Tag Archives: Kos

Kos, Kalmnos and Bodrum

2012 has been a year of revisiting previous destinations but this time hopefully as a traveller rather than a holiday maker.  In 1984 I visited the Ionian Island of Corfu and returned there in July this year staying in the village of Kalami where Lawrence Durrell once lived.  In 1983 I made my first visit to Greece and visited the island of Kos in the Dodecanese and in September this year I returned there also.

In my Corfu journals I mentioned that although I hired a car and travelled around the island as far as I can remember I saw everything but didn’t see anything, so as with the return to Corfu I was interested in trying to compare the two visits because if the Cambridge classical scholar Professor M I Finley knew enough about Greece to fill a barrel, what Lawrence Durrell knew about Greece would fill a bucket and if what I know now would fill a teacup then what I knew then would barely cover the bottom of a thimble!  In 1983 I didn’t have the foresight to maintain a journal and the guidebook that I bought has long been lost so all that I have to help me make the comparison are some creaking memories and an album of fading photographs.

Greece and Turkey – The Boat Souvenir

I had some difficulty getting through the body scanner at passport control in Bodrum without setting it off so this left Kim by herself to deal with the request to open my bag that had gone through the scanner and caused some excitement.  I think she suddenly remembered the film ‘Midnight Express’ when a stay in a Turkish prison was decidedly unpleasant and mindful of this she blurted out ‘It isn’t mine!’ and raising a finger and clearly identifying me as the owner said ‘It’s his, it’s his!’  

The security guard was rather perplexed by my bag of driftwood and a few rusty nails but seemed to accept my explanation about the souvenir boat building project and he let us both pass.

The Corfu Souvenir Boat

Kos, Diamond Deluxe and Final days

Diamond Deluxe Lambi

The Diamond Deluxe is one of those modern ubiquitous hotels that could be anywhere, Cancun, Taiwan, Sydney because there are no concessions to being in Greece at all.  If I had arrived blindfolded I would not have known where in the world I was.  As it is, I seriously doubt of many of the guests knew that they were in Greece, but then again, show them a map of the world and they probably wouldn’t be able to point it out anyway.  They weren’t here to be in Greece they were here to sit basting in the sun, turning their sunbeds and watching their skin progress through various shades of red in between the occasional dip in the pool and the twenty metre walk to the overpriced cocktail bar.

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Kalymnos, Sponges and a Monastery

Kalymnos Kos Dodecanese

The coast road to Vathi wasn’t the most attractive I have ever driven but it swooped around the sides of the hills and gave good views out to sea and the neighbouring island of Pserimos until suddenly and without warning it turned inland and after climbing for a while we emerged into an unexpected fertile green valley full of citrus trees in neat rows in carefully cultivated fields which was in complete contrast to the barren appearance that we had become accustomed to. The road suddenly turned back on itself until it reached the village of Rena and reached the sea and could go no further.

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Kos to Kalymnos

Kalymnos Kos

In the morning we took a stroll along the harbour to watch the last of the fishing fleet return one by one where family were waiting to take the catch, clean and gut, grade and sort and put out on iced beds under the shade of umbrellas for sale whilst keeping vigil and waiting for customers.

Out all night but there was no immediate rest for the fishermen because whilst this was going on there was more work yet to be done untangling, repairing and storing the nets, cleaning the pots and clearing down the decks.

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Bodrum and Return to Kos

Kos Boat Reflection

Passport control in Turkey was even more thorough than it had been leaving Kos four days previously and our passports were checked at three separate points and our bags had to be scanned as though we were at an airport.  We placed them on the conveyor and out the other side my backpack seemed to cause some excitement. 

I had some difficulty getting through the body scanner without setting it off so this left Kim by herself to deal with the request to open it.  I think she suddenly remembered the film ‘Midnight Express’ when a stay in a Turkish prison was decidedly unpleasant and mindful of this she blurted out ‘It isn’t mine!’ and raising a finger and clearly identifying me as the owner said ‘It’s his, it’s his!’ 

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Turkey, A New Country – A New Continent!

Bodrum Turkey St Peter's Castle

It was an early start today because we had a nine-thirty ferry to catch to another country – Turkey, another continent in fact – Asia!  We were travelling to the modern city of Bodrum which was once the ancient city of Halicarnassus of Caria, birthplace of Herodotus, the ‘Father of History’ and home of one of the seven wonders of the Ancient World, the Mausoleum of Mausolus.

Passport control was surprisingly thorough but I suppose there still remains a bit of diplomatic tension between these two countries but soon we were in the sun on the top deck of the Nissos Kos and leaving the harbour and as soon as the boat was out of site of port the crew hoisted the scarlet flag of Turkey which, once released, danced energetically in the wind.

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Kos, Askelepieion

Kos, Askelepieion

There was no mistaking that it was Sunday because from quite early church bells were ringing in a monotonous and tuneless sort of way to call the faithful to the early morning services in the various churches nearby.

This was to be our last day in Kos and we had one last ancient site to visit – the Askelepieion, an ancient medical centre or hospital about four kilometres or so out of the city and dating from the third century BC and built to honour the god of health and medicine Asklepios shortly after the death of the physician Hippocrates.

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Kos, The Italian Influence

Greece Dodecanese Kos Government House

“In Greece one is ever filled with the sense of eternality which is expressed in the here and now; the moment one returns to the Western world, whether in Europe or America, this feeling of body, of eternality, of incarnated spirit is shattered”                                                                                                                                    Henry Miller

After all the walking from site to site there was time now for a break over a leisurely light lunch before a final bit of sightseeing which was something that I had completely overlooked thirty years ago – the Italian influence.

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Kos, Cruise Ships and Ancient Archaeological Sites

Costa Atlantica Cruise Ship at Kos Harbour Greece

Our plan today was to do some sightseeing in the city and so after a self prepared authentic  Greek breakfast on the balcony of the room we left the Hotel Santa Marina and walked again to the seafront and the road into the city.

Unfortunately today a massive cruise ship was moored up, ugly, monstrous and completely incongruous, dwarfing the city and the castle and spoiling the view of the harbour and the sea front, an eleven-deck eyesore soaring above the harbour and resembling a block of 1970s council flats, no style or charm, just a floating unattractive leviathan.

These loathsome giants spoil everywhere they visit; Santorini has become a crowded  nightmare, Dubrovnik is overwhelmed, Venice is sinking under the weight of tens of thousands of people.  I hate these cruise ships not least because I immediately knew that it would unleash hoards of cruisers swarming from the ship for a quick culture break in between continuous gluttony at the all day, all you can eat on board troughs.

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