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Trip Report A Greek sojourn

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I want to thank those who tried to help me with my search for a Greek island and let you know it wasn’t a waste of time.

My plans changed time wise and I left the island of St. Lucia 2 weeks ago and headed for Greece. In browsing this forum I see a lot of Trip Reports and it seems that a lot of people enjoy reading them. With that in mind I have decided to write a Trip Report on my experiences with finding a place to stay in Greece. I will start from when I arrived on the island of Rhodes and skip the getting there as not really worth writing about other than to say I flew to Athens and took a ferry to Rhodes on the same day, the 10th, arriving the following morning.

Arriving in Rhodes harbour is really something to see from the deck of a ship. Seeing the walled town, it is easy to imagine you have been transported back in time. My research had told me that Rhodes Old Town is a UNESCO world heritage site and the largest permanently inhabited Mediaevel city in Europe. Arriving by boat, that isn’t hard to believe. Once the ferry docked, I shouldered my bag and made my way ashore.

I’ve learned over the years to use a tried and true formula whenever I arrive somewhere unknown. On every island in popular sailing areas you can always find expats living aboard their boats. If you arrive by boat then they are likely to be found nearby. So having seen from the deck of the ferry where the private boats were docked I headed that way. A short 5 minute stroll around to the other side of the harbour.

Walking down the quay I looked for a typical liveaboard’s boat. If you do much sailing it isn’t hard to know when you see one. The first two I stopped at and called a ‘hallo on board’ got me no response but at the third, a head popped up from the cabin and I was in business.

It only took a minute or two of conversation to let the guy know I was a fellow sailor and just looking for some information. I asked if there was a coffee shop, restaurant or bar nearby where local expats hung out and where I could expect to meet some of them to help me find a place to stay for a few nights. There was and having nothing better to do Fred (I plan to use only first names in this narrative) offered to show me the way. I offered to buy the coffee.

The Old Town is a warren of narrow cobbled streets with arches across them supporting one building against another in some places and truly Mediaeval indeed. It was a good thing Fred had gone with me because giving directions would have been next to impossible. I guess Fred realized that. We wound in and out and around until we finally came to a small square with a ruined mosque on one side. On another side of the square there was a small taverna and that was our destination.

Fred introduced me to the Greek owner Georgos, a couple of locals and a couple of expats who were all having their morning coffee. He introduced me as having ‘just arrived and looking for a place to stay.’ One of the expats asked how long I planned to stay I said I was looking for a room in town for a few nights but didn’t know how long I would stay on the island.

That led to questions about where I was from, what I was doing on Rhodes, etc. I told them I was a Canadian, a sailboat skipper between boats and just taking the opportunity to take a break before looking for another boat. That was of course a bit of a white lie. But I have found that presenting myself as someone between jobs rather than just a tourist gives a different impression to people and gets me treated differently.

So that got me information on where the local yacht agency was and led to a discussion about how bad the tourist industry was, how bad the economy was, how bad finding work was and a general discussion of how the island was suffering.

Finally, someone said to Georgos, ‘why don’t you rent him a room’. It turned out that Georgos also owned a small hotel next door with just 6 rooms, but it was closed for the winter. So a bit more back and forth and Georgos offered to rent me a room for 5 nights for 100 Euros. We took a walk next door, he showed me the best room overlooking the square and said he would have his wife get it ready (bed sheets, towels, etc.) if I wanted it. I accepted his offer. I got the impression that in other years he wouldn’t have bothered but the economy was so bad that any extra money was welcome.

The room was basic but clean, Georgos said he would bring me an electric heater to plug in but asked I only use it at night and warned me that hot water was provided by solar panels on the roof so depending on the weather, hot water might or might not be available for a shower. I said I could live with that for a few days. He gave me a key to the front door and a key to the room and I was set.

So 3 hours or so after my arrival, I had a place to stay, a place to eat and drink had met a few people who could give me information and advice. A good start for day one.

My next step would be to find a car to rent by the month and a more permanent place to stay on the island.

To be continued…………..

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