Pothia, Kalymnos' main city

There is not much to do in the tourist ghetto Myrties, so when we needed to feel real life around us, we took the bus to Pothia, Kalymnos' main city. 13,000 of the island's 17,000 inhabitants live in Pothia.

Pothia lies like an amphitheatre in a bay on the south coast. It has a big harbour bustling with activity.

The harbour and the seafront

Power-bike in Pothia
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The traffic is intense on the road along the harbour, and there are restaurants and cafés, where men can hang out for hours with a coffee. If you sit at one of the cafés there is plenty to watch.

There is also a supermarket at the seafront. It has a large selection, but despite being cheaper than the pirates in Myrties the prices are influenced by freight rates to the island. You can buy sponges many places, and one of the shops on the seafront has sponges from floor to ceiling.


Shoe-black in Pothia
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There are many shops in the area around city hall and the main street, which cuts through the old town to reach the harbour. There are the usual shops with clothes, shoes, music etc., but also greengrocers, fishmongers, butchers and bakeries.

There are also banks in Pothia. At one time I wanted to change a couple of fifties to smaller bills, but the national bank couldn't quite manage that, even though I had to get a number and wait.

I got a few fivers and a pile of twenties, which I later changed to tens and fivers in a private bank with no fuss. Here I even got a smile.


There are also traditional sights and attractions in and around Pothia. High above the city is a big cross and a church. If you have got the stamina, I'm sure there is a magnificent view. There should also be a couple of convents nearby, but Helle didn't feel the vocation, so we didn't see them.

The old town

The old town lies behind the busy seafront. It is quiet here. Most houses are small cubes, and the streets are narrow.

Women sit on stepstones cleaning vegetables, or they sit on a chair by the wall and chat with the neighbour or people who pass by. There is no hurry. If the door is open you can look into a small room crammed with bed and furniture.

There are small gardens or yards with hens and chickens, and cats lie dozing in the shade.

Privy with blue door in Pothia Blue stairs in Pothia Privy and yellow stairs in Pothia

Street in Pothia's old town Cat in Pothia's old town Women in Pothia
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The old town is like a maze, but you never get completely lost, because if you go down you'll get to the harbour sooner or later.

You find the museum by following the many signs. Platia Kyprou, the museum, was once one of the sponge dealers' pompous home. He made good money in the sponge trade and was into charity. Most of the rooms are closed to the public, but some still remind us about times long gone.

Going by bus in Kalymnos

Women entering a bus in Pothia
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It is an experience to go by bus in Kalymnos.

There is a bus between Myrties/Massouri and Pothia. You pass through some smaller towns on the way, and there is plenty to look at. You buy the ticket before you enter (ticket office or kiosk) and show it when you get on. A one way cost 1.5 euro in 2008.

The bus arrives almost on time, but the times on the board are more like a suggestion, so it is wise to be early. The bus isn't big, so there aren't that many seats.

Many passengers know the driver and each other. As certain as the law of gravity you get up and offer your seat to older passengers.

When old women sit and don't have to grab for dear life, they make the sign of the cross whenever the bus passes a church. There are many churches so many signs are made. Religion is important here.

Many women (especially the older ones) are dressed in black, and in their dark wrinkled faces you read the signs of a life with hard work in the sun.

The trip back to Myrties at noon is a hot experience. The bus usually waits for a while near city hall before leaving. People get on early hoping to get a seat and to organise all the stuff they are bringing back. The women get out their fans, and all windows are opened if not open already.

Before leaving the conductor ploughs a path through the crowd and checks tickets. When the bus finally leaves it is usually extremely hot and at times so full that it passes later stops without picking up more passengers.

On the return trip the bus doesn't go through Myrties, but you can see the town deep down, before the road goes down the mountain, and you must get off after the last hairpin bend.