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krisek Rhodes - A travel report by Krys
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Rhodes,  Greece - flag Greece -  Dodekánisos
14736 readers

krisek's travel reports

Mythical, medieval, sunny and relaxing. Rhodos.

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Rhodos, an island with the package. It was at the centre of myths, it boasted one of the World's Seven Wonders, it has the largest Medieval city on the Greek islands, picturesque little villages and monasteries, and lovely sandy beaches.

Rhodes travelogue picture
A large island in the archipelago of the Dodecanese, Rhodos has much more to offer than just endless sandy beaches and more than 300 days of sunshine a year. It is an island of outstanding natural beauty with landscape ranging from steep cliffs along the coast to rocky mountains in the interior to lush forests.

Rhodos is home to the largest inhabited medieval town in Europe, Rhodos Town, inscribed by UNESCO as the World Heritage site, a finest example of defensive city fortifications of the Dark Ages.

Despite those qualities, tourist offices and travel agents around the United Kingdom advertise Rhodos as a beach resort, which drives thousands of Britons to the island to party and lie on a private beach of an all-inclusive plastic resort located in the a town full of all the same hotels away from historical places. Actually, it is good that these awful artificial and over touristy places are nowhere near those tremendous historical monuments, methinks.

Although subsequently Rhodos was changing owners many times, from Greek, Romans, Crusaders, Ottomans, and even being fully independent, the first history of the island, and the most colourful one, was actually originating from Greek myths and legends.

The myths said that Rhodos was a woman, wife to the sun god Helios. They lived happily on this beautiful island. Their grandchildren, Camiros, Lindos and Ialysos founded cities on the island, which now carry their names. Little remains of ancient Camiros and Ialysos today, but Lindos is still great.

The island had become extremely famous in the ancient times because of the Colossus of Rhodos, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. It actually has never been proven to have existed, and there are serious doubts about its alleged location if it actually did exist. There are absolutely no remains and no tangible evidence of it. Allegedly it was made of bronze between 294 and 282 BC and it stood 32 meters high, which is equivalent to 15-storey building.

Favourite spots:
Rhodes travelogue picture
The island’s capital, Rhodos Town, is a great medieval town, with fantastic old town and unforgettable atmosphere. It was founded by the three cities of Camiros, Ialysos and Lindos in 408 BC in order to consolidate their defence against the Persians or Athenians. The architect Hippodamos constructed the most orderly city of antiquity. The city architecture has been changing several times as a result of series of powerful earthquakes. In 1309, the Knights of St John arrived and constructed, what remains until this day, the medieval city with impressive city walls.

The old town takes time to discover, it is a true medieval labyrinth of narrow cobble stone streets, sometimes leading to a tiny square or through the wall onto the moat. It is one the most picturesque cities I have seen in my life. It is compact, and with a little courage, one can just wander around the maze of those narrow lanes endlessly. There are a few shopping streets, too, which add a few more colours to the scene.

What's really great:
Rhodos City Plaka
Rhodos City Plaka
So, there are a few streets aligned with countless boutiques and shops as well as petit eateries serving all sorts of crispy gyros and ice-cold beer. But there are streets aligned with nothing, just doors to people’s houses. Whilst the former get animated during the day and late evening with plenty of animation and acitvity, buzz and joy, the latter remain slightly creepy and mysterious, staying mute about the past and the fascinating history of this place, I am sure. I loved getting lost there and going in circles trying to find the way out. There are no signs anywhere. Sometimes, there is a small, family run restaurant serving fresh lemonade, ice-cold drinks and home-made food, breakfasts being the best. Some of them have a terrace on the roof, or near the top, with absolutely breathtaking views over the entire medieval town. And I mean, entire town within the massive city walls!

Rhodos - entry to the harbour, where allegedly the Colossus of Rhodos stood
Rhodos - entry to the harbour, where allegedly the Colossus of Rhodos stood
Rhodos has a few interesting museums, mainly from the times of the Knights of St John. There are palaces of the Masters and very impressive churches and chapels. City walls and the dry moat are a sight in their own right.

The old port is pretty but less interesting. Legend has it that at the entry to the port the Colossus stood. Now, in the place where its legs would have been, there are two handsome columns with a stag on one and a fawn on the other. Scientists claim that it would be physically impossible to place the Colossus there. Scientists however, remain puzzled about many other things, including the pyramids and Stonehenge. So, should we believe them?

In the port, I was particularly fond of derelict windmills and the harbour fort. At sunset the windmills appear to be glowing slightly, giving the harbour a nice touch. There was however nothing to do in the area and the waterfront's few amenities did not look particularly inviting.

