Rhodes – What to do there

Climbing Moss on Holiday (You have no idea how many times we had to take that picture) This year we went on holiday for the first time in 5 years! We decided after our last holiday to Lanzarote that we would try somewhere hot, not just hot but as hot as we could get (for a cheap flight).

After much deliberation we ended up going to Greece – Rhodes to be more precise.

In true form our holiday didn’t go smoothly but things rarely do with us. So we are going to post separate pieces in the next few days highlighting different parts, including food and drink and some of the issues and experiences we had, so stay tuned for more.

But here is a summary to wet your appetite.

We travelled from London Gatwick to Rhodes Island and then on to the resort of of Stegna, so here is what we found there and what we honestly thought of the island.

Stegna

The picturesque village of Stegna is small, you can walk the length of it in about 15mins, from the Italian Restaurant at the southern end to the marina and fish restaurants at the north end. In-between there are many hotels and apartments, a lot more Tavernas/restaurants and a number of bars. (See reviews on Food and also Accommodation for more details). 
 
This surely sounds great but our problem is that the bars are mostly empty, the music plays, but no one dances and by 1am everything is shut. For us this is not what we were told to expect and after a few days of pure relaxation and peace and quiet we were a little bored and craving some noise! 
This isn’t a negative point, it’s a good thing if you want beautiful beaches, warm sea and a nice relaxing, quiet holiday,  the occasional drink, but nothing loud and too OTT, then book your next trip to Stegna, it’s just if you want any nightlife then Stegna is not for you.

Archangelous

We started to explore, first off is the town above called Archangelous  (Pronounced AKajjaloshhh if you say it, in any way the locals will correct you every time changing the pronunciation, just to confuse you!) This is the 2nd most populated town on the island – How? Where are all the 6,000+ people? It’s a shanty town, made up of broken buildings and closed shops, dust roads and dry river beds and not a lot else, it’s only real use is the bus stop that will take you to Rhodes, Lindos and some other places, although very hard to work out the time table. 
 
So these were our next ports of Call…

Rhodes 

The capital of the island is Rhodes Town.
The New Town is a bustling, modern city, filled with designer shops, tattoo parlours and never fear a McDonalds! 🙄

The main industry of Greece is tourism so everything is geared towards separating the holiday makers and their Euros. Anything from Caricatures to Tour Guides are available the moment you step off the bus. If you take a wander along the marina, to look at the huge house like yacht’s moored there and to where the Colossus of Rhodes once stood (now there are two small goat statues and not a lot else) you come to the packed beach at the tip of the island, with it’s never-ending rows of blue sun umbrellas and grey, dusty sand, it didn’t make us miss our lovely Stegna beach at all.

There is a huge inflation of prices in Rhodes, the umbrellas which are €3 in Stegna, were raised up to €10.

We headed for the Aquarium but it is not worth the visit, it’s basically a fish tank and a few pictures on the walls, in a dark room. 
It’s the Old Town that really regains some of the charm, and pulls your interest back. Re-built by the Knights Templar in the 1300s the city walls still stand 600 years later and unlike the rest of Rhodes seems to be in a good state of repair. 
There isn’t that much to see in the ancient Palace of the Masters, unless you spend lots on the tour and the museum. But just wandering around you’ll see a pretty city, cobbled streets, windy little alleyways leading to large open squares. Today those roads lend themselves perfectly to shops and restaurants all over the place.
The shopping is once again very tourist based and the search for old women making traditional greek lace will go unfound, instead be prepared for shop keepers to drag you in their stores if you even stop to take a breath outside. Then they will stand at your back and fix their eyes on you and not blink, in case you steal a statue or an Evil Eye perhaps. They truly understand the art of making someone feel very unwelcome!
Sure there are bargains to be had but a lot of tat and crap has to be dredged through to find to find the treasures of Rhodes.
 

Lindos 

The town of Lindos is one of those whitewashed buildings, steep hilly alleyways and an acropolis on the hilltop, type of place that Greece is famous for.
We took the bus down the coast on the day of the Dormination of the Virgin, a national holiday in Greece, hoping to be engulfed in festivals and holiday spirit, unfortunately the festivities tend to take place after dark when the Greeks can relax and party, we were unable to stay due to the limited bus schedule, so instead we enjoyed the shopping and the warm waters of the coved beach.

The beach or beaches of the town are reached by walking down long, narrow and steep roads to either end of a fully enclosed cove, both beaches are small and very popular. One end has the typical umbrellas and tons of tourists. The other end is more secluded but just as busy.
The water however is shallow and very warm, there are plenty of boats moored there and you have to avoid the anchors and mooring ropes, but it is pleasant and worth the trek down (and then back up) the steep roads.
The town is full of those beautiful white walled buildings, cobblestone floors and tons of shops, not all are tourist shops selling I Love Rhodes T-shirts.
We found a lovely restaurant and a great view of the town, the surrounding rocky crag and the Acropolis above.
In hindsight if we returned would stay a few days in the town before moving on up the coast to Stegna and then on to Rhodes to get the most of the island.

