Island holiday was simply sumptuous

A church on the island of Kos
A church on the island of Kos
A Ryanair plane. Picture: Wiki Commons (labelled for reuse)

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Gazing out towards the sea, beyond a whitewashed church with its deep royal blue dome matching the equally brilliant sky, you could only be in Greece.

We had taken shelter from the midday sun and were now sipping local wine in a shady, olive tree-fringed taverna in Zia, one of the highest villages on the Dikaios mountain region of Kos.

It was a welcome respite after climbing the narrow street, which only the bravest of drivers dared to negotiate. On the ascent, we’d passed vendors selling natural honey, olive wood bowls, homemade cinnamon syrup, herbs and spices, before coming across an ancient watermill.

As we explored the narrow walkways peppered with painted houses, we saw figs alongside grapes, almonds, olives and tomatoes and stopped to take in the breathtaking views of neighbouring islands Pserimos, Kalymnos and Plati, as well as Turkey, only a 20-minute catamaran ride away.

It was worth staying until the evening for the spectacular sunset, the sky turning into magnificent shades of orange and yellow.

Not only were the views amazing but the food was also wonderfully traditional.

Restaurants serve up local delicacies ranging from octopus to mouth-watering lamb, slow cooked in clay ovens.

Tourism may have affected Kos in the past 40 years, as holidaymakers have taken advantage of its many beach resorts and the warm Aegean Sea.

But the island retains a charm all of its own with its friendly Koans (natives of Kos) and relaxed ambience, particularly in the mountain regions.

Just 42km long and 8km wide, Kos is the third largest island of the Dodecanese archipelago, after Rhodes and Karpathos, and sandwiched between the islands of Kalymnos and Nisyros.

In Zia, we experienced the simple life at its finest.

But, like many holidaymakers, we were also after a slice of luxury, and we found it at the brand new Thomson five-star Blue Lagoon Village in the south east, just a 10-minute drive from the airport.

The beach-fronted resort is a haven for those who really want to get away from it all – the closest town, Kefalos, is 7km away, while the nearest popular beach is Paradise Beach, two miles north.

Kids’ clubs and activities abound, however, at the all-inclusive Blue Lagoon, which has myriad pools and restaurants, a challenging high ropes course, water slides in its own adventure area, tennis courts, a football pitch, gym and spa.

We had the ultimate luxury, an executive suite with our own personal pool, where a cooling swim at sundown provided a perfect end to our busy days.

The island, which dates back to prehistoric times, houses a hotchpotch of history, from the traces of the Hellenistic period and the Roman years, to the buildings of Ottoman times, Byzantine churches, medieval castles, mosques and minarets.

Hippocrates, the father of medicine, was born on Kos around 460BC, but the most important archaeological site is that of Asclepion, a large area of ancient ruins which was a shrine to Asclepius, the Greek god of healing, and a sanctuary from 500BC to 500AD.

It’s amazing that so many relics have remained, considering the earthquakes which the island has experienced.

Kos is undoubtedly an island of contrasts – but our trip there proved that simple and sumptuous can be a match made in heaven.

ESSENTIALS

Hannah Stephenson travelled with Thomson to the Blue Lagoon Village. Thomson offers seven-night all-inclusives at its Thomson Family Resort, the Blue Lagoon Village, from £899 per adult and £660 for first child and £755 for second.

Prices based on two adults and two children sharing - departing July 27, 2011 ex-Manchester, Birmingham and Gatwick.

Thomson reservations: 0871 231 5595 or thomson.co.uk