Hic Rhodos, hic salta!

Kolimbia at Rhodes


Translated March 2001


The Blue Sea

In the last year we have visited the Mediterranian Sea for the first time and this year we cannot resist to make similar plans. Our daughter Stephanie (16) will accompany us but it's the parent's part to pay the bill. The most difficult thing is to find a proper hotel and a flight, because Easter holidays are near and many flights are booked already. But then the travel agency offers one week at Kolimbia, Rhodes and the bureaucratic matters are soon performed. At the next book shop I buy a picture-book, a guide and a road map of Rhodes to accomplish the minimal knowledge of this island.

The most famous things of Rhodes are two affairs: the Colossus of Rhodes which once was one of the seven wonders of the world, but later destroyed by an earthquake. The other story is the Latin sentence: "Hic Rhodes, hic salta!" In our simple mindset we think, that someone has shouted this invitation for a dance vis a vis to the loveliness of the island.

But this is not correct and I give the extraction from a schoolbook:

In Aesop's fable "The bouncer"(?) (Der Prahler) there is someone praising himself, that he once did a big saltation at Rhodes. But the unbelieving listeners answer: "Hic, Rhodes, hic salta".

In our words: "Don't tell tales, do it now and here!

At a Thursday at noon the impatiently expected moment has come and we ride by car to Hannover Airport to find the last free place of the tourist park area. I have a look to the barrier where one can pay with the Visa Card, which I proudly possess since some weeks.

We absolve the check in, and Heidi must present her ear clips to prevent a hijacking. Stefanie's check is even worse with her accu- cassette- walkman- earphone- cable- and plugin-entanglement in her pockets. Finally we are accepted as no dangerous persons and can enter our places, the last row, Stefanie gets the seat at the window. As the plane starts assisted by puffy winds Stefanie gets somewhat pale around her nose.

The flight crosses the eastern Alps and then we are high above of Jugoslavia, where the Balkan War is still proceeding. It is a strange feeling to fly towards a three-star-hotel at Rhodes while the folks just below suffer of hunger, coldness and inhumanity. As we reach Rhodes it is dark already and we must set the clock to one hour later. As the plane hits the runway the passengers applaud as usual, so does Stefanie.

We find our transferbus and the first message is, that we have to change the hotel, because the Hotel Dounavis as booked is closed yet. We are now going for Hotel RELAX. It is very late when we arrive there and we are happy to get a provisional late dinner. We have not seen anything of the landscape yet and soon we vanish in our beds. But Stefanie got something like a camp bed, and that is not what we have paid for.


The sun shines bright this morning and when we wind up the curtains we see the sea in two directions: to the left and to the right. It is told, that all rooms of this hotel relish a sea-view, this may be possible, for the location of the hotel is at a small peninsula.

The breakfast is of the spartan kind, there are some bread rolls and the rest of the ingredients is packed in paper bags or packets, which must be scratched with peakish fingernails as there are sugar, butter, jam and some susage and cheese. The tea is brewed by teabags, the lukewarm coffee comes out of a big can. After we have survived we realize, that we have lost the shopping bag from the duty-free shopping the day before. Stafanie misses the choco bars most.

On time at 9 o' clock the Neckermann-Servicemaid appears, her name is Anke Stoeter and she comes from the Extertal near Rinteln (in the center of Germany). She will not get sunburnt with only one free day the week she states. We reclaim the camp-bed for we have booked a 3-bed-apartement. Some minutes later the problem is cleared and we move to another room, sea view to the right with high military sender masts. In the dark they look nice with their red alarm illumination.

Can we start our holidays now? Heidi heads for the pool and gets her arrangements with skin- and sun-cream, towels and suncouch. So we all snooze for a while, until Stefanie suddenly says: "I cannot sit here until eternity". Heidi just spreads her sun cream and says "Do what you want to, I enjoy my holidays".

So we march off to the Eukalyptus-Alley of 3 km length which looks like a tunnel. At both sides of the road they are busy to pave over places and drive ups, "Rent A Car" is all they want. At the left side there is an old water conduit where in former times they got the water from the "Seven Springs" for the fertile planes near the coastline. Meanwhile the bassins have holes and the lizards live in there.

