Kalamos 1989

Kalamos is not an island you will find mentioned in many guide books! Kalamos is a small island in the Ionian, near the village of Mitikas.

In 1989 I was heading by ferry from Zakynthos to Nidri on Lefkada. The ferry was running late and I did not want to arrive too late at night with nowhere to stay. We left Poros on Kefalonia, and the next and final scheduled stop was Nidri. The ferry made an additional unscheduled stop at Mitikas, on the mainland. With hindsight, it would have been more logical to stay on board until Nidri, a large town catering for tourists. Mitikas was an unknown quantity. Would there even be anywhere to stay? On a whim, I got off. A friend had been in the area a year or two earlier, and told me about a visit (by yacht) to the small island of Kalamos. I wanted to visit Kalamos.

On Mitikas room touts met the ferry. I stayed at a small hotel. I chatted to the hotel owner in my limited Greek. He was doubtful about my proposed journey to Kalamos, and warned me that the island was 'no good' - I thanked him but privately dismissed his caution.

At a kafeneion I chatted to a Greek who had lived in the Netherlands and spoke fluent English. He and his friends too were uneasy about my visiting Kalamos, but I could not quite ascertain why, and assumed the usual Greek attitude which does not understand the exploring traveller's eagerness to move on.

The following morning I asked about a boat to Kalamos in a shop - and again the person I spoke too hinted that perhaps it was not a good thing to visit Kalamos. There was a boat to Kalamos at 11 a.m. The boat returned from Kalamos to Mitikas at 7 a.m. the following morning. The boat for Kalamos, the "Agios Ioannis" was moored at a pier. I boarded and paid the 100 dr. fare. I chatted to a friendly Kalamiot who had lived for many years in the United States. This was his first trip back for years. He was of the opinion that I should readily find somewhere to stay. Alas, this proved not to be the case.

On arriving in Kalamos I stopped at a kafeneion and enquired thereabout accommodation. The owner was very friendly and helpful and asked around, but was unsuccessful. I left my bags at the kafeneion, climbed up the steep main street, and enquired at the baker's - here again I was unsuccessful. I walked a little out of the village and came to a huge villa overlooking a small beach, whose garden contained numerous taps dotted here and there, presumably to water the shrubs planted between the many concrete-and-coloured-stone paths. Given the general shortage of water, even in the wetter west of Greece, this seemed to be an extravagant use of water. I wondered whether this building gave a clue to my failure to find somewhere to stay; I suspect that the inhabitants of Kalamos, perhaps under the influence of a powerful landowner, discourage casual visitors.

By good fortune I met two American yachtspeople in the baker's, and they kindly offered to put me up in the saloon of their yacht, which I gratefully accepted. My rucksack spent the night at the kafeneion. The ever helpful owner assured me that he would be open before the boat left at 7 the next morning, and he was.

Kalamos is a magnificent island as far as its landscape goes, and the town is very pretty and completely unspoiled by modern building other than the large villa previously mentioned - in fact many of the houses are in ruins - but I would advise any visitor to arrange accommodation before leaving Mitikas.