As we made our approach to Rhodes, where we were due to land before continuing on to Kos, I could see dolphins swimming in the sea and Rhodes looked quite green. Kos, in contrast was very barren. We collected our hire car and drove to Kos city and managing to end up in the port area in the dark. We finally worked out where we were and found our hotel – the Ramira Beach hotel, about 3km from Kos city. The hotel was very large and even though it was the last week of the season there were lots of people staying there. There were quite a lot of children which I was surprised to see as I thought they should all be in school! It must be like a zoo here in full season and very noisy and crowded. I was happy to see that a number of cats and kittens lived in its grounds.
Next day we decided to go exploring. First we went to visit the castle, built by the crusaders. The huge walls remain but not much else but they afforded a good view of the marina.
There were some intricate carvings on the stones and we saw the window design repeated on a number of modern houses on the island.
I have no idea what this tree, growing inside the castle walls, is. Its fruit are a cross between medlars/apples/olives.
Growing below the castle walls, on the edge of the marina, was the biggest Magnolia tree I have ever seen which provided perching places for lots of feral cats.
Kind-hearted locals appear to feed the cats on a regular basis.
Close to the castle we went to see the famous Hippocrates plane tree, which is rumoured to be the oldest tree in Europe and aged about 4 thousand years old. It is so big that a metal framework has had to be built to support the weight of the branches.
View of some of the ruins in the former Agora (market place)
The next day we took the car and decided to visit what we could of the island. We started at Hippocrates Garden but, at this time of year, there was really nothing to see and all the plants were brown and pretty undistinguishable one from another. From there we went a bit further up the hill to visit the Asclepeion whose buildings are spread over four different terraces linked by a marble staircase. It is reputed to have been a place of healing (Asclepius was the Greek god of healing).
We then drove through the mountains, parts of which provided really spectacular views of pine forests.
I took a photo of the modern church tower at Asfendiou
and a couple of the interior of the blue painted church at Lagoudi.
We drove up a track towards old Pili past the ruins of an old byzantine castle perched on a rocky outcrop.
When we saw notices advertising donkey rides up to the castle we realised that walking up was not an option so we just continued driving and ended up at the entrance to a turkey farm where we turned round and drove back down the stony track, spotting a tortoise ambling along.
We then drove down towards Kardamena, which proved to be as hideously full of bars and not much else as a friend of ours had described it. Driving up towards Antimahia we could see the very imposing ruins of another venetian castle (which dates back to the 15th century) and then drove towards Kefalos along the beach from Aghios Stefanos. We stopped in a beach bar for a beer but the proprietor became very disagreeable when we said we wanted draught beer and we went on our way. We followed the sign to Ag. Ioannis but the road just ended at the monastery so we tried the other direction to Ag. Theologos which turned out to be a restaurant so we stopped for a beer and some cold mezze.
Kos should be named cat island. There are very few dogs but cats everywhere. Outside the restaurant at Ag. Theologos there was a small black and white cat with eyes that looked as if they had been outlined in black eyeliner.
The coast is very wild here and there are only small tracks down to the sea.
After our late lunch we drove back through Kefalos. We were hoping to be able to follow the coast as much as possible but the two maps we had were both really bad – there were roads marked which didn’t exist and others which were not shown in the right places. At one point we drove through a wooded glade and saw a flock of about 20 peacocks. When I got out of the car to photograph them they all gathered around me. However, when I didn’t produce any food they turned and ran towards the car. Evidently they are used to being fed.
It seemed that every turn we took brought us back to the main road as indeed this was exactly what the main road on the island was called.
As we travelled around the island we saw several of these miniature replicas of churches. Inside this one was a photo of the young man who lost his life here.