Greece, Lindos and the Knights of St John

There was no wind today and it was already hot on the balcony by breakfast time and unfortunately because of yesterday’s little accident there was no umbrella for shade.  I walked to the mini-market for provisions and then we enjoyed a Lindian breakfast that we prepared for ourselves and ate on the terrace with its lovely view of the ancient and important village of Lindos.

Here history stretches back over three thousand years because Lindos grew to prosperity under the Knights of St. John who built their fortress on the site of the ancient Acropolis.  So much of the medieval village has survived that it has been declared a national landmark.

Because of its east coast location, Lindos is the hottest place on Rhodes and even in September by mid morning it was uncomfortable to sit on the terrace so we set off down the steep uneven steps towards the shady streets of the village and headed for the beach.  Once past the steps where we had to watch every move it was a real delight to walk around the narrow streets with their traditional, distinctive, white and black chochlaki pebbled surface because no vehicles other than the odd delivery van are allowed inside.  The village felt  authentic because little or no changes can be made to the buildings, many of which have survived since the fifteenth century, and the architectural style of the village is a mixture of Gothic, Byzantine Greek and middle Eastern influence.

Although there are no vehicles we did have to watch out for the donkeys that every day transport hundreds, probably thousands, of day visitors from the bottom of the village to the steps of the Acropolis and then back down again.  I rode on a donkey here in 1997 and it seemed cruel so I vowed I wouldn’t do it again but later at lunchtime Mario explained that there are four hundred donkeys who work for two days and then get a day off and that working is good for them because they live an average twenty-one years which is seven years longer than a donkey that has nothing to do and I have to confess that they did look healthy and well looked after.  We didn’t go on one though!

Eventually after a long descent we reached the first small beach which was full of sun loungers and umbrellas for people who stay there all day and no room to put down a towel for people like us who only stay for an hour or so.  Not being prepared to pay €8 for the beds we continued to walk towards the main larger beach where there was some space on the stony scruffy bits behind the umbrellas where it was at least possible to make our own arrangements.

We swam in the sea and that was nice but we didn’t really like the beach all that much because it was much too organized for us with regimented rows of sun beds all crammed together in such a way as to make it difficult for cheapskates like us to put our towels down and avoid the charge and let’s face it €8 is quite a lot of money that we calculated would soon add up over a fortnight’s holiday.  As well as the sun beds there were pedaloes, canoes, diving instruction and water sports and on balance we preferred the remote and barren rock on Symi so we didn’t stay too long.

After a cold drink at a busy beach bar we walked back into the village which was bustling now with coach loads of visitors pushing and shoving through the narrow streets.  There was a pretty whitewashed church at the bottom of the village which was built by the Knights in the fourteenth century and had some lovely frescoes and decorated floors but as there was an entrance charge and photography was forbidden we made do with admiring it through the door without going inside.

After lunch at Mario’s again we explored the other side of the village where the shops and bars petered out to be replaced with narrow streets of local houses where the smell of fresh moussaka and tide washing powder oozed out like lava from behind the windows and doors.  At the far end of the village there was an ancient amphitheatre, almost two thousand five-hundred years old and so adjacent to the modern buildings that it is certain there are more hidden treasures concealed below them which must have archaeologists drooling with anticipation.

Back at the apartment by late afternoon the terrace was much more comfortable now because the sun had swung to the west and was disappearing quickly behind the mountain range backbone of the island and by six o’clock the entire village was in shadow with only the massive outcrop of rock and the Acropolis remaining bathed in early evening sunshine.  It was delightful so we sat for a while and enjoyed it and when it got dark we changed and went for evening meal at the same restaurant where the same irritating waiter pestered us again but the food was excellent so whilst we would rather that he hadn’t we didn’t really mind.

On the way out Kim convinced me that there was an alternative way down but it turned out that this was really just a ruse to make sure we passed a silver jewellery workshop directly below the apartments where she had a great time looking at the sparkly things on display and debating which particular piece to buy.

Pete and Jane and their friends John and Zoe were on the balcony so we joined them and Jane introduced us to the joys of Greek Metaxa brandy which we declared such a liking for we thought we might buy a bottle for ourselves the next day.  We told them that we hadn’t especially enjoyed the beach experience at Lindos and with their extensive local knowledge of the area they recommended that we should try the beach at the next village of Pefkas instead which they assured us was quieter and less organized.

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