Arrival on Chalki – the Island Reveals Itself

It is still pitch black when I disembark.  Just a handful of us departed from the ferry and about a dozen boarded.  It feels like the season will soon be drawing to an end.

I thumbed the Atlantis apartments into Google maps and it was like Pigadia all over again!  Up what felt like hundreds of steps, heaving my luggage behind me. Up past the clock tower and the town hall which both lit the way. Google maps tells lies. The 6 minutes was more like 20 – but I made it!

Everywhere was in darkness. There was no signage for Atlantis apartments but Google Maps told me I had ‘arrived!’ There was a chair at the side of the building which I perched myself on and prepared to be there for some time.   I’d only booked the accommodation an hour or so ago so they wouldn’t be expecting me.

As I sat on the chair I could hear something scratching around in the soil close to where I sat.  My first thought was rats so I drew my feet up off the floor and put on my phone torch to check what was encroaching on my territory.  Thankfully it was chickens and their chicks.

Actually it was only about an hour or so before a lady came out and pointed up the steps to the apartment. I think I’d seen her husband go to work earlier and he must have phoned her to say a strange woman was sitting outside! The apartment was large and spacious and offered a fantastic view of the harbour and Alimia island. I’d love to have seen the ferry come into port and navigate its way around the little islets but I’ll have to catch this on the way back.

The apartment had clearly been recently vacated and the lady indicated to me through actions that she would be back to clean it.  As dawn was nearly upon me I decided to take my camera down to the port and watch the sun rise.

The town hall and the clock tower sat just under the waning moon. The forecast had been for rain and thunderstorms but they seem to be keeping themselves at bay – just a lot of scattered clouds that give beautiful definition to the sky.

The sunrise was quite spectacular as sometimes happens before a storm. I notice small lightning strikes in the clouds but very far away. This was all quite an amazing spectacle and I don’t think I have captured the full magnificence of it.

At 6.00 in the morning it was still warm with a slight breeze and as I waited for the sun to show itself, signs of life began to appear around the port. The smell of freshly baked bread wafted its way from the little bakery. Lights went on in a kafenion and next time I looked there were also a few customers ordering fresh coffee.

One of the two ferries that journey between Chalki and Kamiros on Rhodes left at 7am and from then on everything seemed to come to life. The smell from the bakery was pulling me so I ordered a couple of freshly baked products for breakfast.

After climbing the steps back up to the apartment, I made a cup of tea to have with breakfast. By this stage I was so exhausted that I was in danger of collapsing into my bougatsa. I notice that the room is unusually large for 1 person but I’m not going to complain about that.  It has a large terrace with not entirely clear sea views but beautiful views nonetheless.  Now the room had been cleaned, I showered and changed and caught a few hours sleep.

When I awoke I decided to do a little bit of exploring. Firstly down to Pondamos beach – I didn’t walk all the way down to the beach but just enough to get a view of it from above. I doubled back on myself and decided to walk around the streets which are really enchanting. I do get the sense that this is an island that has had a little ‘boutiquification’ as I call it. It has similar neoclassical architecture to Symi (though the local council seem a little more lenient with the colour schemes!) and several derelict stone buildings which adds to the charm. I’m comparing this to Kasos now – an island just over double the size of Chalki but seems quite confident in itself to not to succumb to prettying itself up for the tourists. However, it is the designer face paint that makes us go ‘ooh’ and ‘ah’ at every turn!

I came across the Traditional House Museum and for a small fee of 2.5 euros it was a 20 minutes well spent. The museum is the family home of the lady that sells the tickets and the conversion from family home to museum has been done well – definitely worth a visit.

I continue my walk around the village taking in the beautiful architecture and albeit ‘contrived’ charm.

I stopped in one of the harbour front tavernas for Greek salad and village sausage before ambling back up the steps for an hours sleep.

This evening I went for a walk towards Pondamos beach but instead of following the road down I took the left turning and walked up past a church and the windmills. The sun was beginning to set but I had already made my way down the hill to the port – the climb back up again to get the sunset views was a bit too much. The road took me down to a point where a large television mast is located and at first I couldn’t see a way to get around the port without climbing back up the hill – the sea wall seems to come to an abrupt end at a sea front house. However, there are steps that take you along a passageway behind the houses and bring you back to the harbour front.

I went to the supermarket for supplies and hoiked them up back up the steps (which I really must count!) in my rucksack.
At the moment I am sitting on my terrace with retsina in hand and where I have been watching an electric storm out at sea. It has been lightning for the last few hours but there is no thundering because it is so far away. Nonetheless it is providing me with an exciting spectacle before I hit the hay! Maybe we will have rain tomorrow. Kalinichta!


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