KOS, GREECE — The news in Europe is dominated by two countries that sit side-by-side alphabetically, but couldn’t be more far apart financially: Germany and Greece.
As things continued to heat up in the economic standoff, Molly and I took it upon ourselves to complete a good nature tour and inject some German currency into the Greek market — perhaps injecting some much-needed holiday into our own lives in the meantime.
2:30am — usually it’s a time for stumbling home, not for waking up. And yet, at that ungodly hour, we were up and ready for our 5.50am flight from Munich to the little island of Kos — home of Hippocrates, dazzling waters and the kind of relaxation I was begging for.
After an easy two-and-a-half-hour flight, I woke to blinding sunlight pouring in the airplane windows. With Munich 1,000 miles behind us — and the hustle of everyday life 100 times further back — we descended toward this little spit of land floating in an impossibly bright and blue Aegean sea.
We had booked a week stay at the Lagas Aegean Village — a cleverly placed resort built onto the side of a sage-covered plateau overlooking the sea. Modeled after the classic whitewashed Hellenic villages, the resort was made up of little bungalows climbing up the hillside from the coast.
There’s little confusion as to why the Greek flag is a matrix of blue and white.
Our personal bungalow had a commanding view of the valley below, the sea and the dusty outline of the southern Dodacanesean islands on the horizon. The kind of view that demands you stop, sit, sip a bit of cold white wine and let the hours drip by. And that’s what we set about to do.
Kos — like a lot of tourist destinations in the Aegean — is in somewhat of an economic bubble from the rest of the country. None of the rioting or mass hysteria of Athens. But even here, where tourist dollars come and go with the seasons, you could tell things were on the decline.
Signs for Five Star hotels sat in front of modern day ruins. Piles of last week’s garbage sat uncollected, not quite out of site of the vacationing tourists. Greeks young and old wandered about aimlessly during working hours — a few of the more enterprising touting knock-off designer watches or scouring trash bins for recyclables.
We chatted with a few residents about the situation. The opinions wavered between downright pessimistic (this coming from a Georgian immigrant who rents cots everyday on a white sand beach) and warily hopeful.
The truth is, everyone here relies on the visitors — mostly German or English — to keep pita and wine on the table. And with the economic and political crisis keeping people away, even those tourist Euros are no longer a given — even if crystal clear water and traditional Greek hospitality still are.
But, enough about politics and finances. As a good nature envoy, we set about taking in all the pleasures that this tiny dot on the Aegean horizon had to offer. And enjoy we did.
To be continued…