Kos to Amorgos: into the unknown

I spent much of Saturday wandering the streets of Kos, killing time until the ferry, rescheduled for 16.15 from the original 12.30.

I had breakfast at 08.00 and then headed out in search of a decent cup of coffee but not before wandering around the harbour to suss things out.  Kos harbour is orders of magnitude bigger and busier than Nisyros, with ferries, trip boats and fishing boats buzzing in and out most of the time.  There was a neat line of sleek caiques parked along one stretch of key, very colourful and orderly in the early morning sun.

One corner of Kos harbour

I wandered around to where the ferry would dock later in the day and was surprised to see it already there on its way South to Rhodes.  It was chaos with lorries, cars and motorbikes coming off from two large openings and cutting across the foot passenger people who were disgorging from the right hand side.  The chaos was exacerbated by a change in road priorities, the ‘straight-ahead’ option having been closed off and all vehicles forced to turn left straight across the path of those on foot.  Added to this was a young lass from the Hellenic Coastguard who was attempting to bring order to the chaos with the aid of a whistle. She had it clamped between her teeth and kept whistling furiously at few second intervals.  Unfortunately it was impossible to know what the whistles meant or who was being whistled at.  Three angry blasts on the whistle meant ‘STOP you’re going to run someone over’  Three angry blasts on the whistle meant ‘hurry up it’s your turn to go, get out of the way AND QUICKLY’ .  Two cars were whistled to and waved on simultaneously so that they nearly reversed into each other turning in opposite directions.  It was fun to watch but I wouldn’t like to have been a driver.

The chaos when the Blue Star ferry comes in

I wandered around to look at the famous ‘Hippocratus Tree’.  Yes, he of the oath not only practiced medicine on Kos but, it is claimed, sat under a tree which is now famous.  And a very sickly specimen of its kind it is, supported by extensive scaffolding.

The tree of Hippocrates, a 500 year old oriental plane, supposed descendant of the original under which Hippocrates taught his pupils 2,400 years ago

Old water fountain o n the opposite side

Detail of one of the marble columns of the fountain

My wanderings also took me past ‘Quaint Corner’, a tiny bit of St Ives in the egean, including the fish and chip shop, to the end of a marina quay with views passed a small peninsula and across to Turkey.  I have said before how close Europe and Asia are along the Dodecanese chain of islands.  From this point on Kos you can see individual blocks of houses on the Turkish coast with the naked eye.  You also get a good view of The Other Greece.

'St Ives Corner' complete with fish and chip taverna

The end of Europe on the left, beginning of The Orient on the right

Greece and the end of Europe on the left, Turkey and the beginning of The Orient on the right

The Other Greece

Then I just ambled back to the hotel, sticking my nose into an archaeological site where exploration work is obviously deferred until funding can be attracted.  But there  were a few bits of ancient marble carving including one incorporated into a small church on the site.

Old marble carving incorporated into church frontage

From there to the harbour in plenty of time to catch the ferry at 16.15.  Indeed plenty of time to have a very enjoyable fresh orange juice in the harbour café. As well as plenty of time to stand in the queue waiting until 17.30 when it eventually came.

From that point on I was stepping into the unknown.  It had been the unknown killing time in Kos for a good part of a day but at least I had been to Kos before. Walk across the width of the quayside and then ….. brand new experience.

In the few paces it takes to walk up the carpeted ramp to the passenger entrance to the ferry you go from the heat, noise, frenetic bustle that is an island harbourside into air-conditioned peace and calm.  Escalators glide you and your luggage smoothly up to the 7th Floor where you have a choice of lounges and bars and coffee shops and restaurants.  Uniformed waiters come and ask if you want drinks or something to snack on.  I sat in seats by the floor to ceiling picture windows at the back end of the boat and watched the continuing activity on the harbourside as if it were on television it was so removed from this new reality.  And there was internet connection via satellite!!!!!!!  It’s not free but it’s cheaper than the internet café on Nisyros.

I sat for a bit and then as usual got restless so went for a wander around the boat.  It was huge.  I re-parked myself at the sharp end as we were heading towards the sunset but then went for a walk with the camera in the distinctly warmer air on the outside.

Sunset from the ferry

Lifeboats in the sunset

We reached Amorgos earlier than I expected, I think because the boat increased speed to try to catch up some time. Otherwise I would have posted this blog via satellite which would have been another first for me.

It was still nearly 21.00 and nearly dark when we finally got off the boat.  I didn’t want to end up in the position of wandering the streets looking for a place to stay as I had been after my arrival in Kos, so when a guy with a minibus asked if I would like a room up in the Chora (the old village in the mountains) I gladly agreed.  It’s very compact and bijou but it was a relief to have a place to lay my head.  And the very essence of ησυχία. Even down to the Van Gogh chairs.

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