Sunday, 23 September 2018

Life's A Beach - Our Week In Kos



Kalimera! We're back from a week spent on the Greek island of Kos, situated in the Dodecanese peninsula.


In Mycenaean times so many people lived on Kos that it was rich enough to send 30 ships to the Trojan War. Hippocrates (460 - 377 BC), the Greek physician known as the founder of medicine, was born and lived on the island. Under the protection of Ptolemy II of Egypt, also born on Kos, the island secured the protection of Egypt and became a prosperous trading centre, but fell under Roman domination in 130 BC and was administered by the nearby island of Rhodes from the 1st century AD. Kos's history includes the conquest and occupation by the Knights, the Ottomans and the Italians and nowadays, the population of 33,300 (an eighth of the size of that of Walsall) is heavily dependent on tourism.


I'd chosen the village of Kamari as our base. Situated at the westernmost tip of Kefalos Bay, it gets the thumbs up from the Lonely Planet for being both picturesque and low-key and several reviews on Trip Advisor described it as being boring with nothing to do and no nightclubs...which after two months of back-to-back music festivals sounded pretty much perfect to us. We stayed at Stena, a block of 15 apartments, just 50m from the sea, clearly visible from our balcony. The gardens were packed with olive, lemon and pomegranate trees, shaded with climbing roses & grapevines and with row upon row of tomatoes, aubergines and peppers lovingly tended by the owners, who lived on site and in the hospitable manner of all Greeks, greeted us daily with a cheerful kalimera and often popped over with gifts of local wine and honey cakes



The daytime temperature was 30°C which dropped to 24°C after sunset. Shunning the rows of sunbeds and water sports on the tourist beach at the end of the bay, we spent our first few days lazing on the narrow strip of white sand that makes up the town beach, alongside the locals who'd pop down for a pre-siesta swim or to fish for their dinner. Used to the bath-like temperatures of the Arabian Sea, at first the Southeastern Aegean was a bit of a shock to the system but we soon grew used to it. The water was so clear we could see schools of fish swimming around our ankles, taking a liking to my turquoise toe nails.  


Greece wouldn't be Greece without cats.


The harbour at the end of the bay was a favourite place for a gentle stroll after a late lunch of Greek salad and Mythos beer. Once the main port on Kos, an earthquake in 400 BC led to Kos Town at the other end of the island becoming the capital.




One of our perennial favourite things to see, rows of olive oil containers re-purposed as planters....


...the rustier the better.









The daily walk to the beach took five minutes, an easy stroll down a gently sloping mountain path.





Watching the sunset....those are the limestone cliffs of the island of Kalymnos you can see on the horizon,  famous for its sponges.


At the other end of the bay, at Agios Stefanos beach, we stumbled across some ancient ruins with no signposts to explain their significance.


I couldn't help but feel a flutter of excitement standing on the same mosaic flooring once trodden by the Ancient Greeks thousands of years ago.


Directly opposite was the absurdly photogenic island of Kastri with the blue capped basilica of Agios Stefanos taking centre stage and magically lit up at night.  




The resort of Kefalos Bay, the 12 km stretch of white sandy beach, is named after the ancient mountain village of Kefalos, perched high on the cliff, a twenty minute walk away from the seafront.


As with all traditional Greek villages everything closes for siesta.


But there's plenty of photo opportunities.








Mornings start early, with a breakfast of sweet, locally grown grapes and nectarines topped with thick Greek yogurt, devoured on the balcony. Even at 7am the sun shines so brightly that sunglasses are a necessity.

After a siesta, our evenings started with a glass of rum and cola with a wedge of lemon, freshly picked from a tree in Stena's garden, whilst watching the mountain peak turning a delicate shade of pink in the sunset.


Evenings are generally casual in Greece but, never ones to follow the crowd, we prefer not to go out at night in our beachwear.



 And my vintage Ossie Clark dress got the outing it deserved.


Dinner, like lunch and breakfast, was always Greek, always fresh and always delicious. Our rules are that the taverna we eat in must play Greek music, doesn't show televised sport and never has photos of the food on the menu.


