Wonderful little Kimolos lies 1 km from the north east coast of Milos and can be reached either by ship from Piraeus or by the little car ferry that runs backwards and forwards several times a day between Pollónia in Milos and Psathi – a small, natural harbour on the south east side of Kimolos island. I went for a day trip from Milos and took the ‘Panagia Faneromeni’ ferry boat as a foot passenger. It was not until I was sitting on the deck that I remembered having made this journey before but in a car – the memory of having to reverse the car off the ferry re-appeared! The journey is a delight and the colour of the water incredible. On the way, we passed Poliegos, the largest uninhabited island in the Aegean which belongs to the municipality of Kimolos along with the small monastery islets of Agios Efstathios and Agios Georgios.
The dock at Pollónia in Milos is nothing more than a slab of concrete sticking out into the bay onto which the front end of the Panagia Faneromeni unfolds unceremoniously to allow the cars and passengers to surge off and on again several times a day. Passengers can sit up on deck on wooden benches from where they have a shaded but clear view of the stunning blue sea and the coast of the surrounding islands and islets.
Psathi harbour is small and natural harbour with some boathouses built into the rock and a small beach of coarse sand and pebbles behind which a few houses and a couple of restaurants open their doors directly onto the beach. A couple of enterprising restaurants have set out tables under large umbrellas right on the sand. There are one or two tourist shops and a small but stylish little bar with its tables spread out under the branches of huge trees with whitewashed trunks and good music. At one side of the harbour a tiny white chapel on the hill top looks down over a recently enlarged concrete dock opening straight out to sea. It has a friendly and relaxed vibe – definitely no-one is rushing about!
A little minibus marked ‘Chorio’ was waiting for the ferry and people were getting onboard so I joined them! The little bus wound its way up the hillside the short distance to Chorio – the island’s only proper town and home to most of the island’s population. It’s a fascinating town – white churches everywhere with ropes hanging down from beautiful little bell towers and bougainvillea cascading everywhere. Winding streets open out onto surprising little squares filled with bar tables and chairs and, at the top of the town, crumbling evidence of a once-grand castle. Some of the buildings are being sympathetically renovated but lots of others are simple disintegrating. I spotted the odd donkey tied up in the shade and some small shops selling useful things to local people were open for business. Further out of town, the houses were more spread out and there were little gardens full of fruit, flowers and the odd goat.
I accepted an invitation from an Italian mother and daughter I had met earlier to join them for a drink in the garden of a tiny bar although it soon became apparent that they didn’t get on at all well with each other and needed someone else to talk to – awkward! I made my excuses! Chorio is charming and quaint and every corner reveals something interesting and quirky. Everything is painted white and blue and it is those colours that stay with you after you have gone. That and the flowers.
Kimolos covers 36 kms² and at the last count (in 2011) had a population of 910. There are several small settlements around the island and lots of the islanders have returned from elsewhere to spend their retirement years farming and fishing. I chatted to some elderly Greek men outside the main town shop, while waiting for the bus back down to Psathi. One of them had worked in the UK in his youth. Brexit is a popular topic of conversation here – I wish my Greek was better! I was reliably informed by a young local owner of a small hotel that very few people remain in the winter as the island is bleak and there is nothing at all to do. Most head to Athens for a more civilized winter returning in Spring to prepare for the tourist season and more clement weather.
Back in Psathi, I spent the afternoon on the little beach and swimming in the clear and deep water. A nice Greek man who owned a house behind the beach offered me some of his ‘Ladenya’ – a type of Greek pizza – and introduced me to his family. I very much regret not being able to speak better Greek as I have met lots of friendly people here and would love to be able to have a proper conversation with them. I spent a lovely, relaxing last hour waiting for the ferry back, sipping frappé in the café under the trees and watching people and boats. Apparently Kimolos undergoes a transformation in high season and is packed with Greek and Italian tourists and their vehicles but at the end of June it was just perfect. Blue and white, pretty and friendly – I was sad to leave.
NEXT ISLAND: Staying in the Cyclades, Serifos.