Monday, June 30, 2014

Cruising to Greece: Rhodes

In our first installment of Cruising to Greece we took a look at the top sites of Athens.  Today, we journey to Rhodes, a Greek island in the Aegean Sea, and the largest of the Dodecanese Island complex. It is one of the most beautiful Greek islands, with a landscape of fertile plains, low hills, and green forests. Rhodes is a port of call on many Eastern Mediterranean and Greece Island cruise itineraries and a full day in port presents a lot of options for exploring the island.

Hiring a taxi for a half or full day island tour is a great way to see as much of the island as possible. Cabs can be hired when you walk off the ship or can be booked online ahead of time.  You then have the freedom to set our own agenda (perfect for those that prefer to research a destination ahead of time) or follow one that the driver suggests (they do this day in and day out, so you’ll be sure to see all the island highlights possible in your allotted time).  Full day tours will usually include Old Town, a visit to the Grand Masters Palace, the Acropolis of Rhodes, the village and Acropolis of Lindos, the Valley of the Butterflies, a winery stop as well as a lunch break at a lovely restaurant on the Mediterranean Sea.

Many cruisers to Greece choose to spend their day on the island of Rhodes by renting a car or taking a taxi directly to Lindos. Located on the eastern shores of Rhodes, Lindos is a whitewashed labyrinth of little alleyways which was deliberately designed to confuse pirates.  Today it’s a lovely place to meander, with quaint shops and pretty cafes!  The climb from the village of LĂ­ndos up to its famous Acropolis can be quite exerting on a hot day, but its so worth the journey! (An alternative is to ride a donkey to the top; the station is by the main square and the cost is about 5 Euros). At the foot of the steps leading to the acropolis there’s a relief of a Trireme (ancient Greek warship) carved into the rock which dates back to 180 BC! Further up leads to the Acropolis gate with its ruins of sanctuaries, temples, and public buildings all built by the Knights of St John. Continue a bit higher to reach the stately remains of the 300 BC Doric Temple of Athena Lindia. Apart from the historical significance of the Acropolis, the view from the top is breathtaking…you can see the whole city of Lindos as well as the surrounding bays!

Of course, an entire day can be spent by simply exploring Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage site.  The medieval fortress-like buildings, walls, gates, narrow passages, minarets, old quarters, fountains, and lively squares make it feel like you have stepped back in time. The best place to start your tour is at the top… the top of city walls, that is! That’s the perfect spot to snap photos of the rooftops, fortifications and the moat. Then begin strolling the down the Street of the Knights, where many of the Inns of the crusading Order of the Knights of St John were based. It is one of the most complete medieval streets in the world, and its buildings of chiseled sandstone form one uninterrupted facade. The Palace of the Grand Master and Archaeological Museum are the two most popular attractions and are worth a visit. There is of course, plenty of shopping in Old Town and many lovely places to stop for lunch or a cold drink.

Rhodes, a port of call on many Mediterranean cruises,  has something for everybody; shoppers, beach-goers, history lovers and archaeology buffs! So whatever you choose to do with your day in Rhodes, I guarantee it will be memorable! Next stop…Santorini.

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