of the restaurant next door. He came into my room and basically stomped on them and threw them in the toilet. I admit I wouldn't have been able. Bugs terrify me but maybe I would have just kicked them out... Apart from this Kalimnos is a beautiful and calm island for relaxing holidays. Amongst the places I tried for dinner I found this lovely place called Aegean Tavern, which in a few words can be summed up as : great food , great atmosphere, beautiful ambiance, excellent service and good prices. What else would you want ? After these three relaxing days in Kalymnos with my Turkish friends it was time to cross the border and go to beautiful Turkey for a few days so we got ready to set sail again ... (to be continued)