Monolithos Castle
Monolithos Castle
A hotel booked through the internet, which was actually a rather good value. It was located near the northern beach and a street full of bars and restaurants, and night clubs. It was also near the highway leading the airport. It was a good value for a three star, although at about £40 I would not call it budget. It was Hotel Africa.

The rooms, mostly twin, were clean and the bathrooms were nicely scrubbed. Plus the air-conditioning was efficient, and each floor had an ice-machine. Very handy for the hot nights.

Rhodos has a myriad of slightly cheaper and much more expensive hotels, and there is usually good availability for single travellers and couples. Some of the prices, however do not include local taxes, which in some hotels add up to 20% to the bill.

Rhodos Old Town
Rhodos Old Town
The modern part of the city, north of the old town, is bustling with nightlife, and there is also quite pleasant beach. The beach was easier to find, and I was such a wolly, and did not spot the street running parallel to the beach, which was just the longest bar on Rhodes.

From door to door there were bars, clubs, discos and restaurants, and my hotel was almost immediately at one of this street’s ends.

I could not believe that I missed all the fun as I discovered this strip on the very last night! Many of the bars were really cool and most of them offered free drinks. Unfortunately, some of the drinks were awful, although they were large and if one cares that it should hit you, then I guess that would be perfectly fine. Even those ‘ones’ should be careful though, because many dodgy establishments serve illegally produced alcohol, which is closer to methyl than it is to water.

As for hangouts, there was a nice Plaka in Rhodos old town, but Lindos, few miles south was a great spot.

Lindos is an ancient, mythological and mythical town in the middle of the eastern coast with almost impressive ruins at the top. The town at the feet of the hills (photograph below) is picturesque but spoiled by excessive number of tourist groups. There is a great view from the top, particularly to a great sandy beach of a croissant shape, which I did not visit.

The top is where, according to mythology, Lindos, Helios’s grandson, built a city. Today, it is badly ruined, but what remains definitely stimulates imagination. It must have been a great and marvellous city with the best view on the Mediterranean at the time. The columns, the stairways, the courtyards and plakas, you name it. And that beautiful beach in a shape of a croissant below!

Unfortunately, there is not much to do in Lindos, apart from lying on the beach in the shape of a croissant. The town is minute and it is overcrowded with German, Dutch and, even worse, Italian tourist groups. The nice seventeenth century whitewashed buildings are great to a look at, but the vast majority of them are simply tourist-trap-shops.

Rhodos old town walls
Rhodos old town walls
Rhodesians have contributed to the world of alcoholic beverages with souma. There is a small village in the interior of Rhodos, Siana, which is famous because of this drink.

I am not sure what from souma is made, but whatever it is, it does not make a tasty drink. It is possibly the worst alcohol I have ever tasted in my life. I seriously struggle to describe how terrible it is. It is revolting! I do not even want to think about it.

Siana is not the village I will remember for its culinary values. I stopped there for lunch and I hated it. I ordered lamb chops and pizza and none of them looked or tasted like they really should. I do not want to waste time and space to describe how badly these dishes tasted.

In Rhodos Old Town there were great little places serving gyros and typical Greek fare. The food was tasty, simple and ready made. The party street in the front of Africa Hotel had a few good looking eateries, too.

Other recommendations:
Rhodos Mills in the harbour
Rhodos Mills in the harbour
The single thing I remember from walking about the old town is the scooters, scooters everywhere speeding along the very narrow and cobbled streets. The riders have no mercy speeding between the pedestrians like those pedestrians were not there! That was not funny at all, since the streets were often so narrow that the scooter just fit there with the steering handles almost scratching the buildings on both sides.

In normal country, this should not be allowed. But hey that is Greece! If donkeys are allowed to stand for hours in full sun and shit on steep stairway creating hazard for all the users of the steps, including themselves, then I guess it is perfectly alright to allow scooters speed among pedestrians on slippery and very narrow cobble stoned streets causing the pedestrians heart strokes and sweat a little bit more. I am sure that the locals are well used to the danger, so it would be just the tourist who are at risk of leaving certain colour marks on their underwear.

Published on Wednesday July 2th, 2008

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Fri, May 28 2010 - 10:51 PM rating by jacko1

Krys, some years ago we spent 2 weeks touring the island on a m/bike, your report is not only well written but also very accurate, excellent job!

Fri, Jul 11 2008 - 08:01 AM rating by marianne

your reports are true little gems and such a pleasure to read

Mon, Jul 07 2008 - 08:43 AM rating by jorgesanchez

Your reports are rexcellent eferents to travel to the places that you describe.

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