Day Trip to Kos
One of the advantages of living where I do is, every so often, being able to take a day trip to the beautiful island of Kos. Ok, so it’s not quite the same as being able to hop over to Bali for the weekend, but I don’t live in Jakarta anymore either.
Normally it’s a pretty smooth operation where we’re picked up from home and driven to the ferry terminal in Bodrum. Thanks to the wonders of time zones, we then arrive in Kos before we’ve left Bodrum. Sadly, over the summer months, this chucklesome little anomaly disappears. This trip proved not to be usual. We used a new company for the trip and they’d been wonderful, coming to the house to give us our tickets and making sure we were happy. I genuinely liked them and still do. I should have guessed something wouldn’t quite go to plan. It falls under the auspices of Murphy’s Law.
We agreed to meet at the end of the road at 5.50am. It was so precise it could have been a military operation. All seemed fine. I’d even left plenty of food and water for the animals, although the concept of making it last was beyond Princess. We arrived at the rendezvous and waited. As the clock ticked past 6am we called the company to find out where they were. Apparently, the car had broken down. Offers of changing the day or a full refund fell on deaf ears as there were important reasons we couldn’t delay.
I have one rule in life. Mistakes happen, but if you put them right, all is forgiven and we’re friends again. It’s only fair because we all make plenty of mistakes and would, no doubt, appreciate some forgiveness from time to time. This was a time where forgiveness proved the best decision by far.
I will never quite understand how they solved the problem in the way they did, especially in the very short timeframe. As you’ll see, it was a stroke of genius. We were told to expect a minibus in 15 minutes. It proved to be a Turkish 15 minutes! A 3-door Hyundai finally turned up and not a minibus, but it was transport and we were on our way. It was very comfortable and the driver certainly knew how to handle it at speed, which I thought was to ensure we would catch the ferry. It was exciting until we came to some traffic lights and pulled off the road. The driver didn’t speak English and my Turkish is a distance away from being classed as conversational, so we had no idea what was going on.
Suddenly a minibus approached driving the wrong way along the dual carriageway. We were bundled inside and it turned round in a cloud of dust and headed back the way it had come. The driver of the Hyundai had been quick, but this guy would have won the Monaco GP at a canter. I have never been so quiet, or scared, in a vehicle. I kept glancing around for the crash helmets. We were now ahead of time so I didn’t understand the need for speed until he swerved in front of another minibus and pulled onto the hard shoulder. Yup, we were changing again. This time it was a little more sedate and we had new fellow travelers. The mad rush of the previous two vehicles had been to catch up with the minibus further up the road. I’ve called the organisation genius because it was. Under pressure, with limited time, creating such a convoluted solution was problem solving at its very best.
By now we felt a little tired and shell-shocked. It quickly became clear the other passengers were also catching the ferry to Kos. It proved my German language skills must be better than my Turkish! We could finally relax. There are two ferry terminals in Bodrum and I’ve always left from the same one. I’ve never been to the other which is situated at the entrance to the marina in the town centre. When we passed the turning to my usual ferry terminal, I did raise an eyebrow, but wasn’t concerned because, even if the driver didn’t know where he was going, his satnav did.
We eventually pulled up next to the ferry terminal with plenty of time to spare. We walked up to security and passport control to be met with big smiles and friendliness from all those working there. It never ceases to amaze me how friendly the Turkish authorities are at security and passport control. There are a few places in the World where lessons could be learned. You’re probably expecting a smooth passage onto the ferry. Think again. There was a problem with Mum’s passport. She had a new one recently and, although it had all been registered correctly at the resident's permit office, it didn’t have an entry stamp to Turkey. The poor woman at passport control looked bemused, but handled everything with patience and a smile. A colleague came over and helped solve the problem meaning we didn’t have to leave Mum behind.
