After returning our car and quickly mourning that we didn’t have more time to spend in beautiful Lindos, we set out on foot to explore the walled Old Town in the city of Rhodes. My Lonely Planet guidebook lists “getting lost in the Old Town Rhodes” as one of the top 10 Greek experiences. Since I am a backpacker and therefore legally required to own the Lonely Planet guide to every country I enter, I was pretty excited, to say the least.
The Old Town is a UNESCO world heritage site and within its walls it is also a living, breathing city with restaurants, museums, and residences. Unfortunately we were in port on a Monday so we couldn’t visit any museums but luckily we are both pretty happy to simply wander and explore.
Before we left the ship the “local expert” had handed us a map with the “best streets” marked. We quickly realized these were the most touristy streets, filled with cheap souvenirs and mediocre restaurants. However, had we not originally followed the bogus map, I would have never laid eyes on this:
I think this was the first moment in my life I didn’t want ice cream. How could you destroy that kind of art? (My favorite is the red one in the back with the strawberry eyes.)
Ice cream art aside, we really were much more impressed with the Old Town when we ventured away from the commerce areas and to the fringes. I can say without shame that I was totally shocked that a place like this was in Greece. It seemed to have more in common with medieval London than a country associated with clean, geometric, whitewashed buildings.
One attraction that was open was this beautiful mosque, adding again to my already confused mind trying to reconcile a medieval city and a Greek island.
Venturing deeper into the city we found this character filled antique shop and spotted a few tucked away cafes oozing with charm. We passed a few hotels and daydreamed about spending a few days trying to get our bearings in the enormous maze that is the walled town.
Most interesting of all were the residences we passed lining the inside of the wall. In the stuffy summer heat, doors and windows were left open and as we walked past we would hear snippets of laughter, conversation, and television programs. I can only imagine what it would be like to live within a piece of ancient history, surrounded by a maze of cobblestone streets and walled away from the outside world.
I fell in love with this side of Rhodes. If I had to be walled away somewhere, this wouldn’t be a bad place to be.
To see all our photos from Rhodes, visit my Flickr set here.
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