Saturday, July 13, 2019

Rock Climbing in Greece

I'm not sure how I learned about Kalymnos, Greece. Friends have been asking us ever since we returned from our trip there in March/April. It's a small Greek island closer to Turkey than mainland Greece, famous for rock climbing. My guess is that I read about it in a climbing magazine(?).

We found the flag of Turkey washed up with all the other garbage on what could've been a pretty beach

The short history of Kalymnos climbing started around 1996. Since then, 3400+ sport climbing routes have been built, and the economy on this tiny island has been transformed. We stayed in an AirBnB, and our hosts were overwhelmingly kind and generous. They even had us over to their other house for dinner.

Although we stayed in the lower level, our AirBnB hosts gave us access to the upstairs balcony

Our first day climbing. The water was so clear and the views were overwhelming.

One of the main restaurants catered to climbers, and we giggled everyday when passing this sign

Stunning views

We're 1.5 years into rock climbing, and Kalymnos was a great place for us to work on our skills. On our off days (our bodies would probably have appreciated more of them), we explored underground caves and hiked (a couple pictures below).

Our favorite kind of adventure - no tourist infrastructure. Entering a hole in the side of mountain blocked off by a goat gate.

Heading into "The Underworld" cave

Hiking around the small neighboring island of Kalymnos called Telendos

Beautiful, protected spot to anchor your boat (hard to tell there is a boat down there). View from atop Telendos island.

While we rock climbed, we could usually see the sparkling blue and turquoise Aegean Sea. We were there during March and April so the water was still too cold to swim. We tried one day, and made it up to our knees. We realize now why Greece is so popular in the summer for the stunning beaches.

Telendos Island - a short ferry ride away

When asked about our trip, there's pretty much only two things that I feel I *must* share. First, I was overwhelmed by the wild herbs that grew everywhere on the island. We had fresh thyme, oregano, sage, rosemary, and parsley everywhere we walked and climbed. The sage, thyme, and oregano grew out of the walls we were climbing. Back on the mainland, just outside of Athens, we walked through wild chamomile. All of it smelled delicious.

A typical oregano bush right on our walking path

Oregano for dinner
Chamomile growing like a weed

The other notable thing was the cats. Stray cats were everywhere. Some of them were really sickly and made us feel horrible. We took as many pictures of cats as we did architecture and rock climbing. We bought a lot of cat food, too.

The stray-cat whisperer

Our nightly visit with one of the local kitties (who wasn't a stray)
The cats at our AirBnB that we fed everyday

At the end of our month on Kalymnos, we headed to the Peloponnese region on the mainland to a budding rock climbing area called Leonidio (map above). We stayed there a week, but wish we had stayed at least a month. Similar to Kalymnos, the climbing, hiking, views, food, and hospitality really impressed us. In Leonidio, the lemons and oranges grew everywhere with the delicious smell of orange blossoms in the air.

Just another 500 year old building in the small town of Leonidio (lemons on the tree behind me)

Soaking our feet after a long day of climbing

Visiting Greece really struck a chord with us and we hope to be back. If nothing else, it instilled a new sense of wanderlust that I hope will keep us exploring.


Max Paganetti said...

What a great time you had in Greece. Such a beautiful place to visit. Maybe one day down the road. The photos are just incredible. Have a great day.
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