Getting to Kalymnos in Times of Covid-19
As I write this on 03. May 2021, the world continues to struggle to varying degrees with the human, social, and economic effects of Covid-19. In the EU and Greece, it seems as if the governments want to set up their countries for the best possible outcomes for travel and tourism into the summer tourist season of 2021.
Greece is scheduled to open to international tourism by 14. May 2021. A good source of information for travel in the EU is at www.reopen.europa.eu. The link that takes you to the current information regarding Greece is here. The page takes a bit of playing around to get a feel for how the icons function. There are other resources that publish travel information on Greece including Aegean Airlines and the official Greek government site at: https://travel.gov.gr/#/. As the situation with Covid-19 and travel changes unexpectedly and fluidly, it is vital that all travellers stay informed and up-to-date as close to their planned departure as possible. As of today, the Greek regulations state that travellers can enter Greece without quarantine by showing 1) proof of a full vaccination, or 2) a negative PCR test less than 72 hours before their travel begins. Following these procedures will allow visiting climbers to get to Kalymnos without any requirement to self quarantine.
The videos and information in this post are from my travel to Kalymnos in July of 2020. This was more or less the first possible chance for travel to Greece for EU residents after the initial Covid-19 travel restrictions and lockdowns that began in March of 2020. My intent here is to give everyone an overall impression of how travel to Kalymnos functions during the restrictions and precautions that are in place.
My wife and I flew from Salzburg on 15. July 2020 from Salzburg. We were on an early morning direct charter flight from Salzburg to Kos at 06:00.
We booked directly with the carrier Eurowings. Prior to departure with filled out the required Passenger Locator Form (PLF) that is a mandatory measure from the Greek government. You will also have to show proof (in English or Greek) of your vaccination or negative PCR test to get a boarding pass.
The required Passenger Locator Code (PLC) arrived in our inboxes after midnight the day of our scheduled travel. This was a bit unnerving as our flight was at 06:00, but it all worked as planned. There were some passengers that did not have the required codes and they could not board the flight.
The flight experience was rather subdued as people in general were eager to comply with keeping distances and wearing masks as mandated. Further, there was plenty of space on the plane with modified boarding and exiting procedures that all passengers followed.
Once in the Kos airport, the deplaning and luggage claim all went very smoothly. There was one other flight that had arrived at the same time. The Kos airport has been renovated and expanded, so there is a lot more space, more baggage carrasols, and much clearer signage.
In July of 2020, the health authorities were doing random testing of passengers upon arrival. I would estimate that about 10-15% of the passengers on our flight got tested. Later in the 2020 season, I flew in and out of Kos at the end of September to do some guiding in the Alps. In September of 2020, all incoming passengers were tested upon arrival with a rapid Covid-19 nasal swab test. This was very quick and well organized. Your test was connected to your passport and PLC. All travellers were required to self-quarantine for a 24 hour period upon arrival at there accommodation. After that period, tourists could go about their planned activities as long as they were not contacted by the health authorities due to testing positive for the virus.
When boarding the smaller and quicker Anek ferry to cross over from Mastichari (Kos) to Pothia (Kalymnos) the passengers were screened by having their temperatures taken. Masks were required on the ferry boat when both sitting inside and outside.
It was a beautiful summer day at the port of Pothia. Strangely quiet for the middle of the summer holidays back in July of 2020. I believe that 2021 will be different with more visitors including climbers and island family members returning for visits from the USA and Australia.
I love it when I can get out and climb on the same day of arrival on the island. Like the harbour area, the popular afternoon and evening crags at Arginonta Valley were quiet, I think we saw one other couple climbing at the much loved summer climbing spot. The streets of Masouri were pretty much deserted as businesses, restaurants, and hotels were just opening up. In a way, the 2020 season was very pleasant in it's abnormality; laid-back and peaceful.
Again, all the videos and story content is related to last season, the summer of 2020. I do think that the information from last year still gives climber's a good overview of what to expect in 2021. I think the Greek authorities did a really good job in managing and balancing the health and economic issues related to Covid-19. I am optimistic that there will only be improvements made in the 2021 season.