Jon tucks into lamb souvlaki, his one and only meat dish all week. Most tavernas don't have meat or fish free mains as vegetarianism is a rarity in Greece, but the veggie hors d'oeuvres are delicious and we tend to order three and share them. Some of our favourites were gigantes plaki (butter beans in a tomato and garlic sauce), tzatziki ( yogurt and cucumber dip), saganaki (fried cheese), Melitzanes papoutsakia (aubergine baked with tomato and feta), revithokeftedes (chickpea fritters) and Briam (an oven roasted vegetable casserole).


After a few days of basking in the sun and swimming in the sea, the craziness of the festival season became but a dim and distant memory.





Whilst beach life is pretty wonderful we didn't travel to Greece just to lie in the sun, the rest of Kos needed to be explored.... more to follow.

Linking to Patti and the gang for Visible Monday and The Style Crone, Judith's, Hat Attack #63

75 comments:

  1. What a treat for the eyes your post is on a dark and stormy day like today. Kos seems to be paradisaical, and you're both looking totally relaxes. The photographs are gorgeous and so are you in your summery maxis. I'm drooling over that Ossie Clark one! xxx

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    1. I can't get my head round the difference in the weather - one day it's sunglasses at 7am in the morning and 30° at 8am and the next day I've got the central heating on and Jon's scraping the van window, madness! xxx

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  2. I can almost feel the warmth of that sun, the sand on the bottom of my feet....and what a treat to my eyes are all the blues--natural and man-made....

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    1. Isn't nature amazing? It's hard to imagine those colours are completely natural, isn't it? I can sit and stare at the Aegean for hours! xxx

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    1. It's amazingly good - simple but always delicious! I'm making the gigantes for tea tomorrow, hope it tastes as good in Walsall! xxx

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  4. OHH , It looks so relaxing , I can't wait to see the next post xxx

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    1. It's unbelievably relaxing, you can feel your pulse slow the minute you look at that beautiful blue sea. The Greeks are such a wonderfully hospitable people, too - everyone greet you with a smile and a Kalimera (good morning!) The food is unbelievable, no wonder they all live so long! xxx

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  5. Lovely to see your photo's plus I like that you always include a bit of history as well. You both look really relaxed and rested. I went to Kos more than 20yrs ago and loved it. Looking forward to your next post.

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    1. Thanks so much, Caz. The history always fascinates me, it's hard to get your head round touching things that are thousands of years old, isn't it?
      It's been thirty years since I was in Crete - I'm keen to go back but a bit scared, too! xxx

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  6. You guys chose a great place for some much needed R&R.

    Suzanne
    http://www.suzannecarillo.com

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    1. We did - I'm so glad we decided to go after the festival season rather than before - the excitement kept us going! xxx

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  7. Some stunning Greek photos - what a lovely week you had.

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  8. This post was a feast for the eyes! I've only been to Greece twice - and never Kos - but I really enjoyed the laid-back vibe. It sounds like it was just what you both needed after such a busy summer. Loving all your outfits! The green cross-back dress is my fave. xx

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    1. Thank you! I've been to Rhodes a couple of times, Crete, Thassos, Corfu and Pelion (on the mainland) and although they look very different they all share the same relaxed vibe.
      It's lovely to travel somewhere and be able to dress up a bit at night. there's no way I could wear anything white or with a white background in India, it would be ginger in minutes! xxx

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  9. Looks and sounds idyllic. Love the blue sandals/nails comboand those oh-so-pretty peachy pom-pommed shorts!
    I've been really enthralled with Francesco da Mosta, (well, just him reading a phone book'd make me happy!!), Francesco's Mediterranean Voyage, sailing aboard the Camper and Nicholsons ketch Black Swan. Learned so much, beautiful filming and the boat was built in Gosport, and Arthur's dad worked for them in the engineering dept., rather than the boatyard bit. Small world eh? (And if it hadn't been looking for the title, I would 've never known about the C&N connection). Small AND weird world!! Zxx

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    1. I had to have those pompom shorts, I never wear shorts on holiday but I made an exception for those crazy neon things!
      I'm definitely going to track down Francesco da Mosta's programme (he is rather easy on the eye, isn't he?) I can't believe the Gosport connection, what a coincidence. xxx

