Monday, 1 November 2010

Our holiday on Rhodes.




As promised today I'm writing about the holiday....

The flight left on time and we arrived in Rhodes on a sunny Wednesday afternoon after an uneventful flight from “Robin Hood” airport in Doncaster. We left at 08:10 and arrived some four hours plus two time-zones later at 14:10 Greek time. Our trip to the hotel by coach included a short sharp shower, the first rain on Rhodes for seven months, is this to be a portent?


After unpacking we were soon out for the count on our bed, fast asleep. Later, we both surfaced and had a shower. Then went down for our evening meal. Which I might add, we enjoyed sat out in the warm and humid evening. However, there were no crickets chirping and none of the Greek feta cheese on the menu, so my holiday as not yet started. With luck there would be Greek yoghurt and honey available at breakfast in the morning. I was not disappointed!

The first evening we befriended Dave and Linda a couple from Stevenage. We sat out until late chattering. Because, we had already had four hours sleep – we were not ready for bed! Sorry, Dave and Linda but me and the Memsahib are inveterate chatterers – I think that when we were children we were both immunised by nurse using a gramophone needle!

Thursday.  We were up and about quite early, with no real plans to what we would do that day. The sun was out and it was soon quite hot. We had a short bus trip into Lindos, the main town in the area. It was very busy with visitors and so we started to wonder aimlessly around the narrow streets. Streets that were filled with endless trinket shops, all selling over priced junk. I purchased sunglasses and a floppy hat. We abandoned the aimless amble from shop to shop and went for a six mile walk along the coast instead.

We noticed the weather starting to close in, high speed storm clouds started to draw near. We looked around for a bus stop to re-trace our steps. We met up with another couple who had just arrived on the island. In their rush, they had left their Euro monopoly money at home. So they were heading for the hole in the wall in Lindos. After a friendly chat whilst waiting for the bus we discovered that they were also bikers.

After returning to Lindos, we started out to visit the Lindos Acropolis. However, as we has just done a six mile walk along the coast road. We then had a change of mind and decided not to climb the steep steps because of the likelihood of heavy rain. We ran into Dave and Linda from our hotel, they were on a hunt for cake and ice cream. Later we found out that they had been successful.

We wandered around again for a while in the narrow shop filled streets. However, we soon abandoned that to go and have a look in the local supermarket. Good move! Whilst we were inside, we could hear the heavy rain battering on the roof and see water pouring in next to the checkout!

The no camera moment.

Why is it that you see a once in a lifetime photographic event when you don't have a camera with you! So, I shall have to describe the scene. Whilst walking along the coast road, we were passed by a small flat bed truck. On the back was a “Lindos taxi” or Donkey. It was facing forward looking over the roof of the truck. The donkey was perfectly happy with this mode of travel and seemed to enjoy his large ears being battered by the wind. The donkey had a harness which was used to strap him in place and to make sure that he would not fall off on the corners. (He was like a biker and leaned into the corners) However, he chose the moment that the truck passed us to take a dump onto the road. It was almost surreal, even the couple we met at the bus stop remarked about the skate-boarding donkey that had passed them!

Note. Lindos taxi. Because the streets of Lindos are so steep and narrow. Donkeys are used to ferry people and goods round the town. So all the donkeys in the area are known as Lindos taxi's.

Our hotel is about a mile or so south of Lindos on the coast road. It is run as a family style business. The staff work long hours and nothing is too much trouble for them to deal with. The room is clean and airy well decorated and the grounds are very well tended. Mags has already made friends with a couple of the hotel cats and there is a big friendly dog (called Morro) as well. In our eyes a family run hotel that includes cats and dogs is a rare treat and one we will tell everyone else about.

There are also Owls in the trees and a few well fed Frogs in the garden as well. The pool is quite good, a bit on the cold side but well tended. The local bird life in the garden seem to be quite tame, especially the pied wagtails. So far the list includes Pied Wagtails, Grey Wagtails, Jay, sparrow, a small olive coloured tit, Collared dove, a variety of lark that I have not identified, Spotted Flycatcher and the black and white European Carrion Crow.

Friday. Was a round the pool day as Mags took in the sun and because I dont like to baste in the oven. I did some reading in the shade. We are also planning to hire a motorbike as soon as we know what the weather holds in store for the next week or so. Mourning doves were added to the list of birds seen. We started to give names to the cats.

