We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Castles under the Sun - Kos/Dodekanese trip report

Bucharest
Level Contributor
524 posts
32 reviews
Save Topic
Castles under the Sun – Kos/Dodekanese trip report

Hello everyone,

I spent a week in Kos, August 7-14, 2012, together with another female friend (myself aged 50+, her 30+). It was a holyday of charm, intended less for the beach and more for going around and visiting several places easy accessible from Kos island.

I have been in the area roughly 10 years ago, and since a couple of years I was feeling the urge to return, to see if after so many years (and more experience acquired as a traveller) the places did have the same magic. Well, they did, for sure, and my holyday was like being back in a dreamland.

We purchased a package from a travel agent in Romania, that included a charter flight, accommodation and transfer to/from the airport. The price was extremely reasonable, 370 euros/person.

We chose the Koala hotel, in Kos town, because we wanted to be in a location with easy access to the port, and because that Kos town is a very beautiful place (I have been previously in Kos, some 10 years ago).

I have made a separate review for the hotel here:

tripadvisor.com/…CHECK_RATES_CONT

It was a perfect trip, Greek people were so nice and welcoming, we saw miraculous places and enjoyed the food, the sun and the sea. This report is intended as a “thank you” to all the persons we have met during our week in Greece. And, as you will see, there were many situation where we had met very special people and have been treated extremely kindly.

Because there are many things to say, I will separate the report in different posts for different days, to make it more manageable.

Alia

Bucharest
Level Contributor
524 posts
32 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: Castles under the Sun – Kos/Dodekanese trip report

Day 1 – Bucharest to Kos Town, August 7, 2012

The day started early in the morning, with a friend coming to get us to the airport, for our charter flight that was supposed to take off at 6:30 am. Well, it did not, something went wrong with the luggage conveyor belt and this delayed the flight for about 1.5 hours.

The charter made a first stop to Santorini, where they both left tourists and recovered the ones at the end of the stay, and while approaching the airport we had a nice panoramic view of the island. The second stop was Kos, that we reached at about 11 am. The transfer to the hotel was also provided by the travel agent; a good thing because we did not need to inquire about local transport but with the drawback that we zigzagged around the island to leave tourists at various hotels. Something to expect when you buy a package; not my usual style of traveling (generally I am an independent tourist) but with no other direct connection between Bucharest and Kos it saved a lot of travel time.

While at the airport, we also purchased a trip to Nysiros from the local representative of the Bucharest travel agent; not the best deal, there were better offers at the travel agencies in Kos town, but we intended to do a lot of moving around and the Nysiros trip was the day we were looking for, so this was the reason.

We reached Koala Hotel in Kos town at about 12:30, and after a short time there (to store our luggage but also to settle the problem with the air conditioning, that was included in the price of the package and that the lady at the reception tried to charge extra; it all solved smoothly when the hotel owner came and contacted the local travel agent), we were ready to discover Kos town.

First thing first: I was missing the Greek food, and my friend was the first time in Greece, so we stopped at Taverna Naskos (near the Agora) for a first taste of Greek delicacies: tzatziki, taramosalata, garlic bread, fruit juices and of course my favourite drink, the famous Greek frappe (all for 10 euros in total). I have to confess that I am addicted to the frappe, in my former trips to Greece I bought several frappe mixers, I have one at home, one at the office and some I offered as presents to my closer friends, all for being able to have my favourite caffeine fix everywhere I go in Romania.

Then we entered the Ancient Agora, columns and old stones between palm trees, a charming place to stroll around for an hour or so (I confess I did not pay too much attention to the explanations about the site, I just soaked in the atmosphere, happy to be back in Greece and enjoying the feeling of an old place under a bright sun).

Then we took a leisure walk through Kos town, a place with hundreds of “perfect photo” corners. On the road to the city we did stop to a local travel agent and we bought our boat tickets for all the day trips that we had planned, so we first identified the quays for various boats and then stopped to Hypocrate’s tree, then on Finikion, on the bridge leading to the castle and in several squares. It was so beautiful… I have been in Kos 10 years ago, and now, coming back, I found out that it was still wonderland for me.

