Greece Part II – The City of Rhodes

It’s been over a year now since we visited Greece, and I realize that I’m only a quarter of the way through showing you our trip. The Athens post is here, if you’d like to look back at that. Following our brief time in Athens, we hopped on a plane to Rhodes. The taxi ride to the house we were staying in was terrifying and amazing. Our driver Nikos was hell bent on properly welcoming us to Rhodes, so he used one hand to drive, and the other hand to flip through a book about the best sites and places. All while facing backwards, to make sure we were in fact looking at the book. Every few minutes he would direct our attention elsewhere, to some landmark, and then he would flip through the book to find the page about it to make sure we understood. God bless him, he was sweet. And he got us to our destination intact.

A brief geography and history lesson for you now. Rhodes is the largest island in the group of Greek islands known as the Dodecanese. It is to the southeast of the Greek mainland and the Peleponese Peninsula, and is quite close to Turkey, only about 11 miles a way. Because Rhodes has been invaded and occupied so many times (I’ll let you google that yourself), the island is home to ancient Hellenistic temples, early Christian Byzantine monasteries and churches, Ottoman mosques, and the oldest synagogue in Greece. At one end of the island is a  city, also called Rhodes, that was first built in 408 BC as a capitol city, and was then re-built in walled, Medieval style in 1309 by the Knights Hospitaller.

This medieval city is where we made our home for our time on Rhodes. And this was the first house we stayed in!

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This view is looking in the front door, to the living area. Do you see those floors? gorgeous, and time consuming, but very cold, and not all that comfortable on the tootsies. I should have packed slippers.

From the first floor, you climbed a steep set of stairs to get to the bedroom, which was just absolutely amazing…

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Many of the houses in the walled city are livable, but some are ruins (as you’ll see in the photos), or are quickly becoming so, probably partially due to the economic downturn that Greece has been experiencing. The city has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site, but that designation doesn’t actually come with much funding for the upkeep. Here are some views throughout the walled city of Rhodes. You’ll notice that some of the streets have been finished in the same style as the floor in our house. The photo below is the view opposite our house.

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I swear half the pictures I took were of doorways and cats.

Doorways…

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And cats…

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I did manage to photograph some architecture as well. I love how worn the stones in the image below are, from years of foot traffic, and now vehicles as well.

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Photos do not do it justice. It’s so much more about the feeling you have while staying there, really similar to the feelings I always have visiting the Acropolis in Athens. The question in my mind is always, who walked here?

Having been to the city of Rhodes in January, I don’t think I would ever go back during peak tourist season. The walled city was deserted for the most part. There are a few locals living there, a handful of restaurants, a basic grocery store, some places of worship, a post office with very limited hours, and probably 50+ tourist shops that were (mercifully) completely closed. I can imagine it being pretty overwhelming during the high season. Locals thought we were ridiculous for visiting in January, since it was rainy and cool, but we explained that we had come from Wisconsin, where there was currently over a foot of snow on the ground and the temperature was hovering around 0° F. On one drizzly day we sat outside at a restaurant for our meal, under a covered area. We overheard someone say it was way too cold to be sitting outside, and that we must be from Norway!

Food in Greece is cheap and delicious. I learned to like lamb, and I love the custom of a digestif (herbal liqueur) served after a meal, which seemed to be free of charge but maybe that’s just because it was the off season and we were some of the very few tourists in town.

Outside of the walled city of Rhodes, is the newer section of Rhodes. We spent one very windy morning walking around there.

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We were the only people on the beach since it was so windy and rainy, except for this brave gentleman.

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That’s Rhodes for now! We’ll be returning here to explore the rest of the island, but next is our favorite part of the trip…the island of Tilos!

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