Chasing Wild Ass in the Greek Islands

Two Wonderful Greek Islands: Kos and Symi

Greek island Kos
The island of Kos, Greece.

Jon Haggins is a world traveler who isn’t home much. He travels every month to some new destination around the world and shares it on his Globetrotter television program that airs weekly on Manhattan cable TV. He’s written a new book called Chasing Wild Ass which is a 500-page account of his travels.

Chasing Wild ASS. Oooooh, it’s not what you’re thinking. Chasing Wild ASS is a narrative of my travels to more than 60 countries around the world. I have interspersed photos and aromatic recipes that will whet your appetite and allow you to dream, discover, rediscover and understand the pleasure of traveling to many far away destinations.

The title came about while chasing jackasses in Kutch Wild Ass Sanctuary in Gujarat, India. Chasing Wild ASS is food for the soul; it’s adventure, history, culinary, culture and a lifestyle, with a bit of humor to spice it up.

Chasing Wild ASS will entertain and offer tips to massage your soul. It’s a celebration of life. I promise you’ll have a trip of a lifetime. You have to live each moment as if it’s your last. My world is your world, so remember, get up, get out and travel.

Here is an excerpt from the book about two fantastic islands Jon visited in Greece.


By Jon Haggins

Kos Island

The Blue Star Ferry is very luxurious and comfortable and offers WiFi and other conveniences. Its also the means of transport for everyone to the island of Kos. Kos is another beautiful island where cruise ships dock near the Old Town.

The Market place of Kos was considered one of the biggest in the ancient world. It was the commercial and commanding center at the heart of the ancient city. It was organized around a spacious rectangular yard 160 feet wide and 980 feet long. It began in the Northern area and ended up south on the central road (Decumanus), which went through the city. The northern side connected to the city wall towards the entrance to the harbor. Here there was a monumental entrance. On the eastern side there were shops.

The waters of the Aegean Sea wash the shores of Kos. Its coastline is 69 miles long and is caressed by long immaculate beaches. Kos is also the tourist and cultural center with whitewashed buildings including many hotels, restaurants and a small number of nightclubs forming the famous Kos town “barstreet”. Farming is the principal occupation of many of the island’s inhabitants, with their main crops being grapes, almonds, figs, olives, and tomatoes, along with wheat and corn.

The Neratzia Fortress is a fixture in Kos and it stand at the entrance to the waterfront. It was erected by The Knights of Saint John of Rhodes e in 1315. The interior is in ruin but offers an insight into its vast history. The walls still stand and only if they could talk. There are also ruins of columns, reliefs and arches from the past. From the upper level is a clear view of the city and the cruise port.

It is thought that the ancient physician Hippocrates was born on Kos. Situated very close to the ancient Agora, the Plane Tree is very famous and stands in the middle of Plateia Platanou, next to the Castle of the Knights. Scaffolding support the limbs of the elderly tree. It is regarded as not only being the oldest, but also the largest tree of its kind in Europe. Legend has it that this tree provided shade for Hippocrates and his pupils over 2,400 years ago.
The area of the archaeological site of ancient agora is successive to the port of Kos and is situated at the eastern end of the island.

Asclepeion was a healing temple sacred to the god Asclepius. Asclepius may have been worshipped as a hero in Trikka, Thessaly, which ancient mythographers generally regarded as the place of his birth, but to date archaeological excavations have yet to uncover his sanctuary there. Epidauros, on the other hand, was the first place to worship Asclepius as a god, Near the Institute are the ruins of Asklepieion, where Herodicus, taught Hippocrates medicine.

Cult of Asclepius

Starting around 350 BC, the cult of Asclepius became increasingly popular. Pilgrims flocked to Asclepieia to be healed. They slept overnight and reported their dreams to a priest the following day. He prescribed a cure, since snakes were sacred to Asclepius, they were often used in healing rituals. Non-venomous snakes were left to crawl on the floor in dormitories where the sick and injured slept.

Jon Haggins beside the Douro river in Portugal.
Jon Haggins beside the Douro river in Portugal.

Asclepeia provided carefully controlled spaces conducive to healing and fulfilled several of the requirements of institutions created for healing. In the Asclepieion of Epidaurus, three large marble boards dated to 350 BC preserve the names, case histories, complaints, and cures of about 70 patients who came to the temple with a problem and shed it there.

