To reach Rodhes, the Agean gem we were all looking forward to seeing was an overnight sail. We had left the lovely island of Santorini after getting completely lost in the glow of the mesmerizing sunset. Dinner on the yacht in the finest Rosenthal and wine in Belgian crystal ware and we were fast asleep awaiting our morning destination.
The morning welcomed us to the calm waters outside Rhodes Town. The old town has been declared an ancient heritage site by the UNESCO. It is all intact within the fort, The Grand Palace, the Acropolis, the cobbled and stone paved pathways , the ruins of the ancient temple of Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love. There are about 10 gates to the town depending on the purpose and convenience of entry. Since we were at the harbor we entered through the Marine Gate or St.Catherine’s gate. It is one of the most beautiful entrance to the stone walled fort as well, carved with VirginMary, St Peter and St John . It opens into the Ippokratous square that branches into the shopping streets of Rhodes Town.
We were pleasantly surprised when 2 young girls walked up to ussinging “Pyaar huva… ikraar huva..”from Raj Kapoor’s classic. They were street singers, strumming on their banjo guitars. When we smiled they went on to sing , “Tujhe dekha toh yeh jaana sanam…´ Sharukh’s universal call of love. Amazing… we were thrilled to see that Indian film music really has international acceptance. Giving them ‘baksheesh’ of 5 euros we started our exploration of the town.
The old town of Rhodes has scores of shops selling beautiful intricate jewelry, spices, olives and olive oil. Greece is known for its finesse of design. It also has a number of stores having beautiful soft cotton garments, the quality of which is unsurpassable. That I think was the Turkish influence as the cotton quality was indeed as good if not better. We women could barely have enough. Even just window shopping was fun, equipped with gelatos in hand to combat the afternoon heat.
But shopping aside, we first wanted to understand and partake in the history of the place, so we set off. The Socrates Street which now houses these shops leads on to the Mosque of Sulieman. It was built in honor of the King Sulieman after the take over of Rhodes by the Ottoman dynasty. It was the first mosque in the town of Rhodes. We then went on the historic 600m cobbled street called the Street of the Knights. At the end of which is the Palace, an awe inspiring structure with huge stone walls. Made in the 7th century for the Grand Master of the order of the knights of Jerusalem, it was used as his palace and administrative centre. The hallways in the Palace were done beautifully with mosaic tiles. A surprising feminity in an otherwise complete masculine demeanor of the structure. We walked down the Knights street, seeping in the history of wars fought on this little island. Near the Siam Square stood the Ruins of the temple of Aprodite. That however was disappointing as there were nothing more than a few well preserved stones. Unlike the ruins one gets to see in Athens there is no structure that can define how it must have looked. 8/10mins is all that was required. I must emphasize though that everything is kept extremely clean, even though there are so many tourists.
By now however, shopping for the ladies had created hunger pangs for the men. Specially, since every restaurant had the host/hostess making that extra effort of warmly welcoming you inside or tempting you with an ideal location or outstanding service even though the restaurants were buzzing with tourists. It felt nice to see each of them going that extra mile in their jobs, something we need to learn.
However we wanted an ambiance of an outdoor café so we picked to have a lazy luncheon at Café Auvergne near the Temple of Aphrodite. We gorged on the rich Avacado salad, amazing pizzas, and dollops of icecream. While the couple of Bloody Marys and Mojitos were enough to get happy men set to take us on another round of retail therapy.
Bags laden with goodies, by early evening we decided to head back, to shower and get ready to see the nitelife of this quaint little town. Right across the Ippokratous square there was a lane of small bars with delightful spectrum of music, right from Jazz to Country, from House to Latin beats. The choice for us was obvious as we saw a couple swirl to the beats of the Lambada. My hubby extended his hand with a twinkle in his eye, ready to practice his salsa, recently learnt from a weekstay in London. Me? …. well, I had no choice to sway my hips to match him till we realized all our friends had invited the previously dancing couple to watch our amateur attempt. “Honey, I think we better eat salsa than dance it”, I said trying to hide my giggles as I dragged him to join our friends. As we downed our Margaritas we were enthralled by an elderly gentleman outside the bar doing the moves with his 7yr old granddaughter. They were soon joined by a young couple who went on to do the Rumba…and so it continued…till the entire street was dancing. It wasn’t a nightclub scene or that of the discotheque. It was infact like a indian sangeet after party, kids, youngsters and adults all were out to have fun. Their energy and enthusiasm stayed with us as we walked back to our yacht calling it a night.
The next day we headed to the Ixia beach which is ideal for windsurfing and other such water sports because of the wind factor. Though all I did was jet ski, it was fun watching the others try there stunts. All being first timers they were more in the water than on it. The videos of which could run on the TV Funnies.
The beach here was not a sandy one. I hadn’t seen a pebbled one before…so it was the first for me. It did have the sunbeds and restaurants but I did prefer the one at Faliraki, one of the small villages on the other side of the Island which we went to later. It had a long sandy beach and was definitely the more popular one. It had lovely restaurants with fresh catch of the day and ranged from Greek, Italian to Turkish food. We had our lunch at the Dimitri, the first and oldest restaurant of the island. Family run through generations, they were impeccable in their service and food. I have yet to taste better Mousakka than I had that day.
Since it was the last night before we headed back home, we decided to go all out and party through the night. Dressed in our shimmers over our shorts, we headed towards Club Paradiso, an open air nightclub, a little further away from town but totally worth the experience. We were surprised to know that we had gotten lucky as the Swedish House Mafia was performing that night. As we, the well trained parents took out videos of the performance to send to our teenage kids we very well knew how night was going end.
“Why haven’t you taken us?”
“You all don’t even know how cool it is?”
“We should be the ones doing these things not you.”
We received a barrage of messages from our teen kids back home. Clearly they didn’t know that their parents were still capable of outdoing them. We would send them our Mafia videos we promised each other. Enjoy, we would for sure. After all we had just been spiked by the Rhodian enthusiasm.