Later in the afternoon we wanted to have a couple of hours on the beach; however, our choice was poor, we went in front of the Gelsomino bar where we paid 5 euros for 2 sunbeds (nothing to complain about this) but on a beach that was dirty and the seabed had so many stones that I managed to get some ugly bruises on my leg. I think that the ones managing the sunbeds should have shown at least the interest of cleaning the sand, putting some garbage baskets around. Fortunately, a couple of days later we discovered a much better kept beach just in front of our hotel).

In the evening we decided to have dinner at what I consider the best restaurant in Kos, Petrino. It is difficult to find, in a remote part of the city, and somehow more expensive than the tavernas near the port, but it was well worth. We had a table in the garden, near a flowers covered wall, and ate some exquisite dishes: pickled octopus, cheese rolls with honey, a Petrini Salad and mussels. 29 eur for the both of us, including water for me and wine for my friend. The surprise was to discover that one of the two owners was… Romanian. He came to greet us, to talk a bit about both Kos and Bucharest and introduced us to the other owner, Greek this time. It was so nice that we promised ourselves to return to Petrino for a diner and a chat with Christos (the Greek) and Cristian (the Romanian).

This was the end of the first day, we returned late to our hotel room (of course that in the dark we missed the road several times and had to retrace our steps), tired but happy and looking forward to the next day’s adventure.

Alia

Bucharest
Level Contributor
524 posts
32 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: Castles under the Sun – Kos/Dodekanese trip report

Day 2- august 8, 2012 – Kos and Kalymnos

We woke up early, since we intended to use all the day for sightseeing. We had bought the previous day a ferry ticket for Kalymnos, but since the boat was at 11 am we intended to spend the morning visiting the Kos Castle.

The castle makes an impressive view firm wherever you are: walking on the seashore form our hotel, when entering it on the bridge crossing Finikion and from the inside (where is in archaeological park). We were the first visitors in the morning, and it happened that the young lady at the ticket office was newly hired and for her first day at the office. This was the start of a series of kind of funny things, since she did not know where to look for the change (we had a 50 euros bill, so we finished by paying for the tickets when we exited the castle) and when we asked for a toilet she told us: “well, I have a key marked toilet but let’s discover together what door it can unlock”. So we spent some time chatting with the young lady and that was fortunate since she was form Kos and gave us a lot of useful information. Including the fact that that evening the Castle was supposed to be open for a show. She did not know what exactly it was about but we decided to come to find out later that day.

Then we spent about one hour or so exploring the castle; not much except the exterior walls was preserved, but inside there have been brought lots of old columns that found their place between flowered bougainvileas. Plus there are very beautiful views form the ramparts, a romantic place, perfect for a day start.

At 10:30 we left the castle and directed ourselves towards the port, to take the 11 am regular ferry to Kalymnos (and had a nice frappe at one of the port cafes while waiting for the boat).

There are lots of travel agencies that offer a 3 island cruise including Kalymnos, but my interest was to have more time in Kalymnos and not visiting various beaches, that’s why we preferred the ferry connection and limited ourselves to Kalymnos only. It took about 30 min to reach Pothia (high speed boat Dodekanisos Pride). When we reached there we stopped at the Port authority and kindly asked the people there to call us a taxi (which they did) to bring us to Pera Kastro. This fortification was built by the local people on top of the island to hide during pirate raids. It is made out of the local stone and it mimics the mountain slopes so well that even if you know it is there you really can’t see it from the shore. You reach it by climbing a flight of stairs form Horio, the central city of the island.

It is another magic site, most of the buildings inside are ruined but there are several churches that still exist and they are taken care of. They are more like small chapels, and you can enter them and see that someone must come regularly to put fresh flowers and candles in front of the small altars.

