A June 2005 trip
to Rhodes by GB from Devizes
Quote: Albeit a well-worn phrase, Lindos really is impossibly beautiful - a clutter of pink-, blue-, and white-washed houses form a maze of narrow alleys lined with shops, bars, restaurants, and tavernas, overlooked by its ancient Acropolis. From any angle, it presents a picture-postcard view unlike anywhere else in the Greek islands.
The alleyways teem with shops offering porcelain, woven rugs, leather, jewellery, pottery, lace, and paintings, their sun blinds forming a canopy over the alleys that keeps the searing summer sun out, but has the effect of creating the largest sauna in the world.
Lindos is famed for its marvellous Captains’ Houses, built by wealthy seafarers whose amassed fortunes facilitated the construction of these unusually decorated domiciles, some preserved as they were, some now bars or private dwellings. Hokhlaki floors are ubiquitous here, and the best examples are to be found on the front steps of the Captains’ Houses, as well as on the interiors.
Many of the restaurants are perched upon 3- or 4-storey balconies, offering superb views of the azure Aegean and the constant comings-and-goings within Lindos' main harbour.
Ancient archways are still to be seen, although many have now been covered or integrated into more recent developments. There are influences here of Venetian, Roman, Byzantine, Moorish, Saracen, and Ottoman occupation, all of which serve to give Lindos its distinctive flavour and atmosphere. There are several ornate churches in the village, most open to the visitor.
Stop awhile at one of the dozens of tavernas and bars that line the alleyways, all offering decent food at keen prices, and whilst waiting for the bus to take you back to your resort, relax in the shade beneath the huge olive tree that is centre-stage in the village square.
The Acropolis and Castle will be featured in a separate journal.
As with anywhere on Rhodes, it is very hot, and this is exacerbated by the shops’ blinds that cover the alleyways. We certainly found prices to be a bit higher than in some resorts, but not extortionately so.
The large, flat area besides St Paul’s Bay is often used for open-air concerts, and during our stay, a Pink Floyd tribute band played a stunning set, according to some friends who attended.
The walk from the main car parks is steep in places, with no real footpath for pedestrians. Taxis race up and down the hill with inches between them and the tourists, so caution is definitely advised.
Buses services run to Lindos from all over the island and are inexpensive and frequent, although not always on time. Taxis will often stop for you if you are walking or awaiting a bus and ask if you want to share with the existing occupants, an unusual way to make friends, that’s for sure.
Lindos itself is traffic free due to the narrowness of the alleys, although this doesn’t deter locals from screaming around on their derelict mopeds and scooters.
Every tour operator offers trips here, but book your trip with an independent travel firm, which will be at least 15% cheaper for the same trip.
We stopped to peruse the menu outside and were greeted without being pressurised into entering. The prices seemed okay, and we were both hungry, so we accepted the waiter’s invitation to come inside. We decided to take a table on the top deck, where the views were to-die-for, worth the meal price alone.
We went straight for the main course, with Caroline choosing a fruits de mer consisting of mixed fish and shellfish in a rich sauce, whilst I opted for my first stifado of the holiday. Funny, when you’re at home and the weather’s been hot, the last thing you’d eat is a stew, but there’s stew and then there’s stifados.
We ordered a litre of dry house red, which was very quaffable and priced well at 5 euros, along with two large beers at 2.50 euros each. The food arrived within 10 minutes, and like just about every other meal we had on Rhodes, it was good, with large helpings, beautiful presentation, and cooked just right.
Caroline enjoyed her fish, which was cooked to perfection, and my stifado was great--tender pieces of beef, the tomato wasn’t bitter, and the vinegar sauce provided just the merest hint of "bite".
We cleared our plates, finished the wine, and asked for two "rakis" to wash down the food. These came free of charge, along with a small bowl of fruit, also gratis.
The bill came to 29 euros, which we thought to be excellent value for the feast and stunning view we’d enjoyed. I’d recommend "Dionysos" to one and all, should you ever have the pleasure of visiting Lindos.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on August 5, 2005
Attraction | "The Captains' Houses"
They vary in size from simple, two-story houses to large, handsome Gothic mansions, with Byzantine and Moorish architectural features, standing in large courtyards and sheltering behind high walls.
