Sunday, June 12, 2022

Kos ~ Where we fell in love. . .

 In love, that is, with a small hotel and the island on which it was built.

Sunrise on the Aegean Sea

The sun was peeking over the horizon as the ferry approached Kos, a Greek island only a stone's throw from Turkey. It wasn't yet 7 a.m. and we'd set off from Athens some 12 hours before.  From the deck we spotted the little charmer that had brought us here: the Albergo Gelsomino.

Albergo Gelsomino sits on the waterfront of Kos Town

The first time we laid eyes on this waterfront was a year ago from another ferry's deck. That ferry, heading to Athens, made a brief stop here in the late evening when darkness made everything look a bit enchanting. It seemed that the waterfront was shared by the remains of an ancient castle, a more modern-looking castle, a church and an architecturally interesting building tucked in between them all. 

It was enough to put it on our 'future's list' and to do some research. We might even need to return to see if it was as charming as it had appeared during that brief stop.

Albergo Gelsomino as seen from the sea

The Scout went to work and found that the small building houses an eight-room hotel. It seemed to fit the description of  'our kind of place' and our trip was planned around a stay in this historic building. 

They need a sign reading, We love Kos.

Little  did we know that when we returned to Kos that we'd have a downright love affair with that small building and the island on which it was built.

Admittedly we've been to many wonderful Greek islands during our decade of travel in Greece, our adopted country. Each has charmed us. But it took less than a couple hours on the island of Kos, to send it to the top of our favorites list and there it has stayed. . .so much so, that we are returning to there to celebrate our upcoming anniversary.

The Albergo Gelsomino

Albergo Gelsomino built for Italian officials

Built in 1928 by the Italian architect Rodolfo Petracco it was originally a guest house for Italian officials. Kos, like most in the Dodecanese chain, has a lengthy history of conquest and occupation. The island belonged to Italy from 1912 until 1945.

Entry and reception area at Albergo Gelsomino

A restoration project some 90 years later and the Albergo opened as a small hotel on Kos Town's beach. Its waterfront location is an easy walk into Kos Town's historic area and to the ferry dock. It overlooks the  Aegean Sea.

Welcome drink at the Albergo

We arrived looking rather disheveled after disembarking the overnight ferry shortly before 7 a.m. Not quite the elegant entrance one might want to make, but staff members made us welcome by inviting us to enjoy the plush patio area. A welcome drink (fresh fruit juices and cherry soda, that tasted as good as it looked) was sipped while they readied our room.  

Albergo Gelsomino - Kos Island

My photos don't do justice to the hotel and its setting. We were in complete sensor overload. No place has so drenched us in 'Mediterranean ambiance' while offering a dash of  Great Gatsby-era  nostalgia. We were reminded of the words of a well- traveled and wise friend who once told us that 'the more you travel, the more it takes to impress you'. We often quote her when something falls short of our expectations, as well as when something 'knocks our socks off', as was the case with the Albergo Gelsomino.

An easy walk to and from the ferry

While singing the praises of the Albergo, I'd be remiss to not mention the food. Our room rate included breakfast. Each day began with a feast. So good was the breakfast that we tried dinner. Dinner was such a culinary joy that we ate there two of our three nights (we made ourselves try some place else one night). They often offer Michelin-starred guest chef dinners here, but frankly their own chef was so good, it felt like a Michelin-starred experience.

Honey-drenched French toast

Kos Island

Lonely Planet guidebook says it best when describing this island of some 33,000 people:

 'Kos is an island of endless surprises and varied treasures.. . .One moment you can be dining in a rustic mountain tavern, the next you find yourself in a busy cosmopolitan cafe - there really is something for everyone.'

More than a million visitors annually come to this island which sports a new airport serving 10 airlines. Ferry passengers arrive daily. While many visitors prefer the island's smaller towns or secluded beach resorts, we liked the city vibes of Kos Town, a city of about 14,000.

A beach - like so many on Kos - is white-sand perfect.

We explored the island by rented car one day and found that the guide book's claim of having some of the finest beaches found in the Dodecanese seemed accurate. The white sand beaches were stunning. But three nights on the island simply wasn't enough time to explore all its historic sites or to visit all of its wineries, and its beaches. We spent hours strolling the tree-lined streets of Old Kos Town, and its bustling harbor area but still have so many bits of history to explore there. We can see why visitors return time and time again.

Kos, a stone's throw from Bodrum

Tracing its history alone could fill several days. The island has been inhabited for so long that its history includes sending 30 ships to the Trojan War.

Hippocrates (460 - 377BC) was born and lived on this island.  A plateia (plaza) near our hotel is said to have been where he taught his students. After his death the Sanctuary of Asclepius and a medical school were built outside Kos Town. There his teachings continued. Today the site is a very popular tourist destination. . . one we didn't make it to during the first trip.  And another reason to return soon!

Morning view from our room at the Albergo

Summer has arrived in Greece - as have the tourists. COVID regulations have been relaxed, travel is much easier these days. So we will be setting off again soon for more island exploration, a return to Kos as well as visiting other Dodecanese islands.  I'll tell you about them in coming weeks - hope you will be back for more Greek 'ferry tales'. Until then safe travels to you and yours ~ and thanks for your time today.

Linking sometime soon with: 


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...