It's all Greek to me! - All roads lead to Rhodes.

The stunning view from the beachside taverna at St Paul's Bay, Lindos in Rhodes.

When we came upon this small taverna almost carved into the hillside that surrounds St Paul's Bay.  We were hooked with Rhodes.  Underneath the towering cliffs, which on top sits the Lindos Acropolis.  It really is a little corner of Paradise.
 
The Acropolis has an unbelievable position with views to every point on the compas.  To the north is the sheltered bay which houses Lindos and Pallas beaches.  Lindos beach is more touristy and Pallas beach is lined with tavernas and has a safe family feel about it.  Boat trips depart from the stone quayside offering gentle pleasure cruises on catamarans, commercial tours up to Rhodes old town and highspeed spills and thrills of the glass bottom boats.  Exploring the caves, cliffs and the bays to the south. 
 
To the east the sea views are uninterrupted for miles until you hit the coast of Turkey and Gazipasa.
 
The west has stunning views over the rooftops of the tightly packed tavernas, apartments and shops of Lindos town.  The rugged mountains beyond, shaped by millennia of earthquakes and tectonic activity in the region.  The rooftops come to life as the sun sets over the mountains and the colours in the sky change from azure blues to pinks and oranges. 
 
The hustle and bustle of the bazar like pedestrianised streets occasionally broken by the buzz of a rusty old Piaggio Ape three wheeler, delivering crates of drinks and oranges to the shops and bars to quench the thirsty tourists.  And believe me it's thirsty work walking around Lindos, it's like a cauldron of heat building from the first rays of the morning until the last glimpse at sunset.  The heat seems relentless.
 
And so to the south.  A drop down from the cliffs that protect the Acropolis is the most perfect little bay of St Paul's.  A sheltered entrance from the deep sea at the north carves a deep channel through the rocks that allow for the most amazing cliff jumping and diving into blue sea.  Where mullet, bream & cuckoo wrasse can be seen whilst snorkelling in the crystal clear water.  The deeper water of the channel may give you a glimpse of Cornet Fish, long spear like fish not native to the Mediterranean, but now becoming established.  And all leading to the idyllic bay surrounded on all sides by seemingly impenetrable rocks and cliffs.  Yet little roads and paths wind their way down to the pea shingle sandy shores of the bay.  There are 2 beaches in the bay, 1 at the southern most reaches of it where there is also a little chapel.  Most days you can see wedding parties come in by boat and walk the short path up to the chapel for their special day and then to return to their boat and back to their villas or hotels to continue the celebration.  The smaller beach to the north of the bay under the shadows of the acropolis is an amazing little spot.  Small terraces of sunbeds and parasols, a gentle sandy beach into the warm waters of the bay.  A short swim out to the point to cliff dive into the channel and the oh so wonderful little taverna carved into the hillside.  Shaded with vines and melon plants, pots of herbs and behind are terraces of aubergine, peppers, squash, tomatoes, olives, citrus and the likes.  It's a real slice of heaven with chickens scratching at the parched ground and a lazy dog to the back of the taverna, seeking shade at the height of the day.  The refreshing shower at the foot of the cliff to rinse off after a dip in the mineral rich sea.  It really feels like a special little spot.  It's not fancy, nor pretentious, but has a sense of luxury and a place to be seen.  You have to get there early to bag the best spots or a spot at all. 
 
And to the food, simple grilled fish, calamari, olives, tzatziki, pitta, souvlaki.  It is a limited menu, but what they do, they do well and to be honest it's all you really want from a little taverna like this.  It's not the cheapest for what you get, but then again what a view!
 
Rhodes is the most fantastic island, 3 years on the trot we visited as a family from 2016-2018.  3 wonderful holidays, all different, yet all with a sense of familiar, a sense of home, a sense of comfort.  I can see why people get attracted to the island, especially Lindos and keep returning year after year.  The weather, the beaches, the food.  Yet there is so much more to offer and every time we have gone back we have discovered more and more.

From the deserted roads in the middle of the Island which are incredible for cycling, to the wine region in the South, old Rhodes town and the Knights of St John.  Traditional tavernas for locals with no menus, inflatable obstacle courses in the sea, the water park at Falaraki.  The winding roads of the West coast that lead you through the pine forests up hairpin roads and into the mountains.  All flanked by olive groves and ancient vines.  It really is a stunning Island with so much to offer.  But at the same time if you just want to kick back and do nothing but soak up the sun, it is the perfect destination for that as well.  Incredible all inclusive hotels with spas, restaurants, terraces, pools, gyms.  Everything you could want for a week or two in the sun to relax.