Sometimes you recognize a house from former times. These are rebuilt for touristic purposes or in a miserable state otherwise. They typically have big arcs for the gate and the sheds for sheep and goats aside. Sometimes some hens run around and a lonesome watch dog is happy for some variety. People who do not share in touristic activities are merely poor.

At the end of the eukalyptus alley we hit the main road Rhodes - Lindos. There are some houses but nothing else to be seen. The rest ruins of an early christian basilica from the 5/6 th century are enclosed by a fence.
Back at the hotel we are tired now and I have a nap in the sun. Soon the others give me a kick, but it is too late already, my face has turned to the typical color of careless tourists in southern areas.

Old and

New Estates

Now we watch some workers as they build up a snackbar at the other side of the pool. This is the Mediterranean way of labour, they move some stuff from here to there and then everything back again. The main result: everything is painted white at last.

Especially one of the workers is our favourite, we name him  'Calfactor' but Stefanie changes this to 'Karl Victor'. But his fellows call him 'Gelonida'. Heidi says "Did they call him for telephone?" So you see: regeneration does it's work...

Some other guests are interesting too. Two middle aged ladies give joy to the world by their extravagant fashion as they wrap extraordinary clothes around themselves. So we call them the "wrapper girls". They seem to be somewhat shy, because they retire to a remote suntrap for their topless sunbath. On the other side this remote suntrap is just aside the beach-path...

Then a little girl comes up and tries to confiscate our attention. With yelling shouts  she presents her "belly dance swimstyle". "I've learned this by myself" she states. Finally a sour looking man appears to allure his daughter for an icecream or game of billard.

Fisher's Estate

The pool time is over when it gets chilly during the early afternoon - we have March yet. We start for a walk to the northern side of the peninsula. At a former fishing hut an old man sits in the sun. We imagine him to be the old fisherman. Behind this scene there is a modern restaurant with a glass-terrace.

The beach is less sand but more stones. But these are beautiful. Many look like perfect marbled spheres. The flat stones are nice for these famous stone-hopping activities. Stefanie needs some practise, Heidi lordly stands above those childish gimmicks.

Passing some swampland with many flowers we reach the eukalyptus alley again. There are two shops and we buy some oranges and wine to try out. From the first day we are stuck to the Platoni, semi sec., which tastes well.

The dinner gets some more expensive by a bottle of wine as well. There is no buffet but the usual four course menue by soup or entree, salad, main dish and dessert.

By and by we get doubts, that we have booked a really low priced journey, for we paid for full season but it is still rather deserted everywhere. Then they have changed the hotel to a lower category. And if there is a cold day, we get rather cold in our chamber to the north. We are peaceful people and do not always look for reclamations but we do not want to leave out this fact in this narrative.

The bay of Kolimbia


Today we have a fine weather - so what to do? The "wrapper girls" have hired a "Rent-A-Car" and just are busily engaged to hit the reverse gear.

Meanwhile a sportsman with a racing bicycle sets up his environment. He has a special bag with all his implements. Of course at first I am jealous of his bike but as you see the rest, it is a kind of abnormal materialism. Special shoes and pedals, an aerodynamically styled helmet, a race dress and calibrated gloves etc. (all as usual for a racing cyclist, but I am none of those...). The sportsman's wife and son assist as much as they can to fix the bike and all the stuff. Finally the sportsman enters the bike and speeds up around the next corner while the camcorder whirs behind him.

I am nervous now and head for a bike shop nearby. They offer bikes for rent and there is nothing to discuss about the daily price (1000 Drms.). May be I reflect to this matter another day. Moreover we add our equipment by baseball caps to shield the burning face from the sun.

So we sit at the pool for a while. Soon I get impatient again and say good by to inspect a certain mountain nearby. This is the Tsambika Mountain, 326 m height. "The peak is topped by a monastery and a chapel of the miraculous Virgin Mother" is to be read in the Polyglott Travel Guide. This mountain can be entered b a road at the backside, but now I want to find out, if this can be done by a more direct route (Direttissima).


