It’s Greek to me!

Copyright: Elle Druskin 2011

There are so many Greek islands that you could spend months going from one to the other and enjoying the sights and the beaches and that doesn’t take into account the Greek mainland. I went to Rhodes on a whim, happened to catch a fantastic package at a very cheap price that included a 5 star hotel and 2 meals a day. One of the best parts was that because it was a relatively short trip, I decided to ditch the luggage and just use a carry-on. What did I need? Two bathing suits, a few light dresses that didn’t wrinkle (I was not going to spend my time ironing) and two pairs of sandals and the beach cover up. Rhodes is pretty laid back and you don’t need dressy clothes. If you have one item that can do double-duty, you’re all set. Stuffing minimal clothing into a carry on bag with the requisite sunblock and toiletries did not take a lot of space so it was on and off the plane. Easy.

Let’s Hit The Beach
Rhodes is an island so you’re going to find plenty of beaches. It’s also a fairly laid back place, the water is warm in summer being the Mediterranean, and there are heaps of things to see and do if you get tired of the beach or need a break or feel you’re supposed to see something. You should be aware that a lot of cruise ships dock at Rhodes and some beaches get more overrun than others. One other thing, it is not unusual to see topless women on the beaches so try not to gawk. Rhodes does tend to get crowded in the summer anyway, but you will find your beach.

Like Tel Aviv, you will find plenty of chairs and umbrellas for rent on the beach or if they are part of your hotel, they might be free for guests. Wherever you go, the water is very blue, just beautiful and for the most part, quite calm. Also be aware that the ocean floor tends to be rocky on these beaches, even if the beach itself is sand. Some are not, by the way. The most crowded beaches tend to be on the south and west coast of the island so if heading south, I would keep going past Lindos Beach, but I’ll still mention it because it is beautiful. (Just crowded!) Also, do bear in mind you may not find lifeguards on every beach and you swim at your own risk. Even if the water is calm, I never believe I know better than the sea so keep that in mind.

Lindos Beach is gorgeous. Yes, you will definitely have umbrellas and lounge chairs for rent there. The beach is right under the acropolis and popular for jet-skiing and banana boat rides. This beach gets crowded so you might want to consider a few others.

If you are staying near Rhodes City, Elli beach might be the one for you. It also tends to get crowded—it’s hard to get away from that in the summer. This beach is on the northernmost tip of the island. You will find volleyball nets on this beach and lots of restaurants since it is so close to the city. The water is particularly clear and clean here so despite the crowding, it is a nice hangout. Personally, despite Elli’s reputation of sophistication, I prefer Ixia Beach which is also on the north coast. One of the reasons is that there is wind on this beach, so the breeze is welcome and you have a better chance of some surfing if you want to try that, and there are windsurfing lessons for those who want to try it out. I find the sunsets particularly spectacular on this beach so hang out for the evening and watch that sunset.

Kalithea Beach is on the east coast of the island but I would avoid this one unless you are on a ship—this particular beach fills up quickly with people on day trips on the ships. It’s worse than the subway at rush hour. That’s my opinion, but you might want to find out for yourself. Instead, try Falikari Beach just south of this one. I wouldn’t do it because I’m chicken but they do have Bungee Jumps near this beach. It also has lots of restaurants and clubs so there tends to be a lively night life once the sun goes down if that’s your thing. In that case, Falikari Beach is for you. Just south of Faliraki is the Nude Beach, if that’s your thing, go right ahead. Just keep in mind, this is not a “sight-seeing” beach; you get in by being nude.

What’s fun to do in Rhodes other than the beach?
Don’t forget that this is the site of The Colossus of Rhodes—one of the ancient wonders of the world, so if you are interested in ancient history, you should make time to see this. The medieval town of Rhodes is world heritage listed and you should make some time to wander within its walls. Have a look at things like the gates to the city with the flanking turreted towers –think medieval England and you’ll be able to imagine it before you get there. Be sure to walk the Street of Knights and see the Grand Masters Palace. Even if you aren’t Jewish, make the time to visit the Jewish Quarter because this was a very old community, dating back to around the time of Jesus. The community was decimated by the Nazis in 1943 during which time most of the Jews on the island were sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau so there are very few Jews on Rhodes today but the synagogue is still there. The Jewish Quarter is in the southeast of the city and a small museum is located in a part of the synagogue. This was an interesting linguistic community; like many Mediterranean Jews in exile, they spoke Ladino which combined Hebrew and Spanish. Once the language of the Jews in North Africa and many parts of the Mediterranean, hardly anyone speaks it today and you will be hard pressed to find anyone who can. (I have met a few people who do and I was interested in all this because I know someone descended from this community.).

Everywhere you go in Rhodes, you will find signs of ancient Greek and Byzantine culture and if that is your thing, spend some time at the museums that specialize in these areas.

If you have to go shopping, lots of handicrafts for sale and you can peruse as you wander the cobbled street down to the bottom of the hill which is lined with shops selling leather goods, ceramics and pottery, beachwear, jewelry, etc. I wasn’t too keen on shopping and I don’t recall the prices were any bargain but if you MUST shop, check out and compare prices before you pay. This is pretty easy to do, just keep wandering down the street and pop into shops along the way.

It’s Greek to me
Food? Well, take your pick. As you would expect, in addition to typical Greek food, yep, you are going to find a lot of fish and a great variety from tuna, sea bass, squid, swordfish, halibut, anchovies, grouper and more but I recommend a dish that is typical of Rhodes—Rouzetia which is a small fish fried in garlic sauce. If you are a meat eater, lots of lamb and goat on menus and kebabs for snacks. Of course, you will find stuffed vine leaves, eggplant and feta cheese served in a variety of ways on menus. Lots of garlic used in the cooking and of course, olive oil. Wander around and try samples of some of these items at food stands and then decide if you want to try a full meal at a restaurant at another time.

How to get around? Don’t rely on public transport too much on Rhodes. You will either be using taxis, rent a car, or a scooter. Scooters seem to be everywhere and if you are going to visit lots of beaches or other sights, you will need transport. If you are staying at a hotel, check to see if they offer any shuttle services.

Rhodes is great for a short break and while I do recommend giving a few hours in the morning to sight-seeing, I would reserve the afternoon hours for the beach (with an umbrella because the sun is fierce). So have fun, enjoy the sun, sea, Greek food and laid back atmosphere.

What’s our next stop? Singapore, an amazing Asian destination.

Here’s your quiz:

The main language in Singapore is:


The beaches are located at:

The end of Orchard Street
On Sentosa Island
Adjacent to Chinatown
One subway stop from Little India

One of the best buys in Singapore is

Custom made clothing
Sapphire jewellery
Locally made cameras
Hand crafted batiks

The beach with the most activity is

Siloso Beach
Palawan Beach
Tanjong Beach
Raffles Beach

Singapore culture is a blend of

Indonesian and Mandarin
Indonesian and Japanese
Indonesian and Malaysian
Indonesian and Korean