We have had 3 quite different holidays, the first time in a fantastic all inclusive hotel with a room that had a terrace balcony to die for, but the hotel was geared for the French tourist trade so didn't have much on for George.  He was 8 at the time, so it had a a bit of an impact on his enjoyment.  The second trip we were only there for a week and decided to self cater in an appartment that was just above Lindos, so we were able to walk down to the town and beaches as we pleased.  We even had our own resident cat for the week who was georgious.  That second trip was when I first discovered road cycling on the Island.  I was not disappointed.  Definitely worth getting up at 6am with the sun and getting out there before it got too hot.  Empty roads, cool breeze at you decended down the mountain roads and views that were out of this world.  Our third trip we stayed at the Holiday Village, half way between Rhodes town and Lindos at Kolymbia.  We chose it so there would be loads for George to do as he was 10 going on 11 and very active.  We had pre booked him in for a few days of the football academy and he loved it, so much so we booked some more.  It gave us a chance to relax and chill as it was a full on time with work and George studying for his 11+.  Every day that holiday he would be up first thing doing lessons and tests.  It was pretty tough, but it was worth it in the long run as it got him into the school he wanted and now loves.

Stunning Octopus

Simple fresh salad, 1/4 of a lemon and the most tender bits of charred octopus. It was incredible.

Mezze.

Cheese balls, calamari, grilled Halloumi salad, pita with tzatziki, houmous & baba ganoush, char grilled octopus. Simple little dishes making a feast all together.

Seafood Platter

Lobster, prawns, octopus, calamari, sea bream, crisp salad and chips. Now that's what I call fish & chips!

Meat!

That's one seriously big leg of lamb, or more likely mutton. It fell off the bone.

Gyros!

On all of the trips to Rhodes George took a bit of a penchant for Gyros, but without the tzatziki. Not a yoghurt fan.

It had to get to the food at some point.

A continental breakfast setting me up for the day after a ride up into the mountains.

On all three occasions we had great food.  There is something about being in a Mediterranean climate, fresh salad, breads, fruits, grilled meats, fish and seafood.  You really don't need to do much with it at all.  It's about respecting the ingredients.  The fact that you are eating it in the open air with incredible views, no stresses of every day life that all contribute to the experience being all the more special and memorable.

Our days would start early and for me sometimes very early.  I would be up to watch the sun rise and head out on the bike.  This for some people sounds crazy and is by no means any form of a holiday, but for me it was exactly that.  We all live such hectic lives and my work takes me the length and breadth of the country.  Then there is the constant running around we do for George with his gymnastics and his skiing, it doesn't leave much time for either of us.  On our second trip I was in the middle of training for my first ever 100 mile sportive about a month after we got home, so wanted to keep my training up.  I organised a bike hire before we left and all I needed was my kit, helmet and pedals and I was all set.  From the first morning that I went out I was hooked on cycling in Rhodes.  The roads were smooth, no one would be on them at that time in the morning, the scenery was incredible and you were at one with your thoughts.  

That first year riding I found some great routes, but the real rides came the following year.  We were located at Kolymbia half way down the east coast giving access right into the middle of the island and to Lindos in the south.  The climbs up into the middle of the island were pretty tough, esspecialy in the heat, even that early in the morning, but the views once you were there and the fast flowing decents were amazing and certainly set me up for a great breakfast.

The advantage of going out early on the bike was that it meant I saw places that we could go to later in the day or week in our hire car. 

The great thing about an all inclusive hotel is there is certainly plenty to choose from when it comes to food.  Breakfasts were great.  I always have eggs when I'm on holiday.  Freshly sliced tomatoes, ham, cheese, smoked fish, bread, some fruit, pancakes, doughnuts, fruit juice, water and lots of coffee.  It's so important to load up in the morning especially after the exersions of a ride.  But even without that, we are always really active and with the heat, we needed to be well fueled and hydrated to get through the day.  Water, water and more water.

Cycling in Rhodes.

To get to the top you have to go up!!

What a view!!

At the top and the view takes your breath away, or was that the climb to get there?

What goes up, must come down.

It took around 1 hour 45 minutes for the 16 mile upward stretch to 2200ft and over 3500ft of climbing and 45 minutes down with a top speed of 46mph. It sure as hell was one fun roller coaster ride. When there were ups there were ups and when there were downs there were downs and even when you were half way up it was sometimes up and down. A great way to build an appetite and set you up for an amazing day with the ones you love. And back by around 9am just in time for breakfast!

Lunches and dinners.

Roasted leg of lamb, koftas, cucumber salad, red cabbage slaw, Israeli cous-cous, chickpeas, feta, olives. And of course some cold beer to help wash it down,

The beauty of all inclusive is that there is usually something for everyone on offer in the restaurant, but you can get fooded out from it.  We would usually eat out 2-3 evenings within the 2 weeks and at lunch if we were out and about.

