First, I’ll begin by explaining why and how my experience came to be, as it was. Before I describe my experience.
I thought Santorini’s lack of operation, in terms of businesses being open: cafés, restaurants, bars, shops, tourist centres, hire shops, clothes shops.. You get the picture – was due to Santorini in particular, as one of the most popular Greek Islands and being completely fuelled by tourism causing the dramatic contrast between summer and winter. But now being here, in Rhodes, in March, with people asking ‘WHY did you come here now?” I realise that no, it’s all the Greek Islands. It makes it hard to rebel against the tide of Summer Tourism, and add to that chaos, when nothing is actually open in Winter. This extends to ferry operations. Thus explaining the 21 hour ferry ride, and now, the cancellation of the every-four-day ferry to Marmaris. Dan and my defence for visiting when nothing is open and it’s cold, is that we don’t want to be surrounded by swarms of people / irritating idiots. We don’t like being in crowds and we wanted to see ‘it’ in its ‘natural state’. And yes, we do get peace and quiet, we do get cheap prices, we do get to see those few locals as they go about their daily business. But it’s made hard by the depressing air of quietness as you walk past closed shop after closed shop. After you see two people for 4 hours. After you can’t actually find anywhere open to buy food! THEN, you imagine how nice it’d be in summer… With all those people. All those shops. All that noise. All those good food smells. All that warm air.
So enough melodramatic moaning.
My experience in Rhodes:
We wake up at 8am to have a full day of activities, as we have only one full day here. First is the important task of food. I’m famished. So we head for the old town square. (We are staying in ViaVia Hotel in Old Rhodes) Every single place is shut. Roller doors making the square look abandoned. Apart from a wee Greek man and his three wheeled scooter selling fruit. We pick up some essentials and carry on our search. Mid-way through our food search we walk to the port to try and book our ferry tickets to Marmaris for the following day. The ticket centre is closed. A very happy-to-disappoint police officer tells us the Ferry’s aren’t operating and that nothing will be open today or tomorrow as it’s a public holiday.. He was a bundle of joy! Our hopes are not yet diminished as we carry on in search for food. Then it clicks, it’s Sunday.. It’s a public holiday… And it’s coming up to lent. I start to get HANGRY at the prospect of no food. After a much needed Gyros Souvlaki, from a ‘Fast Food’ joint I am revitalised. The rain pours down, it seems the storm from the previous night has continued. But with greasy meat of some description, chips and pita bread in our tummies we plow forth ready to discover this place! As true tourists, we head for the largest building in Old Rhodes Town, The Palace of the Grand Master. On arrival the sheer mass of a thing is what hits me. It’s just so dam big! No entrance fee as it’s a public holiday- *plus. The palace itself acted as an act of defence for Old Rhodes town, and a refuge for the people if the enemy were to strike, built between 1476-1503. We walk through the entire palace, looking at mosaics lining the floor brought from Kos. The sheer enormity of the rooms, the dungeon looking hole which was used for ‘hiding’ the town, should anyone attack. The palace was also used as a prison under the brief Turkish ruling. We then trudge through the narrow flooding streets to walk round the city walls. Rhodes is the largest inhabited medieval city in the world. The entire section of Old Rhodes is surrounded by huge grey brick walls, and two moats! It’s very impressive. Three main gateways to Old Town Rhodes exist, all leading over the moats.. To Central and New Rhodes. we walked right round the walls and became orientated as to where we were in reference to our hostel very quickly. At around 4pm the sun blossomed out of the sky! It came out of know where and lasted for 2 hours before it sank back to darkness, but while it lasted, it washed all that gloominess away. For dinner we walked round and round and round Old Rhodes, hunting for something.. Anything. We found a few restaurants open, selling entree’s at €11, but gave them a pass and headed back to the ‘fast food’ joint we’d been to for lunch. Little did we no that this was the ‘IT’ place to be… We ordered an entire BBQ chicken and a Greek salad, a beer and a sprite for €16. Very pleased with ourselves we dig into our huge feast. The place fills up, it seems we’d stumbled upon a hot spot for the locals to eat gyros, watch soccer and smoke! After a feast and a half we head back to our cute wee room to organise how to get off this island! The result being we have to catch a ferry from Rhodes to Kos at 8.30am, arriving at 10.45 then from Kos to Bodrum at 4pm, arriving at 5pm. But this is all hoping the weather holds out as one ferry already cancelled, so fingers crossed.
Rhodes you’ve been an experience. Impressive, very beautiful. But wet and completely dead. I’m sure in the summer, you’d be sensational. I’ll be back.