Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Greece, Take 3

The Greek island of Kalymnos, a stone’s throw from the Turkish coast, is world famous for its limestone rock climbing. My first visit to the island was with Pam in 2005, the year before Elise was born. We enjoyed it so much that we vowed to return, and we did 4 years later with our young daughter in tow. That trip was magical, one I’ll never forget. We rented a small studio near the beach for 2 months and spent our time exploring the island, climbing and playing in the Aegean Sea. Elise did her first rock climbs that fall and got a taste for snorkelling in the clear, shallow waters. When the trip was over, I think we felt as though we’d had a great experience but felt no need to return. Trying to repeat a near perfect experience is always fraught with the real danger of disappointment. But when Pam tore her ACL this spring and our family travel plans had to change, I took the opportunity to join some good friends from Vancouver for a return visit to Kalymnos.


The trip started off reasonably well and I spent the first couple of weeks settling in, meeting new people and getting comfortable with the climbing once again. However, the fun came to an abrupt halt when I wrenched my back on a difficult climbing move. The injury caused spasms that made it difficult to walk comfortably, and I spent the next 2 weeks resting in my studio and gently moving about the village. I put my head down and worked, and did my best to enjoy the company of my fellow Canadians who were very supportive. I was grateful for this. Without family or friends to assist me, the convalescence would have been much more trying. 

After 16 days of rest, my back felt well enough for strenuous hiking so I decided to try a bit of climbing before the trip came to an end. The climbing went well and I managed to finish on a high note, a result I had thought very unlikely.

Getting off the island to start the journey home was not a smooth transition, though. High winds during our final days caused us concern over ferry cancellations, and when we did finally get on a boat, it broke down in the Kalymnos harbour. Luckily, a second boat was on standby and we churned off into the night toward Kos, an adjacent island with an airport from which we’d board the first of three flights that led back to Canada. 

Would I return to Kalymnos? Under the right conditions, I think I would. The limestone climbing is some of the best in the world and the island ambiance is very unique. I would, however, most like to do this with my family. As Elise grows older she gets more and more capable, and I think she’d have a wonderful time and retain more memories if we ever chose to return. And did I mention the cats? They’re everywhere…

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