A Day In Kos

Photo of A Day In Kos 1/20 by Pooja Deshpande
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I had never heard of Bodrum or Kos until our itinerary forced us to. I’m so glad that we were ‘forced to’ else we wouldn’t have had the chance to go to two gorgeous places. Our plan was to island hop in Greece. Going to Athens from Istanbul and not seeing anything else in Turkey, didn’t go down very well with us. After a lot of research (which the lovely hubby did), we discovered that the only way to get to Greece was to take a ferry to Kos from Bodrum.

The beach and island life begins the minute you reach Bordum. It is so different from the Turkey you see in Istanbul. There is a whole different type of history associated with Bodrum that you can witness in the Bodrum castle. The ferry terminal is right next to the entry of the castle and that is where we went early in the morning of June 1. (Well, it seemed early as it was preceded by a night of HEAVY drinking!) We had a day in Kos and intended to make the most of it.

9.15 am – All Aboard! Ferry to Kos from Bodrum

We got to the ferry terminal waaaay ahead of time. Being conditioned to travelling by air, the rules of travelling by ferry seemed so alien. As trained, we landed up almost 45 minutes before the ferry was to depart…. and then had to wait. We were told the day before that we could come ‘ehhh.. just fifteen minutes before departure and that shoood be fine’ (in the Turkish – Greek accent). Ten to Fifteen minutes before departure?!? How is that even possible? We’re crossing international borders y’ll! To add to that, we’re Indian passport holders, we don’t want anything going wrong now, do we?

The hubby and I were in for quite a surprise that morning.

Check in – 01 mins (each)

Immigration Check – 01 mins (each)

On to the boat – 02 mins (we stopped to take a picture of the DFS.. teeheehee)

The entire experience – Priceless!

10.15 am – Reach Kos… ‘Ahh India!’ *Surprised Grin*

We’re Indians, not really an exotic breed anymore. We’re literally everywhere! I find it quite strange (and fascinating at the same time) when people are surprised when we show up to their part of the world.

Hubby was in front of me as we walked in to the terminal for our immigration check. At the entrance, he handed the security guard his passport. As the guard skimmed through his passport, you could see his face change with the following series of reactions: confusion.. bewilderment.. amusement… excitement. He then looks up with a huge smile on his face and says ‘Indians!! Ahhh!!!’ (Yep it’s us! Indians! We do travel you know! Bah!)

It doesn’t end there. Hubby decides to be helpful and make the immigration officer’s job easier. He opened this passport to the page where his visa is. (He has two books stapled together with tonnes of stamps and visas. Again, that’s Indians for you.. we need visas for almost every where!) The officer takes his book without  looking up, looks at the visa and looks thoroughly confused. She closes the book to see where this passport originated. Seeing ‘Republic of India’ on the book, she looks up with a giant grin on her face.. ‘Ahh!! India!!’ and flips through the book like it’s the most exciting thing she has ever seen.

You’re welcome Kos walon for your dose of morning entertainment.

*Bring the curtains down*

10.45 am.. Dump Your Bags and a Free Adventure!

Fortunately, the ferry terminal is a ten minute walk from the city Center. Kos is quite the destination for a day trip from Turkey and all the other neighboring islands. How do we know that? Simple.. because the minute we get to the city center, we get hounded by people who are willing to keep your luggage for the day. Not a bad idea for business me thinks.. minimal investment… and you realize that Greeks are quite like Indians, they have the talent to get their way with tourists. So I guess we’re sorted if Hubby and I decide to settle down in Kos. I could make coffee and he would hound the tourists. (He’s got great people skills FYI, and is a great salesman.. he could sell ice to an Eskimo! )

We meet this lady who agrees to keep our bags for the day at her place. She promises us that her place is ‘just down the road’. Good thing, we think, because we don’t want to waste our precious time on the island. Our first clue that her place was not ‘just down the road’ should’ve been when she took out her scooter. We started following her and ‘just down the road’ turned into s series of left and right turns leading us into the heart of the residential area of Kos. Hubby and I kept looking at each other in complete bewilderment while trying to concentrate on the directions. In case this girls turns out to kidnap us for our luggage, we will need to know how to get out of this place right?

Fortunately our lives are not that dramatic. (Thank GWAD!) We finally got to her house and left our luggage along with all the other bags left by a lot of other tourists.

Lesson Learnt – Beware of good sales people!

11.00 am – Rent a Bike

Post the adventure of finding a place to keep our bags for the day, we were ready to explore the island. We needed a bike first though. Fortunately Greek islands are a lot like Goa. Lots of places to rent bikes. As luck would have it, we were all set to meet another character – the rental owner’s son. The only way to describe him is by using a Hindi phrase – bade baap Ka bigda beta (translated literally to the rich father’s spoilt kid).

He came to pick us up in a BMW to take us to his rental shop. Any question addressed to him would be met with a curt and arrogant reply. Not really the way you want to treat your customers, do you? Fortunately his parents were around and were nice to us.. especially the mother who gave us good tips about where to go.

We were renting out a regular non geared bike… the ‘Typhoon’. (Fondly remembering the crazy Typhoon we had rented in Formenterra. THAT was a crazy bike! Fortunately this was a little better behaved.)

