A Travellerspoint blog

Crusade Castles and Tacky Package Holiday Resorts

3 Days in Rhodes

sunny 32 °C
View The Epic Adventure of Mr & Mrs VB on The VBs's travel map.

Arriving in to Rhodes on a propeller powered plane, that we felt could have dropped out of the sky at any second, we were looking for a bit more than we managed to find in Crete. Things did not start well. Our arrival time coincided with 3 flights from the UK, two being package holiday flights with Thomas Cook and the other being an Easy Jet flight from London Gatwick. Needless to say the airport was rammed and tensions were high as people fought to get their bags first; in order to get outside and in to a cab.

Joining the back of the line we were once again lucky enough to be going in the same direction as the frist cab of the rank. Therefore we didn't have to stand around like everyone else. However, this time round the couple we were sharing the cab with seemed less than impressed with the arrangements. Arriving at our serviced apartment, the cabbie asked for his 25 euro. Once again our Lonely Planet had let us down. While it gave us a price for the cab it failed to mention there was an additional surcharge per bag of 5 euro. 10 euro out of pocket and still slightly grumbling we staggered off (after effects from our walk the day before) to find the reception and our room. Walking past it the first time we finally found a note stuck to the front door informing us our room was 117 and was open for us. Arriving upstairs we were pleasently suprised to find the room had a cooker and fridge, home cooked meals and cheap Greek wine was defintely on the cards for the next few nights!!

After sleeping in, recovering from our lack of sleep the previous couple of nights we set off to find a bus in to the town of Rodos and to explore the old town. Finding the bus stop was an experience in its self. We're staying in a place called Falaraki, 15km south of Rodos on the coast. Now, we've never been to the Greek Islands and we'd never really carried out any research on what these places are like. Finding our accomodation on the internet it just said it was close to the beach and since this was supposed to be the relaxing part of the trip a beach was high up on the agenda. What the website failed to mention is that this is where every pasty skined, teeth missing, beer swilling pom came on their summer vacation. Yep, thats right we'd booked ourselves in to a British and for that matter Dutch and Geerman package holiday nightmare. The local Tavernas don't really sell local greek food thier menu's are instead list full english breakfasts, Sunday Roasts, fish and chips and Bratwhursts etc. The bars and shops are all staffed by Brits and the drink specials range from 1 euro pints up to 15 euro for all you can drink in 3 hours and Friday night Foam parties, the main road is lined with places called, George's, King Arthurs and straight from the Flintstones The Bedrock Bar.

Falaraki is the only town on Rhodes that has a subway, Mc Donalds, Pizza Hut and KFC. Needless to say we were slightly speechless by our surroundings.

After walking in a daze past all of these wonderful establishments we located the bus stop on Falaraki beach running in to Rodos. Hopping off the bus in Rodos we were greeted by the magnificant sight of Rodos Old Town. Much like York and Dubrovnik, Rodos is a walled city. However, in comparision it is significantly more impressive. The South Western side of the city walls are protected from invading forces by a land moat while the North Eastern side of the city extends all way to the Harbour. The raised position of the wall giving the occupiers prime position to fend off attacks from either side of the city.

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The land moat has now been converted in to a garden and entry to the city can be obtained via any of the old stone arch gates. We wandered up the hill and entered via the old draw bridge. The city itself is full of date plams and the Islamic occupation is evident in the Mosques and middle eastern coloured lime work used on some of the buildings. The earthy colours of the buildings against the back drop of the blue sky and date palms certainly allowed one to day dream of times gone by.

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Clambering up the city steps to the entrance of the Knights Palace we were pleasantly suprised to find entry free for the day as the wall walk was cancelled due to ongoing works.

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The Knights Palace was home to the order of the Knights Hospitaller after the Christian Forces were finally evicted from the Middle East, Rhodes was their home for approximately 300 years before their piracy on Islamic boats forced the Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent to lay Siege to Rhodes expelling the last remaining Knights to Sicily in the year 1522.

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The Palace is full of beautiful Early Christian and Roman Mosaics from the nearby Island of Kos dating back as early as the 2nd century.

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After finishing our exploration of the Palace we set our sights on the Jewish Courter and the North Eastern side of the town.

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As our journey has proceeded we are making notes of the lessons we are learning. For example, we now know to check what day of the week it is before we decide to go exploring in a city. With yesterday being Sunday many of the small shops within the narrow streets of Rhodes were closed. None the less we really enjoyed the afternoon, getting lost and playing Crusades (I really hate this word, its meaning goes against everything I believe and stand for, but at the same time it is the best word I can think of to allow you to conjure up the image that I have in my head of knights in foreign lands).

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Sunday night was spent on our balcony with a home made spagetti Cabonara and what turned in to 2 bottles of Greek wine priced at 3.50 euro each, bargin!! Our drinking habits are significantly restricted on this trip and we plan to take adantage of every oppertunity we have, drinking of course in moderation, all we can drink for 15 euro in 3 hours is not really our cup of tea.

Today we are just relaxing by the pool and taking it easy. We've brought forward our plans to get to Turkey and heading off tomorrow instead of Wednesday, as nice as it is to relax this isn't really how we imagined Greece to be and therefore we think Turkey will probably offer a bit more local culture.

So stay tuned for our Turkey adventures.

Posted by The VBs 05:03 Archived in Greece Comments (0)

Greek Time, Venetian Forts and the Longest Gorge in Europe

3 Days in Crete

sunny 28 °C
View The Epic Adventure of Mr & Mrs VB on The VBs's travel map.

