An idyllic, sleepy, stereotypical Greek island is exactly what Rhodes is not. Well, at least not the mediaeval Old Town. We’re accustomed to exploring the back streets and harbour of the Greek island of Meis and wandering around Paspatur in Fethiye in relative solitude. So, when we sailed from Fethiye to Rhodes a few days ago, it really was a shock to the system.
Common sense tells you that anywhere where there is a cruise ship, there are going to be masses of people who have disembarked and swollen the previous population by a sizeable number. This is Rhodes. Hardcore tourism that took us an hour or so to acclimatise to. We live in Fethiye which is a big tourist area – but it’s not that big of a tourist area. We were as interested in the people around us as we were in Rhodes itself.
Most passenger boats dock in Mandraki harbour and there’s no confusion about which direction to go in once you get off your boat. You’re greeted by the old fortress walls; minarets and church spires peeping over the top of the old battlements. These days, your biggest battle is negotiating your way along the narrow pavement and across the main road to actually get inside the walls.
If everyone walked in single file – and kept walking – then everything would be fine. But when in Rhodes, you’re not a person. You’re a tourist. And what do tourists do? They walk aimlessly, they walk in groups, they carry big bags – they stop dead, right in front of you, and fiddle around with their camera to take a photo! Yes, this was the bit that made us want to tap people on the shoulder and say, ‘Excuse me, but when you’ve quite finished faffing about, trying to get your memorable photo, there’s a football-crowd-size amount of people trying to get past you!’
But then you realise the football crowd behind you is also blocking the path doing exactly the same thing; blocking everyone’s way to take photos. And you know what they say: If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em! There’s only one way to fit in in Rhodes Old Town. Go with the flow, get your tourist gladrags on, get your camera out and unashamedly take as many photos as you can. Don’t worry about getting in the way because no one else is worrying about it.
It was bizarre. Many of my photos from the day are full of people taking photographs of other people stood in various poses in front of historic buildings. This wasn’t intentional on my part. There was no choice.
Some people might watch this video and think, ‘Well, it’s not so crowded.’ For us though, after Meis and Fethiye, it was a culture shock. Packed streets, packed bars and restaurants, people buying from souvenir shops – and streams of people following the man with the big umbrella or the plastic lollipop; their tour guide for the day. What wouldn’t Fethiye give for just a handful of these tourists?
We had a great day on the Greek island of Rhodes and the people watching / dodging is a happy memory of the day…once we realised we just needed to go with the flow instead of allowing our blood to reach boiling point.
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