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  10. Wow, Kos looks so amazing beautiful. I can almost feel the heat from here. Your photos are amazing as always. What a lovely cat you spotted. The food looks absolutely amazing. I love Greek cuisine although it is quite hard to get good stuff. Your Ossie Clark dress is absolutely stunning. Glad that you and Jon had an ace time. Xx

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    1. I want all the cats in Greece!
      The food is utterly wonderful. We're having gigantes plaka for tea tomorrow night - if it tastes anything like it does in Greece I'll share the recipe! xxx

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  11. Ah, it looks wonderful Vix! It makes me think longingly of our Greek adventure last year to Corfu, Papingo and Meteora! I never did finish my blog posts on that! You look well relaxed and I think you found a wonderful place to stay!xx

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    1. You need to get those blog posts up - they'll cheer us all up now Autumn's arrived! xxx

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  12. I feel relaxed just reading your post. Gosh, that sea is blue!

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    1. Isn't it amazing? I know how blue the sea is but it always takes me by surprise whenever I return to Greece. xxx

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  13. That looks and sounds heavenly. I can feel the stress and work draining away...

    Thank you so much for sharing this, Vix.

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    1. Greece never fails to work it's magic, one glimpse of that beautiufl blue sea instantly calms me down. xxx

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  14. Hi Vix, I love your beach and outfit pictures (especially the Ossie dress!) The blue sky and water makes everything look so beautiful. I recently went to a beach too for the first time in months and it's amazing how gorgeous and healing it is. Xxx

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    1. Hi Jess. You're right, being on a beach near the sea really is therapeutic and wonderfully relaxing whatever the weather! xxx

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  15. Replies
    1. Thanks, Marianne! There's a couple more to come. They help me prolong my holidays! xxx

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  16. Oh how gorgeous that sea is! The fresh fruit (I miss nectarines), the outfits, the picturesque village...so fabulous! xox

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    1. I know, the colour is mesmerising. I can sit and stare at it for hours!
      The nectarines we get here are invariably as tough as old boots - the Greek ones were juicy and straight off the tree, yum! xxx

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  17. wonderful!!!
    a vacation out of a picture book. perfect. and you look stunning in your dresses and bikinis!
    xxxxx

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    1. Thanks you, Beate! The Greek islands really are blissfully beautiful. xxx

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  18. How lovely to feel the heat on your bones again....it was 'bastard' freezing here yesterday. I couldn't agree more with your restaurant rules and loving your shorts,gypsy blouse and fab turquoise sandals. Xx

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    1. Hasn't it gone bastard cold? Can't be doing with it!
      I knew when I saw those sandals in Mumbai that they'd be perfect for Greece. xxx

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  19. What a beautiful place Vix and the food sounds amazing.
    It's a pity there was no information on the ruins.
    Hugs-x-

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    1. It's a gorgeous place to chill out, Sheila. Kos is absolutely littered with ancient ruins just lying around covered in wildflowers, if they were here I bet we'd all be tempted to take them home and display them in our gardens! xx

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  20. Sounds just what you needed, a proper holiday, sun, sand and good food . This brings back happy memories of time spent in Greece eons ago. Your holiday wardrobe worked a treat, you look wonderful.

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    1. It really was, Jill! I love that Greece changes so little, I first went 30 years ago and it's still as lovely! xxx

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  21. OMG that looks stunning!! Bring on part two.

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    1. It was - the colours are unbelievable! xxx

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  22. Fab! Will definitely check it out, even if we don’t find accommodation there! We are in the throes of deciding on Kos Town, your place or Tigaki? X

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    1. I don't think you'd go far wrong with any of those choices at this time of year, it's so peaceful after the main tourist season. Have fun! xxx

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  23. It must have been all the more enjoyable on the back of all those weeks of working hard. I love the cerulean blue sky against the sea.
    Arilx

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    1. It really was the perfect way to relax after the madness of the Summer, so lovely to live in the moment rather than constantly think about the next festival! xxx

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  24. It sounds perfectly lovely, just the thing to recharge you after all the work you've done this summer. You seem to have packed the perfect coloured pieces to go with all the glorious shades of blue in the scenery. The Ossie Clark is to die for!!

