When I told my boss that I was going to Kos for my holiday, she spat in utter disgust. I can understand why. It is a spoilt paradise and a haven for German and British tourists. But I can see why they like it. I have had the opportunity to see some of the most remote islands and beaches in Greece, so I have been spoilt somewhat, however Kos is a great place to go to escape the stresses of fast paced life back in the UK.
Being around 40km wide, Kos is the largest island of the Dodecanese. It is in the same direction as Lipsi, which I passed on the way. Once in Kos I was instantly amazed at how busy it was. Tourists, taxis, buses, trams: the place was rammed. I queued for about 1 hour waiting for a taxi, which included a couple of stand offs with the locals – Greek people do not know how to queue!
I’m very pleased that I chose a hotel slightly out of town. We didn’t go out clubbing, but I could tell from all the English and American style bars, that it would be complete chaos. I didn’t really fancy listening to “thump thump thump” all night. But the hotel was in perfect walking distance of the centre of Kos town and the port. Lovely.
The main tourist attraction in Kos Town is the 14th century castle that stands on the port. It was built by the knights of St John and is a very interesting and great value for money (only 3 euros). A lot of the centre of the building is in ruins, with random bricks, features and sections of statues strewn about the ground. It was a lot of fun walking in all of the nooks and crannies, and not knowing where they end up – they were usually blocked up, but we were able to make friends with some lovely local wildlife.
There are many ancient ruins in Kos. It was actually a real treat to be able to visit the sacred hospital where Hippocrates learned and practiced medicine – the birthplace of medicine I suppose. Also, the wonderful ancient town, which was actually still standing until the 1930s when a huge earthquake flattened the lot. It is a wonder how it stayed up from 3rd century BC. You can still imagine how it looked, the pillars and posts all still in lines where they fell. Looking at the photos you can definitely get an accurate sense of the size of the ancient architecture. How did they do it?
Another pretty awe inspiring moment I had in Kos, was seeing the supposed oldest tree in Europe. Over 2 and a half thousand years old, and where Hippocrates taught his students. A really nice image to behold. The father of medicine at work.
This archeology is all well and good. But I’m not a historian, I’m a biologist.
I do have to mention, that the worst aspect of this tourist haven to me, were the stalls selling sea creature souvenirs. It was sickening. At first I was disgusted by the blown up puffer fish in one shop window. Then, we came across a stall selling the actual corpses of sharks, rays and turtles.
We watched how many tourists walked by in wonder and amazement, thinking it was something magical. To me it was just a graveyard. It may be my morals delving deep into my sub-conscience but they don’t even look nice, they are ugly. I would never understand why anyone would want one on their mantle piece. Please keep them in the ocean.
I managed to do my first dive in Greece while in Kos. I was so happy to be back under the waves.
It wasn’t the best dive I’ve ever done, but yet again, I suppose I’ve been spoilt. The sea here is a magnificent blue colour, and watching the fish swimming around really fills me with joy. There was nothing there that I hadn’t seen before but it was amazing to know every single species. We even saw a dusky grouper (Epinephelus marginatus) hiding suspiciously under a rock. Great to see as being a protected species, they are not easy to find. It was interesting that even the dive school seemed to know that the dive site they used was a tad boring. They have made an artificial reef, aptly named “Toilet Reef” due to the neatly arranged porcelain perimeter. They also have tried to echo the remains of ancient times above water, as old-age statues and relics are immersed and scattered on the sea bed. It does add a little ambiance and interest to the dive, but I have to admit it looks a tad tacky.
After my first dive in Greece, came Andy’s first dive ever. I was able to go along for the ride, and tried to document the whole thing. We were worried at one point as the wind picked up and the size of the surf grew to a worrying height. Fun for swimming, but battling these waves with full dive kit it really not easy – especially on your first time. No problem though, it seemed to be only me that struggled. Both of the boys managed to stay upright, but I fell over at the first opportunity, the dive guide then grabbed hold of me and dragged me into the ocean backwards. It must’ve been a very elegant sight for all of the sunburnt holiday makers. Who said diving was glamorous?
Once under the waves it was calm again. Andy had a box of bread attached to him, and the fish knew it. I’m not sure if I agree with this practice of feeding the fish, I believe you should not interfere with anything while diving – it could cause trouble. But I suppose it isn’t quite the same as feeding sharks and dolphins – that would be awful. It also made the dive a spectacular one.
As soon as the bread was out, there was a fantastic frenzy of all different kinds of fish diving, ducking, weaving and shining. It was intense, but wonderful. And to see the amazement on a complete rookies face was worth a hundred dives. Andy’s eyes were completely lit up, and excitement seemed to gleam out of every cavity in his body. It was an easy ride for him too. The guide literally had him by the scruff of the neck and carried him around, he just glided. This dive was short but very very sweet and definitely worth the costly price we debated over the previous day. You can’t put a price on memories such as this. Worth it!
This entry was posted in Greece and tagged ancient ruins, diving, fish feeding, Hippocrates, Kos by Katie with 3 comments