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Trip Report a visit to Rhodes - a trip report

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We were mainly travelling in Italy and Turkey but there was a Ryanair flight from Rome to Rhodes and from there it was easy to catch a ferry across to Marmaris or Fethiye - so why not? It was a delightful surprise - highly recommended!
So… on 25th October… a morning Ryan Air flight to Rhodes from Ciampino airport… only it is far from morning by the time we leave. We are nice and early, but the queues at Ciampino are interesting to say the least. Our queue snakes back and forth and then out into the next hall and then, after we have waited for about an hour moving slowly forwards, there is an announcement in Italian and almost everyone after us rushes forwards to the checkin desks and the officials calmly put them all in first… a poor lady with a two yr old who has been getting more and more distressed is still behind us… we shout and complain in good Italian style, but what to do? The official shrugs (in good Italian style) and continues to leave us standing. Finally we get to the gates, but no staff even show up until well after the take-off time (not a good sign)… then they board us at last… whew… but too soon for glee… There is another announcement, a strike of some kind in Greece means we have more problems – we sit on the tarmac without so much as a free coffee for nearly 2 hours - too much work for them to take us back to the airport for a last Italian coffee and pastry, hmmmm

But we finally do arrive in beautiful Rhodos if a little late. It is still very hot even after 4.00pm and after the bus to the entrance of the old town we pull our trusty wheeled cases over the torturous cobble stones and finally (after two phone calls) find our little hotel, Niki’s, tucked away in the old town amongst ancient stone houses and inviting looking restaurants and shops (ahhh the shops). Niki’s is comfortable and welcoming – we have booked an upstairs room with a little balcony that has a view out over the old town to the mosque and the grand master’s palace (a castle)… this and breakfast for 55 Euros – not bad for here.

Rhodes is a complete surprise to me… yes there are huge tourist complexes out there on the beaches and quite a lot of very large sunburnt tourists but here in the old town of Rhodes we hide away from all that. We quickly find a duty free alcohol shop and discover that the ouzo is dirt cheap… then it’s lovely to sit on our balcony as the sun sets, the late autumn flocks of birds fly towards the sea and the muezzin cries, with a sweet drop and some fresh local pistachios.

And then we eat! We passed a little restaurant that looked inviting as we dragged our bags along the cobblestones and head back there. Wow! So good, we end up eating there every night and become friends, with free starters and desserts and coffees… I’d been craving char-grilled octopus with lemon – perfect! But then so is everything else we try on the menu. Yannis’s family restaurant in a street just down from Niki’s Hotel in Sophocleous St – easy to find, hard to forget. Just one problem after Italy where we’d have a 500cl carafe of good red for 3.5 Euros – the wine is awful and expensive as well. We end up drinking the local retsina, a strange mix of wine and pine resin(?) but it does grow on you.

First day in Rhodes is a Monday and the museums are closed so we just wander and look at the old buildings and the port and the little lanes. The Knight’s of St John were very big here and there is evidence everywhere, mediaeval walls, churches and stone cannon balls intermingle with the countless tourist shops and restaurants. Somehow the day flies by (we do start late, rest after lunch and then have to stop for drinks at sunset after all). Tuesday we had planned to be more energetic, perhaps hire a scooter and go exploring to Lindos, but we are coming to love this little old city and end up just wandering small lanes until we find the archaeological museum. People said it was good but we feel a bit ‘ho hum’ about it until we go in. What a delight! Amazing artefacts from literally thousands of years arranged beautifully in a mediaeval building. We wander the rooms, sit in the gardens and drink it in for hours. The have Mycenaean pots and jewellery from 14th century BC- and such beautiful work too. Greek statues, Roman floors (those beautiful fine mosaics), a restored ottoman house… and much more. The Byzantine museum is almost as wonderful, although the display of gowns of Maria Callas made from weaving strips of soft drink cans is an incongruous temporary additional exhibit.

We went to Rhodes as a second thought… might as well fit in a Greek island when it is so easy to do so… but it turns out to be a highlight. I understand why people go back there again and again. After three nights we are a little sad to leave our genial host, Michalis, at Nikki’s (he drives us to the ferry boat) but we board the Aegean Queen and are off – Turkey here we come!

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