One of Greece’s Dodecanese islands, Kos is both an area of outstanding beauty and a welcoming, lively destination situated in the Aegean Sea.
If you are reading this and expecting a travel guide that will inform you of the best hotels, restaurants and beaches, I apologise, you will be sadly disappointed.
Kos, from my experience, is a place to be admired, examined and consumed in it’s most natural form. It’s the place once home to the ‘Father of Medicine’, Hippocrates, and that- according the Greek mythology- was visited by Hercules. The destination was also home to soldiers during the Trojan War, as told by Homer in The Odyssey.
After a testing first year at university, during which I spent a considerable portion of time fighting off illness, I decided that a break, or at least an opportunity to refresh my outlook on life, was exactly what I needed.
By hopping on a bicycle, some of which are only €3 per day to rent (if you don’t want brakes- €5 if you do) , you can cover the main parts of the island in a day. On one end of the island in Psalidi Is Therma Beach, which is situated just 10km from Kos Town, the main tourist area. Here, the water contains a range of elements that can aid joint problems; for this reason the thermal springs attract people from all over the world.
An attractive part of life on this magical island is the cycle paths which stretch across most of the island’s roads. For this reason, hiring a bike is much safer than many people think and ideal for those who wish to admire the views or quickly reach where they want to be.
Beside the harbour, the paths do get a little confusing, especially due to roundabout with a dolphin water feature inside it. For someone who only passed her driving test less than a year before, who struggles to stay on the right side of the road at the best of times and who was completely amazed by the view before her, this proved a bit too much to handle. Fishermen sat in their boats laughed at us as we tried to navigate our way across the roundabout asking, ‘are you British?’ To my reply ‘yes’, one man joked ‘we can tell by your driving!’. Talk about playing up to stereotypes!
Travelling through Kos, particularly less tourist-dominated areas, there are still many distressing examples of what the country most affected by the Euro-Crisis has gone through in the past seven years. With some of the highest government debt in Europe, areas of the island have been left as nothing more than a skeleton. Buildings are abandoned, crumbling to the ground through neglect, houses and tavernas are boarded up, some with tables and chairs still outside. In some outer villages, inhabitants have been wiped out and the places left behind are nothing more than ghost towns.
Driving down main roads, you can see the shell of what used to be an industrial area or retail park. Out of every three stores, only one remains open. The businesses that still remain here are isolated, no-one can be seen inside them-no cars, no customers-and many sit next to dry fields of cattle. This is the only sign of life. This is a sad fact, however Greece still remains one of the top destinations for visitors.
By sticking to the reassuring paths on the shores of the Aegean, you can never get lost. To do, though, would be to sacrifice your holiday to the industry of greasy English breakfasts or several shops selling beach toys. By turning on your heels and walking away from the sea, as dazzling as it is, you will discover the real Kos. It’s easy to walk into the horizon, hypnotized as the sun hides behind the mountains before you, but then you would miss several Roman Archaeological sites, places of worship sat in blossoming grounds and small family eateries where the food is much cheaper and good service is more common.
It doesn’t matter where I visit in the world, I cannot help myself when taking pictures of food. Most of the time, the main reason I visit a place is for either the food or the architecture.
I’ll leave you with this thought.
Imagine a deep red sky, silver water chopping beneath it. You’re sat in a little boat, just you and a friend. The boat is bobbing up and down in the sea as you look around and take in the hills around you. The shore is in the distance but the people look like dots. Music is playing in the background as you close your eyes.
What picture do you have in your head?