> How it all began...
August 19th 2007 should become the first day of a big trip. A trip which should allow us to discover China and the rest of Asia, and later on Oceania as well. The countdown untill the big day had started and everything had been arranged. Unfortunately the doctor who operated on me in early May wrongly estimated the recovery of my bone, so halfway July my thighbone broke (Yvonnes). After a new surgery and some days in the hospital we were busy finding ourselves a new place to stay and cancelling all the things we'd already arranged and booked. The disappointment of the compulsory delay of the trip was huge. Starting to recover all over again and a longer time sitting back home was not a very encouraging vision.
> The Plan
About 6 weeks later, in September, everything has improved a lot and we even start focussing on a new date of departure: 27th of November. Anyhow, on that moment this still feels like ages away and we decide to go find ourselves some sunshine for a week or so. We book a lastminute trip to Rhodes, Greece. We'll depart from Groningen Airport Eelde, so we'll be flying from what seems our own backyard for the first time.
> Journey to Rhodes
When we arrive, after less than 30 minutes by bus, at the little hut they call departure hall here, it's already pretty chaotic. My first reaction is: ah, how cute, everyone co-operates, all just to give us that little bit kind of Asia feeling yet. Even the elbow-jobs of these touching, provincial farmers can hardly be distinguished from the real Chinese work. And at the security gates we even get treated on a complete series of real indignant looks of the high percentage of illiterated around here. Even over a year after the introduction of the new rules these sweethearts still haven't noticed that knives and liquids really don't belong in their hand luggage anymore. Time after time their belongings end up on the conveyor-belt and at the end the forbidden goods are taken out of it, under the sound of some unrecognizable squeals of the owners. And that's how we end up in our Transavia-airplane, as usual with extremely limited leg room, feeling completely happy. However, the joy is of short term, as we have to get out again after 30 minutes, for a stopover in Maastricht. We have to wait quite a time for the continuation of our flight and that's why we're landing on a dark Rhodes, late in the evening. In hotel Majestic, situated in Rhodes Town, we find ourselves a comfortable bed and we decide to take advantage of it right away.
> Rhodes day 1
The next mornig we wake up with the lovely sunshine. On foot, and Yvonne armed with a crutch, we go in the direction of the port in Rhodes-town. Past the 3 typical Greek windmills we walk along the pier towards the castle Agios Nikólaos. Where nowadays, the deer and the doe, each on their own column, mark the spot where the Colossus of Rhodes once might have stood, we take some pictures. Then we walk back to the other side, where we see some beautiful buildings, to end at the Murat Reis mosque with its surrounding cemetary. This is a wonderful quiet place in the busy city of Rhodes, with beautiful old trees and decayed tombstones and tombes.
From the port it's just a short walk to the gorgeous, immured, old city of Rhodes. Here we feel like we're back in time, with all the ancient buildings and little streets with arches and cobblestones. We can really imagine how the yelling souvenir-salesmen and the sparing looking tourists used to walk around and live here once. In this noisy chaos it's a lot harder to think of the knights whom used to live in the Knight's Street and of Sultan Süleyman whom built a mosque here after his conquest, but still the buildings picture the city's history well. Walking through this town will probably cause huge excitement for the average historian or archeologist. We take it easy, as one of us is still walking with crutch, but are definately impressed. We start in the part at the port's side, where much reminds of the age of chivalry. The defensive walls with the town canal are huge and immure the entire town. The Knight's Street is the only completely captured street from that era. The Palace of the Grand Masters has been completely renovated by the Italians, who were in control in Rhodes during the 20th century. Now you get a pretty good idea of how this building must have looked like. There are also many things left from the Turkish period, like various mosques, a public bath and a Turkish library. We also conclude that the Italians also went on a razzle here, but they contributed a little more outside the town-walls.
By the end of the day we get introduced to the Greek kitchen and we decide to go out for diner every day now. The rest of the week we can only be found in the capital of the island around diner time, but there is one day that we enjoy a stroll and a great sunset on the Monte Smith hill. Here you can find the remains of the ancient city of Rhodes, some parts above, and some parts below the ground. Another day we accidentally run into the city's local market, where we watch the islanders sell their homegrown food to restaurant owners and other compatriots. Finally we see the real Greece.
> Rhodes day 2 to 6
For day 2 - 6 we rented a car at Auto Europe (thorough research showed us this was the cheapest), and they deliver it properly at our hotel. Right on that first day we discover the entire West-coast of Rhodes, and we pay a longer visit to Siana, Monolithos, Prassonissi and Kritinia. In Siana we try the famous and delicious, homemade yoghurt of sheepmilk, poured over with bee-honey with some nuts on top. In Monolithos we admire the Johannite castle, just like the one in Kritinia. And in Prassonissi we're not only surprised by the fact that we drive on the beach with our rented Opel Corsa, but especially by the view of the sea on both sides of that beach, as we drive on a small spit of land to a little peninsula.
Still this is not the most adventurous road our car has to overcome this week. Here it seems to be completely normal for clearly signposted roads to suddenly stop existing halfway, because of construction works or other vague, Greek reasons. But also that we expect to find a paved road, which happens to be as much as a gravel path only. We definately don't get bored and drive along beautiful, blue coastlines, through the quiet, sometimes even authentic hinterland, to tourist attractions and special bays. Every afternoon we swim in this lovely bay, sheltered by rocks and with a broad, sandy beach: Tsambika Beach.
There are a few places on Rhodes which we'll definately remember. Like Lindos, thé tourist attraction of the island, a cute little village with narrow alleys (completely taken over by bunches of tourists), an adorable little square with an immense, old tree in the middle (which you can hardly recognize because of the exhaust gasses of all the cars turning back here), a special kind of taxi which are actually donkeys (who run over you, because their owners rush them down the hill again to make even more money) and finally the high, ancient Acropolis (wasted by concrete-ish Greek restoration works). Personally we were much more charmed by Kamiros on the West-coast, Rhodes' very own Machu Picchu. The excavated city is concealed between the pine-trees and offers a magnificent view over the sea. Other places we definately have great memories of are Kalithea, a health resort from the Italian era; the Agios Nikólaos Fountouklí church, forgotten and abandoned in the mountainous hinterland; the Thari monastery, so quiet and remote; the valley of the butterflies, where we've been hiking around for hours and where we saw many butterflies and other animals; and at last the many little chapels scattered over the island, but with so few visitors, just like some of the reall remote villages.
We had a lovely week on Rhodes and regret to deliver the car back on the 6th day to pack our luggage and fly home the next day. We return to our own cold country, where autumn really started now. Slightly over 2 months to go before we can finally start our adventure in Asia.
> More Info
Also check our Greece info page, where you can find a lot of useful information about Greece and Rhodes.