Some of the surgical cures listed, such as the opening of an abdominal abscess or the removal of traumatic foreign material, are realistic enough to have taken place, but with the patient in a dream-like state of induced sleep known as “enkoimesis” not unlike anesthesia, induced with the help of soporific substances such as opium.

Hippocrates is said to have received his medical training at an Asclepieion on the isle of Kos. He studied at the famed Asclepieion at Pergamon before becoming the personal physician to the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius.

The primary religion is Greek Orthodoxy. Kos has one of the four cathedrals in the entire Dodecanese. There is also a Roman Catholic Church on the island as well as a Mosque catering to the Muslim community of Kos.

The Synagogue is no longer used for religious ceremonies as the Jewish community of Kos was practically wiped out by the Nazis in World War II. It has, however, been restored and is maintained with all religious symbols intact and is now used by the Municipality of Kos for various events, mainly cultural.

The Kos Artis Hotel is a hip hotel with a glass facade decorated in a minimalist style and each room looks onto the sea. The restaurant offers international and local dishes prepared in an upbeat fashion. The hotel is a popular spot where locals and tourist gather in the eveni

Symi island's harbor in Greece.
Symi island’s harbor in Greece.

ng on the deck facing the sea for dinner and enjoy socializing late into the night.

The Kos Marina is one of the largest in the Mediterranean. I motored through the marina on a dingy and toured one of the luxury yachts. Yachts arrive from all over Europe and America. Several yacht owners live on board. Being on the sea is always refreshing. I love sailing because it’s so peaceful and I can get lost in my thoughts.

Symi Island
Archangel Michael’s Celebration

Pilgrims from all over Greece travel every year to the monastery on November 8th for a two day festival held in the Saints Archangel Michael’s honor. They arrive by ferry with candles and sweet bread to make offerings and pray. The monastery is located on the South end of Symi, situated on the sea front of the tiny village of Panormitis.

It is a closed in cove with a small sandy beach, protected by a narrow inlet that opens out into a wide harbor. The mountainous backdrop is covered with pine trees which give the area an ambiance of soli

tude. The Holy Monastery of Archangel Michael of Panormitis is a monastery of singular beauty and aesthetics in a peaceful harbor. Its almost isolated from the rest of the island.

Symi Island of the Dodecanese, Greece, is situated in southeast Aegean sea and northwest of Rhodes. While touring around the island you will see many churches and monasteries devoted to the Archangel Michael. The Greek Orthodox Monastery of Taxiarchis Mihail Panormitis is the most important on the island and second largest in the Dodecanese after the monastery of St. John the Theologian in Patmos.

The church is dedicated to the Panormiti. The interior features a 78 inches high, silver-leafed, wall icon of the Panormiti. The entire church interior is covered with iconography of particular interest is the ‘fall of the angels’ mural at the back of the church and is decorated with very elaborate chandeliers.

yialos symi harbor
Yialos, Symi harbor, Greece.

The exact historical date of the construction of this church remains unknown but some suggest that it was built around 450 AD over the site of an ancient temple dedicated to the pagan God Apollo. It is known for certainty that the existing church underwent a major renovation in the eighteenth century to bring it to the standard that is in existence today.

A Venetian Styled building

The monastery is a large 18th-century Venetian styled building with an impressive bell tower of Baroque style that stands at the center of the monastery and it was built in the fifteenth century.

The facade of the main structure is white and it stretches along the coast on either side of the main gateway. Its in excellent condition, the Italians constructed two rows of buildings after World War II. These buildings now contain holiday flats that can be rented by tourists visiting the monastery.

The Archbishop and many dignitaries parade with a large marching band through the streets until they arrive at the front of the cathedral then they enter the inner courtyard then filter through a large crowd into the small chapel to celebrate St. Michael.

The church features the famous icon of the Archangel Michael Panormitis, who is not only considered the island’s patron saint but also the guardian of sailors in the entire Dodecanese area.

The interior of the church is decorated with an array of gifts given by the devout pilgrims. The monastery is also filled with wonderful paintings, carvings and icons depicting various saints.
The hall is lined with beautiful religious frescos. After prayers in the chapel everyone enters the dining hall for lunch. Symi is known for its tiny delicious shrimps.

The monastery on the island of Symi is dedicated to the Archangel Michael. Most of the churches on the island are dedicated to the Archangel Michael.

Chasing Wild Ass is available on Amazon.

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