It was our last full day in Kalymnos and of course, it was cold, wet and cloudy. We had coffee in our lovely garden and Erik, Blaine, Ellen and I decided to head to Pothia to break up the day.
Erik specifically wanted to visit the monestary of St. Savvas, the patron saint of the island of Kalymnos, which is perched on a hill above the main port town. St. Savvas lived the last twenty years of his life as a priest on Kalymnos. He is one of the most recognized saints and miracle workers in the Greek Orthodox Church.
Orthodox Christianity is the dominant religion in Greece and there is a long history of monasticism. The island is littered with small churches or monasteries, some of them dating back to the Byzantine era. They are all white washed, with blue trim, and you find them in strange places, such as the one we saw far out into the fields near the Sikati cave. Apparently most of the small churches we came across are apparently still fully-functioning spiritual retreats for Orthodox monks and nuns.
We also spent a long time learning about the history of sponge harvesting from a shop owner. All of the world’s natural sponges are harvested by Kalymnians in either the Aegean Sea or just outside of Florida. There are also sponges in the Mediterranean near Italy but they aren’t available for harvesting after a horrible disease destroyed most of the sponge population there in the mid-80s. Since ancient times, the life, culture and economy of Kalymnos has relied on their ability to collect sponges and it is one of the main occupations on the island. Because of this relationship, sponges are referred to on the island as Kalymnian “gold.”
That afternoon, we sat around on the patio drinking wine and playing domino games. It would shockingly be the first and only day I would be able to get drunk in Greece! The wine was so mellow there. Apparently the secret is to literally drink it ALL afternoon.
While we lushed, Erik ran around taking photos of the family. The following are a few of my favorites.
We were sad to arrive on our last meal in Evie’s kitchen. The food we were served there by her will forever be ingrained in my memory as filling, loving and comfortable. The recipes, handed down through generations, made our trip extremely special. We were also pleased to have some travel companions, also staying at Harry’s Paradise, join us for dinner, during which we feasted on some of the most delectable cod I’ve ever eaten, chickpea fritters, and chicken. My only wish for every vacation I take is that the last evening be filled with delicious food, wonderful friends drunk on wine, and glorious laughter.