This beautiful country that we live in; so much to see and do. And we do and see a lot. Still much of the Turkey map to be explored of course, but there are also other places, in close proximity, that tempt us across borders and waters.
Some of the Greek islands are so close to the Turkish coast that you feel you could almost reach out across the water and touch Greek shorelines.
On our last Bodrum jaunt, we decided it was high time we took advantage of this. A trip on the Bodrum ferry to the Greek island of Kos was in order!
A Bodrum To Kos Day Trip – Exploring Kos Town
Isn’t it great; the excitement of being in another country even if just for a day trip? These trips are like little taster sessions. You can see Kos, second largest of the Dodecanese Islands, clearly from Bodrum.
But to get there, passports need stamping, residency permits need to be shown (in our case) and, on arrival, the familiar tones of the Turkish language become the less familiar Greek tones of the passport police. Oh, and then there’s the slight matter of the completely unfamiliar Greek alphabet, too, of course. Kos Town was to be our whole new world just for a few hours.
Almost Missed The Ferry To Kos!
And lucky we even made it to Kos, actually. Alarm clock set on phone and I woke up to the sound of footsteps of hotel guests, outside our room, heading for breakfast. The alarm hadn’t gone off!
A mad dash ensued, frantic shower, things thrown in bag (please let everything be in there) and off we strode down the street towards the harbour.
“You’ve got the Euros haven’t you,” confirmed Barry.
“Yep…in my jeans pocket….
…the jeans that are screwed up on the floor of our hotel room.”
Aaargh! Why am I left in charge of these important things, eh (it’s rare)? Good job I’d been sticking to my running training because it was put to the test that morning as I tried to do a casual yet possibly pathetic sprint back to the room for the cash!
Arrival At Kos Town
Anyway, all was well and a couple of hours later, after a gentle sail across the Aegean, we were standing on Greek soil, on the harbour of Kos Town. Phew! Let’s have a wander around Kos Town…
I love how each of the Greek islands has its own look and personality. There’s certainly no case of ‘once you’ve seen one Greek island, you’ve seen them all.’
Tiny Kastellorizo with its pretty pastel-coloured houses and churches is a perfect relaxation zone. Arrive at Rhodes by ferry and you’re greeted with imposing castle walls; an archway leading you into the old town.
The Castle of Neratzia, Kos Town
In Kos Town, we were again greeted by castle walls. Not quite so imposing in their height, though, the walls of the Castle of Neratzia. It seems the Knights of St. John were going for surface area rather than height when they constructed this in the 14th Century. It’s quite an odd sight. A ‘bungalow castle.’
When we’d booked the ferry to Kos, we were handed a booklet produced by the Bodrum Ferryboat Association. Usually, we don’t take much notice of these little tourism handouts, but this booklet – Discover Kos In A Day – was actually wonderfully useful!
Obviously, you’re not going to see the whole of Kos in a day. More accurate would be ‘Discover Kos Town In A Day.’
Getting Around Kos Town
This part of the island is really flat so the booklet gives you a choice. You can hire cycles and pedal your way around the sights or, you can do what we did and follow the historic trail around Kos Town on foot.
And if walking or pedalling isn’t going to cut it for you then no need to miss out. You can hop onto this train for a quick tour of Kos Town, too.
Anyway, we love ourselves a little amble around the sights on a first visit to somewhere, so we set off along the Kos Town Historical Path.
Strolling The Kos Town Historical Path
Plane Tree Of Hippocrates
Kos is the island of Hippocrates, Father of Medicine. He was born here, on the island, in 460 BC. First stop for us was the plane tree of Hippocrates. Barry’s degree is in Philosophy so this was of special interest to him. For me, I was more interested that a tree could be so old and still standing!
Well, the plane tree of Hippocrates is indeed still standing, albeit with the help of scaffolding frames supporting its gnarled branches.
Over the years, these branches have climbed out at a multitude of angles and it’s hard to work out where the original trunk is.
Anyway, whilst the plane tree of Hippocrates can most certainly lay claim to being ancient, of course, the official tale is only that ‘legend has it’ that Hippocrates would sit under the shade of the tree, teaching his students. Ahh, lovely to imagine that scene, all the same.