So I march along the coastline until jagged cliffs and rocks block the beach. It is better not to climb up there. I stroll along the slope of this holy mountain, and what is not to be seen from the distance that is now obvious when you are near: a wonderful carpet of flowers like deep-red poppy and white anemones or yellow clover flowers (Klee). As I look around I hear a cry and discover the first mountain goat. Then the second and then one after another. I proudly believe to have made a rare observation.

Some time later the path ends at a gate of an estate. They have stored some garden-waste material there and dozens of those "rare" mountain goats feel well there. I feel like a great mountaineer as I decide to retire from this "danger" and turn to a tarmac road. On the way back one can guess, why there are so many building sites, where they have begun to build a house but then appearantly have stopped all activities. At the buildings which are completed at the floor, the iron beems for the upper stores loom into the air.

As I am back at the pool I must report my mountaineering adventures and gather much laughter of it. My family in turn tells, how "Karl Victor" is busy to cut the sod. He manages to complete one or two tracks before he has to stop for another activity. Later he starts the lawnmower for a new run - so this ranges all over the afternoon.

At our late-afternoon walk we have some calamares at the fishing restaurant. We then visit our intrinsic "Hotel Dounavis" and learn from the business manager, that we can change now if we want. But we think it is too late now, The Relax is nearer to the sea and the way to the two shops - downtown, as we say - is short.


Acropolis of Lindos


The Castell


The Ship

Today we want to go to Lindos because the entrance to this historic place is free on Sunday. Lindos was the origin when they settled out to the island in former times. The village still is in it's original oriental state. Above on a mountain there are the ruins of the Johanniter castle, and within the walls of the castle you find remainings of a Greek sanctuary named "The Akropolis of Lindos". You find a photograph of this scene on every relevant travel guide of Rhodes. Lindos is said to be the most picturesque place of the island.

We wait for the bus and are not sure if this will arrive, for it is Sunday, we are in Greece and they just have changed from winter- to summertime. An older couple comes up and so 5 persons successfully await the bus. At the junction at the end of the alley we change to the bus to Lindos. We have a short glance of our racing cyclist, as he hurries along the main road towards Rhodes-City.

The bus is stuffed and we must stand. For the first time we have some impressions of the landscape. Naked hills, grey rocks, the blue sea is sometimes sometimes to be seen at the left. And goats everywhere.

We pass the town Archangelos which looks very original too. Today on sunday morning everywhere you see those grey suited old men with caps and weather beaten faces as they sit behind their Ouzo and decide about  the worldwide problems and politics.

We stand just behind the bus driver. Once we observe him to ride with closed eyes. Anyhow it seems to look like this. So we relax as behind a summit the scene of Lindos comes up as already known from the travel guides and catalogues. Now the crowds of the bus must spread out and we wait a little while, as we see the older couple crawling up the stairs to the castle already. We stroll along the "original" scene with it's souvernir, clothing and jewelry shops. May be you can hardly walk here during the main season.

Gradually we approach the ascent of the castle. It is known, that Heidi suffers of acrophobia and the fenceless stairs up above the city, its slopes and the bay beneath really look airy. But we manage to frame her off the depth and reach the top. We nearly miss to admire the sculpture of a ship, which is said to have been created by the same sculptor as that of the famous Laokoon Group.

On the top there is the antique department withe the rests of the temple and some columns. There are frameworks around the columns and they paste cheating newer stone material into the crevices. The view is impressive, at the sea there is the Paulus Harbour formed like a circle. The apostle Paulus is said to have been landed there.

We success to come down alife again and stroll along the wrinkled lanes. At the floors there are fine mosaics made of stones as we use to collect for this water-hopping game. For a better consistence they have implanted the stones in their vertical form. At a tiny backyard a black suited woman fumbles around. This would be a nice motive as one awaits from the Greek atmosphere but I do not want to be impertinent.


