Sunday, 17 May 2009

Rhodes Town

We took a couple of days out of our tour around Turkey last summer in order to visit Rhodes. Mark’s tourist visa for Turkey was due to expire, a fact which meant that he had to leave the country, even if only briefly. The obvious choice was to nip over to a Greek island, many of which are closer to the coast of mainland Turkey than they are to Greece. Mark had visited Rhodes before, but only once, and it had been many years previously. I had never been there. The ferry services to Rhodes tied in with our planned tour, so we took the decision to go there. We crossed from Fethiye and returned to Bodrum, having spent a very enjoyable two nights and three days on the island.

We confined our visit to Rhodes Town itself, an old walled city with UNESCO World Heritage status. Our hotel was within the walls, what turned out to be an easy walk from the ferry terminal, once we’d navigated our way through a warren of narrow cobbled streets. We spent the majority of our time in Rhodes Town walking – exploring every corner of this amazing, historic city. When we had walked for hours and needed a sit down, we stopped for a drink in a pavement café or, on one occasion, hopped on the dotto train, which took us out of town to the top of the hill behind it, affording us stunning views of the city, the sea, and glimpses of distant land masses.

The Palace of the Grand Masters was a highlight of our trip with its stunning mosaics and grand rooms. We were grateful to spend time in its cool interior as respite from the searing heat of the day. Another place worth a visit was Our Lady of the Castle Church – be careful not to miss the doorway leading outside to a courtyard where there are remains of intricately designed pavements.

The recently restored Hospice of St. Catherine should also be on you ‘to-do’ list. At the time we visited, it was not well advertised, and we happened on it by chance. There was no entrance fee, and we were free to wander the rooms and marvel at the cobbled (outside) and mosaic (inside) floors, supervised by just one elderly, very sleepy security guard.

Rhodes Town is a super place just to roam around – there are photo opportunities around every corner. When we had explored almost every inch of the interior of the city, we went through a gateway in the inner wall, and walked inside the moat around the entire circumference of the walls. It was a very pleasant walk with far fewer people than we had seen inside the walls, and plenty of chances to sit on a grassy bank to enjoy the sunshine.

The harbour area of Rhodes Town was also very picturesque. A good way to explore it is to take a boat trip.

Having explored all day, and become extremely footsore, it was fantastic to be able to eat wonderful food (pork was a particular treat after a year of a pork-free diet in Turkey!), drink sublime wine, and listen to charming Greek music in the fabulous garden setting of a restaurant we came upon close to our hotel.

All in all, a superb destination, which I would definitely recommend.

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