Mosque Of Gazi Hasan Pasha
Close to the plane tree of Hippocrates is the Mosque of Gazi Hasan Pasha. This is a bit of Ottoman Kos, and, like Rhodes, evidence of this Greek island’s Ottoman past is stark. You’ll see more as we take you around the historical trail.
No Real Travel Plans
For now, though, back to our little situation. We’re a bit last minute when it comes to travel plans. We’re not ones to sit and think things through and plan, plan, plan.
By now, we’d started to notice lots of padlocks on the doors and gates of various sites. It was when we were standing and admiring the stonework of this 1786 mosque that the penny dropped. Today was Monday! It seems, at least on this Greek island, museums etc are closed on Mondays. Same as Turkey!
But we don’t do things by halves. Not only was it Monday. It was May Day! A noisy Labour Day (peaceful) protest taking place along the street and not a high street shop open!
Not that we had time for all that anyway. We had a trail to follow and we’d already noticed the ‘refreshment stops’ were open and in full swing. Well, the Greek islanders were off work for the day, bar those in hospitality roles of course. So no worries for us as day trippers.
Back to the culture bit, for now.
The Almost Hidden Agora
Kos might be one of the most popular of the Greek islands for British package holidaymakers but much of Kos Town – especially the ancient sites – feels a bit undiscovered. Yeah, it was early season when we were there so there were no crowds to speak of. Maybe that played a part.
But a huge earthquake on the island in 1933, whilst destroying many of the island’s traditional buildings, also revealed various archaeological sites. And it feels a bit like no one’s quite got around to doing too much about them just yet.
The agora, for instance was almost buried under long grasses and spring wildflowers. Protruding columns gave the game away.
That’s not a complaint, by the way. It’s beautiful. Some of the ancient sites have ongoing excavations taking place and are well kept. But we also loved the ‘abandoned’ feel to other areas. These are the places we found ourselves lingering for longer.
Time For Reflection
We continued to follow our historic trail around Kos Town and, although it wasn’t mentioned on our little tourist map, we just had to have a peek at the Agnus Dei Catholic Church. A long straight lane, lined with tall fir trees on either side led us to the gate.
One aspect that really stood out for us in Kos Town was the Italian history.
In the garden of this church is a memorial to Italian soldiers who were executed in Kos by the Nazis. Memories of our times in Italy paying respects at the WW2 Commonwealth cemetery in Cassino and the Polish cemetery at the foot of the monastery of Monte Cassino.
Now it was time to take a moment here, too.
The church itself is only small but, apparently, they do mass in various languages each Sunday so that all who want to go feel welcome.
The Roman Odeon
Close to the church, a little further along the main road is the site of the Roman Odeon. We also passed Casa Romana, too. Closed, of course.
Would love a peek inside there at some point in the future as the outside of it resembles more of a 1980s newly painted warehouse building than a Roman villa. Inside must be a whole different story, surely?
West Archaeological Site
And now across the road to the West Archaeological site. Everywhere, vibrant, pretty spring wildflowers were peeping between the ancient stonework of the site. Many photographs were taken around here. Despite the site being closed, the perimeter wall is low so we could still see all we wanted to.
A bit of clambering was necessary to view two of the protected Roman mosaics that have been uncovered but a little bit of determination meant we didn’t miss out.
We did slightly envy the two local guys who’d jumped the walls and were sat chatting with a beer amongst the ruins. And so, well, as you can imagine, by now, we were feeling a tad hungry and thirsty, ourselves!
Food Time At Diagora Square
Our trail skirted Diagora Square but we could see through a little alleyway that it looked really pretty so we took ourselves off for a little look.
Maps are a guide, not an instruction. Let’s explore. Perhaps there’d be some places here where we could eat.
Ahh, and Diagora Square was indeed very pretty. It was also a small square with restaurants around its edges. Perfect!
Firmly on the tourist trail – one of the restaurants was called Zorba’s. So let’s not pretend we’re anywhere hidden and secret, here. But we’d glanced at other places en route and this was our place to eat!
