Coming from Santorini to Rhodes took two flights, both with Aegean Airlines and with some very attractive flight attendants.
Compared to the other Greek islands, Rhodes is huge and highly developed. There are more amenities, and standards of service are definitely an improvement. American hotel and fast food chains and Starbucks were distinctly absent on the other Greek islands, but here they are everywhere.
We’re staying at Stay Hostel in Rhodes Town, and this place is pretty awesome. Social, fun, centrally located. Cheap drinks, good wifi, and a great shower. What more could you want from a hostel? After being on the move for ten days on a sailboat, we really needed a chill spot like this.
Our first day in Rhodes was spent sleeping, showering, catching up on wifi. We headed to Tamam, a place I found on TripAdvisor, for lunch. A truly amazing experience, with fantastic food and wonderful service by Andreas, the restaurant owner. Andreas and his family really know how to run a restaurant.
As I ate my shrimp and zucchini tagliatelle in a garlic butter sauce, a persistent fly kept going for it. I wonder, can flies tell the difference between shrimp and zucchini tagliatelle and a toilet full of shit? They seem to fly around both with equal enthusiasm. When flies meet up at the end of the day, do you think they ask each other what they had for lunch and get jealous?
After filling our bellies, Conrad and I took a stroll along the beach. Like the rest of Greece and much of the Mediterranean, the beaches of Rhodes are gravelly and covered with layers of rounded pebbles and stones. There are lots of tourists here, but they’re not Australian. They seem to be Scandinavian, interesting given that the next leg of our trip will take us up to that part of the world.
We took a few minutes to marvel at the spot where the Colossus of Rhodes once stood. I’m weird with stuff like that. The Colossus of Rhodes was an enormous Statue of Liberty-sized statue that loomed over the harbor, a true a wonder of the world. Alas, it was destroyed by an earthquake in 226 BC. Today, there’s nothing at the spot where it once stood, but my imagination of its former glory gives the place a certain kind of gravity.
The next day, I ventured out to explore the old city. It’s a huge area, and it’s amazing how it’s all been transformed into souvenir, leather, and jewelry shops and restaurants overflowing with chatter and music. When you turn off the larger pedestrian walkways and take some of the smaller alleys, it really takes you back in time. There are no shiny souvenirs or signage. Just cats wandering along the cobblestone, old Greek men and women sitting on porches, and near silence. It’s easy to imagine what it was like to live there hundreds of years ago.
I took a few hours to peruse the amazing collection of artifacts in the wordy Palace of the Grand Master of the Knights of Rhodes. Many of these priceless works of art and archaeologically significant artifacts are not behind any kind of protective glass. That seems careless and weird to me.
One day, Conrad and I attempted to rent scooters to explore the rest of the island, but we were denied because of my lack of a motorcycle license. Instead, we rented an adorable Kia Panda and beach-hopped our way down the east coast. After being teased relentlessly for not swimming in the ocean on the entire trip so far, I finally found some water warm enough for me at Anthony Quinn Bay. The area was purchased by the late actor to be used as a sanctuary for artists (like Robert Redford’s Sundance), but the government never allowed him to take ownership of the land, resulting in a dispute that lasts to this day. The water was delightful.
Our next stop was the Tsambika Monastery, a 350-step climb from the parking lot. It was hot, but the view made it worth it. Barely.
We finally arrived in Lindos, nearly flipping the car over as we climbed up and down the steep road of the old town looking for parking. We made our way through a maze of souvenir shops and the hiked up to the acropolis. Looming over the city, the acropolis is impressive from outside but not worth the 12 euro to go inside unless you’re a true archaeologist with an appreciation for really ruined ruins.
All in all, a hot, exhausting day trip. Everything in Rhodes is a beach or an uphill hikes.
Conrad and I decided to spoil ourselves and get our feet eaten by fish. After weeks in sandals, my feet get pretty gross, and I was curious to see what the fish could accomplish in 30 minutes. The answer is, not much. The little fish tickled my heel and ankles but mostly stayed away from my gnarly toes. And the Thai foot massage I got afterward was one of the worst I’ve ever had. Digging your knuckles down into the top of my foot does not feel good.
Each night, Conrad and I would wander to a little cluster of bars and clubs in the old town. The first few clubs we walked into were distinctly Greek, with locals dressed up and loud Greek music bouncing to a Latin beat. In terms of looks, it seems like there are both extremes here with not much in the middle. Some Greek women are really beautiful, but others are really not.
On our last night, we headed to Fuego, a little outdoor dance club and our favorite place. We drank and danced with our German neighbors from the hostel, and I met some Russian women at the bar who seemed to belong some sort of eccentric millionaire, Richard Branson-type. Julia, one of the Russians, is convinced we’ll get married someday.
Conrad and I didn’t go to sleep, returning to our hostel to pick up our bags before turning around and heading off to the airport. Overtired and feeling the effects of a long night of drinking, I felt pretty rough on our short flight to Athens and came very close to having my own little in-flight emergency. But I survived.
In Athens, we changed planes, and I found waiting on my seat a hermetically sealed box of fruit and a bottle of water. Still feeling a bit rough, I considered it a gift from above and assumed it had been left behind by a passenger on the previous flight. I got comfortable and helped myself to slices of apple, pear, nectarine, and some grapes.
I was biting into the last good piece piece of pear when an Afghan man came from the rear of the plane and told me that it was his fruit I was eating. Stupidly, he had left it on my seat before going to the back of the plane to take a crap or something. In any case, I felt horribly guilty and offered him money for the box of fruit, which he agreed to take. When I realized that Conrad and I had spent our last euros at the bar, I sheepishly told him I had no money.
He took the seat next to me and grabbed the fruit box, saying “This is mine.” With the little fork I had been using, he started to eat what I had left behind: slices of apple that were too mealy, nectarines that were not ripe, and a lonely grape that was split and brown. I tried to make amends with small talk, and it worked. He ended up being chatty and friendly. Perhaps too friendly. He awkwardly put his hand on my arm and leg as he asked me questions, and I started to think he wanted more than my fruit.
So here I am on our Aegean Airlines flight to Stockholm. I swear, every one of these Aegean Airlines flights has good-looking flight attendants. Conrad and I will be landing in Stockholm in an hour or so, starting a new chapter on this European adventure. Our friend Doug will be flying out to meet up with us for the Scandinavian portion of our trip. Good times!