Most of the Captains’ Houses feature the beautiful "hokhlaki" pebble flooring, whereby different-coloured stones are set into the ground to produce stunning scenes and pictures. Some houses feature this only on their front steps, whilst others have hokhlaki floors throughout the house, as well as in their courtyards.
The houses are also graced with fine Lindian doorways called "pyliones", usually featuring exquisite carvings that complemented the rest of the house.
Today, many of the houses have been converted to bars and one in particular to see is the Captains Bar, not far from the church of Panagia. This features stunning flooring and doorways, yet the bar has not detracted from the beauty of the original house.
Others are now private dwellings, although several are open to the public. These are invariably linked to a restaurant or taverna "front of house" where you will be afforded your viewing upon the purchase of a drink. Some do ask that you request permission to take pictures prior to firing away, although this is always granted.
Attraction | "The Captain's Taverna"
Entry is via a couple of ornately designed hokhlaki steps, through a pylioni doorway, and into what initially appears to be a rather gloomy, little bar. However, as your eyes adjust from the bright sunshine outside, you become aware that you have almost stepped into another world.
The bar is amazing, with pebble flooring throughout, which tends to keep it very cool inside. The walls are adorned with all sorts of nautical paraphernalia from the time when this house was owned by a wealthy sea captain. It is dimly lit inside, which certainly adds to the atmosphere, and, with what sounded like Greek sea shanties on the stereo, we could almost have been sat within the bowels of a sailing ship.
We chose a seat close to the door and were given a bar list, from which we ordered two large beers. These arrived in frozen glasses and were personally delivered by the owner, who was interested to hear where we were from and whether we liked his place. He then produced a food menu, and we ordered a simple snack meal of taramasalata and pita bread, which was forthcoming within a few minutes.
It was delicious and refreshing, and we scoffed the lot inside of 5 minutes. Towards the back of the bar was the open courtyard and inner doorway to the house. We respected the sign asking us to request permission for photos, which the owner was happy to give.
Our bill came to a reasonable 10€, and upon leaving, we thanked the owner for his food and hospitality, for which he embraced us as if we were old friends. There’s definitely something good about being a Brit in Greece.
Attraction | "The Harbours and Beaches of Lindos"
The main harbour is to the north of the village and was originally the ancient harbour where the Knights and other occupiers of the village would have landed. Today, it is bustling with holidaymakers who come to fry on its wonderful beach as it curves in a sweeping crescent around the headland. It is crowded beyond belief with parasols and sun beds occupying every square inch of the golden sand. Offshore, you will see multi-million-pound cruisers and ocean-going yachts at anchor, whilst the never-ending stream of tourist kaikia slip into the harbour to disgorge their human cargo, desperate to offload their euros in the village’s gift shops.
Immediately beneath the Acropolis is the tiny harbour that plays host to the small fishing fleet that supports the fish tavernas and restaurants in the village. The fishermen could probably make more money taking pleasure-seekers out around the coast, but they continue to struggle to earn a living, much as fishermen do anywhere on the planet. Their catches arrive at the restaurants within a couple of hours of being caught, and Lindos is certainly the place to go for a fresh-fish dinner.
Farther on round the base of the Acropolis is Lindos’ main beach, lined with bars and cafés, again, insufferably crowded in summer and not really our cup of tea. But things now take a turn for the better as St Paul’s Bay appears at the southern end of Lindos.
The Bay has two great beaches and crystal-clear water. The Bay is accessible by water only via a narrow channel between the almost all-encompassing rocks that make this the best bathing and the most-sheltered water in the area. St Paul himself is reputed to have landed here in 58AD after a fierce storm wrecked his craft as he was making his way to Rhodes to spread the word of Christianity to the island. Legend has it that the boat was unable to make the main north harbour, and that a miraculous bolt of lightning made a small hole in the almost landlocked St Paul’s Bay, through which he was able to find safety.
St Paul’s has two crescents of golden sand and is usually not too busy for two reasons.
The first is that not that many people know it is here, and second, those who do can’t be bothered to walk through the village clutching their beach paraphernalia. I would therefore heartily recommend St Paul’s Bay as the best and most peaceful part of Lindos for those who like their sunbathing and swimming to be conducted in relative peace and tranquility.
Harbours and Beaches of Lindos
Lindos, Rhodes, Greece
Attraction | "The Church of Panagia"
It dates back to the 1300s but has been renovated at various times over the centuries, most notably by Grand Master Pierre d’Aubusson of the Knights in 1490 and then by the occupying Italians in 1927.
