There are so many things to love about this island. On first sight of it you will notice that for the most part it is rocky and barren – not dissimilar to other islands of the southern Dodecanese. The thing that is striking is the miles and miles of abandoned terracing everywhere you look. Surely testament to the tenacity and optimism of the former inhabitants who may at least have once attempted to scratch out a living on this inhospitable land.
Sitting amongst this rocky landscape are a handful of villages that are like glistening gems – little oasis’s with whitewashed houses and churches – particularly in Agia Marina, the islands former capital. Derelict windmills scatter the landscape having once taken advantage of the refreshing breeze that constantly sweeps the island. The villages give a false impression of the rocky nature of the island as they have utilised what little fertile soil there is to grow olive, pomegranate, almond, prickly pear and fig trees. There is very little agriculture here and the island is mostly reliant on produce from Crete. I don’t doubt that these challenges shape the character of the islands inhabitants!
The people of Kasos are very friendly – it gives the impression of being a close knit community where everyone knows each other. You will always be greeted in the street by strangers and even as an outsider made to feel very welcome.
Although you can walk to most villages on foot, the little island bus is a Godsend. The service is now reduced but still operates Monday to Friday, enabling people to get to and from Fri, the port village for shopping up until early afternoon. The man that drives the island bus I noticed, is also the same man that drives the fork lift truck that unloads the cargo from the ferries. He is also the same man who drives the articulated lorries with their either empty or full containers off or onto the ferry.
I really liked staying in a very traditional Kasiot house in Arvanitahori on my first night. I have absolutely loved staying in Mary’s House – the home of my host’s mama. It is also a traditional house with a pretty little courtyard with nothing but the lizards for company. No wifi, no aircon – but who needs it? You treat Mary’s house like it is your own – you empty the trash and you clean the house when needed. If you’re into boutique chic and like your luxuries – maybe this isn’t for you however, it has enabled me to have a truly authentic experience during my time on this little island. I must say a big thank you to my host at Mary’s Homes for showing me your beautiful island – in particular Helitros bay and taking me to the top of the mountain for the festival of Agias Mamas. Be assured I will be back!
A fantastic book was recommended to me that I highly recommend that you read if you plan to come to Kassos – a brilliant book written by Elias Kulukundis called The Feasts of Memory: A Journey to a Greek Island. In it he travels back to the island of his family and discovers the traditions and stories of this unique island. You can buy it here:
My time on Kasos is now at an end. After several timetable and ticket changes I leave on the Prevelis for Karpathos.