Friday, 22 November 2013

Zia! Enjoy the ride.

‘I’m not going up there unless you blindfold me’, said Annette and so we did. Jen and I bounced out of the back of the Jeep on the way down to Kardamena but that was the old days and even then we weren’t put off driving up the mountain to Zia. Anyone visiting Kos for the first time will be offered a trip up the mountain. The road is a bit windy but without the steep drop to the side that many people fear and now the road across the top down into Kos Town or Kardamena is scenic without the scary bits. The route has improved over the years with a proper road surface, no longer just a rough track with pot holes .The views are spectacular at Sunset and if you drive back down the mountain towards Mastichari you will be rewarded with the majestic colour change as the sun lowers in the sky. Rich reds, gold hews and deep mauves. Go armed with a camera, for no matter what time of day you spend in Zia the opportunity for awesome photographs will take your breath away.


Is it touristy? Yes of course it is, it’s a great place to potter around to buy your gifts, herbs and spices, jewellery, pottery or leather and spend a while in any number of the Tavernas and enjoy the food and the view. It smells of pine trees, herbs and BBQ.

If you are fortunate to go up independently and have time to spare then you will be rewarded, for like any place on Kos be prepared to go off the beaten track and nestling behind the main street is old Zia. Follow up towards the water mill and the church and you will feel you’re in another place and time. The last time I walked up here the Priest was painting the church, Jeans, robes, trainers and paint pot in one hand and brush in the other. It’s peaceful, tranquil and can be the start of a long climb upwards for the adventurous or a steady walk back down for others.

Take time to drive back down the mountain and discover the small villages and churches as you climb back down.

Friday, 15 November 2013

Boys will be boys whatever their age.

My affectionate name for a Kafeneion is 'the Old Gits Club'. It’s lovely to see the older men spending time relaxing with their mates, playing Tavli and drinking coffee and rhythmically swinging their komboloi. It’s also noticeable just how many young men take part in this ritual as you walk up and down the little streets in Kefalos, although coffee might not be their preferred drink. The men pass the time of day in age old tradition and the only sign of the 21st Century is their clothing and the mobile phone.

As I sit and watch this ancient ritual play out before me, Papous in the Kafeneion on the left and young men in the bar on the right, I notice a constant stream of young boys greeting their Grandfathers with hugs and affectionate kisses. Up above me the fierce sound of competition and battle rages as these youngsters play World of War Craft or Black Ops 2 in the internet cafĂ©. Shouting out tactics or successes across the room to each other. For just a few euros they can be kept amused for hours, get a healthy snack downstairs from Manolis and Polexeni and when the money runs out over they trot to the bank of Papou ‘agape mou’. 21st Century meets Old Greece. Who knows what the future holds for the next generation of Greek men finding the time to relax and play?
Sadly the 21st Century has already caught up already and most boys now have these toys at home. It was a great idea while it lasted but peace has returned and I can still sit here and enjoy the view, the food and the friendly conversation with anyone who has the time.

Friday, 8 November 2013

Limnionas for simple pleasures

You can imagine Shirley Valentine sitting alone on the edge of this quiet Bay watching the little fishing boats bobbing about on the water whilst the fishermen mend their nets and sell their sponges. The little bay is quiet, safe and protected from the waves crashing against rocks that form the natural entrance to harbour.


The colours of the rocks vary from rich reds, soft yellow ochres and blue grey. The Seagulls rest a while, waiting for a chance to get a free meal from the fishermen and the tourists spend a while standing in the shallows, taking photos .It's a photographers paradise.

Take time to eat in the Taverna and enjoy the fish.I love the Octopus Keftedes and Ouzo.

If you sit for long enough you might just notice four people swimming away from the tourists. When they come out of the water, supporting each other as they climb back up, they retrieve their hidden walking sticks from the bushes and ride off on their scooters, with the ladies sitting side saddle. What a wonderful site to see four elderly local people enjoying Limnionas for themselves and who knows how many years they have been doing this and for how many more years they will get such pleasure from their homeland

Limnionas is a beautiful place to visit. You will need transport.

Ampavris! A country lovers escape in town.

The quietness of Kefalos and the laid back approach of the Restauranteurs is stark contrast to the busier approach in Kos Town. So when Apostolis from the Leather Shop suggested Ampavris  I was surprised to find myself in the middle of the Countryside and only fifteen minutes walk  from the Old Town and the main shops. Cicadas serenade you unless you go on a night when the musicians play for you. The smell of wild herbs and freshly cooked food entices you to try new delicacies.
You'll find yourself in an old farm courtyard, amongst diners from all over the world, who like me have found this little piece of magic. The specialities are Meze made from traditional ingredients and it will be your chance to try vegetarian dishes of wild greens and meat dishes not always seen on the usual menus. Manolis won't let you over eat, so take it slowly and 'siga siga' try a few dishes at a time. You can find more familiar dishes as well.
We found ourselves sitting by the Farmer from next door, who popped home to get us some fresh yoghurt that he'd made earlier , it was 'nostimos'. A place with a difference and a proprietor with a very dry sense of humour. So if you're staying in Kos Town and just fancy escaping for an evening to the countryside, it really isn't far to go.


Saturday, 2 November 2013

If you go down to the woods today be sure of a big surprise!

You might not find a Teddy Bears Picnic but you are sure to find something of interest when you venture out into the woods of Kos.

'Is Kos Green?' asked my mum. Yes is the answer, but it's not a place lush with deciduous forests, it's Green with the smell of pine and wild herbs, silver with Olive trees and rich green of the Vineyards. The roadsides are lined with beautiful flowering shrubs and the houses and gardens will be a riot of colour from plants such as bougainvillea and geraniums.Kos is every colour under the sun and it's Forests are cool, green and serene.

The last time I went up to the forest behind Ampavris I came across all the little children from the Primary schools making use of the Church BBQ pits for their annual picnic. They were having a wonderful time. It's a beautiful little church and such a surprise in the middle of the woods. The smell of pine trees and sandy soil is so therapeutic. Lovely walks up there all year round and a great place to cool off in the heat of the day.

Venture into the sunken forest at Plaka, invisible from the road you come across a colony of Peacocks by the water fountain scrabbling around for food from tourists. They are loud and noisy and if you didn't know it live in trees. I love to see the babies, they remind me of Woodstock from Charley Brown. It's a lovely place to visit with terrapins and tortoises near the stream and I'm sure at night they must be other creatures unseen like rabbits and hedgehogs. You will come across cats and dogs who have found there way here also, which I find incredibly sad ,although I know the locals keep their eye on the place and do what they can. It's a beautiful place to visit, just remember to take tit bits for the wildlife.


Make your way out the back of Kefalos and amongst these trees you will find an  ancient amphitheatre in ruins from long ago. You'll need to ask the locals how to find it, but it's a magical place. You can certainly imagine the rituals that took place here and feel the vibes of peace and tranquility.  (You'll need good shoes). It is very close to the centre of Kefalos, but remains un marked as do so many other places of Historic importance on the Island. Go anywhere for a walk on the Island and you will come across relics and ruins through the ages.


Kos has so many places to see and enjoy and explore. So if you go down to the woods today be sure of a big surprise.