Finally, we were on the ferry with a cup of coffee in hand. I’m not sure which one of us started chuckling first, but it set us all off. Things hadn’t worked like clockwork, but we were where we were meant to be and had a story to tell. The crossing took an hour and I was happy to be out on the water again, even if it wasn’t on my own boat. We docked in Kos, made our way to passport control and the first reality of Brexit I’ve seen. Two queues and, thankfully, the shorter one was for non-EU passports. I’m certain it’s not always the case, but I wasn’t complaining. Passports stamped and a quick trot to the customs tent led to one of the best moments I’ve had since I officially became an author. I suppose it helped the customs lady never stopped smiling and making me feel very welcome. She checked my bag which contained a change of shirt, my notebook and a toilet roll (Mum had slipped the final item in for reasons I avoided asking about). I know the notebook must have been a clue, but many people who aren’t authors also carry them. When the wonderful customs lady closed up my bag she said, “You’re an author.” I couldn’t stop smiling. I could have given her a hug there and then, except I’d probably have been arrested.
We had a plan for the day. An amble around the town before a long, lazy lunch prior to the return ferry trip. The only non-negotiable was a visit to my favourite bookshop/newsagent. I wanted a couple of sailing magazines and a cheeky excuse to buy a few books. I wanted to touch and smell books again. It’s the one thing I miss even more than Hula-hoops and Oxo cubes. The pandemic has claimed many victims and my favourite place on Kos has been another. It’s now a restaurant. I was more than a little heartbroken. We went for a coffee (the coffee in Kos is amazing. Everyone seems to be a talented barista). The waiter confirmed the bookshop had gone, but pointed upstairs to the library as well as giving us directions to two possible shops that might help. Sadly, they couldn’t, but were wonderful in their own way. I did get to smell and feel books again even if they were in Greek. I’m sure there’s a replacement for the shop I’d come to love and I’ll find it on my next visit.
We ambled around the town for a while with a pit-stop for the coldest, and one of the most welcome, beers I’ve ever had. We knew where we were going for lunch so walked back to the street full of restaurants by the ferry terminal. As we turned the corner, we knew we’d have to visit one of the other restaurants on the street as our destination had become another victim of the pandemic.
They say fortune favours the brave, and it did. We chose Kalymnos Taverna for our lunch. I’ve been in many top-class and Michelin starred restaurants in my time. This is now my second favourite restaurant in the World (Sorry, but I’ve had Sunday lunch at Rules in London. Nothing will ever beat it).
Kalymnos Taverna is 25 years old and a true family restaurant with a terrace right on the sea. If you go to Kos you have to have at least one meal here. It’s also incredibly good value for money. I was looking through the menu when the waiter carried a platter of fresh octopus onto the terrace and proceeded to hang them up to dry. He’d been out fishing and caught them that morning. Grilled octopus was going to be my lunch. It was stunning. I’d certainly made the right decision. We had the long, lazy lunch which the signed poster of my book now behind the bar will attest to. There was also a lovely family eating at the table next to us with a young child. It turned out she was a radio presenter. I’d already given her another signed poster and bookmark before I’d found out. So, if you hear about “It’s A Stray Dog’s Life” on Greek radio, you now know why. It also proved my theory; an author should never be without a few giveaways.
We finished lunch and wandered back to the ferry. There were plenty of laughs with a lovely lady member of staff in duty free who told me I could buy everything in the shop if I stayed in Kos, but I was limited in what I could take back to Turkey. With how friendly this Greek Island had been you can imagine how close I was to not getting on the ferry. Common sense prevailed and we sailed back to Bodrum trying to guess the owner of each superyacht outside the harbour. The minibus was waiting for us. We had no idea if the journey home was to be the same relay as our early morning drag race. Thankfully it wasn’t, and the driver dropped us off at home after a long, tiring, but ultimately hugely enjoyable day.
I topped up the water bowls for Princess, Smokey and Lucky and gave them a snack before cuddles, tummy tickles and sleep kicked in. Humans frequently panic when things don’t go exactly to plan. I’m not sure why. If we reach the right destination, is it not more fun if a few things go a little awry on the journey? It certainly was for us.
The Kids Of Lakewood Elementary
Don’t forget you can still buy “It’s A Stray Dog’s Life”. There’s no limit on how many copies you can add to your collection. The second-grade kids at Lakewood Elementary School in Dallas proved that. I did my first ever author video Q&A with them last week. They are a wonderful bunch, who came up with great questions and had me in fits of laughter. It was a special experience for me. If they represent the future then the world is in far safer hands than at present.
It’s time to end this novel of a blog entry.
Stay safe and keep smiling,
MaxS and The Strays.