Nature's Bakery

My Favorite Playground – KALYMNOS 

Photo of Rannveig Aamodt. By: Nathan Welton. (http://www.dreamtimeimages.com / http://www.aamodtstudio.com)

Coming to Kalymnos as a rock climber is like discovering Nirvana. It's a little island off the coast of mainland Greece and it might have the highest concentration of sport climbing routes anywhere in the world. The style of the rock climbing is varied but often very steep and three-dimensional. Many times I've found myself in an ocean of stalactites sticking out from the rock walls wondering which way to face my body. The broad variety of the difficulty of the climbing makes this place fun for climbers at all levels. You can often see people who are climbing for the first time in their life and elite level climbers at the same crag.

Photo of Rannveig Aamodt. By: Nathan Welton. (http://www.dreamtimeimages.com / http://www.aamodtstudio.com)

During the high season you've got climbers migrating here from every corner of the world and you can be guarantied to meet new people and reconnect with old friends. The climbing community is a quite interesting group of people. We are almost like different species of migrating birds who, year round, are chasing the weather for the best climbing condition. We all have different preferences of what temperatures we like to climb in. Some people prefer to spend their holiday in the sun and don't mind the hot temperatures, and others, myself included, seeks out the dry, cold and crisp conditions to optimize our performance. This makes it very likely to run into the same people in different countries year after year, and to bond with people from across the world. We all come from different backgrounds with different stories, but with a common intention in mind: to play on rock.

My husband Nathan and I both have jobs that let us work from anywhere. We had decided to spend fall of 2015 to spring of 2016 in Europe. We came to Kalymnos in late October with the intention of going to Spain after some time on the island. A month later we saw people leaving, the shops and restaurants closing and the little town we stayed in transforming from being a crowded melting pot, to a ghost town. For two months we found ourselves alone at the crags, in perfect conditions with only a few other local climbers. We felt like we had discovered a huge secret.

It was so peaceful. There were nowhere else in the world I would rather be than right here. That itself is quite a precious feeling. It's the feeling when you are exactly where you want to be.

Photo of Rannveig Aamodt. By: Nathan Welton. (http://www.dreamtimeimages.com / http://www.aamodtstudio.com)

This place gives me deep peace.

Now, spring is here and the island is becoming alive. We no longer have Nirvana for ourselves, but the feeling of change in season is always good. The hillsides are turning yellow with flowers and the whole island smells like a herb garden. You walk through fields of thyme and rosemary to get to the crags, and the aroma is released as the twigs break while you walk.

Kalymnians like their Greek food, and put pride in their meals made from local ingredients. Everything is so fresh, and you can hand pick grapes, oranges, olives, lemons, figs and clementines. It's not that hard to eat a meal that is completely local.

Photo of Rannveig Aamodt. By: Nathan Welton. (http://www.dreamtimeimages.com / http://www.aamodtstudio.com)

I love cats, especially one. Her name is Gaia, and she adopted us a few months ago. We cared for her, fed her, and had her neutered so she could live a life with less stress. In turn, she learned the sound of our scooter and would jump out of the bushes to say hi every time we returned home from climbing. A few weeks ago, we found her on a mountainside with a compound fracture of her rear leg, and Gaia, now an amputee, is recovering in our apartment.

Photo of Rannveig Aamodt. By: Nathan Welton. (http://www.dreamtimeimages.com / http://www.aamodtstudio.com)

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