Saltar Menú de navegación
Archive |

What to do in Andalusia


The largest of the Dodecanese Islands, Rhodes is a pleasure to explore for the independent traveller, boasting one of the Mediterranean’s finest medieval towns
26.06.15 - 13:12 -
0 votos

Cerrar Envía la noticia

Rellena los siguientes campos para enviar esta información a otras personas.

Nombre Email remitente
Para Email destinatario
Borrar    Enviar

Cerrar Rectificar la noticia

Rellene todos los campos con sus datos.

Nombre* Email*
* campo obligatorioBorrar    Enviar
Rhodian riches
The quayside with the fortified walls of Old Town Rhodes behind it. :: A. F.
I had arrived on the ‘Aegean Cat’, a high speed catamaran ferry that sped across the inky blue Aegean to Rhodes’ port, on the north eastern tip of the island. Hopping between the different Greek archipelagos is a popular way to holiday. As I queued to pass through immigration I was joined by a mix of package holiday day-trippers, back-packers, travellers and locals. Across the harbour I could make out the fortified walls of Old Town, my destination for the next few days.
This is one of the Mediterranean’s most historic towns, yet often gets neglected by independent travellers who prefer to seek out Greek islands perceived as more ‘authentic’ and less ‘touristy’.
Island life
The desire to ‘explore like a local’, discover ‘hidden places’, and avoid ‘tourist traps’ means that sometimes independent travellers are ignoring some of the Mediterranean’s most popular destinations.
As one of the very first Greek Islands to embrace mass tourism, Rhodes admittedly has a mixed identity. Faliraki’s reputation may come to mind before thoughts of the island’s beautiful natural interior, its crystal clear bays or the rich, multi-layered history of its towns.
Yet I had always wanted to visit Rhodes Old Town and I wasn’t put off by the island’s package holiday image.
As the taxi took me to my hotel, my body instinctively tensed as the car passed through low archways and navigated the extremely narrow streets, forcing pedestrians to step into doorways. By the side of the road a resident was cooking fresh fish on a makeshift grill set up against a house wall, whilst further up children played football in the ruins of a church. Believe me, if one is looking for Greek island life, then here it is, alive and well in Rhodes Old Town.
Boutique bliss
I was heading to Kókkini Porta Rossa, a new five-room hotel that had just opened in the Old Town. In crusader times the Knights Hospitaller of St John were based on Rhodes. Each gateway into the city was guarded by Knights given homes close by. Kókkini Porta Rossa is where one such house stood, and it still has its own chapel opposite, complete with ancient frescos.
Hotel owners Nikos and Angela have endeavoured to create an unpretentious yet luxury retreat, with impeccable styling and lots of home-from-home comforts. They have decorated the house with personal antiques and artefacts from Rhodes and further afield making it welcoming and as a guest I felt connected to the Old Town, its history and its culture. When I travel I always try to meet locals who can be my ‘insiders’, offering me a perspective of the destination that goes beyond the well-beaten tourist trails. Nikos and Angela are from Rhodes and give guests exactly that, an inside track on the island, something one often doesn’t get from the resort hotels.
Inside track
Thanks to some excellent tips, it wasn’t long before I was walking the stone cobbled streets of town (some of the best preserved in Europe), enjoying the sandstone architecture, taking in the extraordinary museum collection within the Palace of the Grand Master, eating ice cream from a vintage van, and starting the evening with a shot of mastika ouzo in a local Kafenio café bar.
Yes, undeniably Old Town can be busy for a few peak hours with package holiday day-trippers and cruise line passengers, but I found it was easy enough to avoid the main square and the shopping streets selling cheap tourist tat and instead delve into the historic quarters and quieter residential neighbourhoods and capture snapshots of the past as well as glimpses of everyday Greek life.
Eating local
The financial issues facing Greece has had a side effect – it has encouraged the Greeks to take even greater pride in their local produce, cuisine and wines. There are some great places to eat in Rhodes Old Town, like the garden restaurant of the Marco Polo guest house or the Kókkini Porta Rossa courtyard, sheltered by an ancient mulberry tree.
Onella, the hotel’s resident cook, who will happily take you with her in the mornings to visit the local market, prepares creative, yet unfussy Mediterranean dishes that Nikos pairs with wines from local producers. It’s a magical experience to eat under the stars, trying wines from the slopes of the island’s mount Ataviros.
Rhodes is worth a second look. It has so much to offer the independent traveller interested in culture, cuisine and the natural environment and the Medieval Old Town can offer a fascinating start to an island holiday of sun and sea.