Arrival on Lesvos and an Impromptu Trip to Kalloni and Skala Kalloni

The three hour journey to Lesvos was very pleasant – despite being at an ungodly hour. The morning air was quite chilly so I sat in the comfort of the lounge. I tried to get my Seasmiles membership card printed from the onboard terminal but it wasn’t having any of it. Anyway the early morning start paid off with a rather lovely sunrise over the Turkish mountains

Oncea the sun has risen and it’s rays begin to warm the day, I move to the outside deck and take in the fresh air.

The arrival into Mytiline Harbour is quite spectacular with most of the town set out in front of me – yes I’m going to use that word again – amphitheatrically! I’m very excited to see what this island has to offer albeit in quite a limited timeframe. Whether I like it or not I’ll need to go home sooner or later and in the next day or so I’ll have to think about booking my flights home.

I like to try and photograph the rope being thrown to the shore when a ship arrives into a port. I’ve captured it several times before but it’s a lot harder to do on a smartphone as it takes time to focus before shooting. I think I just about caught it mid air but it’s a shame that it doesn’t show up very well.

Disembarkation is organised and once out of the port I follow the road around to Hotel Lesvion where I’ll be staying for 4 nights. It isn’t an easy walk – you know – it’s the pavement thing. Pavements are for anything else except pedestrians. In addition to this, the raised cobble stones aren’t the easiest to drag a suitcase along so I take the road, dodging the traffic as I go. Anyway, I make it to the hotel and receive a lovely welcome and a fruit juice. Despite it still being not quite 9.30am my room is ready.

I have a double room without a view but that’s fine – at this stage of the trip when my money has nearly all been spent I’m not looking for sea views – just a nice comfortable bed. Plus this stay comes with breakfast included which I’m very excited about!

I chuck my stuff in the room. Any normal person would have a bit of a rest if they’d been up since 3.30. I on the other hand head out to the bus station to see where I can and where I can’t get to on this island. I now have a timetable and I just have to decide where to go.

Several years ago I stayed in a funny little place called Kalloni in the Peloponnese. I remember discovering that there is also a place with the same name on Lesvos and on this basis alone I decide to go there. The bus departs at 11am so I still have an hour to wait so wander down to the marina. The Nissos Samos is still in port but moored on the other side of the harbour arm. Here you can see not only the ferries that cross the Aegean but also the passenger boats that cross between here and Turkey, the coastguard ships – of which there are many and the fishing boats, all sharing the sea to carry out different aspects of seafaring work.

I go back to the bus station at 10.45 which gives me time to find the bus amongst the cluster of vehicles parked rather randomly in the parking area. Once on board the tickets are checked by a man with grey spiky hair and then off we go. I don’t really know what to expect from Kalloni but I know that Skala Kalloni close by is a place of note to visit. The first thing that you notice as you travel across the island is the number of olive trees covering the landscape. Almost in every direction that you look there are acres and acres of olive groves occasionally intersected by pine forests.

Eventually we reach a patchwork of salt flats which are covered with little white dots. As I adjust my eyes as the bus speeds past I realise that the white dots are flamingos. Incidentally, in the Kalloni in the Peloponnese there is a small wetland which also plays host to migrating flamingos at this time of year. Unfortunately it’s impossible to photograph these on a smartphone from a speeding bus. Gosh I’d love to see these up close.

Shortly after, we arrive at the bus station of Kalloni. It seems that there are several people who also caught this bus also not really knowing what to expect. The spiky haired man is surrounded by people queuing up to ask him questions about other buses. Kalloni it seems is a bus intersection and there are other buses about to depart to other destinations such as Eressos and Molyvos. From what I can gather from overhearing other people’s questions is that from here you can get to other parts of the island but only one way. The buses will return to Mytilene the following day. I ask about Skala Kalloni and he tells me that a bus will leave at 2pm but it won’t return today. I resign myself to the fact that I will have to make the most of Kalloni.

This part of Kalloni looks like a new town with cookie cutter buildings and broad, tree lined streets. It looks kind of American. There are commercial shops painted in bright colours such as orange and bright green. Some are wholly dedicated to selling bicycles, construction tools and white goods. The houses surrounding the shops are also modern looking, neat and new.

I look on Google Maps and see that the centre of Kalloni is a short walk away. Whilst I’m working out the direction I bump into two Greek ladies that had also come on the same bus. They are visiting Lesvos from Halkidiki and are also wondering where the centre of the town is. I show them the direction on Google Maps and we follow the road in that direction. Once in the town we go our separate ways. This part of the town has more character. The buildings are obviously older but there are trendy looking cafe’s and hair salons and all the trappings of a modern town. I take some side streets and stumble across a couple of churches. After about an hour or so I bump into the two Greek ladies again. They tell me that they are going to catch a taxi to Skala Kalloni. I tell them that there is a bus at 2pm but they’ve already ordered the taxi.