When we went out of the castle, we wandered a bit on the streets of Horio, looking for a taxi to bring us back to Pothia (with only 3 hours between boats we were not sure we will have time enough to come back walking). Since we could not find any, we thought to ask one of the ladies that was chatting with her friend on a terrace. What happened next was so unexpected... When hearing the word “taxi”, the older lady started a frenetic shouting around. I do not understand Greek, but I suppose she asked someone in a nearby house to call the taxi, and then one of her friends entered the house an came back with two chairs, we were invited to sit, then form nowhere a young girl materialized with two glasses of cold water and in no time we had each of us a toddler in our arms playing with our hair and somehow, naturally and with a nice smiled, we were included in the community. Not too much English spoken, but we managed to tell them that we are in a day trip from Kos, that we liked the castle and we wanted a recommendation for a place to eat in the port (that we got). After 15 minutes another girl came and took my hand, explaining that she will lead us to the square where the taxi will come (which she did). It was all so nice, Greek people form everywhere are so welcoming and so warm… and we just had an example of hospitality, offered so simply and so charming… For some minutes we felt we were belonging there, thank you so much to those unknown ladies!

The taxi brought us in the port were we stopped at Violeta tavern, for a pastizio and skordalia, followed by to larges pieces of watermelon (from the house) as a most welcome desert. We soend then some time strolling through the port, Pothia is a nice small town with plenty of picture-perfect corners.

Then we were back on the boat and reached Kos were we hurried to take our swimming suites for a couple of hours on the beach. This time we chose the beach near the hotel, very well kept by an Italian restaurant nearby (I am sooo sorry I can’t remember the name), and we just sit under the sun with a fresh strawberry juice.

In the evening we went back to the castle, that was indeed open. We were curious about what was happening so we took seats and then some young people dressed in antique peplums brought us a program (both in Greek and English). It was a theatre play of the students in Antimachia high school, describing the ancient history of the island, with the foundation of the Askepios temple and the beginnings of the Hypocrates school. We did not understood Greek, but the program explained the main scenes, there was music, they projected images of the ruins and the archaeological finds and tried to reconstruct the old times. It was absolutely delightful! Another nice surprise of a trip that was full of wonders!

After the show we stopped for a quick dinner at ones of the tavern in the port, Fidelio. As compared to the very good experience at the nearby Naskos the previous day, this time it was not so good. They did not have a lot of the things on the menu and the fried pastries they brought had a bad taste (may be too burned, may be the oil was too much used, in any case I left it practically untouched). The waiter said that it won’t be on the bill, but it was, I asked to be removed. It was not about money (I left a quite generous tip at the end, just to cover it) but it is not usual for a greek restaurant to serve you bad food (might be that sometimes the recipes do not match the taste of the client, but to serve something that it is not fresh it is very unusual). Never mind, we decided that next time when we want to eat in this area to go back at Naskos. But it was such a small thing as compared with all the beautiful things we had that day… so we went back to our hotel where we dreamed about castles and Greek gods!

Alia

PS: More tomorrow, it takes a lot of time to put order through the memories and try to tell everything...

South Pole
Destination Expert
for Lesbos, Zagorohoria
Level Contributor
14,361 posts
22 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: Castles under the Sun – Kos/Dodekanese trip report

Thanks for sharing your experiences. Seems you got well immersed in Greece, making friends along the way & your enjoyment shines through the reports. I can tell you are the type who is going to have a brilliant time on your forthcoming Athens adventures!

Looking forward to more.

Ottawa
Level Contributor
2,375 posts
52 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: Castles under the Sun – Kos/Dodekanese trip report

Thanks for the great trip report. Isn't Greek hospitality wonderful! I have Kos, Kalymnos, Nysiros on my list of places and can't wait to hear more.

Karen

Wales, United...
Destination Expert
for Fuerteventura, Istria
Level Contributor
11,892 posts
84 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: Castles under the Sun – Kos/Dodekanese trip report

i've been looking forward to this trip report & it hasn't disappointed, brilliant as usual. Looking forward to part 2.

Bucharest
Level Contributor
524 posts
32 reviews
Save Reply
6. Re: Castles under the Sun – Kos/Dodekanese trip report

Thank you all for your nice remarks and for following my long descriptions. Yes, Greek people are so nice and welcoming, I always felt this and years passing did not change it. That's why I keep returning again and again...