Catching the ferry from Santorini to Iraklio in Crete we suffered our first experience of Greek time. Our ferry was due to depart at 4:30pm and was only supposed to take 1hr and 25 minutes to reach Crete. The ferry arrived 1 hour late and took 2 and a half hours to arrive in to port. Normally we would have accepted this as just one of those things that happens, unfortunately it completely threw out our plans. We were aiming to catch the 6:30pm bus to Chania (pronouced Haynyah), 3 hours to the west of Iraklio. This would have just allowed us enough time to get to the campsite and pitch up for the night before it became too dark to see what we were doing. The next bus would have had us landing in Chania at about 11pm with another bus to catch to the campsite... a new game plan was required!

Referring back to our trusty Lonely Planet, or not so trusty as the case has proved with the Greek Island edition, we set our sights on Rethymno, another old Venetian town constructed in the same light as our original destination Chania. At only half the distance it was perfectly placed to allow us to find the youth hostel and grab a meal before the witching hour struck.

Thinking back to our experience with Greek time we've hit upon a brilliant idea of creating a world time exchange, based loosely around the world currency exchange. If someone was to offer you say 1 hour and 25 minutes of normal (lets call it Standard time) and they wanted Greek Time in Exchange, you know you'd have to give them 2 and half hours in exchange. This would allow any person anywhere in the world to be able to work out exactly how long modes of transport and other time related activities are going to take!

Rethymno, is listed in the Lonely Planet as the second most beautiful town on Crete, second to only Chania, so not suprisely we expected to be impressed, we expected to find a moment.

A moment, defined as an experience or instant in time that would create a memory not to be lost to the sands on time. A memory that while possibly lost to the subconcience can be brought back in an instant through anyone of the 5 senses.

Unfortunately here in Crete we've been suitably let down when it comes to finding a moment. Now, one could argue that we've experienced a lot the world has to offer and that we are now probably hard to please, we would argue that everywhere has the ability to cause a moment if the circumstances are right. Unfortuantely it looks like the cards did not fall as required during on time on Crete as no real moments have occured.

Wandering around Rethymno it's cute and there are signs of the previous Venetian occupation, back in the time where they were a powerful naval force. But unfortunately the Battle for Crete during World War II wiped out much of the old town. The only two surviving building within the village are the Church and the Mosque.

A close inspection of the Venetian Fort showed the scars of war, the outer face of the walls clearly damaged from artillery fire.

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After spending the night in Rethymno and having the Crepe to end all crepes for breakfast (Banana's, chocolate, coconut and hazelnuts) we grabbed our gear and headed for the bus station to make our way to Chania, hopefully we'd find more of Crete's history here.

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Arriving into Chania in the afternoon we easily found our bus to the campsite and were quite happy to find it located in close proximity to the beach, if only the weather had held up we would have made good use of the beach.

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Wandering around Chania in the late afternoon, early evening one thing was evident the old Venetian Port was significantly bigger than that at Rethmyno. However once again something seemed to be missing, we'd hate to say it but the narrow streets and beautiful vine covered restaurants of Rethmyno held more charm. It was a good thing we were spending the next day out of town hiking Europes longest Gorge.

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The Samaria Gorge is 16km in length and is Europes longest gorge. Wanting to get an early start we were out of tent at 6:30am and in a taxi to the bus station at 7am for the 7:30 bus. Needless to say we slept most of the 1 and a half hour bus journey to the start of the gorge, waking sporatically to see the orange groves of Crete pass us by. The weather was perfect for the long walk ahead slightly overcast and cool, these conditions were unfortunately not ideal for taking photos.

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The walk starts with 3km of winding path as you make your way down deep into the gorge. Undertaking the walk in summer meant that it was not as pituresque as we imagine it could be. The wild flowers were no longer and the water course was barely a trickle. This however did not subtract from the smell of fresh pine, and the wonderful views as we worked our way down the gorge. The gorge grew in impressiveness as we headed towards the coast line. as we dropped in height the walls of the gorge moved closer. So close in fact that the authorities have needed to place up signs in some places instructing walkers to beware of falling rocks and walk the section ahead at pace. Of course these locations were always the most beautiful and we caught ourselves like many others slowing down to look up and even stopping to take the odd picture. The gorge narrows to a minimum width of 3.5m before widening up again.

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The gorge is home to the endangered kiri kiri goat which we may or may not have seen as evidenced in the photo below. Apparently these goats don't really enjoy being near humans and the Lonely Planet warns that you'd be unlikely to find one. However, given the the LP gives 3 different lengths for the gorge within 5 paragraphs we're starting to trust our guide book less and less.

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We were out of the gorge in approximately 5 hours arriving at the small coastal village at 2pm only to discover there is one ferry out of the village a day and that wasn't for another 3.5 hours away. We were tired, hungry and worst of all only had small travel towels with us! These were not large enough to allow us to lie on the pebbly beach and the deck chairs were 7 euro each to hire! This was not condusive to a back packing budget. Needless to say we were tired, hungry and now bored! As we whittled away some of the time by standing on a drink each (we'd failed to take out more money prior to our days adeventure and the town had no cash machine) our stomachs rumbled as everyone else around us tucked in to the feast they felt they so deserved after completing the 16km hike. Our meal had to wait until later that evening.

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The ferry out dropped us at another small coastal village but this village at least had a road in and out We all raced off the boat fearing there weren't going to be enough seats on the bus to get everyone back to Chaina. However, its obvious the Greeks have done this all before as there were 3 coaches waiting and everyone made home safe and sound......Next stop Rhodes.

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Posted by The VBs 03:44 Archived in Greece Comments (0)

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