Faliraki 

We wanted some nightlife so after an attempt (and major failure) at going to Lindos for a night, we headed to Faliraki for a Saturday night.
We sought out a club and soon realised that Faliraki is nothing more than Northern England on any Saturday night but a thousand times hotter. There are tons of loud idiots shouting, fighting, eating kebabs, driving scooters, throwing up and getting so drunk that they will make out with anything that moves and not remembering it the next morning, only to repeat it the next night. I’m sure that can be great and something to wash away your home existence, but it wasn’t for us.

Afandou

Afandou was a fishing village that solved the problem of invading pirates by situating the town behind a hillside. That translates into the town is a bloody long way from the beach and the signs still point in completely the wrong direction in case any pirates happen to find there way into town and want to return to their ships. So don’t trust the signs and don’t try walking to the beach, because it’s over 3kms away and if you ask a local ‘How far to the beach?’ The same answer will be uttered – ‘Oh 10minutes no more”. Bollocks we nearly passed out walking the 10 minute walk in the mid afternoon heat and what for, a stoney beach and a bar playing Johnny Cash full blast!

Epta Piges

The locals secret this is supposed to be one of the islands great kept secrets. Epta Piges means ‘7 Springs’ and is just that, except what it really is, is a bloody long walk (again) from the bus stop – nearly 4kms, then a steep 500m hill to a car park, a restaurant and right next to the toilet block a small pool of water.
We walked past this and headed out into the woods with all the rest of the tourists in search of the Springs that never run dry. We found a lot of trees, hills, boulders and muddy puddles, but, no springs. We did however find lizards and some massive spiders, that looked pretty deadly! So we headed back only to discover that puddle next to the toilet is the famed 7 springs. There are 7 small streams of water trickling into the pool and that is this great spectacle of Rhodes.
More fun is the tunnel.

Take your shoes off, climb into the cold knee deep water and shuffle road gang style along into the long dark tunnel, heading for the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel, some quarter of a mile away.
The tunnel gets so black you cannot see your hand in front of your face, but you can hear the young Spanish girl behind you singing away her fears in a sweet melody from behind you!
At the end is a shallow pool and a lake that is supposed to be a natural, pure, fresh water, but is in fact is an murky mud pool.
The positives are the peacocks all around, there are loads of them all about, plus some ducks and if you are a fish eater then head to the restaurant for Sunday lunch. I’m sure this is what the locals mean when they say it’s a great place, the restaurant was full the whole time we were, there searching for the springs.

                                            See the springs? No well this is them!

Kolympia 

A long, long walk from the bus stop, along a road lined with big trees, we found Kolympia a row of few expensive shops, a tattoo parlour and a few bars that at 3pm on a Sunday were all playing the Arsenal Match for the British tourists sat about with their pints of Carlsberg and Guinness, trying their best to avoid any of that Greek cultural crap. We found a restaurant and tried to experience a little Greek cuisine, unfortunately we never even got to the beach because of those damned buses again and the idea of that walk back to the bus stop.

The Valley of the Butterflies 

 

We didn’t get there as we would have had to get the 1 bus from Stegna at 7.30am to Rhodes and then the 1 bus a day and it leaves Rhodes at 10.30am. But given everything else it is probably a let down. The English reviews said ‘Boring and you don’t see anything’, where the Europeans were like ‘The long walk through many trees’, but didn’t  even mention the butterflies, so there is something to be said there!
Also they aren’t actually butterflies but moths!

West Coast

Because of time constraints and the lack of vehicle, we didn’t get to see what the west coast had to offer, but from what we had heard about it and from one of our hitch hiking rides, it was cooler, quieter and with big waves and a surfing community. So although it sounded interesting we weren’t so enthusiastic to make the journey and check it out.

What we didn’t know before going and would advise in hindsight…
  • Hire a car in your package it’s cheaper and it’s needed. We went to one of the rent a car places in Stegna, what we quickly learnt is that they quote different prices depending on your nationality and which hotel you are staying in. British were on the top end of the price scale, with German coming a close second.
  • (Scooters (motor) aren’t much cheaper and are dangerous, as we saw a number of near misses. Greeks it seems use scooters as target practice, seeing how close they can get without hitting them and trying to make the scooter career off the road.)
  • Bicycles – Don’t bother unless you own a Polka Dot jersey from the Tour de France.
  • Buses – Long walks from the Bus Stop to the destination they are supposed to go to. The stops are approximately 1km from the location named, with the exception of Rhodes. The time tables are sporadic and hard to find and often the buses are either early or late (so you never know how long you will be waiting)
  • Hitch Hiking works! Greeks, Germans and Italians will mostly stop for you and sometimes even take you to the location you are trying to get to. So they can have company and conversation on their journey. However you can just watch the British, honk or stick their middle finger up as they drive past. Obviously just be cautious and avoid anything you feel uncomfortable with.
Overall we enjoyed our break! Immediately we retuned we missed, the sun, sea and heat (It being 36 degrees today) We liked Stegna but if we retuned to Rhodes, we would rent a car, and town hop, staying in each of the places we visited for a couple of days each before moving on (with the exception of Faliraki and Afandou)

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