Here is day 3, I am sorry it takes so long but I need time to sort all the info and memories.

Day 3 – August 9, 2012, Patmos

I woke up with the sensation that something is different! And yes, it was, because it was my birthday! I could not find a better place to celebrate my 51 years that in a Greek island. So I sipped my frappe on the seashore and then, together with my friend, we took the road towards the port, to take another ferry: Puglia Queen, to Patmos.

The trip was not uneventful, since the boat was 1 hour late (not an unusual thing for ferries) but also because during the trip the doors were closed and we could not get out on the open deck. They told us that this was a new safety rule, I don’t know if it’s true. Ah well… It was not a regular ferry but an excursion speed boat. The persons on the boat offered also bus transportation on Patmos, for 10 euros. We bought tickets before boarding, but we had another unpleasant surprise: when in Patmos, plenty of people with not tickets took the bus and paid to the driver and the bus was full. We were told that we have to wait for 20 min for another bus to come, and I asked for a refund. We had a schedule and we were already late 1 hour. It was a lot of fuss, but in the end we got the money back and crossed the street to take the local bus, 10m away from the ferry quay; a much wiser option, and also for a smaller price.

We reached Horio in about 15 min and we directed ourselves towards the Monastery of St John, and important place for Orthodox Christians. An impressive site seen from the port (it looks more like a fortress than as a church), very peaceful and simple on the inside, full of flowers. Some nice views form the walls and painted vaults of the altars are the rewards for the visitor. We spent a couple of hours there, including some prayer time for my friend who is a devout Orthodox (while I have no religion).

Then we spent some time to wander through Horio; while I was remembering it as a nice, picture-perfect place, this time looked more as a ghost city… may be due to the crisis, may be just there are more and more people migrating towards the mainland.

We stopped for lunch at “The Balcony”, a nice restaurant with a wooden terrace overlooking the gulf. The best table was taken but the young man serving offered us another. Well, I told him that since that day it was my birthday I could not settle for something less than perfect and that I will rather wait for a better table to be free. He was kind of amazed and begun to smile, then, with no explanation, led us through the kitchen and a back door in the shop near the tavern. There he directed us towards a nice lady in a pink blouse that was behind the counter and said: “may I introduce you to my mother, it’s her birthday also”! Speaking about surprises! So I kissed the lady (she was one year younger than me), we took photos and exchanged wishes, she offered each of us a nice bracelet from the shop and then led us back to the restaurant where, by miracle, the best table was free and ready to receive us, with a very nice flowers bouquet in the middle. The food was exquisite, a mixed platter of appetizers, fava and spinach with cheese, plus some sweets form the house, a perfect lunch for a perfect day. And with breath-taking views of the gulf and of the port!

Afterwards the owners called for a taxi and we returned just in time to board the Puglia queen for the trip back to Kos. We spent some time strolling through the shops in Kos city: souvenirs but also a nice dress that looked like specially made for me. After all, it was my birthday, I deserved a present!

Time was flying fast… and we were tired, so we decided to skip dinner, grabbed a sandwich to eat in the room and returned to the hotel for a good night sleep, since the next day we planned to get up earlier than usual.

Alia

Wales, United...
Destination Expert
for Fuerteventura, Istria
Level Contributor
11,892 posts
84 reviews
Save Reply
7. Re: Castles under the Sun – Kos/Dodekanese trip report

Sounds like you had a great birthday with a delicious lunchtime meal. Looking forward to the rest of your report.

Bucharest
Level Contributor
524 posts
32 reviews
Save Reply
8. Re: Castles under the Sun – Kos/Dodekanese trip report

Day 4 – August 10, 2012, Bodrum

Another morning walk on the seashore for the port. The first thing in our plan was to visit the Kos museum (the sites gave opening hour 8 am). Unfortunately the place was closed (as all the archaeological sites in Kos town, except the Castle and the Ancient agora). So we had another frappe in the port and then went to board the boat to Bodrum. Again late, but we finally ended on the Turkish shore. We directed ourselves to the castle, to find out that part of it would not open until 1 pm. So we took a stroll through the bazar, that proved to be a quite “dangerous” idea.