The young male kitten was named “Bandit” as he seemed to be wearing a mask and like all kittens provided us with hours of entertainment. “Mom” was a very pretty female cat (and also the mother of Bandit) who we thought might be going to have another brood of kittens. But it turned out in the end that she was just a fat happy cat!



Saturday. Saw us go for a walk down to the beach and explore along the tide-line looking at the flotsam and jetsam thrown up by the sea. I enjoy trying to identify points of origin of items I find. Several bottles we picked up, came from Turkey, one marked as Marmara which is the area close to Marmaris. Another modern bottle was marked as Raki made in Istanbul.

There was a great deal of clinical waste washed up on the beach as well. Syringes and those special rubber sealed glass drug containers were to be found. There was an old pill bottle with the date 1917 and a faint logo on the shingle worn base. There were many discarded tin cans and tons of plastic items all along the high water mark. I also found an old shell that had been fired at some time in the past, however it had been defused and was quite safe.

Later we spent the afternoon chattering with Dave and Linda as they prepared for their journey home this evening. A thunderstorm complete with torrents of rain and hailstones helped to keep everyone indoors for several hours. All as predicted by my favourite website for the weather - Weather Underground.

Sunday. We had a walk to St Paul’s bay and then into Lindos town. The weather has been hot and sunny so we were drinking large amounts of water. Lindos was packed with tourists and the road up-to the Acropolis was very busy so we gave it a miss, again!

On the way back, we stopped to watch some football for a while, as the local team took on a visiting side. We were there for about a quarter of an hour in which time the home team gave away a couple of easy goals. The club supporters offering (unintelligible to us) free advice. However, the gesticulations they were making went some way towards explaining the meaning!

Monday. We had a day out walking the peninsula that was used as the backdrop for the film “The Guns of Navarone” Written by Alistair MacLean. The Guns of Navarone was made into a movie in 1961 starring Gregory Peck, David Niven, Anthony Quinn, Anthony Quayle and Stanley Baker.

The weather was very warm and was accompanied by a slight drizzle that dried almost as soon as it touched you. So it was ideal for a good walk. It is a very long strenuous trek to reach the end of the peninsula. Some of the way is along good surfaced roads and tracks. However, it is easy to get side-tracked into going in the wrong direction. We had to retrace our steps three times before we finally reached our destination. I took a few photographs, along the cliff edge. However, as we made our return trip back by a different route. We found signs saying it is a military area and photography is forbidden!!

We came across a goat feeding on a small tree, the goat was on its hind legs and its front legs was resting on a branch. This branch was hanging over a 50 foot almost sheer drop and we were standing underneath. The goat made its way sidways, along the branch back to the main trunk to get back on the cliff top.

The high-light of our day on the headland being a wonderful Gyre Falcon that put on a display of effortless thermal and cliff up-wind riding as it slowly migrated south. We also came across a flock of sparrows that were hawking into a cloud of flying ants that were emerging from the nest. They were in such a feeding frenzy that they were oblivious to out presence. Later, Mags stopped to feed a small cat, that came to greet us. We soon had a posse of pussies surrounding us, that I called the “Magnificent Seven”.

Tuesday. I awoke with a start at 5:30 this morning to a mind-blowing thunderstorm. Sheet lightening that was almost continuous flash-flash-flash with less than a second between them. This storm continued for about an hour. The wind had been building over night and the tranquil beach was converted into a maelstrom of breaking waves. Later in the day the wind eased down a notch or two and we went beach combing along the high water line.



I found two small plastic boat fenders which if we have room to spare we intend to bring back with us. We had a walk towards St Pauls bay in the early afternoon to give us a light workout to ease the aches of yesterdays ten mile up-hill trek. On the way back we could see the weather building for yet another another storm. It arrived just after we reached the hotel.

Weather Underground is predicting 50/70 mm of rainfall for our area in the next two hours.

The visibility was down to less than a hundred yards and the thunder and lightening are much more spectacular than this morning. The electricity has been on and off a couple of times at the hotel so it does not bode well for tonight’s meal. Good job we fetched a couple of bottles of wine, several chocolate bars, a couple of packets of crisps and a big pack of chocolate biscuits as emergency rations!

The hillside at the back of the hotel has turned into a waterfall. There are mopping up operations taking place in many places around the hotel. Our balcony has about 50mm of water and about 25mm to go before it comes into the room. We are busy placing towels under the doors to stem any possible inward flow.

