“Kalymnos is a charming Greek Island situated across from Turgutreis on the Bodrum peninsula. Lately, it has become a stamping ground for people with a passion for rock climbing. It is also famous for its sponge fishing, which has been a tradition since ancient times. The island is still relatively untouched and should, therefore, be experienced and enjoyed…"
– Ufuk Kaan Altin
The island of Kalymnos offers exquisite scenes – and you don't have to try that hard to enjoy them. Just rent a car or a motorcycle if you can, and follow the narrow mountain tracks. If not, jump in a cab and lose yourself in the winding roads. This is the best way to enjoy Kalymnos. Goats will accompany you on your journey in most places, and the scent of wild thyme will make your head spin, as well as whet your appetite. As I have already mentioned, this is a popular place for rock climbing, and so Exotic Ambeli, a favourite destination for mountaineers, deserves a mention.
A place for pirates!
Here, the Solanakis brothers have become famous as the “Pirates of Kalymnos“, a concept in which they dress and act like pirates while serving customers. This is the end result of Stavros having worked in the Caribbean for several years. He then turned his dream into reality in 2014, in the land of his birth. His brother, Manoli, also lends him a hand. Later on, their mother joined them and Stavros's wife also helps them. Now the entire family (Stavros's cute twin daughters and sweet son are always around) is hard at work. In a sense, they have created a “place for pirates" on the Kalamies coast. It is an exotic environment true to its name and on every corner, there are nautical objects reminiscent of pirates.
A most unusual beach club
We chat with Stavros while he's working. The resort owners haven't published an advertisement, nor have they done any promotional activities. Word has simply spread over the years. His main customers are rock climbers and mountaineers, but it's not fair to call them “customers“. Stavros says with beaming eyes, “They are all our friends."
The place serves as a beach club, but don't think of the self-styled beach establishments that we have in Turkey. Here they have created an extremely cosy, comfortable and stress-free environment.
The calamari “would swim if I threw it back into the sea"!
Now let's talk about food. Here you can sample the seafood, a must in the Greek Islands, as well as home-made hamburgers, steaks, and lamb chops. I order grilled octopus, fried calamari and fries. The fries are just like the ones mum makes and Stavros tenderised the octopus that very morning. As for the calamari, “It would swim if I threw it back into the sea," says Stavros. It is that fresh. As the sun slowly sets, small appetisers are handed out. It's also a perfect time for Raki!
I want to stay but unfortunately, I can't. I pay €17.50 for this fresh and hearty meal, including drinks.
A real family business
There is, in fact, another restaurant I need to visit. However because I feel tired, I decide to visit the O Pantelis Fish Restaurant the next day, before getting on the ferry.
This is a real family business as well. The father, Pantelis (Kalikatzaros), opened this charming tavern 17 years ago. His wife and daughter help him in the kitchen while his son, Dimos, waits for the tables.
Don't miss the goat kid
The day's specials written on the blackboard attract my attention: goat kid in lemon sauce and moussaka.
I've been eating seafood for days – octopus, calamari, scallops and various different fish – so I don't want to miss out on the goat kid. But I order some fried aubergine first for a change. The aubergines are roasted golden, with no fat at all. I ask for some yoghurt as a side and the flavour is multiplied…
Dimos puts a huge rump in front of me. The meat has been slow cooked for hours and pulls away from the bone with the slightest touch of a fork. It is served with homemade potatoes and tiny carrots. I can't stop myself from sopping up the juices. The lemon is not overwhelming and both the aroma and the flavour of the kid meat are just right. Perhaps – who knows – you will also come across these tastes.
Unpretentious, charming and clean
O Pantelis is of course really famous for its seafood and fish. However, since it's not the right season for it and, as I explained above, I wanted to have a break, I can't comment on this aspect. Maybe you'll try it one day and let me know.
The restaurant owners know I'm about to catch the ferry and so Dimos brings me some watermelon before I leave. It's on them, which makes me happy.
O Pantelis is an unpretentious, clean and charming restaurant with blue and white decoration. Each product is fresh and cooked with love. I paid a total of €19 for this beautiful lunch, including drinks.
If you happen to stop by Kalymnos, make sure you try Exotic Ambeli for a different experience. You can spend all day there and it's the perfect address for “sea, sun, sand and good food". And be sure to stop at O Pantelis – you won't regret it!
Exotic Ambeli Address: Kalamies Beach
O Pantelis Address: Next to the Olympic Hotel Tel: 00 30 22430 51508
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