Rhodes before the storm

Leaving Kos by ferry we headed to Rhodes, the largest of the Dodecanese islands. The benefit of travelling by boat, you get to see other islands along the way. In our case the ferry had one stop over in Symi. Symi harbor is a sight to behold. All buildings in the small harbor are painted in warm, red and orange tones. I am not sure if this is a tradition or not but the result makes Symi harbor look like a doll house. Later I learned that all had to be restored because a retreating German army ordered all ammunition depots destroyed and pretty much blew up all of the island’s housing. Since then the native population has also dwindled from once 22,000 to about 3,000. It appears tourism reengineered another takeover.

Symi Harbor

The stop over is short and then it was just another short trip to Rhodes. Rhodes is due to its location, loaded with history and accordingly a popular destination. Most of the tourism seems to be based close to the city of Rhodes. We chose a small village, Stegna, right at the sea. Our good fortune was to visit before Europeans headed into summer vacation. So the island was still in preparation and we had Stegna to ourselves. One restaurant had opened and it turned out the owner’s wife was from Chicago. Of course with such connections we had arrived and the children came to know Greek hospitality. It didn’t take long a local fisherman was found who would give us a little tour of otherwise inaccessible beaches and a lesson in fishing. This is the Greece experience I wanted my boys to have!

Stegna in the morning
Stegna in the distance

Stephan took us out for a trip to nearby, secluded beaches. They loved it. We stayed for almost a week before we moved on. In this time they came to know the place and felt comfortable exploring.

But no trip to Rhodes without some history lessons. The older one loved greek mythology, so visiting ancient sites was a bonus. Lindos is a spectacular site, but the old town at base is a virtual shopping mall. Picturesque from afar, but nothing Greek remains. So we moved through to make it to the Acropolis which towers over the village. Its a remarkable agglomeration of historic footprints form the helenic, to roman, byzantine, ottoman empires, they all left their mark on this strategic location, the end of Europe and the gateway to the east.

Lindos at the base of the Acropolis
Lindos view from above

Not only was this location blessed with a great strategic location and exceptional view it even had a natural harbor right next to it.

I am sure later in the summer this place is crawling with tourists, but if you make it there before July you will be able to enjoy it without being pushed and shoved around.
Another day it was on to the city of Rhodes. Its old town and Palace of the Grand Master of the Knights of Rhodes. I could have spent days, morning evening and night to take photos in this town. It felt like an open air museum, except there are people who live in it. Between this ancient walls Christian, Jews and Muslims lived together in close proximity for centuries. One would think there is something to be learned here. As a subject it is probably best capture in black and white.

Konrad Grünenberg, Description of Rhodes city from 1490, many of the city walls remain intact

Then it was time to sail on. This time it was an overnight journey with destination Heraklion, Crete. The ferry was sizeable, the business they did abysmal. Decks that used to be cramped with cars and trucks in better times remained largely empty. The travelers, some odd tourists like us, a large gipsy families and a handful of lost souls. So the kids had a huge ferry to explore. My final conclusion, Rhodes is a wonderful place to visit, but by all means avoid the high seasons.

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