I feel blessed to live by the sea.
As I land at the airport, I am overcome by that familiar fragrance of Kos: a sea breeze mixed with the scent of jasmine. My favorite place is the Asclepeion. That’s where I met and fell in love with my husband, Manolis, who is a tour guide. But that isn’t the only reason that I wanted to settle down on the island. I was won over instantly by the beautiful villages, Zia with its sunset, Kefalos and Plaka forest with its peacocks.
In winter, my days are mostly filled with my children’s activities: tennis, ballet, basketball, theater. The summers are different. As soon as we wake up, we are drawn to the beach. As a foreigner here, I saw the sea as therapeutic, and the same goes for my children. When I go every day, I feel like I’m making them healthy in a way.
We locals usually prefer the beaches near town, such as Ali Baba, with a view of the port, and Kastro or Aghios Fokas (just five minutes from my house), which has beautiful, clean waters. The ones that are further away – about 30 minutes by car – are beautiful in their own way. Towards Kefalos are the ones with white sand. These beaches are sheltered from the waves and some look towards the little island – Kastri – with its picturesque chapel of Aghios Stefanos.
Linda Koulias is originally from the Czech Republic and has lived on the island for 16 years. She is married and has a daughter (3) and a son (7). She works as a travel agent and, in her free time, choreographs for two municipal theater groups.
It’s about the little things.
I came to Kos in spring 1981 on vacation with friends. I was 18 years old. I fell in love with my soon-to-be husband and decided to try living on the island. Having grown up in a town two hours from Helsinki, it was a new experience for me to live near the sea.
Nowadays, although I don’t drive, I can get around town easily, or go swimming at the nearby beaches, like Tarzan, Papas or Baltic. I love cycling, whether it is for short distances along the bike paths, or going on longer rides. I go down to the marina among the boats and palm trees, and meet up with my friends from the Finnish community (there are 20 of us) for coffee, and take advantage of the wealth of cultural events available on the island all year round: musical events, theater performances and the famous summer Hippocratia Festival.
Although it is developed for tourism, there are still a lot of things that I love about Kos. There are spots where you can just sit and worship the sun near the sea, as well as other places that don’t have a sea view, but which have something else to offer you – like the square at the ancient Agora near Neratzia Castle, right behind the ancient plane tree of Hippocrates.
Kaarina Hakkarainen is Finnish; she has lived in Kos since 1981 and has a son. She is a member of several cultural groups; she crochets small artworks and is part of the Sfageio theater group. She recently took part in the short film Nowhere.
You are no stranger here.
I came to Kos in 1996, met James, my husband, who is from Wales, and we got married in the fall at Pyli. Though we hadn’t planned to stay, conditions forced us to [editor’s note: the war in Serbia]. James’ need to live near the sea and take part in watersports, together with mine to be in a place with a more human pace, kept us here.
By now, I feel like a local. I raised my family here and, after a while, my sister moved here as well. We’ve created a small planet here. Although the distances are small and you can easily get around on foot or by bike, you’re never bored. The landscape changes and so does the architecture. Everything comes easily: winters are mild, summers are cool and the topography of the island is smooth; it has low hills, quiet seas, a few forests and a small town. There is nothing lacking here.
When we first came, I missed the galleries, theater and cultural activities. But in the last few years, a number of artistic initiatives have sprung up and we all take part in one way or another. Particularly in winter, when there is more time to develop our joint activities, we grow closer and sort of become one unified force. For example, when there is a storm, we all go down to the port and help moor the ships. We pump the water out of the boats and make sure they are secure; we share the difficulties that come with rough seas or a hailstorm.
Milka Stojanovic is an artist from Belgrade. She has lived in Kos for 17 years and has a 14-year-old son. She paints, makes lighting fixtures and jewelry and creates decorative items out of paper pulp and other materials. Her work, along with pieces of furniture and items her husband makes out of driftwood, is available at Art Zone, her shop and studio (32 Kolokotroni, Kos town).