I spend several months each year in my small home in Didim, Turkey, a lovely fishing village half way between the more well-known Bodrum and the city of Izmir. It’s an ideal starting point for extensive travel in Turkey, but also for day trips by boat to several nearby Greek islands. Yesterday, I decided to go and visit Kos.
During the summer months, a hydrofoil runs twice a week from Altinkum (5 minutes from Didim) to Kos, which is convenient. The crossing takes only 1 1/2 hours and for about 4 hours to spend in Kos same day return. I had been to Kos before, but this time I wanted to concentrate on Kos`most famous son, Hippocrates. It seems that each and every one of the Greek islands has been a breeding ground for at least one ancient historian, philosopher, writer, scientist or artist and Kos is no exception.
Hippocrates of Kos (approx. 460Bc – 370BC) revolutionized the science of medicine and legend has it, that he taught his pupils under a vast plane tree, today known as the Hippocrates Tree. You will find the tree heading from the dock towards the Castle of Knights in the center of town, just below the Gazi Hassan Mosque.
The present tree is “only” about 500 years old, very gnarled, split by lightning but nevertheless a sight which invites the imagination. Some of the huge branches are supported by rails and the entire tree is circled by an iron railing, but you can enter and touch and pray for good health. Which is in fact what Greek housewives do on the 5th of September. A wrath of last years’ leaves from the tree is thrown into the sea, new leaves are gathered, placed on the beach to be lapped by exactly 40 waves, then taken home and hung up to protect the household from misfortune and illness.
There are traces of Hippocrates everywhere. Nearby stalls sell scrolls with the Oath of Hippocrates written on them in several languages. That’s one of the more tasteful souvenirs you can buy. I’m not so sure about the mugs with a picture of Hippocrates on them, but then, they might also serve a purpose, perhaps to drink herbal tea from.
Modern sculptors felt the call to remember and honor Hippocrates in a monument which graces a square further down the waterfront. It’s a bronze statue which depicts the lecturing Hippocrates, adoring pupils, a snake and all other symbols. I thought the statue’s backside was most enticing.
Healthy living was on the agenda for that day trip, so I rounded it off with a seafood platter which they do particulalry well in Kos before taking the ferry back at 5pm.
Inka is German and used to be an international attorney with offices in London and Spain. Retired two years ago because I wanted to be a traveler and writer and now live between Didim/Turkey and Miami with plenty of travel in between. Next destinations: Istanbul, New York and Petra/Jordan. Inka’s first novel has just been published and can be found here