18 December 2023

Why Climbing holidays in Spain are better than on Kalymnos

The experience of travelling to the crag in Spain is much better than Kalymnos. In Spain you and your buddy climb into an efficient little hatchback, tune into local radio and quietly bumble up the mountain roads. In Kalymnos everyone travels in mobs on badly maintained mopeds, filling the valleys with an annoying whining noise and leaving trails of 2-stroke exhaust that can be smelled from the top of a 20 metre climb.

You also get a more varied travel experience in Spain. After a day of climbing you might find yourself sharing the town square with a group of touring cyclists, a joyous gaggle of noisy school children, a dance class, a fairground, a table of retired people playing cards. Whereas on Kalymnos it's just climbers with their oh-so-serious climber conversation with its ever present competitive undertone. It gets a bit tiresome after the 8th day. And the worst part is you're painfully aware that you are part of this oversubscribed EU regeneration experiment. You are just another climber stretching the infrastructure of a tiny island and supporting the relentless clearing of bird habitat so that another crag can be bolted.

The everyday logistics are also better in Spain. The apartments are usually bigger and better equipped and the supermarkets have huge range so you can self-cater these amazing lazy tapas dinners on the balcony, watching the sun set. Whereas in Kalymnos you kind of have to pay for another busy restaurant, even if you're feeling quiet and reflective on that evening.

In Spain you can drink the tap water whereas in Kalymnos you have to take your plastic bottles to the refill stations every day. And then when you're done with the plastic, there's no recycling on Kalymnos, whereas in Spain you get those big roadside recycling stations.

So overall, for me, based on 2 climbing holidays on Kalymnos and 3 climbing holidays in different parts of Spain, I just find Spain allows me to tread lightly and build my own adventure following my instincts and mood. Whereas Kalymnos delivers the same specific package to everyone.