Continuing the story of our recent stay on the Greek island of Kos.
We walked to the harbour and town centre, intending to visit the castle, a historical site of interest. The harbour protects many boats, small fishing and pleasure craft as well as larger boats taking tourists to sea and other nearby islands. There’s commercial activity as well, and the local authorities appear to be building a large platform close to the mouth but the purpose of that isn’t clear yet.
Approaching the castle, we could see the road following the castle walls, so decided to walk around the outside first. It’s a massive structure. Those walls have tumbled many times. Kos lies in a geologically active region and often suffers earthquakes. Frequent rebuilding means stones from different stages of history were mixed together as repairs were made. Some worked stones were placed upside down or sideways, depending on how they could best help preserve the structure.
There’s an enormous tree (I couldn’t identify the species) growing at the base of the wall at one point. Definitely ancient, it’s a magnificent specimen.
Walking round with the sea to one side, we benefitted from warm sunshine and a breeze offering some relief from the reflected heat of the vast man-made structure.
Eventually, we came upon the bridge that crosses the road to allow entry into the castle, so made our way up the broad steps leading to that part of the structure. Once in the square, we encountered the famed Hippocrates Tree; the honest sign against this ancient hollow sentinel makes it clear it can’t be the original, as it would have to be over 2,000 years old. But the current living tree is certainly aged, and gives welcome shade to visitors.
We found the entry to the narrow stone bridge leading from the square to the castle doors. They were closed and locked. A notice in Greek, with a short paragraph in English, explained that the earthquake of 2017 had caused too much damage to allow visitors to enter in safety. A shame, but Greece has had a somewhat difficult history since World War II. Periods of dodgy government, followed by the 2008 crash, left the country indebted, and subsequent action by the EU has been less than generous. At present, Greece, Italy, and Spain, form the front line dealing with a growing influx of refugees and economic migrants understandably seeking a better life in Europe. The countries lack the funds to help their own populations, so the extra pressure of immigration, added to the current decline in tourism caused by Covid 19 makes life hard for the inhabitants. Unsurprisingly, they don’t have spare money to repair important historical monuments of value to the whole world.
We set off instead to explore the Ancient Agora. Unfortunately, that was also locked up. We could see tantalising glimpses from where the fence allows an overview, but couldn’t get inside.
Off we went to find lunch, and discovered a charming seaside Italian restaurant. Rustico Italiano offered shade, cool drinks, and welcome food, which we thoroughly enjoyed. This was Tuesday, and we’d already booked our evening meal at Papas, so we booked a table with Adonis, the very Greek manager/owner for Wednesday night.
We spent the afternoon by the hotel pool, and in it, before walking to Papas for our evening meal with wonderful friendly service from owner Apostolis and Leo, a musician, writer, and part-time waiter from Morocco. Another enjoyable evening, where we learned the Ancient Agora, along with most historical sites, was closed only on Tuesdays. Our bad luck we’d chosen the wrong day, but a promising outlook for the following day!