Paulus' Harbour

Street Scene

We finally enter the "Mary's Church" with frescos an an "Ikonostase" made of silver. And you can lit a candle for some coins. We are saturated of cultural impressions now and head for the bus station to enter the next bus. We leave the bus at Archangelos to have a look around there.

Now at the early afternoon there are not so many old men at the scene. May be they have succeeden do decide about the fate of the world or the Ouzo did its work. Some steps from the main road we find a labyrinth of small lanes within bright white painted houses. This looks much more original than Lindos for it is not as affected by touristic criteria. A black woman salutates kindly. Some steps ahead a poor old woman sits at the ground and eats a rice meal with bare hands. We resign to shoot a foto again.


Above Archangelos there are ruins as well, only the base of the walls to be seen. The chapel is closed, we are tired and in the restaurants all places are occupied. So we afford a taxi back to the hotel and this is not expensive.

We head to the fisher tavern to have a snack. Stefanie orders calamares and looks strange, as she gets intact little pink octopusses with tentacles and suckers. So it's up to me to consume these creatures - the taste is nice. Thereafter we have a rest in our cold chamber and read in the travel guide what we have seen today.

Later on we are fit again to go "downtown" for shopping. Today we have a companion and that is a trusty dog that runs along with us at the orthogonal structured tarmac roads. We end at the top of our peninsula with a natural vegetation. Heidi detects a single orchid. The dog escorts us back to the hotel and stays before the door until the dinner is over. But Stefanie removes after the soup, the octopusses are still in her imagination. At the table next to us there sits a family with two sons about 10 years old. They sit bold upright and eat what's served. The parents seem to be teachers, so we see our educational lacks and Stefanie may be glad about this.

Rhodes City


The weather is not so fine again and so we decide to continue with the cultivating program. And this will be a visit f Rhodes City with its picturesque Old Town. The bus struggles along the walls of the fortress through the traffic jam.

At the harbour we leave the bus and jump aside from the omnipresent motor vehicles. It is windy here and we try to get into the old town but do hard to find the right gate for a while. We are disappointed about the remaining roaring traffic in here, can't they keep the traffic off the historic part of this town? As we stumble along we hear a voice from aside "Hey, you come from Germany, that's nice!" - as if we are the only tourists with baseball caps, cameras and camcorders. But she lures for customers for suitcases, wristwatches and jewelry.

I try to push my family ahead, but Heidi (as a collegue) and the lady are involved in a conversation already and a coffee is offered. I am enthusiastic and keep my fist hard around the purse. The blond lady has come from Sweden 20 years ago, her chief as owner of the shop comes from Austria.

We sip our coffee and learn this and that. So the traffic will be kept off the city from the 1 st April when the main season begins. Just now there arrive 30 tourist planes at Rhodes Airport per day. And the wrist watches over there in that box are styled in a special technical outfit and have come individually and directly from London. And the gold stuff is so cheap...

I have my foot stuck into the entrance door already and we get a business card and a somewhat sour good bye. We then stroll around without a certain intention. This is not necessary, for anyway you soon get lost in this labyrinth. We pass the "Knight's Lane" which shall be unchanged since the middle ages. Today two mountainbikers rotate uphill in their lowest gear.

The Palace of the Grandmasters is closed on Mondays. So it remains to us to imagine all the culural period during the past thousands of years. Byzantine, Babylonian, Greek, Roman, Cruisaders and so on, all the rests of these periods are piled like a sandwich in the ground. If one digs a hole in this city the archaeologists stand by foot. And we walk like on eggs.

The shops are mainly of the same kind as at Lindos, souvernirs - souvernirs. Then there are craftmen's workshops, dressmakers, fur dealers, carpenters, gold-smiths and so on. The workshops are open to the road and one can look insight. The same obtains to some living rooms of the poor, but we are better discreet.

In spite of the gusty winds we sit down at a restaurant st one of the numerous places. From now and then one must jump behind a tool that was blown from the table. One of the advertising signpost above the door drops down on the head of one of the service maids.

Something tired we stroll towards the bus station, and there just waits a bus to Kolimbia - we sit in there at once.

