|The Ballards - Greece Rhodes|
Rhodes was our first visit
to a Greek island, in 1992.
Rhodes is a beautiful island, once you get outside the main disco areas. Like Ibiza, it has an unfair reputation as a hedonist haven. It is true that many islands in the Mediterranean have pockets of deplorable ex-pat English Fish 'n chip bars and ludicrously hip and overpriced drug dens...I mean, nightclubs, but it is always a tiny minority in the main conurbations, and these islands should not be judged on these minority criteria.
Rhodes town, being a bit further, required a car, so reluctantly (we were very poor at the time) we shelled out for the ropiest Panda I've ever driven, which wheezed us to Rhodes harbour, and we finally found out what was up the steep hill the moped failed on as well.
Mandraki harbour in Rhodes Town is the best example of a typical Greek harbour I have ever seen: here oil tankers, 1970s hydrofoils, millionaire pleasure cruisers and sculls (sculls?), Mirror dinghys (huh?) share waterspace, and right next door a huge area is open for public swimming. Quite how many people get mown down by the hydrofoils every year I don't know but it must be huge.
Quite a lot of the architecture in Rhodes Town is Italian Fascist Modernist, unsurprising as the Italians occupied the island from 1912 to 1945. I would have thought they would have wanted to be rid of it after the end of the war but most of it has been repaired and is in daily, if unattractive, use
.We took a day trip to Symi which is within rifleshot of Turkey, which must have made times interesting over the years. We seemed to have chosen the hottest day of the year
.It's a small but picturesque place amost entirely reliant on tourism from Rhodes as the sponge diving industry failed after the 1st World War, presumably because of plastic sponges? Or maybe they just ran out?
There's a nice monastery and some very steep streets down to the harbour, populated mainly by snoozing cats in the heat of the day (the Greeks were indoors asleep, only mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun...)
In 2001 we took the children to
Rhodes for their first family flying holiday abroad. Airtours get 10 out
of 10; despite a 4-hour delay at Gatwick they were excellent. The girls
loved the flights, although Lucy was a little scared during the take-off
roll. Before we got on to the aeroplane we showed them from the viewing
gallery what the planes did when they took off (because it's hard to see
from inside the aeroplane) and they very quickly got used to the smooth
ride. They were no trouble; they had plenty to do on the aeroplane, what
with the activity bags, the seat controls and the radio, looking out of
the windows at the matchbox-sized countryside below, and getting frightened
by the clouds.
We spent the whole week in the pool, basically, venturing out just once to buy postcards. Nessie and I had already been all over the island so not going sightseeing was OK by us. The girls didn't want to look around ancient ruins or go shopping in hot Rhodes town anyway.