Friday, May 2, 2014

Hippocrates to The Guns of Navarone

  As always, click on any image for larger view.
Inside Kos old harbor, looking toward Turkey
We arrived in Kos Marina on Sunday afternoon, 27 April 2014, and were instructed to remain on our boat until an officer from Harbour Police came to the boat and inspected our passports.  That done, we then checked into the marina office; then hiked off almost a mile to the Ferry Terminal near the castle to have passports stamped.  They instructed us to next visit Customs and then Harbour Police to complete clearance formalities, offices for both located on the road that encircles the harbor.  
Inside Kos old harbor looking
at castle
We walked to Customs to find a locked door and no one around despite assurances from the Passport Police that all clearance offices were open.   Oh well, there is always tomorrow.  We stopped at a taverna for the first of what will be many gyros.  Delicious!  Do not know if we will ever tire of these!

Castle at Kos harbor entrance
The next morning we returned to Customs, where we were told to sit and wait.  While 3 men in one office talked among themselves and another guy sat alone in an office doing nothing. Appeared that little work gets accomplished in these offices.  After waiting for 45 minutes (patiently; this is their country), finally the single guy came out of his office and reluctantly said he would handle our clearance.  What an attitude!  This man is not happy in his job.

Looking back at Kos old harbor entrance with castle
on left side of entrance
Next stop was the Harbour Police where we discovered that the official wanted the one piece of paper which we had forgotten to bring.  We had the boat insurance translated into Greek but had forgotten to bring the latest renewal reflecting current date coverage.  Back to the boat; print the necessary paper; back to the harbor; finally cleared in.  Only required walking about 7 miles.  Next up was to find the Cosmote store where we bought new SIM cards for telephone and internet.  We were surprised to see that we were still in their computer system from our visit to Greece in 2011.  Add in that 1.5 miles walk and we were worn out when finally back on the boat.  All day Monday just getting cleared in and getting phone/internet service arranged.

New brand of Russian vodka.
We did not buy any.
Tuesday we walked back to the old harbor and caught the #4 bus out of town.  We purchased tickets at the kiosk beside the dolphin statues in the round-about beside the harbor wall.  Found out later that we could have purchased tickets on the bus itself for a slightly higher price.  This practice is inconsistent in Greece.  In Athens one cannot purchase a ticket on a bus; must purchase tickets from sidewalk vendors near the bus stops.  It varies by island, so always ask.  We asked the bus driver to let us know when the bus got near Lidl supermarket.  The bus stop was less than a block from the supermarket.  We stocked up on the good quality pork and cheeses sold by Lidl and some of their inexpensive beer and wine.  The cashier called a taxi for our return trip to the marina.  We realized too late that we should have bought more beer since were paying for a taxi.   Our freezer is now full; should not need to buy meat for several months.

Working on clearance
In front of Hippocrates Plane Tree
Kos island is the birthplace of Hippocrates, the father of medicine.  He was born here in 430 BC and died in 370 BC, presumably also here.  There was a tribute built here for Hippocrates after his death which is called Askeplion.  There was a small blue tram (free) that takes tourists to Askeplion.  It picks up passengers at the bus ticket kiosk not too far down the road from the marina towards the castle.  We boarded the tram on our last day in Kos but got off; change of plans because it was about to pour rain.  Last thing we would have enjoyed was walking around an open-air ruin in the cold rain.  Instead, we devoured another pita gyro lunch.  Delicious, as always.

Hippocrates Plane Tree
The Hippocratic Oath is still administered to new physicians here annually.  The ceremony takes place beneath the Hippocrates Plane Tree.   It is said that this tree is the one beneath which Hippocrates first stated the oath nearly 2400 years ago; however, as this tree is 700 years old, that is not possible.  It is believed that this old tree is a descendant of the original tree.

Rear side of Hippocrates Plane Tree.
It is eaten out almost hollow

BTW, I read two translations of the Hippocratic Oath and it is nothing like what I had learned years ago.  The oath is fairly long.  The common adage of "First, do no harm" was not in either translation of the oath.

Freezing in rain on bridge into Kos castle

Kos is an ancient island that historically was self-sufficient.  The topography of this island is different from most Greek islands.  It has the usual mountain but then flattens out a long distance to the west with very fertile soil.  A special type of lettuce is grown here and exported to mainland Europe.  Tourism is the main economy but agriculture is also good on Kos.

In 1431 the Knights of St. John began work on the fort/castle that lines the old harbor entrance.  The Knights gave it up when forced out by Suleiman the Magnificent in 1522 and Kos became under Ottoman control.   During World War I the Dodecanese islands were occupied by the Italians.  The Italians rebuilt much of ancient Kos town and harbor, although much was damaged by an earthquake in 1933.  Kos reverted to Greece after WWII and was an important military outpost.  Today Kos is a very popular tourist destination with many flights arriving daily.