The storm took two hours to pass overhead. The very heavy rain has now abated to a light steady rain and the thunder and lightening has moved away. Phew! The rain was very close (10mm) to coming into our room via the balcony. I found a couple of small drain holes and prodded them clear of accumulated rubbish. The waves were quite spectacular down on the beach - which in turn for some reason seemed to be quite free of tourists.


Two hours later the storm returned and dropped the missing 20/25mm in less than an hour!


Drat, the hotel has lost its broadband connection!

Wednesday. The end of our first week.

Today, we started out with overcast sky, however, within the our the sun had returned. We went beach combing again. The path down to the beach had been swept clear of accumulated stones and pebbles by the sheer weight of water run-off. A large swath of the beach had been cleared of sand and pebbles and taken back to the bedrock. We found a few small oval fishing net floats that we collected to use as floating key fobs for our BW keys!


We spotted what looked very much like a Wheatear, but I was not 100% on identification so it will have to wait until I can check the photo against one of my birding books. I also found a stunning Yellow Wagtail in the hotel garden as I was having a walk round.

Later we had a walk into Lindos, we wandered around the town and beach area for a while. We avoided the rush of tourist going up and down the path to the acropolis. We called in to one of the local super market for ice cream before walking back to the hotel. A couple of local boy racers racing down the road on quad and solo motorbikes (both without exhausts) startled a small flock of goats. The goats put on an amazing display of sure footed gymnastics as they effortlessly climbed a sheer 100 foot cliff face at high speed.

I managed to restart the hotels wireless router and get the broadband link back-up and running again. I never cease to be amazed by IT numpties. Every setting on all five of their linked access points were left at the default login/password pair. I thought I would say nothing to the staff as the holiday is not over yet, but I must give them a reminder on the last day. In the foyer is a PC for the hotel patrons to use. The guests are given the administrator login and password on request!!!!

Enjoyed a long chat with Julie and Keith a couple from the West Midlands, who we befriended a few days ago. Keith is quite smitten with Bandit the cat. Keith and Julie would have loved to take him home to the UK. Bandit was doing his best to help them make up their minds by curling up purring with contentment on Keith's lap! He is such an endearing little character is Bandit and so is Keith!

We finished off the evening by watching my beloved Manchester United stuff it to the opposition on television. We shared the television coverage along with Christiano Ronaldo the ex Manchester United and European player of the year!!! Well, "Eri" our bar man was a  doppelgänger for Ronaldo. Plus Eri is a Man United-ite so he must be a good man.

Thursday. A long walk along the beach and a scramble amongst the rocks where I took some photographs of the first flowers of the season. All this as well as doing our usual beach combing. The weather was bright hot sunshine which continued until the late afternoon when the heat boiled up some clouds. However, this helped to make the high humidity a bit more comfortable. Tried the pool for the first time today – Bracing is another word that comes to mind.

A new kitten arrived in the hotel grounds. "Ringo" as we have called him is a ginger male, with a very long tail complete with six pale rings. His tail seems to be held erect just like a Madagascan Ring-tailed Lemur.

We scavenged off the beach quite a few small cork fishing net floats - these are to be used to turn our BW keys into floaters as I have already lost one over the side of the narrowboat - just a few moments after I purchased it.


We also found a small florescent yellow marker buoy as used in the local marinas. Plus a slightly larger red fishing buoy. One  that has an integral winder for a rope. This type is used by the local fishermen for lobster pots.

Friday. Today is the Memsahib's birthday. We went down to the beach and had a few leisurely hours swimming in the sea and at the same time watching the antics of the goats on the cliff face. We spent some time with Charles and Terry another couple from the “Yorkshire contingent” who seemed to have invaded the island. The hotel provided a couple of special cocktail drinks for us to celebrate. Mags had one I did not drink mine. However, Mags also slept quite well!!

I love the Little Gecko Lizards that seem to be in every crack and cranny of the rocks. Their colour helps to give them protection from predators - Though we did see a few being picked off my the sharp eyed Kestrels.

Saturday. We hired a motor scooter and almost did a lap (120 km) of the island. It was warm in the sunshine but a little on the cool side whenever travelling in the shade. After our evening meal we sat out to enjoy the last of the days warmth and a glass or two of the local “el vino collapso” whilst exchanging “holiday” experiences and stories with the other guests.

