72 hours in... Sunny Rhodes

| October 5, 2012

Make the most of 72 hours on the sunny southeast Aegean island of Rhodes by steeping yourself in history, lingering over lunch overlooking deep blue sea and tasting local wines on pine-covered mountain slopes…

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The medieval walls of Rhodes Old Town protected the Knights of Europe on Crusades to the Middle East; ruined Ancient Greek temples, and Ottoman mosques and bath-houses, are mixed up together in this UNESCO World Heritage site amid bougainvillaea and palm trees, shopping streets and neighbourhoods. The Archaeological Museum, with its airy courtyards, was the Hospital of the Knights, and its treasures range from Hellenistic statues to Egyptian-inspired jewellery and mosaic floors.

For lunch, head to Indigo in the New Market by Mandraki harbour for salads and cooked dishes, or Kafeneion I Agora for fish. Rested, continue along the harbour past elegant Turkish and Italian buildings and the gates where the legendary Colossus once stood to reach Elli Beach, and lounge in Blue bar ‘with your feet in the sea’ as the Greeks say. Round off the day with a taste of café culture at Casa La Femme, where the stylish gather to talk and be seen. If you’re in town on a Tuesday or Saturday, Kafeneion I Agora has live traditional music.

Day Two - Lindos
Oleander lines the road to Lindos; relax in a landscape of fruit trees and olive groves as you head south. Lindos’ whitewashed houses huddle on the hillside under the medieval castle and the ancient Acropolis. Peek into the Papakonstandis Mansion, one of Lindos’ famous Captains’ houses dating from 1626, with painted wooden ceilings and Arabesque designs; and the church of Panayia, with its excellent frescoes.

As Zorba the Greek said: ‘how simple a thing is happiness: a glass of wine… the sound of the sea’. Stop for a drink and lunch at Odyssia, then wander down to the turquoise oval of St Paul’s Bay overlooked by towering cliffs, a snorkeller’s paradise. Or take a taxi a couple of miles down the coast for a superb lunch with a view at Philosophia in Pefkos, then snooze to the sound of the waves at the beach down below.

Day Three – Kameiros-Embona
On Wednesdays and Saturdays, you can gorge on fresh fruit at the Laiki or street market near Zephyros beach and the cemetery. Alternatively visit Koukos, a rambling café well-loved for its on-site bakery – try the warm apple pie. Then we’re off down the other side of the island. Past the airport, you’ll see fewer hotels and more farming villages. Stop for an hour to explore the remains of Rhodes’ third ancient city state of Kameiros, then turn inland towards Embona, 50km from Rhodes town.

Winding up into hills covered with pine trees and vineyards, the views become more spectacular; remote Embona village, in the shadow of Attaviros, the highest mountain in the Dodecanese, has a sunny climate perfect for traditional wine-making. Shops offer tastings of wine and the strong local spirit souma, as well as local olive oil and honey. A peaceful backwater on the edge of a mountain, with unpretentious restaurants like Bakis serving local grilled meats with natural home-made wine, seems a good place to end the journey and watch the sun going down.<

Jennifer Barclay writes about life on a Greek island on her blog, An Octopus in my Ouzo: Life on a Greek Island. Her book Falling in Honey: Life and Love on a Greek Island will be released in the UK in March 2013 (Summersdale Publishers).

View Cox & Kings' short break to Rhodes.

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