There comes a point when I feel like I’ve exhausted Kalloni or rather it’s me that’s exhausted in Kalloni. I make a quick decision to catch the 2pm bus to Skala Kalloni. I see that it is only 4 kilometres away so I imagine I can easily get a taxi back. Shortly after leaving the bus station, it stops at the local school where around 20 boisterous teenagers board. Ah it makes sense now. This is technically the school bus that will be taking the children home. The bus makes several stops to drop children off and then the driver shouts down the bus to me that we’ve arrived at Skala Kalloni.

I can see that I’ve arrived at the back of the beach and I follow the path in that direction. Everywhere seems quite deserted and quiet. That is until a dog runs from a garden at full pelt, barking at me as though I’m an intruder. This makes me jump out of my skin and yes – swear words were said! I continue on to the beach which is wide and long. Rows of tamarisk trees line the beach which right now feels quite desolate. Although the weather here is still nice and toasty it seems that the season has well and truly closed here.

The bay that Skala Kalloni sits on is large with a narrow mouth that opens out to the sea which you can’t see from here. This gives the feeling of being on a lake rather than on the sea. It is certainly a beautiful location and I imagine that in summer, the place is really bustling.

Close to the taverna’s is a marina which I’d read is at the heart of the sardine fishing industry. Every year the village plays host to a Sardine Festival where ouzo, music and yes – sardines are a plenty.

I walk back towards the village where there is a mini market – one of the only places that appears open. Behind me I hear more barking and five dogs chase after each other down the street. They don’t look like feral dogs but I am surprised to see so many of them on the loose. The village itself although appearing to be manufactured for the tourist industry, does seem to have a small local population and also has charm.

After I feel like I’ve exhausted the village, I fall exhausted into a cafe in Platea Aristotle. From what I read on his bust in the square it was here in the Gulf of Kalloni that he carried out his biological studies.

I’ve now been awake for nearly 12 hours and I just want to curl up into a ball and sleep. I order a cup of tea and just as I do I bump into the two Greek ladies again. They tell me that they’ve just ordered a taxi to take them back to Kalloni and ask if I’d like to share with them. It is now just after 3.15pm and the bus departs from the bus station at 4.30. To be honest I’d rather spend the rest of the time here than at the bus station. I say to them that when the taxi comes, if we can arrange for him to pick me up at 4pm that will be great. That is what we do. The taxi driver confirms with me he will be back at 4pm. One of the Greek ladies hands me the business card of the taxi just in case I need it.

Well it’s as if that was an omen. After paying for my tea I stand in the square waiting for the taxi. 4pm comes and goes. I give it until 4.10 before phoning the taxi to see where it is. The man that answers tells me that it wasn’t him that I spoke to. I explained that the taxi had picked up two Greek ladies from the platea and that is when I’d made the arrangement for him to come back at 4pm for me. He says he will make a call and then phone me back. He does that but says that he doesn’t know who the driver was. This isn’t helpful. It is now 4.15 and the bus goes in 15 minutes. He says that he is in Molyvos so can’t help me and that seems to be the end of that conversation. I go back into the cafe where I’d had my tea and ask if they know a local taxi service. I explain what has happened and that the bus leaves in about 10 minutes. The guy makes a call and tells me that a taxi will be here shortly. Well that ‘shortly’ is the longest shortly I can remember. I pace up and down swearing to myself. If only I’d have caught the taxi with the Greek ladies. I’m already calculating how much it would cost to take me the 40 plus kilometres back to Mytiline. At 4.25 the taxi arrives. I know that it’s only 4 kilometres to the bus station but in my heart I know that I’ve already missed it. The driver knows the situation and drives like the clappers through the dusty and thankfully relatively empty streets. I know that he will do the best for me.

Just as we arrive at Kalloni we find ourselves on the road behind the bus. At first I thought that it had already set off and we would need to give chase. Fortunately, the bus was just arriving and driving around the turning circle into the street where it stops for the passengers to board. I thank sweet Jesus for that! More importantly I thank the taxi driver at least 7 times and pay him double the fare for getting me here just in time!

If I felt tired before, the shot of adrenalin now has me wide awake and it’s now like I’m on my second wind. However I come crashing down as soon as I get back to the hotel. This is where I stay until morning.

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  1. More adventures! Those early morning starts really take a toll on you! Great that you got some sightseeing in before heading back to your hotel. It’s like a Marathon sometimes! Sounds like you had a good taxi driver, and the bus connection worked well. Lovely photos, and informative write up.

    1. Haha what a day it was! Yes I’m definitely feeling the early mornings now but glad I did the trip. Thank you so much for reading the post and letting me know what you think about it! So appreciated. ❤️

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