With summer just around the corner, I thought it was time for some holiday inspiration. The school year is almost over and everyone is making plans for summer. For most people, planning a trip is half the fun, where to go, what to see and, of course, what to eat? You can spend hours browsing through travel websites and blogs looking for holiday inspiration, drooling over pictures of turquoise waters and deserted beaches, a hammock hung between two palm trees, okay, stop. You get the picture.
Have you booked your summer holiday or are you waiting until the last minute? If you are stuck in the office, looking outside at the grey sky, I hope these images of our trip to Rhodes will get you in the holiday mood.
When you think of Greece you might imagine sandy beaches, blue skies, and a sea with transparent turquoise water. And it’s true, you can find it all on Rhodes, but there is more to it than just a beach holiday. It’s strategic position in the Mediterranean has given it a very rich history, picture a walled mediaeval town, ancient ruins and archaeological sites. It is also an island of wild flowers and herbs, can you imagine how good it smells?
Rhodes, or Ródos, is a Greek island in the Aegean sea. We are big fans of Greece. The people are friendly without being pushy. The food is delicious, made with fresh ingredients from land and sea (and the Mediterranean diet is said to be very healthy, so you can eat all you want). And the weather is just what we need after the cold and the rain that comes with the Dutch climate (as I was writing this, my husband lit a fire in the fireplace, it’s June…).
Greece and the Greek people are going through difficult times at the moment and may, or may not, leave the Eurozone. I’m not a politician, so I don’t know if that’s a good or a bad thing. I do know that either way the Greek people will be happy to see you, and will probably still accept euros.
Choosing a holiday destination can be tricky, especially if you are traveling with your family. All family members have their own ideas about the perfect holiday. For some, it’s about doing nothing at all. A comfortable bed, good food, and a beer is all they need. Others want to discover local culture, old and new. Some want to enjoy nature and go for long walks in the mountains or along the seashore, taking pictures of every flower in sight. And then of course there are those who want to enjoy local nightlife, drink, have fun and party all night long. I have never been much of a party animal and if my kids ever get into that, I think it’s time for them to book their own holiday.
We always try to find a destination that has something for everyone. The kids are happiest when they have lots of ‘free time’ to play on the beach, to swim, or just relax by the pool. You’d think that a holiday consists of nothing but free time, but for them, spending a day visiting archaeological sites is a task. They tag along just fine and might even enjoy climbing the ruins of an ancient castle, but the day always has to end with a swim (which gave me the chance to read the book I wrote about a couple of weeks ago).
And I do think Rhodes has something for everyone. First of all, it’s an island. There is something about islands I find quite irresistible. Maybe it’s because you can only get there by boat or plane. Traveling by boat is definitely the preferred, though not always the most practical option. I love the sea, and on an island water is never far away. The place where land meets sea is very special, and I find most coastlines very romantic. We drove along the shore and stopped occasionally to enjoy the view. There are two castle ruins you can climb to. One covered with flowers, the other with a small church at the top. Looking over the Mediterranean you can see other islands, mysteriously floating in the sea. It makes me want to travel even more.
You have probably heard of the Odyssey, the ancient poem. I have never read it, but I know the story. It is about the Greek hero Odysseus and his journey home after the ten-year Trojan war. It took Odysseus another ten years to reach his kingdom on the island of Ithaca. The views made me think of him, sailing the Mediterranean from island to island, longing for his wife and son.
When we visited Rhodes, the wildflowers were blooming, making the rocky coastline even more beautiful. My favourite wildflower is the daucus carota, or wild carrot, common in Holland too but not yet flowering here. I am always interested to discover the local flora. I found this very useful website, called Greek flora (in Dutch), I used to identify the yellow horned poppy. I tried to find a similar website in English for my non-Dutch readers, but I had no success, so if you know of any, please leave a comment.
Another big advantage of vacationing on an island are the sunsets. Where we live in Holland there are a lot of trees. It’s hard to watch the sunset around here. Luckily our hotel restaurant overlooked the Mediterranean and we enjoyed a beautiful sunset almost every evening during dinner.
Last but not least, there is Rhodes town. Though largely devoted to tourism, Rhodes town is still a very charming city. It is one of the best-preserved medieval towns in Europe, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The town is surrounded by walls with gates and when you enter through one of them you will find narrow streets lined with shops and restaurants. You can take the stairs down into the dry moat area, and wander through the moats. There, you can enjoy the peace and quiet and, again, the wildflowers.
I am afraid the time has come to bring you back from this sunny island to reality. I hope I have given you some holiday inspiration and look forward to reading about your travels.
What are your plans for the summer holidays? Whether you are driving to your family cottage in the countryside or flying to a luxurious all-inclusive resort or packing your car with camping gear, I hope you’ll return safe, rested and refreshed.