11.30 am… Brunch on the Beach

The clear skies and the beautiful blue waters is just what the doctor ordered. We headed to Fokas beach as our first destination. Picked up some beer, food and juice on the way (remember the night of heavy drinking I mentioned? Really needed that juice)

The ride to the beach is spectacular! So much blue you’d think it would hurt the eye, but you just cannot get enough of it. We found the Fokas Beachclub, which is the most prominent landmark on the beach. We parked our bike and headed in. Such a gorgeous beach club this Fokas Beachclub. However, clearly out of our reach. We head straight to the pebbly beach and found our spot.

The visibility that day was astounding. You could see for miles! Hubby and I were quite taken aback with the calmness of the water. We have never seen a beach without waves. The first for us. Hubby has this tradition, no matter which beach he goes to, irrespective of how cold the water is, he has to go for a swim. Me, on the other hand, need my water to be warm, and I still might not go in. I like bumming on the beach and having my beer. I have a little fear of open waters you see.

1.30 pm.. City Center

After a good two hours of bumming around on the beach, we decided to head to the city center to see all the historical Greek ruins. One word of advise – the roads in Kos are confusing! Just like Bangalore, it is full of one ways. Always keep the map handy.

Our first stop was to the Tree of Hippocrates.

This was really fun for us since Dad-in-law is a doctor. It is said that Hippocrates sat under this tree to teach his students. However, this tree is said to be a descendant of the original tree as it is about 500 years old and is now held up with reinforcements.

The Castle of Neratzia – The tree of Hippocrates forms the center of a square, one corner of which leads to the entrance of the castle. You enter the castle through and ancient bridge, which was originally built over a moat. Today, the bridge is over one of Kos’s main roads.

However, this is where the fascination ended. A 3 euro entry to a castle which literally has nothing inside was a complete rip off. We had visited the Bodrum castle the day before, so theory of relativity, Kos’s castle was a huge flop! Fortunately only hubby went and we saved 3 euros. Bring on that beer.. Bwahaha.

The Odeon – There is something about amphitheaters that I really love.

From the Roman Colosseum, to this, they always take my breath away. The idea of people getting together and enjoying an event, however beautiful or gruesome it may be, it talks a lot about who they were as a community. The architect in me gets so excited at the thought of this.

The other good part about The Odeon in Kos is that it is free! free! free!

4.00 pm.. Hit the Beach again – Lambi Beach

Post all the historical sights, Hubby and I ready to hit the beach again. It was time for the beeerrsss!!

A little lesson in Hindi for you – Lambi in Hindi means long.

Who knew that Greeks knew Hindi! Lambi beach is actually over a few kilometers long. It has good beaches at some points while at a few places there is no actual beach. You have to find your sweet spot out there. Unfortunately the beach is pebbly and difficult to walk on without shoes. We found our spot and got our cans of beers out. The calm sea with blue water and the gorgeous sky… it was a perfect setting to chill in the afternoon before we had to get back to pick up our bags.

6.30 pm.. Get a Dude to drop you to the ferry terminal

Our holidays are never short of adventures.

The Objective – Get the two bags that Hubby and I have between us to the ferry terminal (including getting me there to take care of the bags) and return the rented bike.

The Plan 

Step 1 – Bag 1 and Pooja to be dropped off to the ferry terminal.

Step 2 – Bag 2 to be dropped off at the terminal.

Step 3 – Hubby returns the rented bike.

Step 4 – Hubby gets dropped to the terminal.

What Actually Happened

Step 1 – One bag does not fit on the bike. Hubby and Pooja are in a fix and trying to figure out what to do.

Step 2 – A dashing dude in his late 70s comes along with an electric blue Vespa which could only be a model from the 1950s offers to drop Pooja and the bag.

Step 3 – Pooja hangs on to dear life as she has hardly any place to sit while this dude navigates the traffic with typical Greek dexterity (read.. Indian way of riding).

Step 4 – Pooja and bag are dropped to the terminal safe and sound. The dude saved the day!

Step 5 – Hubby turns up with the other bag and goes to return the bike while Pooja monitors the luggage.

Step 6 – Hubby turns up half an hour later all angry and cursing. Turns out the guy from the bike rental place refused to drop him to the terminal and dropped him at the city center because apparently they’re not ‘allowed to’. (FYI.. That guy was the owner’s son, very irritating and arrogant.) Poor Hubby had to walk all the way.

Lesson Learnt 3 – There are all kinds of people in the world. That dude rocked! 

7.45… Bye Bye Kos!

Loading and unloading a ferry (I’d like to call this a ship.. because it was THAT huge) is a sight to see. The departure time was 7.45 pm. Hubby and I were getting a bit impatient as we it was getting closer to departure time and the ferry had not even arrived. The ferry finally came fifteen minutes before the time of departure. We were convinced that we’re going to set off late.

However, what unfolded before us was a display of absolute efficiency. Giant trucks with materials were offloaded and the new ones were loaded with military precision. The entire exercise took not more than seven minutes. Passengers boarded the ‘ship’ thereafter and at exactly 7.45 pm the ramps were raised and we were off.

Viraj and I have found our new favourite mode of transport – The Ferry!

Spending a day in Kos was a really interesting experience. Apart from the gorgeous place, I don’t think I have met as many different types of people in one day as I did in those few hours on the island. One very aggressive sales woman, one arrogant boy, one super friendly dude – those are the experiences that I take away from this one day. Since I had been to Athens during my post grad, I have always felt that Greeks are a lot like Indians. Their mannerisms, their part overly hospitable and part aggressive nature… we have a lot in common…. urrm almost… they do NOT bargain!

This trip was originally published on A Bit of This and a Lot of That…