For this short series of posts on our recent break, I’ll include pictures to replace the usual daily natural beauty shots I’ve been doing, so I don’t overload followers with too many posts!
Travel overseas is risky and a bit odd just now: certainly from the UK. Always the risk rules may change while you’re away, meaning you must self-isolate when you get back.
Let me set the scene. Last year, our daughter and her fiancé arrived from Australia to announce and arrange their wedding here in the UK. Wonderful news! They were due to tie the knot last month. Oddly, Covid 19 stopped that! Apart from all other issues, they can’t leave Australia. (Many Australians are currently unable to return to their homes because the borders are closed).
Anyway, we’d organised their honeymoon cruise, which was cancelled by the tour operator. Around the same time, we booked a stay in Kos for a shorter period so we could take them to their departure airport and pick them up when they returned. Our holiday was fully paid up and the tour operator didn’t cancel, so we decided to ‘risk’ it. Kos has had only 5 recorded cases of Covid 19 and no deaths, so a great deal safer than the UK, where new case and death numbers are daily rising.
The airport hotel was slightly strange, with social distancing for dinner and breakfast. Fewer than usual residents made it quiet. The car parking, like the hotel, was in walking distance to the terminal and we joined others for baggage check-in, having done the necessary online. Our PLF (Personal Location Form) for Greece was easily completed (about 10 minutes completing the online form, and an email confirmation arrived the day before the flight). The airport lounge was also relatively quiet, and we indulged in a drop of falling down juice before embarkation.
The flight, like the hotel and airport, required masks; a sensible precaution, given the cosy climate on a plane. Disembarkation impressed us, with the sensible system of letting folk off 3 rows of seats at a time. The lack of usual free-for-all chaos made a great change and we entered the heat of Kos airport in a relaxed and orderly fashion.
The company reps directed us to our transfer coach, and we travelled the short distance to our hotel, the only passengers to alight there. Hotel manager, Billy, greeted us, and we left our stuff in the room, and changed quickly to find food, as it was after 20:00. I’d done a spot of research on TripAdvisor and we found the first restaurant on the list I’d compiled. An Italian place, Italiamo, unfortunately on one of the town’s main roads. But we had our meal, which was lovely, despite the occasional petrol and diesel fumes that always seem to haunt such locations.
Breakfast was interesting. The hotel bar area served as dining room and we were met by a couple of charming local women who pointed out what was available and directed us to a table. A short while later they brought us what we soon realised was the standard breakfast, served on a tray. Not what we would have chosen, but the situation called for some modification of the usual holiday hotel melee. The young serving ladies, Eri and Tina, wore masks, but guests were excused in the hotel and its environs.
We hoped for the usual welcome session but found no rep would attend the hotel. There were only five on the island, all housed in the large hotels. We prefer smaller, more intimate places. So, no information on possible excursions or trips.
We took a map of the town I’d printed off with various places of potential interest marked and walked toward the beach. It’s always puzzled me why many Greek island towns plant trees in the middle of their narrow pavements, making pedestrians step into the path of often careless tourist drivers to make progress. No matter, we found our way to the beach area and discovered a pleasant taverna that provided free sunbeds for the price of a drink. We’re not beach people, but I do like to take a dip in the Med when we’re on holiday.
Papas Beach Taverna was welcoming, but we were on a hunt for somewhere to eat at night and passed through after a brief chat. We found a likely place in the Old River Taverna, where Joseph answered our questions, and we booked for the evening before returning to the hotel pool for a swim and spot of lunch at the bar there. The food was reasonable but the music, modern and beat-heavy, seemed hardly suited to the largely elderly clientele.
Evening took us to the Old River to be greeted by Joseph and Ilias who brought small bottles of Prosecco for Valerie and a half litre of red house wine for me. The meal was very good. We were seated at a table next to one occupied by another couple having a great time. Joseph introduced us to this pair of German tourists, Karin and Ritchie. After our meal, they invited us to join them. Karin (Kara) is a gifted photographer; her work can be found here. Ritchie, ex punk band member, is an artist producing contemporary art, which you’ll find on his website, here.
We had a great evening with this lively and fascinating couple. They were off to Patmos the following morning and, as we parted company, Ritchie said he’d leave one of the paintings he’d done during a session at a local venue for us to collect from their hotel. We all wandered back to our hotels, well after midnight (bars and tavernas are supposed to close at midnight in Kos during the current crisis).
After breakfast, we set off for the town centre and the harbour to find their hotel. We weren’t convinced anything would await us, as we’d all drunk copious amounts during our evening. The hotel receptionist greeted us with, ‘Ah, you must be Stuart and Valerie!’ when we explained the reason for our visit. She handed us the painting and a brief, friendly note from the Kara and Ritchie. The painting was made with glue and spices. I love it and intend to frame it when I find a suitable frame. We took the picture back to the hotel so it wouldn’t be damaged, before returning to Papas Beach. Apostolis greeted us like honoured guests and we had lunch; Greek salad, the best I’ve had, by the way, and a bottle of Mythos beer for me. Valerie enjoyed her tomato soup and bread and her usual sugar-free coke.
We returned to the hotel for an afternoon swim and sunbathing. That evening, we ate again at Old River and were greeted like old friends. Another good evening. Our first three days already over!
More will follow, as we explore the sites of interest on this beautiful Greek island.