Near the evening we are able for a walk again and have a look at the flowers which I saw some days ago. At the beach there is a heavy sea and a dead goat is washed ashore - this is not so appetizing. In the evening we discuss the bad weather with the other guests and the "wrapper girls" ensure, that at the other side of the island they have had sun today. So simultaneously they have expressed their mobility with their "Rent A Car". Let's wait for tomorrow...

Seven Springs

Chapel at the Loutani-Valley

At the Summit

Monastery at Eleousa

Ajos Nikolaos Fountoukli




The weather looks better and Heidi rearranges the bath towels again. At breakfast we watch a corpulent lady, as she discretely smeers some bread rolls to hide them in her suitcase. As she leaves she pushes against the edge of the table and all the hidden breads roll on the floor. The sneering waiter stands aside and it is obsolete to describe the reaction of Heidi and Stefanie.

For the sun stays to shine the rest of my family knows what to do and so am I. I get a 18-gear-mountain-bike from the bikeshop and soon sit on the saddle with the option to ride in any direction of an unknown landscape as far as I want - this is freedom. While I think about all this the racing cyclist overtakes me, ducked on his handle bar, turns to the main road and speeds up amongst the pollution vapours.

I go straight on towards the Seven Springs (Epta Piges), and if you see a parking place and busses you know, you are there. Then there is steep path, and as long the surprised tourist groups look at you with your bike you must stay to ride up there. When out of vision you can jump off the saddle and have a breather finally.

Then you hit a tavern and the faountains. I cannot check the number, for the waters come out of various crevices. A small bridge is covered with sticks and the daredevils are invited to crawl through a tunnel to an underground lake. A lot of peacocks around astonish by their thrilling cries.

On the way back I must get off my bike and push behind a group of walkers. Then we further run up the Lutani-Valley, rocky slopes and pine woods at each side. Once there is a deep gorge where the waters have broken their way. You won't find anything about this in any tourist guide. As well I cannot find the name of the following chapel. A honey-seller waits under a sycamore tree for consumers.

The next palces in the wider valley are Arhipoli and Eleousa which are harmonically embedded in the green landscape. Than the summit is reached and the sea on the other side of the island is to be seen. And we see the mountains of the Turkish coast. At Elousa the road forks to one of the highest Rhodan hills Profitis Ilias (ca. 800 m). A short rest before in front of a rotten monastery and I success to sit down on a stone staircase just in the mid of a water puddle of the last rain. So I am fresh at the back side from now on...

After a longer ascent we  reach the chapel Ajos Nikolaos Fountoukli, which is from the early Byzantine era (from the travel guide again). Inside you find bottles for holy water and I wonder, that no one misuses them as souvernir. But The corpulent daughter of a "Rent A Car"-driver diagonally jams herself into the entrance and her father shoots a photo.

So it continues to go up and up. I see a British couple robbing on their knees through the underbrush with unfolded stative and camera looking for botanic sensations. And you will find them, orchids, midget-iris, mountain anemone and others. At the road there are many workers repairing the  pavement and ditches and while I should salutate by "Kalimera" I prefer the international "Salut" or "MoinMoin". And the Greek workers answer: "Guten Morgen"...

After some time we reach the top with the mountain hotel Elafos (Deer), built in Swiss chalet style. No duty for a sight and I stay on the bike, there is no view as well for the surrounding trees are too high. But somewhere down the road there it is: the Ataviros, 1215 m height, the highest mountain of Rhodes. The top is hidden by fog and dark clouds brew around, but the coast lies in bright sunshine. It is easy to understand, that in primeval times the folks believed in daemons, ghosts an gods who ruled in the mountains.

I head for the light and want to reach the opposite coast of the island (like the "wrapper girls" yesterday). This is easy with downhill road and tail wind, but when I reach Salakos,Kalaverda and Soroni there is nothing to be seen. I then turn back up the valley of the Plati. Once i detect a copious orchidfor a photo. Then there is a large parking site again caused by the chapel Agios Soulas. Such a small chapel and such large parking areas...

Then I meet Dimilia again and finally rush down the Loutani valley using the highest gear. I bring back the bike and in the hotel I find my family shivering in the beds. After the sun has gone it suddenly turned to be chilly. I add my the distance of the etappes and find out about 68 km.

