Saturday, 31 March 2012

Rhodes, Greece - Off-road Rhodes

I have cycled through more beautiful, off-the-beaten-track places than I can count on my bicycle trip so when Bart and I cycled south down the west coast of Rhodes through the ugliness of mass tourism, I wondered if we had made a mistake coming to a holiday island. But we quickly discovered that the secret to happy touring on Rhodes is to go off-road.

Our ferry from Turkey arrived on the Greek island of Rhodes as it was getting dark and we had a fun evening cycling madly through the narrow, dimly-lit alleyways of the medieval town trying to find a room for the night. Next day, after a morning of wandering around the beautiful cobblestone roads and narrow passages, we cycled through the gates in the ancient city walls to pop out into the modern town and start cycling down the west coast with its endless strips of bars, cafes, restaurants, ugly hotels and partly-built resorts. Fortunately we found a pleasant escape route as we picked a dirt trail that climbed up into the mountains. What a change! Soon we were cycling through lemon and orange groves and up through little terraced plots of vegetables as farmworkers downed tools and finished their working day. We pitched the tent that evening beside an olive grove and listened to the tinkle of the bells on the goat herds as the setting sun cast a peachy light on the rocky mountain above. Further meandering along the quiet off-road trails of Rhodes took us up into the high lands, past deserted monasteries that looked out over the hills and sea and through little mountain villages. At one village we stopped for lunch in a small cafĂ© as we had been unable to buy any food that day. We wondered if we had somehow offended the owner as she scurried off across the street after we gave her our order … but she quickly returned with potatoes freshly dug from the field and in ten minutes we had delicious, fresh, home-made French fries!

We came back out of the hills to enjoy a relaxing day in the picturesque coastal town of Lindos with its typical skinny streets and whitewashed buildings. In the morning we walked through the village which, like most of the island, was deserted awaiting this year's first influx of tourists. In the afternoon we sipped drinks at a little bar right at the edge of the crystal-clear, aquamarine sea – I had always imagined doing this on a Greek island one day – and raised our glasses to riding off-road in Rhodes!

Photos in the Greece folder!


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