There’s something mythical about the Greek islands. Maybe it’s the history or the mountainous landscapes, maybe it’s the fact that the ruins of ancient civilizations pop up on every street corner. Whatever it is, I like it. So much so that while I’m traveling in Bodrum, I take a day trip to the island of Kos in Greece.
The daily ferry from Bodrum to Kos departs at 9:30 in the morning and transports my friend and me over choppy seas on the hour-long journey to Greece. The ferry deposits us at the small immigration office, where our passports are stamped and we are let loose to discover the Greek isle.
Like Bodrum, Kos is a pretty port town with a marina full of boats and lots of waterfront cafes. Narrow streets radiate out from the waterfront like the spokes of a wheel, each one lined on both sides with souvenir shops and food stalls.
On one side of the marina sits the castle, much like Bodrum’s. Behind it is the famous tree of Hippocrates, an ancient plane tree where the father of medicine supposedly taught his students. Across the street are the ruins of one of the largest markets in the ancient world. My friend and I wander through them, imagining what the agora would have looked like in its heyday.
Farther up from the water are more vestiges of ancient civilizations, from the columns of the acropolis to the steep steps of a small amphitheater. Some offer better signage than others, but all point to the fact that Kos has seen its share of human activity for many thousands of years. And that’s what I find so amazing about Greece. The layers of history, the many different civilizations that have passed through, and the legends that surround it all are captivating.
When we finish marveling at mosaics, we wander back into the busy market squares to have lunch at a new cafe called Aegli. We are intrigued by it, as there are signs explaining that it is run by an all-female co-op. Sitting down at a table, we learn that the restaurant is a social enterprise set up to employ at-risk women, and that the prime location in the heart of one of the town’s busiest squares has been donated by the city.
The food is good, too. We order Greek salads (we can’t help it), and they are fresh and flavorful. At 5 euro each, they are also refreshingly affordable given that we are in the heart of the tourist area. We leave satisfied on all levels, and happy to see a social enterprise helping women in need.
After a glass of wine at a waterfront cafe, our time in Kos comes to an end. We board the ferry to Bodrum at 4:30pm, and travel through foamy seas to arrive back in Turkey in time for sunset. The changing daylight, island landscapes, and rough seas all heighten my sense that my day in Kos has been a small (and less dangerous!) version of Odyssey. Mythical indeed.