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Greece (Part III) – Crete & Rhodes - Do you want fries with that??

GREECE | Thursday, 31 May 2012 | Views [2706]



Greece (Part III) – Athens, Crete & Rhodes – Do you want fries with that?

After a 12 hour ferry to Ancona, Italy, and a 24 hour (yes, they have showers on board, thank you very much) ferry to Patras, Greece, then a shuttle to the bus stop, a bus to the bus station and a 3 hour bus to Athens, and a city bus ride to the port town of Piraeus, we check in to the Argo Hotel, near the port.  We decided to stay in Athens for a couple of days for 2 reasons, the weather’s going to be rubbish and I need to renew my “spring/summer collection” (yeah, a new bikini and a couple of black singlets). We also find a wonderful taverna serving some of the best meatballs ever. The weather is clearing and it is island time, let the summer begin.

We decided to start with the big islands because there is more sightseeing to be done while it is gearing up for beach weather. We arrive in the gorgeous Venetian/Ottoman town of Chania on the sland of Crete after a 9 hour ferry and a quick bus trip.  We stay at the nice Vranas Studios and explore the wonderful Venetian port, old lanes and waterfront. On the weekend it gets a bit too touristy for us and we move on to Rethymno. We find a wonderful loft studio, Yacinthos Hotel Apartments, with a nice pool and ocean views and plan to put our backpacks down here for a few days. We know it is the kind of town where rows of sun lounges and umbrellas take over most of the black sand beaches. Loads of European sun worshippers come over to get their annual “Donatella Versace-suntan” proudly sponsored by the European “Skin Cancer Council & Dermatology Association”. OK, there is no such body, I obviously made it up, but you get the idea. However, it is pleasant enough and chilled, the food is fabulous and so is the wine. We hire a car for the day and most of the sightseeing is pretty ordinary with the exception of the Monastery at Akkadia which is awesome. 

We hang around for 5 days and then move to Heraklion, our last stop on Crete. After a 1 hour bus ride we leave our bags at the hotel and go sightseeing as we have only planned for one day here. We begin with the “Knossos Palace”. We know there are conflicting views regarding the “rebuilding” of the palace but this is ridiculous. The whole site is atrocious, the reconstruction is embarrassing and we leave the site cringing and cracking stupid jokes all the way back, after just a few minutes. In fact Paul notices a woman saying that Knossos was wonderful and he wishes he could say "I take back everything she just said". To save face, the Venetian port is really nice and some of the architecture around is pretty interesting.  To be honest Crete doesn't really do it for us.

Two curious facts about Greece? 1. The network of ferries is absolutely incredible, enormous vessels carrying people, animals (yep they have kennels aboard), motorbikes, cars, trucks and everything else in between are constantly crossing the azure waters of the Mediterranean Sea. 2. It is almost impossible to order anything to eat in this country that doesn't come with French fries.  We really mean “everything” comes with fries. We’ve even seen pizza served with fries, not as a side order but as a topping.  If you order some fries they ask if you want fries with that (just kidding)! The same is valid for any other variation of potatoes, roasted, mashed, boiled, etc

Anyway, next morning, we take a 13 hour ferry to Rhodes.  The Africa Hotel is pretty nice, great location, pretty close to the beach and the old town.   We go sightseeing and realize Rhodes is absolutely bloody amazing.  The old town is enormous, with a massive crusader castle, fort, port, windmills, Ottoman buildings and endless lanes; it's really stunning.   Rhodes is worth a visit even if just to see the old town, no need to believe us, just check out the photos. After 3 days, we rent a motorbike for 4 days and head off to see Lindos and Gennadi.  Our friend Alecz, whom we met in Goa, India, kindly invited us to stay at her house in Gennadi.  We leave in the morning and after a few stops along the way we arrive at Lindos.  The beach is gorgeous and the town is just another incredible Greek village with the bluest sea, whitewashed houses, churches and an amazing fortress reigning absolute above it all.  We proceed to Gennadi, a picturesque whitewashed village over a thousand years old and arrive at Alecz's lovely and cozy Villa Aleczia.  We explore Lindos and Gennadi but also take the bike on the road to see gorgeous Monolitos, Kastelo and Kameiros, what a great ride.   After four wonderful days experiencing the Greek village life, we go back to Rhodes town and the Africa Hotel for another two nights.  Back to the Old Town for more wandering around and to the Mezze’s Restaurant for more great Greek food.  We can feel in our bones summer is really approaching, so,the  next morning we are off to the Cyclades Islands.


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