Friday, July 5, 2013

Kos - First Impressions

Note - I'm posting from cafes etc. with Internet connections that are slow - too slow for pictures, for the most part. I'll post a mess of photos as soon as I stumble upon a better connection or someplace where I can plug in and my lame battery is not an issue.

Saturday, June 29, 2013—Kos Town, Kos, Greece
Took a hydrofoil here today. Those things are fast!—I made it here, even with a stop in Kalymnos, in only about an hour and a half (they're also kind of expensive, 21 euros). I found a room just off the main part of town for thirty euros a night. This price includes breakfast. Given this, it's not a bad deal, especially considering how expensive this island is reputed to be. Even so, I will no doubt be spending more money here than I want to—the island just exudes expensiveness.

Back to the place I'm staying. It's one of those wonderfully weird Greek guest houses that can only be stumbled on by accident or by its proprietress (it's always older women who run these things) coming and grabbing you when you at the docks (which is what happened to me here). My room is this tiny little thing with two double beds a wardrobe and an old TV jammed into it. It's little balcony opens out onto the balconies and back windows of several other buildings, all of which are closely packed together. The bathroom is down the hall—and it's pretty amazing. It a combo bathroom/laundry room. Next to the toilet and the big American-style tub (huge by European standards) is a large washing machine. What's really bizarre it that they've got the washer draining into to toilet—there's a pipe with soaping water attached to the bowl (they've actually altered the bowl so the pipe can sit in it when the cover's closed). The place has also got thin walls and the rooms these odd doors, the top of which are smoked glass. When these doors are shut, even as quietly as possible, the whole building seems to be rattling. Added to this, the walls in the hall, the laundry room, etc. are adorned with Byzantine religious iconography. Almost as a kind of counterpoint, my room features an erotic photo of a pretty model-type couple embracing (so tasteless that it's almost pornographic). On the wall across from this is a needlepoint of young lovers embrace with a sunset backdrop. Amazing …          

I got in pretty early today, a little after noon. So I've had plenty of time to wander the town. It's a typical Greek island city, pretty, but really not all that different from, say, Hania or Rhodes Town (structurally it's nowhere near as interesting as those places). It is newer. A big earthquake leveled the place in 1933 so it lacks a lot of the old Venetian architecture and twisty alleys found in other Greek cities (though it does have the remains of a Knights of St. John Castle right in the middle its waterfront). Because of this is feel more spacious and relaxed. Still, it's filled with stalls selling the same old stuff you can get anywhere in these islands, as well as tourist restaurants that might as all have the same menu. The town is loaded with archaeological sites (two of which I explored today), but it's beaches look very mediocre (they're also fairly crowded—I seem to be back into the German tourist zone). So far I'd say this place is a mixed bag …

I feel like I've pretty much seen everything that interests me in town (unfortunately the archaeological museum is closed down, indefinitely). So tomorrow I think I'm going to take a bus to check out the beaches of the southwest of the island, either that or one on the north coast. I'm going to be here for two more full days, so I'll probably end up hitting both places either way. So far I'd say this place is EXACTLY what I expected it to be: pretty, touristy, and ultimately an island worth checking out for a short period, but not my style for any length of time. The main thing that bugs me about these kinds of places is that they really could be any beachie place in the world. Kos Town, for example, might as well be Rhodes Town or Biarritz or even Waikiki … I’m in Greece, but as long as I'm in this town that doesn't really matter: I'm in Beach Vacationland—that's the fundamental baseline I'm dealing with …

Since I've be eating in the last two nights I'm going to splurge a little bit on dinner tonight. There's a place called Elia's that Lonely Planet raves about, an oasis in the middle of the tourist district. I hunted it down this afternoon (it blended in really well—I passed it three times before I figured out it was the place I was looking for). It looks ritzy, but the prices weren't too bad. Then I plan on heading over to someplace called the Bittersweet Music Bar (or maybe it was “Lounge”). Mainly because it looked like a pretty cool place to hang out and I like the minimalist drum-and-bass tracks they were pumping out (it's Saturday night, though, so I may find a way less mellow scene tonight).

Notes on Leaving Leros:
As I watched Leros flow by me on my way to Kos I learned a lot about its geography. It's a harsh looking place. High mountains coming directly out of the sea, featuring almost nothing in the way of coastal flatlands or even beaches: surf striking rocky shores for miles. Dry landscape, scrub vegetation, which looks like it would even have a hard time supporting much of a goat population. Little in the way of settlement. It looked like it would be hard, unrewarding hiking. Kalymnos, the island just to the south of Leros, looks like an extension of this landscape. This makes me think that I made the right decision in exploring Leros lightly and skipping Kalymnos altogether. I only have so much time and money and I can't do everything. So far my instincts seem to be spot on …

General Notes:
My ankles and knees are really sore. I need to stay off my feet for the next few days, as the next two islands I'm planning on heading to—Nisyros and Tilos—are back-of-beyond places that are going to be all about hiking.

The wind that came up in Leros yesterday is blasting a way here as well. It's keeping things cool, but kind of screwing up the beaches. Hoping tomorrow won't be a windy, sandy mess.

Been having lots of weird intense dreams the last few nights, about nothing that at least directly has anything to do with Greece, featuring people from back home, in some cases people I haven't really thought much of in years. Have no idea what's causing them. Not too concerned.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Those dreams are trying to tell you, "don't forget your class reunion this year, all of us are looking forward to seeing you"..... Wiki