“But it has got something, Kos and can already claim a number of distinguished addicts: I know several people who come back for holidays year after year.” Lawrence Durrell
Kim was up early this morning and went off on her own to explore while I had a final hour of sleep. After she returned we had what turned out to be a very poor breakfast and then we set off to the village together to examine it in daylight.
We walked the parallel shopping streets lined with shops all selling more or less the same things and now and again bumped into late night revellers only just setting off for beds and a wasted day ahead. It didn’t take long to confirm that this was not our sort of place as girls walked by in impossibly high heels clinging on to men with tattoos and ‘I love Kos’ T-shirts stopping every so often to watch big screen TVs and to examine the football fixtures that were being advertised and to apply more Hawaiian Tropic sun tan oil.
Kardamena was disappointing itself but to a certain extent I was expecting that. When I first visited in 1983 it was a small village but by the time I went there for a second time in 1990 it had transformed itself into a boozy tourist trap and it had clearly continued on that development journey ever since. It was a shame we weren’t leaving today but we had a full day here so having established that there was nothing in the town to interest us we decided to walk south along the coast and see if we could find driftwood to start the boat souvenir building materials collection.
Three pictures – Three Years – 1983, 1989 and 2012.
We walked for a kilometre or so along dark sandy beaches punctuated by sunbeds and pool bars where in the heat of the day with the sun as hot as a steel mill furnace serious solar worshippers were beginning to sizzle like suckling pork on a spit as they turned this way and that to get an even all over roasting.
Eventually the needle on Kim’s ‘walked far enough metre’ entered the red zone so after we visited a charming little blue domed church we turned back, I hid my collection of sticks to come back and collect later. I don’t know why I did that, I can’t imagine that there are that many sad people who take washed up wood home to make their own holiday souvenirs.
Back in the village we stopped for refreshment at the taverna where we had eaten the previous night and the owner was pleased to see us and started to ask us about our travel plans. We told him we were planning to stay on the nearby island of Kalymnos and he was delighted by this because, as it turned out, he was a Kalymnian himself and as we drank our mythos he carefully wrote out a suggested itinerary on a paper tablecloth of all the places that he recommended that we should visit.
It is amazing how a couple of bottles of mythos can improve the situation and back on the hotel room balcony I could ignore the unofficial land fill site, the derelict houses and the sun scorched scrub land to look beyond to the salt and pepper hills rising like a wall out of the turquoise, indigo and violet sea and disappearing in the distance behind a shimmering heat haze and although I was never going to fall in love with the place it began to get better. I spoke with several different people later none of whom would agree with me because almost all of them said that they liked this place so much that they come back every year
The remainder of the day just quietly slipped away and in the evening we had a pleasant night out at the same taverna and received some more travel tips for Kalymnos. At the end of the day I probably have to confess that we rather enjoyed it eventually but we weren’t desperately disappointed to be moving on the next day.