Travel Journal

Rocks, rain and a raving review

(Friday 7 March 2014) by Mariken
Even though Kalymnos is letting us down a bit at the moment (it has been raining a lot in the past week!), we have decided to stay a bit longer, as I definitely want to climb a 6c here. If there is one place on earth where it should be possible for me to climb a 6c without scaring my pants off, it is here, so I have decided I will not leave the island before I have done it. Secretly, I sometimes dream of my ultimate goal, a 7a, but that might still be wishful thinking. You never know though, when the weather is good, the conditions for pushing yourself to the max are excellent on Kalymnos.

In the meantime I want to make some blatant promotion for a very nice place we visited last week: the Museum of Marine Finds Valsamidis in Vlychadia, on the southern tip of the island. We had read about it in the guidebook and since there are not so many museums on Kalymnos, we thought we'd give it a try on another rainy day. Vlychadia is situated in a small bay on the southern tip of Kalymnos. The road winds through rocky hills, until you quite suddenly (after a sharp turn) arrive in the bay, which is a marvellous sight. Good start, we thought. The museum, however, appeared to be closed. Too bad, because there is really nothing else to do in Vlychadia, at least not in this time of the year. There are a couple of bars, but that's it. On the terrace of one of the bars some men were sitting however, who - when asked - told us that everything was possible and that they would go and get the keys of the museum. I love this kind of flexibility and the museum turned out to be well worth the wait.

The Museum of Marine Finds consists of a huge collection (the biggest of this kind in Europe and probably the world) of things found at the bottom of the sea. The entire collection has been assembled by one man, Stavros Valsamidis, a diver from Kalymnos. His son Yannis showed us around. On display are hundreds of sponges, different kinds (I did not know there existed different kind of sponges), ancient (and I mean ancient!) coins, all kinds of fish, thousands of beautiful shells, ancient amphorae, statues, remains of fighter planes from the WWII, everything imaginable that can be found when diving. The most impressive thing was a cube of honey, found in one of the ancient amphorae, which has survived for 2500 years. Yes, you read that correctly, I did not make a typo, 2500 years. Furthermore, Stavros Valsamidis has found so many ancient amphorae, that they can not even be displayed individually anymore, but are piled up in one big heap. A bit like the terra sigilata plates in the Vatican museum, which reminded me of a kitchen cupboard. And this truly impressive and inspiring collection is to be found in simple showcases, hardly museum quality, without climate control or other necessary museum accessories. A real hidden gem. I did not make any pictures, but I promised Yannis to spread the word about this hidden ocean paradise, as he does not have the budget to pay for advertisements. So here we go.

If you ever happen to be on Kalymnos (or on any other Dodecanese island), please invest in the detour to Vlychadia to visit this stunning museum. I assure you, it is well worth the effort!

And now back to watching the sky and the weather reports, in hope for better weather...

  • Sorry... by Aafke
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