The chilly feeling will last to the evening, when the vine Platoni weks the animal spirits again.


Monastery at the Tsambika

What is to be done yet? Of course the attempt to overcome the Tsambika mountain "behind the house". I take three hours for free and run against the walls. I find myself between hens, a sheep gate and rosty tons thrown into the landscape, but there is no path leading up the slope. So I pass olive groves and meadows full of flowers to hit the main street and the junction, where the paved road up the mountain begins. When I walk up there, the landscape around gradually sinks to the depth. It's about 20 minutes up to the restaurant, where the sporty Rent A Car-drivers must switch off the motor. At the garden of the restaurant there sits a couple at a Coca Cola and I ask them for the direct path to Kolimbia. "We would like to know that ourselves" they answer.

But first let us climb the final top. This is no problem, because they have build concrete (Beton) paved steps which could be passed by roller skates. And know on the top we find the rests of the monastery, some walls surround a small court yard with th small chapel as usual. Outside of the walls we have a phantastic view in all directions. Lindos to the south, the clouded Ataviros, Kolimbia under our feet and on the other side the best beach of Rhodes, Tsambika Beach. Everything only to be reached by car, that's it what they want. As i turn to go back a group of young Greek folks comes up, a Pries included. You must know, that this monastery is a pilgrims site to gain fertility.

At the restaurant I ask the host for the direct path to Kolimbia. The answer is simple: "Go ahead, you always see Kolimbia". This is nearly known by myself. So I go ahead respectively feel my way into the unknown terrain. First a signpost: "Hotel Panoramic". And hard to be seen, a narrow path winding among the bushes. Sometimes they have piled small pyramides of stones, this makes it easier. Beautiful the world of flowers which you never would expect if you watch this grey mountain from far away.

So we only need 30 minutes to jump down this way and then I find myself back again between the building sites and tarmac roads. We are lazy the rest of the day, chat to some other guests. As I once peer into the garden I see "Karl Victor" standing under a peerwood and manicuring his finger nails.


Tsambika Beach




The last day! Our plane will get off at 10 pm and we will be picked up at 7 pm. But the room must be cleared at noon. So we must improvise. At the breakfast we have another spectacle as the waiter proves to be a ballance-artist with a pile of cups along his arm with the upper cups jammed into his armpit. Nice smell for the next coffee or tea...

I can convince Stefanie to make the climb to my favourite mountain with me, now as I know the "direttissima". There is more dust in the air, so we will not have the nice view of yesterday. But it is a great fun to struggle up the winded path up the slope. We have a Cola at the restaurant and then enter the top. Today they paint the walls with white colour, not only the walls but some rocks and plants as well. The Greek love the white colour, though the women usually are clothed in black.

The descent is routine but then we find the greatest sensation: a kind of lady's-slipper orchid, exactly called Ophyris. After two hours we are back in the hotel. We change some money and go out for a last shopping. Once the racing cyclist comes along, but he jogs today and just disappears in a cloud of dust from a cement mixer.

We go to the fishing tavern for a last meal. We have fried fish and this is very good. But when we look at the bill we turn to panic: that is more than we still own in Greek currenacy. We can solve the problem with a bank note of 10 Deutsche Mark. And the reason of the dilemma is: fish is expensive and we hadn't thought about that.

As we leave in the evening our trusty dog-friend appears and Heidi sheds some tears about this. As we pass the various hotels on the way back at Faliraki and near Rhodes Town we are glad to have stayed a Kolimbia with its flowers, landscape and the mountain "behind the house". So just another quotation of some guests as they look out of the bus: "Well see, we have just come until this place!" and they point to a certain spot at the beach. Did they do anything else?

During the flight we have some holes in the air and have to fasten the seat belts, Stefanie gets a pale nose again. As the captain declares, that we have reached the Germal underground Stefanie relaxes for she knows, the hospitals are more familiar there in the case of a fall down... Of course we arrive intact, otherwise you probably would not have read this report.

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