A Feast Of Pork
Now, let us remind you that these two day trippers had arrived from Turkey. So, what do we do when we hit Greek soil? In Kastellorizo, it’s the huge, homemade pork sausages that tempt!
In Kos Town’s Diagora Square, we plumped for the Ambrosia Restaurant and skipped through the menu straight to the pork dishes. Souvlaki for me and a huge pork chop for Barry.
I love how Greeks do fried courgettes, too, so that was a perfect little accompaniment. A lovely ice cold Mythos beer to wash it all down and we were refuelled and ready to wander again.
Turkish Greek Familiarity
All the time we were walking around Kos Town, I was checking in on Swarm, filling in my little map of travels.
You can see names of other people who have checked into the same places as you and what was telling was that the vast majority of these names were Turkish.
Of course, that could just mean the islanders of Kos are not big on using Swarm but it also shows that both the Greeks and Turks make use of the close proximity of Kos and Bodrum.
In Bodrum, that morning, we’d heard lots of ‘Kalimera,’ (the Greek for ‘good morning’) greetings. In Kos, there was lots of ‘Merhaba’ and ‘Hoş geldiniz’ (Turkish for ‘hello’ and ‘welcome’).
It wasn’t just polite pleasantries. There was much familiarity and it was lovely to observe. As well as the tourists, there’s lots of coming and going, here. These ferries run all year, both ways, and it’s a short crossing. So, why not?
Kos Town Souvenir Shopping
From Diagora Square, filled to the brim after our porky lunch, we ambled back via the pretty streets of Kos old town.
Kos tea towels, trinkets and other souvenirs galore, along with a good smattering of bars and restaurants. If we were staying in Kos overnight, we could see ourselves spending much time around this little area.
Bougainvillea and awnings shading shoppers and diners from the sun. And night time must be so atmospheric. But, we only had a couple of hours left on the island and we’d spotted a square on arrival that looked ripe for a spot of people watching.
A walk through the old town brought us out on to Eleftherias Square and it’s here where you feel you really could be sat in an Italian piazza. After the 1933 earthquake, the Italian fascist party started to rebuild in traditional Italian layout.
We took our seats at the edge of the square at a cafe bar housed in the old municipal market. A beautiful building, built in the 1930s in the style of the Italian colonial buildings in North Africa.
Opposite us was the offices of the Italian fascist party, built very much in fascist style. Apparently, this housed a cinema where propaganda films would be played to convert the masses to the fascist way of thinking.
And there’s also the Mosque of Defterdar, again with cafes surrounding its edges. Were we really on a Greek island? As we said, the Italian and Ottoman influence in Kos Town is very much there for all to see.
A Greek church, Greek flags and a few Kos locals sat in cafes drinking Greek frappe reminded us that we were indeed in Greece.
From Kos To Bodrum
A couple of Mythos as we watched the world go by in Eleftherias Square and then it was time to head back to the Bodrum ferry.
We’d loved our little taster visit to Kos and we definitely want to see more, as well as visit other Greek islands, too. Three Dodecanese islands down and many more to go. Hmm, might have to plan a bit of Greek island hopping sometime…
We left one Knights of St John castle behind in Kos Town and arrived to another, perhaps Bodrum’s most famous landmark. A great day in another country, Greece. Now time to enjoy Turkey again…
Bodrum To Kos Day Trip – Useful Info
- The Bodrum ferry to Kos runs daily – you need to book at least a day in advance.
- We booked with the Bodrum Ferryboat Association. Their offices are on the harbour, just past the castle entrance. Day return ticket price is just over 80TL per person (spring 2017).
- The crossing takes around 45 minutes.
- If you want to go by faster catamaran, this is slightly more expensive and leaves from the cruise port rather than the old harbour.
- We got around 5 hours in Kos Town which was ample time to have a wander and relax, too.
- If you want to enter any the sites, book on any day except Monday. However, if it’s your first visit to Kos Town and you just want to follow the historic trail of Kos Town, like we did, Monday could be a good option. Less crowded.
- You can book hotels in Bodrum and Kos through Booking.com.