Aegean Day 8

Interesting fact: Kos lettuce is also called Romaine, from its Roman roots.

Another: gulets are manufactured in Bodrum, Turkey, which has gotten a lot of press recently for its thousands of refugees.

Bodrum, best known as the queen of upscale Turkish resorts, has this summer become a hub for Syrian refugees from the civil war seeking to take advantage of the calm conditions and make the short but perilous crossing to Kos.

On all of the islands that we’ve been to so far,  I have yet to see a refugee.

After a typical breakfast of dry cereal with milk or yogurt, fruit salad, salami, slices of tomato and cucumber, eggs (different each day), bread with butter and/or strawberry, cherry, or apricot jam, three kinds of olives, orange juice, coffee, tea, or Turkish coffee, we donned our hiking shoes and long pants to trek through the brush on the ancient agora (public square of ancient city), which was huge, 250 metres long, with a stoa (a freestanding, colonnaded portico, often with a row of shops under the arcade) the entire length, and the requisite temple. Only some of it has been excavated, and the weeds are almost two feet high.

IMG_6230IMG_6233We are doing the archeological walk, so we continue to the Casa Romana, the partial reconstruction of a house obviously owned by a very wealthy Roman. Here is Heinrich discussing the floor plan, 25,800 square feet, the two fountains and an airy peristyle hall showing the second story. And, of course, they had a bath with underfloor heating:

Hypocausts were used for heating hot baths, houses and other buildings, whether public or private. The floor was raised above the ground by pillars, called pilae stacks, with a layer of tiles, then a layer of concrete then another of tiles on top; and spaces were left inside the walls so that hot air and smoke from the furnace would pass through these enclosed areas and out of flues in the roof, thereby heating but not polluting the interior of the room. Ceramic box tiles were placed inside the walls to both remove the hot burned air and to heat the walls.



You can barely see the mosaics in this atrium. But check out this one – notice the blood detail. (Click on it to see it larger.) As an architect, I liked the details of the reconstruction.


The side of the house that faced the main street no doubt held shops, such as the Fulleries, who did wash and dyed fabric.


We continue to the southwest archaeological zone. Henrich mentions this mosaic in his blog: We are used to seeing lots of cats around (there is even a series of postcards, Cats of the Dodecanese), but no one was happy to see a cat with a dead mouse.


A stop for coffee in the town square – my cappuccino freddo – and a few words about the architecture. “1930’s Italian architecture rubs shoulders with the remains of the ancient Greek and Roman past”. The Italians, in 1933, built in their own style.  They also tidied up the Asclepion (see yesterday’s blog), giving what had been a Greek sanctuary a Roman IMG_6118flavour.

Also, there is a synagogue in town, but when the Germans occupied the island, the dozens of families were sent by boat, then by train, to the death camps in Germany (rather than just killing them outright).  No Jews have settled in Kos since.

Coffee was followed by shopping or back to the boat for a rest, lunch onboard and another rest.  I took some more photos of the architecture, the streets, the McDonald’s.





Then, when the shadows had lengthened and breezes cooled at least the periphery of the island, we walked to the Crusader Castle of Nerantzia, which we were berthed next to and which stands at the entrance to the harbour, surrounded by a moat which was originally filled with sea water, thus making it an island with the requisite drawbridge. (Cats abound.)

the entry gate is flanked by tablets which the Crusaders probably couldn’t read, and surmounted by a frieze of masks and garlands that have nothing to do with a fortification. “It was built by the Knights of the order of St John of Jerusalem, who captured the island in 1314 and held it until 1522, when it fell to the Turks.” It was built in two phases, so it’s a fort within a fort. It was built entirely of stones raided from the ancient ruins. And look at all of the stairs – I should have been working out on a StairMaster.

Finally a stroll on the embarcadero (have no idea what it’s called, but that’s what the walk along the sea is called in Havana), dodging bicyclists and hawkers of evening cruises (tourism is down, and the locals are hurting), and followed by an accordionist, with his young daughter on his arm, to the seaside restaurant, one of a panoply of seaside restaurants at that location. At the next one over, a large family at a table on the beach, and the head of the family taking photos of the entire group with a selfie stick with an extension.   As usual, the view is gorgeous.


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