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Pothia and Chora in Kalymnos
Pothia is with its more than 12,000 inhabitants the third largest town in the island group of Dodecanese, after Rhodes town and Kos town. Unlike the latter two towns, which are extremely adapted to tourists, Pothia is a town dominated by Greek everyday life. One may resemble Pothia with Athens in miniature, or Ermopoulis in Syros. But unlike Ermopoulis, which is a very smart town, Pothia is not particularly beautiful, rather noisy and intense, Pothia is as it is "for real".
View of Pothia from Agios Savvas Monastery.
The Greek daily life is always present, around the clock, year round. Indeed, there are some knick knack shops and sponge hawkers along the waterfront, but otherwise it is the Greek everyday life that dominates. As a tourist, one disappear in the crowd, especially at night when all dressed up villagers stroll from the alleys to go on their volta, or to have a good time at one of the nice ouzeries.
Part of the port promenade in Pothia.
The first time I came to Pothia, I was frightened about all this Greek, for example I disliked that the signs were in Greek, today I think it contributes to the feeling of actually being in Greece. The most Greek part of Pothia is in the area behind the Town Hall and the Cathedral of the Transfiguration of Jesus Christ.
Please go there in the evening just before the sunset and absorb the Greek everyday life: old women and old men on the terraces, cackling hens, suspicious cats, family dinners in small gardens, houses in ruins with magnificent ornaments and doors and windows in all sorts of colours.
The waterfront can be extremely touristy in villages that stands on the coast, like in Naxos town and Pythagorion in Samos. The waterfront in Pothia is one exception: tavernas, bars and ouzeries are first and foremost adapted to the Greeks. Sit down at one of the ouzeries and enjoy the Greek evening life, the time flies and every minute is a story.
All the places I've eaten at have been good. However, I have a favourite, and it is Ouzeria Kafenés next to the yellow Town Hall (which in turn lies next to the Cathedral of the Transfiguration of Jesus Christ). The neighbouring Ouzeria Mania also serves very good food. Normally ouzeries only have a few dishes on the menu, but here they have full-scale menus.
Ouzeria Kafenés in Pothia.
Pothia offers all sorts of amenities, such as banks, travel agencies, record stores, supermarkets, bus station, taxi rank, tavernas, bars, ouzeries, kafenións and gyros places. There are also two interesting museums: the Nautical Museum on the waterfront shows objects from Kalymnos interesting maritime history, and the Archaeological Museum which lies a little out of the way and is difficult to find. The Archaeological Museum is newly renovated and well worth a visit. To get there, walk or drive the main shopping street out of Pothia, towards Chora (which is built togheter with Pothia). (The sidewalks along the shopping street must be the island world's highest.)
Archaeological Museum of Pothia.
When you almost have reached the taxi square, you will see a sign pointing to the right. Inside the maze of alleys lies the Archaeological Museum. Close to Chora are two sights well worth visiting: Chrysocheria Castle and Castle of Chora. And do not miss the Agios Savvas Monastery above Pothia.
The beach in Pothia.
If you choose to stay overnight in Pothia, you have quit a long way to the nearest beach. There is a small beach at the outer breakwater that is good enough for a cooling dip, but nowhere to spend a whole day. A few kilometres south of Pothia lies a better beach called Gefyra.
ACCOMMODATION IN POTHIA
If you want to stay in a vibrant town in the middle of the Greek everyday life, and be close to many good restaurants, tavernas and ouzeries, then Pothia is a perfect choice. I can highly recommend Villa Melina housed in one of the oldest buildings in Pothia, it is said to have been the first hospital on Kalymnos. Villa Melina is surrounded by a lush garden, an oasis in the otherwise bustling town. Hotel facilities include a nice swimming pool. If you want to stay more central, then Olympic Hotel is a good option.
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