It turned out that another couple lived within a short distance of us. (just across the Dearne Valley) As the saying goes – its a small world. One of the other guests had spent his working life in banking (boo-hiss) He had been deployed through his work to various parts of the UK. In each place had had acquired some of the local vernacular so to speak – It was quite funny to hear him telling stories as either a Scouser, Brummie, Wolverhampton or even a Bolton/Chorley-ite seemingly at will.

Sunday. A lazy morning started with a large breakfast and then I settled down to watch the formula one, what a disappointment. Rain and a procession led by a Mercedes sports car turned a race into a farce. Mags had chosen the better option of going down to the beach to feed one of the guard dogs followed by topping up her tan round the pool. After the F1 had finished we went out on the bike to do some sight seeing up in the central mountains. Rhodes is in the main very unspoilt and has some interesting archaeological sites to visit. The beaches have not been over developed with a plethora of fast food “tavernas” that can be found on many other Greek islands.

We were attracted to the centre of the island where we had seen a very large lake. It is man made and slowly filling with water off the mountains. There is a very large dam currently under construction. When full, the lake will be 8 million square metres in area and around 40 metres at the deepest point. We met up with one of the Greek workforce on site, who was very proud of the project. He was also able to practice his English, German and Spanish with us and some of the other visitors. Unfortunately, he happened to be a Leeds United supporter. I was however, able to reassure him that given sufficient time he would recover his senses.

Monday. I'm starting to get Poppy pangs as I am missing our canine family member that we left behind at home. Here is "Molly the thug Pug" who was guarding a petrol station just south of the Rhodes airport.

Talking about pets, I have some news on “Bandit” the hotels accidentally acquired kitten. A guest at the hotel who has been smitten by the kitten has decided that she wants to give him a home. So the process of extracting Bandit to a new life in Switzerland has begun.

Worming, neutering and Bandits jabs are all on the cards. On another note, Mags continues to feed the other hotel drop-in cats. Left-overs are being smuggled to favoured feline friends by various guests as I write.

When we left the UK, be brought with us some Foxes glacier fruit sweets. It seems that the liquorice and blackcurrant variety are unavailable on the island. After a chat with one of the sweet-toothed hotel staff, we have now been relieved of our carefully conserved stash.

Today, was the big one, a full lap of the island. This reminded us of doing a full lap of the TT course on the Isle of Man) Rhodes is 77km long and 37km wide. This lap took most of the day because of the frequent stops we made to take photographs along the route.

Tuesday. We took the bike back to the bike hire centre and then had a lazy day. Starting off by reading down on the beach where we spent some time watching a Kingfisher. We ambled back to the hotel and did some more reading around the pool. I also downloaded a couple of new books onto the Kindle. Not doing bad so far with 5 books polished off. Later, we heard a Kestrel calling quite loud. We arrived in time to watch the brave Kestrel dive bombing a large female Buzzard and shift her out of his territory. Nice sunset this evening as the clouds helped to make the afterglow over the "Navarone coast" last much longer than normal.

Wednesday. Up early and suitcases packed. Down for a large breakfast before heading off to the airport. Made a few purchases in the airport duty free and then settled down to wait departure. An hour before scheduled take off came the instruction to go to the gate and board the plane. We were in the air half an hour before our scheduled take off time. The flight path was diverted to the east, we flew over Turkey to avoid some heavy turbulence over the north of the Aegean.

The high spot of the holiday was the hot if sometimes spectacular weather.

The low spot of our visit was the state of the beaches, especially  along the south west coast of the island. The human habitation around here is very sparse. Yet, the beaches are full of the detritus of our human everyday living. Plastic of every colour, bottles and crates, old shoes and many other items of our throw away society all end up in the sea and ocean.

In all fairness Rhodes and its beaches are much the same as many other beaches around the Mediterranean. The water on the south west coast is chrystal clear. In the inter-island ferry dock we could clearly see fish and horseshoe crabs on the the bottom at a depth of 4 metres. 





The scenery on Rhodes can be nothing less than breathtaking. However, what piques me more than anything else is the legacy we are leaving behind for our children. Several feet in depth of nylon, polythene and plastic from end to end along a 70km stretch of coast that will take hundreds of years to break down.



Later.....


2 comments:

  1. Hello Alan.

    Thanks for the encouragement, I am glad you enjoyed your visit and found some things to interest you.

    We have been to India a number of times and we hope to be back in February/March 2011.

    Best wishes

    Mick and Mags.

    ReplyDelete

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