One of many cliffs on Kalymnos

Another of the many cliffs
On 1 May we filled up with diesel at Kos Marina and sailed up the windward (western) coast of Kalymnos (Kalimnos).  Weather is predicted to be strong SE winds this weekend and we were looking for the most protected anchorage for winds from this unusual direction.  A Greek charter boat captain had told about a place that is not discussed in the sailing guides and we wanted to check it out.  

The long fjord-like bay where we twirled all night
with the wind bullets off those cliffs.

She was right; it would provide protection for winds from all directions; however, the wind bullets off the very high sheer cliff faces on both sides of that long narrow bay caused our boat to twirl constantly.  If there was that much twirling in 15 knot winds, how bad would it be in 30 knot winds!!

Look really closely and there are 12 men near the base of
this cliff.  Training cliff?

I enjoyed watching rock climbers on the sheer cliff faces.  I think people who do this are flat out crazy; but then, my opinion does not matter.  On a small cliff face at the entrance to the long bay were a dozen men.  This cliff was only maybe 100-feet high -- straight up.

Near center bottom are 2 men in red vests.  They
climbed to the top of that cliff.

At the end of the long bay there were two separate couples of climbers who were working on the much higher cliff faces on the northern side of the bay.  I watched a couple of them climb more than 400-feet straight up the face.  Why?  Why would anyone want to do this?
Yet another cliff.  With caves.

Kalymnos is the island that author Alistair Stuart MacLean wrote about in his novel 'The Guns of Navarone.'  The book was made into a movie in 1961 starring Gregory Peck, David Niven and Anthony Quinn.  I recently read five of MacLean's novels, including this one, and had been looking forward to visiting Kalymnos.  The high sheer cliff faces did not disappoint.

This one is very hard to make out.  Near bottom center
is a man in white vest.  The climber is in dark green vest
almost to the top in this photo.  These people are crazy!
For those not familiar with the book or movie, the plot was that there are 2,000 British soldiers holed up on the island of Keros (in real life this island is named Leros and where we are now anchored).  The British Navy is unable to rescue them because of the huge guns in a cave near the top of the 400-foot cliff face on neighboring island Navarone (in real life this is Kalymnos).  A British soldier and his team climb the cliff face and action ensues.  

This is one of those times that the mental image formed while reading the novel matched well with the actual thing.  This island has cliff faces in every direction.  Glad we saw 3 sides of it.

This morning we thought about using this unusual southerly wind to head due west to Paros.  After plotting a route we changed our minds.  Would have arrived there at 23:00 and we do not like arriving in a strange anchorage in the dark.  Instead we motored through the very narrow cut between Kalymnos and Leros (fictional Navarone and Keros), then north up the leeward side of Leros.   Oh, almost forgot to mention that Kalymnos was/is the island famous worldwide for the sponge fishermen.  During WWII the sponge fishermen were prohibited by the occupying Germans from doing any sponge diving.  This led to starvation of the locals and many families left the island to immigrate wherever they could go.  Many went to the USA and to Australia.  Today, many of the old people have returned to their home island.  Sponges from Kalymnos are sold by sidewalk vendors at nearby Kos.

Castle atop Leros
Along the way north along the eastern coast of Leros we passed a castle atop a mountain.  Neither of our sailing guide books mention this castle.  It commands views of all sides of this island.  I guess it was another of the Knights of St. John castles because they built so many.  

According to our guide books the island of Leros has many unfortunate associations.  Most of what is mentioned concerns ancient Greek mythology.  Leros sided with Sparta during the Peloponnesian War; all surrounding islands were on the Athenian side.  Leros saw much military activity during WWII and changed hands many times between Italians, British and Germans.

Castle on Leros.  We can even see this castle from
our anchorage miles away on rear side.
We are anchored in Ormos Partheni (Ormos means bay) on the northern tip of the island. At one time political dissidents (colonels who were communists) were sent here and the place acquired a sinister reputation for torture and the accidental death of inmates.  There is a scrappy tiny village of fishermen.  Much of the large bay is devoted to fish farms.  There are a half-dozen sailboats anchored in here; I assume to wait out the coming weather this weekend.  We were fortunate enough to find space to anchor.  There is no room for any more boats.  We likely will begin moving again on Monday, no idea where.  We were going to Patmos to see the cave where John wrote the biblical book of Revelations.  But neither of us is particularly interested and we probably will skip that.  Where next?

Here are a few photos from recent places.  Nothing to do with Kos or Kalymnos or Leros.  Some are phone photos and quality is poor.
Fun water toy; guy on large yacht near us.

Flying on water

Doesn't this look like fun!
Look, Ma!    No hands!

Farewell dinner in Fethiye.
Barbara, S/V Destiny;
Robin, S/V Endangered
Species; and me.

Rick and Robin of S/V
Endangered Species
Bill and Judy

The smallest McDonald's
in the world.  In Turkey.
Checking out charts on tablet.
Yet another back-up!

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