Stepping off the plane, the first thing anyone thinks as they feel the sudden, warm rush of arid, dusty air is 'Oh yes'. The long-awaited holiday truly begins here and its off to retrieve luggage and locate the correct means of transport. Day 1 picks up on our first morning at Atlantica Porto Bello Beach, located on Helona Beach, just outside of Kardamena. The night before, we arrived late and gladly tucked into ham and cheese rolls, an apple each and lapped up the bottles of water. We were touched to find these refreshments kindly placed in our fridge upon arrival and they filled us enough to administer a long and comfortable nights' sleep before the day ahead.
Yawning laboriously, I pull the curtains back at eight, though it feels like six. Light streams through the linen and then floods the glass panes. Eager to decipher the view in broad daylight, I open the door onto the balcony and feel that same familiar hurry of warm air after the air-conditioned comfort of the room. Our balcony looks out onto a cluster of palms like elongated pineapples and is framed with a wide stone arch. A pathway winds around the group of trees, training the eye into the beyond and breaking through the vibrant green fronds of palm leaf and turf. Turning to my left, I let out a sigh. Our neighbours' balconies are adorned with stunning pink flowers, dappled along great vines that stretch across curvature stone structures.
These spatters of bright pink can be found across the entire complex, providing a stark yet attractive accent to the beige washed walls and a brilliant contrast to the sky. Which, despite the glorious summer we left behind in England, I admit I had forgotten could be so blue. The sea meets the sky in a flash of azure and neighbouring islands are clearly visible without a single cloud shrowding their majestic stature.
After breakfast, which is a mad rush of trying the best of everything, we are drawn to the islands, the hotel garden views and to the beach, before heading back to prepare for our welcome meeting. We vow to return to the beach and appreciate the scenery for longer. At 10.15, the meeting begins with juice and gingham tablecloths in Greek blue and white. I'm taken by the rustic and traditional wall art that decorates the walls around Elia, the Greek restaurant in which we sit.
We leaf eagerly through the excursions on offer and pick two: A Volcanic Encounter, consisting of a trip to the crater on Nisyros, the island across the way, and Zia by Night, an evening spent in a mountainside village with classic tavernas and extensive stalls of locally produced olive oil, honey and lace tablecloths. We agree to book later on in the evening, but quickly double-back and book before midday. Kos is known to me, but only in scenic views by quad bike. Now I'm older I want to see, experience, immerse myself in the wonders it has to offer.
We spend most of our time lounging by the pool, as is necessary on the first day, and plane-spot as heavy breeze and shrieks of air hit the buildings around us, warning everybody of an incoming jet. I think to myself that this would irritate some, but not me. I exclaim at each one descending above our heads. Low enough to make out the windows, doors, and livery. High enough to reach the airport runway on the hill. We have to remember to keep hydrated and locate the pool bar with ease and determination, before returning with our drinks to the sunbeds.
Lunch is yet another mix of tasting new flavours and old favourites but also making mental notes to try and recreate that deliciously fresh honey and thyme salad dressing at home. I also devour another slab of feta cheese. The only way to feel less guilty about it was to cut it into the salad.
Sunkissed skin is only really felt when I return to our room with a healthy glow, though it is somewhat dampened by tousled, salted and windswept strands of hair. I know this is supposed to be considered idyllic and, so often as it really is, it is not today. Not when you've still got the essence of long journeys fused to it from the day before. I sink, gladly, into the bathtub before dinner.
Another mish-mash on my plate, an Oriental theme that is followed by yet more feta cheese. I decide fervently that I will go more easily on that tomorrow. Satisfied, we make our way along the promenade of palms, past the pool and sniff the rosemary bushes we deliberately brush past. The sun has already sunk significantly over Nisyros on the horizon but there's a soft streak of blazing orange reaching across the sky, gradually melding into the evening's greying-blue.
A cocktail each from the beach bar later and we're back on the sand and extending our night vision into the galaxy above. If there was ever a time for summer slow living (of which there certainly is) this would be it. Taking a pause to peer at the sky above is wonderful anywhere, but no place is more so than under a patch of sky that is clear and uninterrupted by artificial light.