I mean that I entered a pottery shop and tried to look closer to a painted jar. Bad idea, because I did not pay enough attention and its lid went down; it was broken but it also destroyed a very beautiful and large hand painted platter. I counted quickly the value of both pieces and I realized that I do not have enough money with me to repay the shop-owner (I left most of the money in the safe at the hotel in Kos). So when he came to ask me to repay the damage, I told him, calmly and with a smile, that he needs to call the police. He tried to argue with me, insisting that I need to repay, and I answered that I completely agree, that’s why I need a policeman – to cross with me back in Greece, to accompany me to my hotel to take the money and return to the shop, and this must be done quite in a hurry if we wanted to catch the last boat back to Bodrum.

Well, we were in Turkey, meaning that was the beginning of a long and polite process of negotiation. In the end I opened my wallet, counted the money, took away enough for paying the entrance to the castle and the price for a modest lunch and graciously offered the rest; kind of 25% of the asking price for the two ceramics broken. In exchange, I asked for all the pieces, and they were packed separately and with lots of care, in bubble foil. The guy must have been happy with the deal, since he added a card of his shop. Or just decided that that’s all he can have and he should not ruin his day’s Karma, I don’t know. What I know is that I am a specialist in adhesives, so once home I put together the pieces and now I have both the jar and the platter proudly displayed on a shelf in my house; you could hardly tell were they have been broken, and the paintwork is really, really good.

After this incident, I said that I will stay away from the pottery shops and we directed ourselves toward the castle. The Bodrum castle has a lot of history behind. First, it was built with stones that were previously in the Mausoleum. Second, it was built by the knights of Rhodes, at the peak of their power in the Greek islands. Third, somehow it was never attacked (a single bomb was dropped duning WWII and by a stoke of luck it did not explode), so it was very well preserved until present days. And fourth, it is now the “Museum of Underwater Archaeology”. It seems that the coast around was dangerous, and many ships did sink in the area. And they were, by a tenacious archaelolgical work, brought to the surface and reconstructed in the various halls of the Castle. I will give a single example: all of us did hear about “talants” as one of the ancient exchange means. I always figured that a talant would have been a coin. Well, no. A talant was a piece of bronze roughly shaped and of the size of a lamb skin. You can see some in the museum, brought to light together with the rests of a Neolithic ship.

Also in the castle there is the thesaurus and the sarcophagus of Ada, Queen of Karia, the rightful heir to king Mausol. Betrayed by her younger brother, she asked for the help of Alexander the Great to be reinstated on the throne and left the kingdom to him, so it is how it was incorporated in ancient Greece.

And there is much more to see, plus that the courtyards are beautiful kept gardens, where peacocks can be seen. A place to be visited, for sure.

Before leaving Bodrum we wanted to taste some Turkish food and I ordered onion rings and pastries, but the choice (either of the place or of the food) was poor, both were bathed in too much fat for my taste.

Then we took the boat back to Kos, very tired (somehow in Bodrum the weather was much hotter than in Kos, may be because the breeze was missing) so we grabbed a sandwich on the road home and spent the rest of the evening on the sea-shore, with a fruit juice and just looking at the waves.

Alia

Wales, United...
Destination Expert
for Fuerteventura, Istria
Level Contributor
11,892 posts
84 reviews
Save Reply
9. Re: Castles under the Sun – Kos/Dodekanese trip report

I am glad the incident in the pottery shop did not spoil your trip. Bodrum Castle sounds nice and worth a visit. Looking forward to the next instalment.

Edited: 17 February 2013, 08:49
Yorkshire Dales
Level Contributor
5,856 posts
38 reviews
Save Reply
10. Re: Castles under the Sun – Kos/Dodekanese trip report

Am so enjoying these reports Alia_Aliena.

My heart stopped for you lol over the pottery shop incident....... Very glad you managed to 'rescue' the shattered pots though. :O) :O)

Get answers to your questions about Kos