Buses are all well and good but keen explore more of Kos's interior, we really needed our own set of wheels. We could have hired sport cars or soft tops but, at 38€ for the day, we were more than happy with a little red Hyundai. Repeating keep to the right, keep to the right, like some sort of religious mantra, it didn't take long for Jon to get to grips with driving on the wrong side and, with surprisingly good road surfaces, the journey was far smoother than negotiating the pot hole-riddled horrors that we're used to at home.
In just over an hour - we took a couple of wrong turns and inevitably ended up lost in an olive grove - we reached our first destination, the island's most important ancient site, Asklepieion, which was founded in the 3rd century BC. Until it was destroyed by an earthquake in 554 AD, Asklepieion had been both a school of medicine and a healing centre and followed the teachings of Hippocrates who, if you remember from my last post, was born & lived on Kos.
Asklepieion was named after Asclepius, the Greek god of healing and the son of fellow Gods, Apollo and Coronis. Whilst pregnant, Coronis was unfaithful to Apollo and he was so angry that he had her burnt on a pyre but, during the cremation, he realised his error and snatched his unborn son from her womb. Apollo banished Asclepius to Earth where he was found and raised by Chiron, a kindly centaur. Chiron taught Asclepius the art of healing and he became so accomplished that he learnt the art of raising the dead and attained immortality.
Asklepieion has the most incredible views over the Aegean to Turkey, said to have been deliberately chosen in order to lift the spirits of the patients who travelled from all over Greece to seek treatment.
The second floor holds an altar of Kyparissios Apollo, with the 1st century BC Temple to Apollo to the east and the first Temple of Asclepius, built in the 4th century BC, to the west.
Are these columns Ionic, Doric or Corinthian? Judging by the ornate carving at the top they'll be Corinthian. Those seven years spent at grammar school weren't in vain after all!
Making like a vestal virgin in my £1.99 charity shop cheesecloth dress.
As you can see, we became mildly obsessed with photographing these lion head spouts, likely from a sophisticated two thousand year old drainage system. Who says you can't combine beauty with practicality? Certainly not the ancient Greeks.
The other tourists that day were mostly German and Italian. There were a couple of Brits at the ticket office arguing that they weren't going to pay eight quid just to see a f*cking church. Yes folks, we're going to be forced to leave Europe soon and live on an island surrounded by people like that. God help us.
My legs haven't been the same since I climbed these steps.
The remains of the 2nd century BC Temple of Asciepius are up on the third level.
I see Turkey!
After passing the time of day with a couple of Asklepieion's resident cats we jumped back in the car and continued on our way.
We drove up a perilously steep cliff to Zia, said to be Kos's prettiest mountain village.
After parking the car and taking a short climb up the hill, we stopped off at a 200 year old former watermill for an iced coffee (frappe).
According to the Lonely Planet, Zia resembles a one street theme park in peak tourist season with coachloads of tourists deposited every few minutes. By mid-September it was pleasantly busy but not overwhelmingly so.
A further few miles drive through the Dikeos mountains and we reached the village of Pyli.
Pyli was far less commercialised, with just a handful of tourists seeking shelter from the blazing sunshine in the village's two tavernas, next-door to one another in a pristine village square. We took a seat, ordered (just by way of a change) Greek salads and Mythos beer and watched the village housewives scrubbing the outside of their houses whilst cats basked under the foliage.
After lunch we wandered around the village and daydreamed of buying an ancient stone house, I'm rather taken with THIS one!
And that was Kos, just the relaxing week away we needed - beautiful beaches, endless sunshine, fabulous food and ancient ruins on almost every corner.
Batteries recharged and pre-festival season sanity restored, a mere twenty-six hours after landing back in the UK we were back on the road. With the alarm set for 5am, last Saturday we travelled to Walthamstow where we had an amazing day trading with Pop Up Vintage.
Tomorrow we're off to London again with Pop Up Vintage, where we'll be trading at the Brick Lane and Friends Festival (details HERE). We've been out hunting every day this week and we've got some incredible new old stock, even if I do say so myself!
See you soon!
Linking to Patti and the gang for Visible Monday.