The Ballards - Greece Rhodes


Rhodes was our first visit to a Greek island, in 1992.
We made two mistakes: visiting at the height of Summer, in August, and neglecting to specify air-conditioning in our holiday plans, hence we spent the days swimming in the sea and roasting on the beach, and the nights dripping with sweat, tossing and turning. Ugh.

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 did an All-Inclusive deal, so didn't have to worry about funding extra ice-creams/pizzas/lunch/drinks etc. This suited us fine, the girls could go and eat whenever and whatever they liked. They ingested vast quantities of ice-cream and Lucy ate loads of pasta and rice, often having two or three lunches. It was interesting to see what she ate when out of our direct control. All the booze was included too, so we drank vast quantities of peculiarly-named cocktails and that, combined with sun and the sea-breeze, ensured a very relaxed week.

The only fly in the ointment was that the hotel's air-conditioning was not turned on (they turn it on in the middle of June!) so at night it was very hot, too hot to sleep well.

We resorted to using Mermaid Barbie to wedge under the room door to hold it open, and that made a great through draught. We renamed her "doorstop Barbie" as she had variable thickness legs, suitable for any floor to door height......

The food in the hotel was excellent, especially breakfast, and the girls ate well. They attended some Childrens' clubs but were really more interested in being around the pool and with us. They made friends with a couple of other girls (girls don't seem to like boys at this age) and had a great time.

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.