Tiny island and tied up in the shadow of a castle

Our trip through the Greek Islands was almost over – one more stop after Amorgos and we would arrive at Kos where we were hoping for a smooth check out of Greece and finally be on our way to Turkey.

Farewell gorgeous Amorgos

We wished we could have stayed longer but the Greek authorities were adamant – we had to leave, despite other European (and other) countries extending visas and visa free periods during Covid-19 uncertainty for people like us.

Our next destination, Levitha, could not have been more different from Amorgos.

Levitha could not have been more different

Whereas Amorgos was undulating, rambling and dramatic, Levitha was tiny, (9.2 square kilometres), modest, low key and unassuming – and inhabited by just one family, members of which have farmed and fished there since 1820.

Amorgos – undulating and dramatic
Levitha, unassuming and low-key

There was a diminutive but incredibly sheltered bay where the family have laid seven or eight (easy to pick up and hefty) buoys.

The buoys at Levitha we’re hefty but easy to pick up
This was the most yachts we had seen anywhere since we began our trip through the Greek Islands

They charge seven Euros a night but if you choose to eat at their little taverna it’s free (we had just had a very late lunch so we didn’t buy a meal. )

Eating a late lunch in Levitha

We loved walking up to the farmhouse along the well-marked path (paved for a few metres then rocky.)

On the rocky path looking back to the little harbour
The path was well marked
The farming family had worked hard to provide a smooth path
This was what the surrounding terrain looked like

Once at the farmhouse we were cordially invited in and given icy cold water to drink. We bought some freshly-laid eggs, some hard cheese made on the farm from a mix of sheeps’ and goats’ milk and some beautiful soft goat cheese.

The little taverna
Inside the farmhouse

The two brothers were genuinely welcoming and even generously allowed us in to enter their tiny family chapel.

The sweet little family chapel
Beautifully decorated inside
Icons in the chapel
This was on the sacristy panel

That day happened to mark the birth of my Dad who was born hundred years ago on that day. How he would have loved the reverent atmosphere of that tiny chapel and would have just relished the journey it took to get there. I lit a candle in the little chapel for him, silently giving thanks for inheriting his love of travelling and writing.

I lit a candle for my Dad
Sunset in Levitha
The faintest sliver of a moon was so beautiful

On the way to Kos the following day it was a thrill to discover that we were so close to Turkey that we could clearly see houses in the towns along the coastline.

Farewell Levitha, on our way to Kos
Turkey looked close enough to touch

At the last island before turning for Kos, we could see a military installation and an emphatic declaration to the Turks made by a gigantic Greek flag painted on the cliff.

A Greek military installation close to Turkey
Emphatic declaration – this is Greek land !

Arriving in Kos we made our way into the harbour, hoping that there would be plenty of space for us to tie up at the town quay. We were surprised to see that there were massive renovations being carried out to the harbour wall and the walkways surrounding it (we learned later that these works were to repair damage caused by a magnitude 6.6 earthquake in July 2017).

Fortunately for us, there was still a space in the shadow of the 14th Century fort that was built by the Knights of St John.

We eventually tied up in the shadow of this ancient castle

There was quite a breeze blowing (maybe 20 to 25 knots) and this was only the second time we had attempted to do Mediterranean mooring on our own. This entails putting the anchor out and then backing into a tight space with one of you leaping off to tie your lines while the other runs between the anchor and the engines trying to stop the boat hitting anything.

While we were faffing about trying to do this crazy juggling act which really requires four people, two guys from a moored tug appeared and shouted to us to move Sunday away from their boat. This was while we were in the middle of trying to dock. Did they think we were snuggling close to them on purpose?! We were definitely aiming to keep right away from their boat but the wind had other ideas!

The tug where the “workers” spent their time snoozing

Struggling (unsuccessfully) to think what the word for “help” was in Greek “I called back. Please could you help?” In English. Now last time we were undergoing this exercise was in Paros and the lovely port policeman Yiannis helped us without a word from us but not these guys – they just shrugged and went back to their snoozing positions.

Capt’n Birdseye checking out the lines

Capt’n Birdseye did a magnificent job of leaping on to the dock and giving me instructions on how to keep the boat safe. There were some scary moments though and we felt very upset that our neighbours were so unhelpful!

The Loggia Mosque minaret swathed in scaffolding after the 2017 earthquake

We hadn’t been there too long before two young port police (both female) arrived to let us know we must go to the port office to check in. I think they had seen the foreign flagged yacht on AIS (Automatic Identification System) and assumed we had come from another country.

So we took our paperwork and once they had seen our transit log and that we had paid our Greek cruising tax (tepai) they were happy.

Outside the port police building

By the time we had finished at the port police office it was early evening so we decided it would be a good time to explore the town centre.

Heading into the centre of Kos

Kos has had a fascinating history dating back to at least the third millennium BC. It was captured by the Ottoman (modern day Turkey) Empire in 1523 AD and remained under Ottoman rule until 1912 when it became part of the Kingdom of Italy.

The Italian built market square
Inside the market building

When Italy surrendered in 1943, the Germans occupied the island until 1945. In Eleftherias Square, in the centre of Kos, we were able to see reminders of Turkish, Italian and German occupation through the architecture.

The archeological museum built during the Italian occupation in 1935
This cinema is part of the building that once housed the fascist party of Italy

In 1946, Kos and the rest of the Dodecanese Islands were finally annexed to Greece.

We wondered why the Islamic crescent on the dome of the old Defterdar Mosque was bent and learned later that it was hit by debris during the earthquake three years previously. The minaret toppled and has not yet been replaced.

The Defterdar Mosque
The bent Islamic crescent

After our wander through a very quiet and empty Town centre (due to Corona virus) where we saw a Greek Orthodox Church which had been damaged by the earthquake three years previously, we took a short stroll to the seafront and walked round the outside of the fort.

St. Paraskevi Church was also damaged by the 2017 earthquake
Some of the damage close up

Unfortunately it had also sustained a little damage in the 2017 earthquake and was temporarily closed.

Walking towards the ocean (Sunday was moored about 20 metres to the left of Jonathan)
A reminder of the Knights of St John who built the castle
The castle wall on the sea front

The following day we were planning to head to Immigration for one last ditch attempt to see if it would be possible to continue to stay in Greece.

Just behind the castle is the harbour where Sunday was moored

We fell asleep thankful that we had managed to find a berth in Kos but feeling slightly apprehensive about what the Greek authorities might throw at us next.

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Salty tales from Bali Hai

In 2015, after a break from cruising of almost 30 years, my husband and I sailed off into the sunset - this time to the wonderful Islands of Indonesia and beyond. Three years passed and we swapped sails for wheels driving through Scandinavia and Europe in a motor home. Now we are on the brink of another adventure - buying a Lagoon 420 Catamaran in Athens. This is our story.

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