It does seem a little "hemmed in" due to the proximity of other buildings in its vicinity, but it is a worthwhile stop to make, and you won’t be disappointed. It has the classic "wedding cake" tower typical of so many Rhodian churches, with a solitary bell at the summit that strikes out the hours even today.
The interior is superb with full hokhlaki floors and wonderful biblical scenes depicted on its walls, courtesy of some fine 19th-century frescoes. There are earlier frescoes painted by Gregorios of Symi that date from 1779 and includes St Francis of Assisi sporting a donkey’s head, a fine depiction of Byzantine irreverence.
There are many fine icons and a beautifully carved wooden altar screen and Bishop’s throne. As with virtually all churches in Greece, interior photography is strictly frowned upon, and I’ll have to leave it to your imaginations as to the treasures contained within.
Entrance to this lovely church is free, but you will be asked to dress accordingly, which means no shorts, vests, or T-shirts.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on August 5, 2005
Church of Panagia
Attraction | "Whatever You Want, Lindos Will Have It"
Arts and crafts account for many of the local shops, and you will find many opportunities to buy ceramics, porcelain, leather, lace, fabrics, and locally woven rugs and carpets.
All the goods on sale purport to be made locally, and I’m sure that the vast majority are. Many shops feature local scenes painted in oils onto fabric in beautiful colours. They vary from postcard size to four feet by two feet but can be rolled up to take home. They are very reasonably priced and are all painted individually. Plan on paying around 10 euros for a medium-sized picture.
The local leather is very supple and therefore ideal for making purses and handbags. Caroline thought them generally to be of a high quality, so much so that she bought two to bring home with her.
Hand-painted ceramics are a local specialty, and these are fired in wonderful Mediterranean glazes. You can pick up a large fruit bowl for around 15 euros.
I wanted to buy a Greek shirt and was not disappointed, with several shops selling gents’ clothing. I decided on a white and blue striped shirt featuring the traditional v-neck and half-length sleeves. This cost me 18 euros, a good deal indeed.
If a relaxing evening in with the "weed" is your pleasure, then we counted half a dozen "emporia" where you could buy pipes, bongs, papers, and all manner of smoking extras, although not the weed itself, which is heavily frowned upon in Greece and carries a substantial prison sentence if convicted of usage.
The rug shops are colourful, and many of the old ladies who own them will more often than not have their looms out the back, where they will proudly demonstrate their prowess if you look even remotely interested in buying. Prices are crazily cheap and start at around 10 euros for a 4x3-foot rug. They are incidentally all machine-washable, should you decide to acquire one.
Most of the lace sellers occupy the side of the pathway up to the Acropolis, but there are still a couple of stalls in the town itself. I counted at least three decent camera and accessory shops, all offering digital memory cards at much the same prices as at home, should you run out of picture space. Most also offer same-day printing, although the "Greek" method sometimes falls a little short of what we might expect at home.
There are, of course, many well-stocked stalls with fruit, vegetables, cheeses, herbs, spices, and meats if you decide upon the self-catering option.
If you don’t like history, are fed up with culture and despise archaeology, still do come to Lindos if only to enjoy window-shopping and haggling for a bargain (how many of you ladies don’t?)
Lindos Specialty Shops
Throughout Lindos, Rhodes, Greece
Attraction | "The Ancient Amphitheatre"
At this point in time, Lindos had a thriving population of traders, sea captains and affluent merchants, all of whom would have relished a trip to the theatre. It is in poor condition today although like so many sites in Greece, there is just a sign stating "ancient theatre" and nothing else to assist the tourist to appreciate what they are looking at. In fact, without this sign, it would be easy to overlook the theatre entirely as you stroll past.
Today, there is just the carved seating tiers that surround what would have been the old stage area, and most of these are crumbling away with the dual onslaught of weathering and the relentless thud of the tourists' feet.
In some ways it is good to be able to "tread the boards" as it were without hindrance or ropes and barriers but one always gets the feeling that if the Greeks took a bit more care of their ancient treasures, then they would last a darn sight longer than with tourists tramping all over them.
Entrance is free, but be prepared to see all that is on offer within 5 minutes.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on August 6, 2005
GB from Devizes
Devizes, United Kingdom