By: Paula Wallis
Greek Island Getaways – Rhodes Island
The Greek Islands have an island for everyone, and each one is like visiting a country unto itself. From the famed sunsets on Santorini, to the party atmosphere on Ios, to the beautiful beaches of Lefkada – you’ll find an island to suit your tastes. Rhodes has a bit of all the islands in one; sandy beaches, unspoilt villages, history, culture and night life.
I must admit I have a soft spot for Rhodes, particularly the village of Lindos. It’s where my husband proposed to me, and he couldn’t have picked a better spot to pop the question, in my humble opinion.
Set at the foot of its ancient acropolis, white sugar cube houses cluster together on the hillside, all the way down into the village proper, and all have a commanding view of the sparkling Mediterranean Sea. Lindos itself is a very popular tourist destination, with busloads of tourists arriving daily from Rhodes Town. After a couple of days there, we learned their schedules and avoided the village during those times; either hitting Lindos’s picturesque beach or lounging poolside at our hotel with a good book. Comprised of narrow, winding, cobblestone footpaths, you’ll soon see why we chose not to contend with hundreds and hundreds of backpack-sporting day-trippers to reach a favorite taverna or pub. The buses all arrive in the still cool morning hours (you’ll see loads of them parked alongside the highway) heading back to Rhodes town around lunchtime and leaving us with the village to explore all to ourselves, along with locals, sunburnt expats who’ve made this their permanent home, and others staying in the immediate vicinity.
If you’re not averse to somewhat of a climb in the Dodecanese heat, this is the best time to make your way up to the Acropolis, when you can take a wander around at your leisure without having to fight the crowds for the perfect photo-op of both the expansive aqua-marine Mediterranean view and the postcard-perfect view of the cubist houses climbing the hillside. You can also get some stunning photos here of the 20-columned Hellenistic stoa, from 200 BC. Donkeys are also available for next to nothing to pack you and your gear up the steep, slippery, cobblestone trail; but after watching so many of the poor creatures struggling up the hill under the weight of some 200 lb plus tourists, we just didn’t have the heart to hire one for a climb we were perfectly physically capable of doing ourselves.
Back in the village, there is certainly no shortage of pubs, tavernas, or cafes to re-hydrate yourself after your hike up to the Acropolis. The rooftop dining here is nothing short of world class. Fresh local ingredients, including olives, vine-ripened tomatoes, goat’s cheese and fresh made pitas, paired with unparalleled ocean views make any traveler feel as though they’re living the lifestyle of the rich and famous. This is where we fell absolutely, adoringly in love with Greece. Try a different rooftop every night, with a slightly different vantage point, and you can’t go wrong. Of special mention, of course, is Kalypso Restaurant, where my husband proposed to me. A 17th century Captain’s House turned restaurant, this isn’t just an amazing place to get engaged, it also boasts amazing sunset views, romantic rooftop dining, and delicious Greek fare. If you get the chance, try Restaurant Arhontiko as well.
For a more casual experience try The Courtyard Bar, which gets fairly lively in the evenings, with a DJ spinning vintage tracks (he starts at 50’s music and changes up the decades right up until the present day as the night goes on) and a packed dance floor. A favorite of my husband’s was The Sunburnt Arms Pub, where he could catch premier league football matches and, he was ecstatic to discover, they sell genuine English Pork Pies. Of course there are plenty of beach restaurants as well, if barefoot dining as you listen to the waves roll in is what you desire.
If you want to venture out of Lindos and explore Rhodes a bit, there are plenty of things to do and see. Your hotel will be happy to arrange a rental car or scooter to explore the island with, and the roads here are easily navigated, with winding cliffside views to accompany you on your way. The eastern side of the island is home to some of the best beaches here; Kalithea Thermi, Ladiko Beach, Kolymbia and Tsambika are all worth checking out, to satisfy your inner beach bum.
If you’re looking for a little more history (and why not? You’re in Greece, after all!), Rhodes Town is a must see. Old Town is known as the largest inhabited medieval town in Europe, and a walk through here is like a stroll back in time. Take a day or two to explore Old Town, making sure to take in the Avenue of the Knights, the Temple of the Aphrodite, the many outdoor plaza dining options, (or just stop and have a Mythos Beer), and the myriad of shops and outdoor markets, selling everything from hand-made Turkish rugs to inexpensive Greek statue knock-offs.
While in Rhodes Town, consider booking an excursion to nearby Marmaris, Turkey. Here you’ll find a sprawling market that sells, among many many other things, ridiculously cheap brand name clothes, some are knock offs, some are genuine – it’s nearly impossible to tell the difference, but they’re all of good quality. You’ll also find the best salesmen I’ve ever come across; Turkish rug salesmen. We went here with the intention of purchasing one, so weren’t disappointed by the selection and range of prices. But beware, whether you intended to or not, you may find yourself lugging a cumbersome Turkish rug in your carry-on on your journey back home. It was also recommended to my husband that he shell out the approximately $2.00 Canadian and experience a Turkish Shave while he was here. He did, and proclaimed it “the best shave he’d ever had.”
You’ll be glad to get back to your hotel in Lindos after a day of fast-paced haggling in Marmaris. I should mention, it’s a good idea to pre-book your accommodations in Lindos prior to your arrival, especially if you’re picky about location, or amenities. We booked ourselves into Lindos Gardens, which more than suited our needs. Basic, clean rooms, with no air conditioning, but with two outdoor pools, a small bar, and a restaurant that served delicious bacon sandwiches on fresh crusty rolls for breakfast, the location here was absolutely prime. Located up the hill and across the highway from Lindos, but not too far that we couldn’t walk it, we were happy to have a quiet room to retire to every evening, even if it inspired a round of good-natured whining when we contemplated the very steep trek we had ahead of us to get there. On our way back to the hotel every night, we were treated to the sight of goats performing amazing feats, like climbing 90 degree angle stone retaining walls to munch on olive branches. There was a market at the bottom of our hill, just across the highway from Lindos, that sold fresh fruit and veggies, and it became our custom each night to purchase a handful of carrots to feed the donkeys that were penned up near our hotel every night. After a few days of this, the donkeys were hee-hawing in anticipation of our arrival when they heard us coming up the hill.
I’ve yet to explore all the islands in Greece that I wish to, but I can guarantee you, Rhodes is one that I’ll definitely be returning to again. And again.
About the author:
Paula Wallis makes her home in beautiful British Columbia in the Best City in The World, Vancouver. She spends her spare time seeking out the best beaches in the world and is a huge fan of hammocks. Follow her on fanaticnomadic.blogspot.com