This isn’t my first trip to Pserimos. Like many others, I once sailed in on a day trip from Kos or Kalymnos. From my recollection, I came in on a boat from Kos well over twenty years ago. It wasn’t one of the large pirate ships that I’d seen along the marina in Kos town at the start of this trip. It was more of a motorised clipper or something similar. It definitely didn’t have a pirate theme!
Today we leave Kalymnos on the boat Maniai (Man-yia-ee) which does a daily return trip to Pserimos, departing at 0930 from Kalymnos and then leaving Pserimos at 17.00. We’d made a point of arriving at the port early. It is a Saturday, it’s as hot as hell in Pothia and it’s the summer holidays. Melina had advised us that the boat gets full very quickly at the weekend.
We are one of the first to arrive. A cargo of various types of goods are being loaded on board and we are signalled to drop out suitcases on the deck amongst the various crates of produce. We take a seat inside the cabin close to the back door which gives us shade and a bit of a breeze from the sea. The smell of hot paint from the rails of the boat wafts through the entrance. Over the next hour, the cabin fills up. A stream of vans and cars continue to arrive with more goods, some even balanced on the shoulder of a motorbike rider. Pserimos isn’t going to be in short supply of goods this weekend!
It was clear that these were predominantly locals heading off to Pserimos to escape the heat of the town. Most people knew each other including children who mixed freely with each other around the boat. Groups of teenagers head up onto the upper deck away from the eyes of the adults. There was the odd other tourist but not many, which made it feel like a church or village outing. The atmosphere was amazing!
It is a short journey of about one hour to Pserimos. I’ve booked a room at the Tripolitis Hotel. We’ve worked with Niko and his wife Anna for many years though we haven’t done many bookings with them of late. Every year it has become more challenging to communicate with them. Emails are never answered – this we are used to but last year we were told that they would only accept bookings by phone. As a travel agent, you want everything in writing not just for reassurance for yourself but also for the clients.
I’d phoned Niko and booked the room about four months before arrival. As the time got closer I was tempted to phone him again to check that the reservation was still OK but I didn’t. I decided to put the process to the test.
As we disembarked from the Maniai, pulling our suitcases out from behind the crates of potatoes, we made our way along the harbour wall until we arrived at the edge of the beach. The Tripolitis is the first hotel that you come to but most noticeable is Anna’s Cafe, probably the largest cafe on the island. It isn’t going to be easy pulling our cases across the soft sand so I leave Peter with the cases whilst I weave my way through the tables and chairs to the restaurant deck.
I recognise Nico straight away. If you’ve watched Peter Maneas’s series My Greek Odyssey, you will have seen Niko feature on the Pserimos episode. I introduce myself to him and tell him that we have booked for four nights. “Ah, welcome, welcome!” He greets me with a ready smile and a handshake. I don’t think that it registered with him or that he remembered about our booking. It is now in the lap of the Gods. He shouts for Anna who I recognise from the boat. She had just arrived at the hotel two minutes before us. They both have a conversation and then disappear into the back. Five minutes later Anna re-appears and tells me that there has been a mix-up with the rooms which is her mistake. They do have a room for us at the side of the hotel for one night. After tonight they will move us to a room at the front which has a balcony and looks out over the beach. That’s good enough for me. I’m a very low maintenance kind of person.
I go back to Peter and signal to him that everything is in order. WE drag our cases over the sand to the side of the hotel where we are directed by Anna to the room. Although just a window with a view over to the port and a bit of beach it will certainly do for one night.
Again there is no point in completely unpacking so after slinging our bags in the room we head downstairs to Anna’s Cafe for breakfast. The first of the tour boats have begun to arrive so we need to get down their sharpish. They definitely do a good breakfast here!
We are happy to have arrived on Pserimos and are looking forward to spending our last four days here. Our first day here was spent lounging on the beach and taking regular dips in the sea to keep cool. There were plenty of people-watching opportunities when the tour boats came in the chance to play my favourite game – spot the nationality! Even after the tour boats had left for the day there was still a substantial number of people here. I suspect that many Kalymnians and Koans have come for the whole weekend. It is good to know that the island doesn’t become a ghost town. Far from it. It is lively and has a real buzz about the place.
Before dinner, we walk along the road behind the beach to the Church of Panagia Melachoini set in a beautiful well-tended courtyard. Beyond the church, I can see clusters of olive trees which seem a stark contrast to what I have seen of the island so far.
That evening we ate at Taverna Manola which is just off the back of the beach. It is a traditional-looking place with tables set out under a shaded pergola draped in lush green vines. The choice of food here is great and the gentleman serving us is very friendly and hospitable. During our conversation with him I asked him about the olive grove that I could see behind the church. He tells me that the island is 6700 olive trees and what I could see stretches right across the valley behind the beach. I find that absolutely incredible. You’d never know that by coming here on a day trip.
We end our evening back at Anna’s cafe where we have a glass of Masticha whilst watching the sun go down over the beach. Let’s see what Pserimos has to offer. However, I suspect that it will be much of the same – Beach/Sea/Taverna!