After walking the “Italian Road” on Friday, my energy levels were slightly depleted yesterday but I decided I would visit the Monastery of Agios Savvas which sits atop a hill overlooking Pothia – one of 720 monasteries and churches, big and small, on the island of Kalymnos. Soon after leaving Hotel Panorama I came to the Church of Agios Vasilios. Although it was still quite early, I was already feeling the affect of the heat of the day, however, laboured on until I arrived at a small white and blue church, reasonably close to the Monastery and a massive Cross standing tall nearby. A place to rest a while then onwards and upwards to at last reach the Monastery of Agios Savvas.
With magnificent views, this very special place is a must visit for anyone coming to Kalymnos. If like me you forget to wear a skirt (women that is) the nuns, who still reside in the old part of the Monastery, kindly have an array of wrap rounds you can wear to go into the various chapels. You are able to go into the room where Agios Savvas lived and in one small chapel lies his heavily engraved solid silver casket, his skull visible through an ornate glass window and they say you can smell his sweetness – like flowers. Outside is the tomb where he was first laid to rest for I think 11 years. I left the Monastery knowing I had visited a very special place.
Agios Savvas the New was the patron Saint of Kalymnos and he lived here for the last 20 years of his life as a priest and spiritual father of the nuns of the Convent of All Saints. He was a great ascetic, confessor, iconographer and miracle worker – one of the recently recognised Saints of the Orthodox Church. Born in 1862 in Eastern Thrace and baptised Vasilios, from a young age he had a calling for holy monastic life and as a teen he entered St. Anne’s Skete on Mt. Athos where along with the usual monastic duties he learnt iconography and Byzantine music. After a few years, he travelled to Jerusalem on a pilgrimage to the holy sites and there he entered the Monastery of St. George Hozevitou. After a period of being a novice, he was tonsured a monk and given the name Savvas. For anyone interested there is a mine of information about him on the Internet.
Walking around town I met an incredibly smoochy cat who persisted in following me for a while then once he was gone, I sat down at Cafe/Bar Miami for a cold beer, eventually moving on elsewhere for a club sandwich. There is a reasonable bus service on the island, however, you must purchase a ticket from a shop before boarding. I didn’t know this and was caught out on Friday when I hopped on the bus in Rina to return to Pothia, however, the driver let me on then stopped in a village further along and waited while I went to buy a ticket at a service station. Now knowing all this, I made sure yesterday to purchase a return ticket to Emporios where I planned to spend today.
An evening stroll to the Archaeological Museum of Kalymnos brought only disappointment as it was closed. Also, the 19th Century Mansion of Nikolaos Vouvalis, the most prominent Kalymnian sponge merchant – the Mansion still furnished and displaying household objects just as it was when the Vouvalis family lived there. Being Saturday night, I decided to return to Cafe/Bar Miami for an ouzo where I watched the crowd change from families with children eating icecream and playing in the street to all the young girls and guys meeting up with their friends, signalling that it was time for me to move on, eat and go rest for the night.
Today I was on the 0900 hours bus for the one hour journey to Emporios, a small fishing village 24 kilometres to the north of the island. Passing through Chorio, Panormos, Kantouni, Myrties, Massouri, Arginonta and Skalia, much of the way the road lined with tamarisk and pine trees or oleander bushes and splendid coastal views, including the small island of Telendos just offshore. I had read about Harry’s Paradise Restaurant Cafe in Emporios – in a garden of bougainvillea, hibiscus, oleander, geraniums, olive trees, nasturtiums and basil to name but a few – a frappe there before heading to the beach. Today Emporios was hosting Jet Ski Races which meant an influx of visitors creating noise, however, I actually enjoyed it all – plenty to watch, cool music and listening to the Greeks disagreeing before the start of each race provided my entertainment. Returned on the 1550 hours crowded bus to Pothia.
Tomorrow I leave Kalymnos behind when I catch the 1135 hours Catamaran to the nearby island of Leros. I have enjoyed my time here immensely and would like to return some day.