KOS, GREECE — There is surely more to Greece than political upheaval and economic doom. And the best place to find that something is 500km from the capital, on a salty little island in the glittering Aegean.
From Kos, it’s easy to explore the sister islands of the Dodecanese. In the little village of Kardemena and the more cosmopolitan Kos Town, the ports are lined with creaking wooden sailboats for hire — their stocked bars, padded deck chairs and hungry-eyed captains just waiting for sun-seeking tourists.
On several days we included ourselves among their ranks. Lazily motoring from island to island — cooled by a salty breeze and toasted the blasting sun — was surely the best way to travel.
From Kos Town, our first stop was tiny Plati — population: 2. The husband-wife team that made up the island’s only full-time residents kept up a tiny chapel dedicated to sailors lost at sea — but it was the impossibly clear waters that most visitors lose themselves in.
After a dip and lunch, we sailed on for Kalymos — known as the sponge diver’s island. This enterprising little stopover is the leading producer and exporter of genuine Mediterranean sponges. But it’s the picturesque old town — with its shops, tavernas and whitewashed houses stacked up the hills above a crescent-shaped harbor — that leaves a lasting impression.
We took one final stopover at Pserimos — its white sand beach and bathwater lagoon a gem among the the usually craggy outer shoreline.
Boating back to coast town, we soaked up the last of the sun along with cold Ouzos as the captain danced to traditional Greek music with two red-faced teenagers — the outline of the island’s once-impenetrable fort hazy in the twilight.
Later in the week, the sea came a-calling again. This time we booked a spot on a half-filled tourboat leaving out of our home port of Kardemena. This time we stuck to Kos, sailing around the rocky Turkish-facing eastern coast to the soft, sandy underbelly of the island. Here, pure sand beaches run uninterrupted for 15km along a shallow bay.
We were jettisoned to the shore at Paradise Beach for the afternoon while the rest of the passengers went for the day-long tour. Also known as ‘Bubble Beach,’ the shallow seabed here emits sulfur gas in tiny bubbles that make you feel like you’re swimming through an underwater mosaic.
After an afternoon of the hard life, we were jettisoned back out to the schooner, not even dropping anchor to grab us on its way back to port.
Life on the water surely seems a thousand miles away from the turbulence of the European conundrum. Certainly that’s a naive travelers view — that of a week-long visitor who has the luxury of focusing on the surf and sun without a care for austerity measures and service cuts. But it’s also important to not overlook the truly amazing things that Greece offers, has always offered and will offer again. And those have surely not been overlooked.