The range of salads always impressed us, we literally dined off salads with some meat or fish. 

Lunch, we would quite often just grab a lighter snack, bowl of pasta, salad or soup.  Having all the options there was ideal.  Most days would have very similar salads, vegetable options, simple pasta dishes, but would also have a theme evening.  It just helped from the fatigue of the same food day on day.

When we ate out we had some real treats though.  Some of the dishes are in the slideshow above.  It would appear that we stuggle to not have calamari any time we were out and cheese balls.  Cheese balls are amazing if you've never had them before then you have to try them when you are in Greece or at a Greek restaurant in the UK.  Golden crispy on the outside and rich, cheesy, salty sotf melting centers.  I posted a picture of said cheese balls on Facebook and an Australian Greek chef friend of mine, Spyro, whose Greek herritage is from Rhodes reccomended a restaurant that all the locals used.  He said their cheese balls are the best on the Island.  So we went to seek it out.  It was a fantastic restaurant, used mainly by locals and they even had their own chapel for weddings.  It had such a loveley feel about it even if we were one of the few tables in that evening and it was a big restaurant.  We were dining early though.

There wasn't a menu to speak of, they gave us a couple of options for the meat main and we went for their own reared pork and vegetable souvlaki.  Deep pork flavoured, almost sticky with the juices, with lightly caramelised onions and green peppers.  Perfectly cooked over the open fires of charcoal and gnarled olive wood.  All helping to impart a delicate sweet smokiness to the dish.  Just sublime.  Along with this came the infamous cheese balls, the most incredible chips, homemade sourdough, aubergine bake, which was incredible, houmous, tzatziki, vegetable fritters and a Greek Salad.  It was all incredible, so much food for the three of us and those cheese balls, oh my god, they were amazing.  I think they certainly lived up to their billing.  Thank you Spyro.  To make the evening even more special our waitress was incredible.  She was superb with George, joking and having fun with him and making him help serve our meal.  It was just the best family friendly, authentic, tasty and incredible meal.  George even got to take home his own special Terracotta drinks beaker on a promise that he could keep it only if he returned the following year.

A feast fit for a King, or just three hungry tourists. What a delight it was, every single mouthful.

Why Rhodes keeps us coming back.

The view of the Acropolis at Lindos as the sun is starting to set.

There are so many Greek islands and places to go on the mainland, but Rhodes keeps drawing us and so many people that we have met out there year after year.  The question is, why?

What makes it so special?  Hopefully from what I've written already has whet your appetite to visit there yourself.  There is something special about the place and the people.  Even year on year they would remember you and welcome you in.  Whether it was in the morning on the way to our favourite beach getting freshley squeesed lemon and orange juice, iced coffees that were out of this world and so refreshing.  In the evening as we were out and about and the bar staff would welcome us back.  It all makes it feel homely and welcoming, you can be cynical and say that they are doing it to get you to come in and spend your money and that may be correct, but it really doesn't feel that way.  It's an Island that you can feel comfortable in and if you want to, it can be very private as well.  You wouldn't get super stars like Madonna going there and hiring out a villa for a few days for a special birthday if it didn't have that feeling of privacy, security and exclusivicy.

The beaches are clean, the sunbeds are reasonably priced on them and are always looked after.  Restaurants are plentiful and are all of a good standard, of course they vary in price depending on whether you are right on the beach, have the best rooftop view etc etc.  The standard of the accomodation is also very high.  On the three accasions we have been the two hotels and one self catering appartment have all been of the highest standard.

If I'm honest I wouldn't be surprised if we end up going back again some time, but for the moment, like all of us.  I'll just have to reminice and remember all the fantastic times we have had on the island. 

I really do wish that "All roads lead to Rhodes!"

Sava the cat.

Our resident feline friend on our second visit to Lindos.

Fantastic service.

Our amazing waitress that made our meal so special.

Café Freddo.

I couldn't go a day without one of these when we were there.

Snorkeling.

We spent hours just drifting in the current exploring all the different reefs. Pure escapism.

Captain George!!

George even got to sit in the Captains seat before we took off on the way out. For the life of me I cannot remember why we were delayed taking off.

Stunning Vistas!

The incredible layers of hills and valleys of pine and olive trees down to the coast in the south west of the island.

Honey!

A real favourite with Joss is the Greek Yoghurt and Honey.

Family smiles.

Sitting at the bar of one of the roadside wine makers. Tasting a couple of the stunning wines and deciding which ones to take home.

Island humour.

Apparently only the tourists go upstairs. I'm fine with that.

Beautiful.

The oregano growing in the pots surrounding the tables at the beachside taverna at St Paul's bay. It just screams Greece.

Efharisto,

Stuart Brown