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    1. It was the perfect place to spend a relaxing week! I did chose my wardrobe to match the Aegean Sea and golden sunshine, daft but true! xxx

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  25. It looks fabulous and you look so wonderfully glamorous in every picture xx

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    1. Thanks, Louise! It was the perfect break, I felt like I'd grown 20 years younger after 24 hours there! xxx

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  26. Lovely! I can taste that food (ah the memories, love love love the food of Greece). The lemon potatoes, chicken souvlaki and the greek salads - best in the world. We've recently decided that Greece is definitely a place we will travel back to one day, maybe to explore more islands or the mainland. Not sure when but it will happen

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    1. The food is just a joy, isn't it? I love the misshapen fruit you buy in the shops, straight off the trees and tasting like nothing ever does here!
      We're already making plans for the next visit - after India, of course! xxx

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  27. It's great to have you back!! Beautiful travel diary, and even from the screen I can feel all the southern sun! Great colors, flavors, and the sea! I feel so fortunate to live by the sea, but I admit I don't take daily walks on the beach, though it's so easy to do. But the presence of the sea, its closeness, visibility, smell in the air... oh, so therapeutic! I can see how just a few days did their magic... Love seeing you in your maxi dresses as well as shorts - so cute! Lots of love!

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    1. Thanks, Natalia! Living in the landlocked British Midlands we couldn't be further from the sea so it was a real novelty to be able to catch a glimpse from our balcony. xxx

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  28. Such beautiful scenery, I love all the brightly painted buildings! Also I love all your maxi dresses, especially the green one x

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    1. It's just stunning, wherever you look! xxx

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  29. So fabulous, are you tempted to stay forever? The colour of the water is incredible and I did enjoy the background history. Your dresses really lovely. Hard to believe the water was cold. The food made me hungry so have to have dinner now. How boring after seeing what you are eating. Can’t wait for further pics. Xxx

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    1. I could easily move to Greece. I found an amazing old stone house in a mountain village I'd happily do up and share with a thousand stray cats!
      The food is amazing, every taverna seems to have the same menu but everything is made to family recipes so the tastes are always slightly different. xxx

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  30. So jealous it looks so beautiful, I really want a holiday now! I love all your outfits especially the white & green patterned dress.

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    1. It really was lovely, warm but the sea breeze kept it feeling fresh. xxx

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  31. I could feel the sun coming off the screen. How absolutely beautiful and the blue of that sky...

    You and Jon look gorgeous in your lovely outfits and beach wear - and so chilled! I loved your yellow necklace in particular.

    I have to go to back to Greece - I loved my brief visit with my grandson last year.

    xxxxxxxx

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    1. It's unbelievably lovely, isn't it? You should definitely go back. The Kos tourist season lasts until the end of October - later than many of the islands - as it's so close to Turkey and stays warmer for longer! xxx

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  32. What a fabulous place, you took some really good pictures. Loved your outfits, yoi both looked so stylish.

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    1. It was the perfect place to recharge our batteries. after years of only travelling long haul it's a revelation to get off a plane after 4 hours and just carry on, no jet lag or massive time differences! xxx

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  33. Hi Vix great to have you back. Your Greek holiday looks fab. I love your outfits, I'm sure it would amaze people who spend hundreds on one off holiday outfits if they knew how you chose yours. Your cloathes are beautiful, as always, and you both look so relaxed. Thanks for sharing, Shelagh xx

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  34. Haha! That should be, "clothes" !
    Shelagh

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  35. love that beach photo....and that green maxi is gorgeous. It seems that the two of you had a fantastic time in Kos.

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  36. It looks like you have found a really beautiful part of Kos! We went last year and it was lovely but just slightly too late in the year and the temperature not quite there. I absolutely love Greek food, olives, feta, houmous and vine leaves are my favourites and I love that you look for a taverna with Greek music and no sport on TV. The yellow maxi dress is stunning.

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    1. What a shame you timed your visit just as the weather cooled off. I love Greek food, too - I could eat Greek salad for lunch every day for the rest of my life!
      xxx

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  37. Such a photogenic place! I love the different hues of blue. I salute your taverna rules, particularly the sport one, no sport is necessary during meals
    xx

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Love from Vix
xxx