I have to say, driving in Greece is an challenging experience, and that’s an understatement! Rhodes has a pretty good road network, with types ranging from dual carriageway quality, down to dusty, potholed, goat tracks, the later being the most prevalent. But that doesn’t really bother anybody, as the roads are just used as a rough indication of where you can drive, people mostly drive in the shade!
Having got the map out, we thought we’d drive down the coast to see some of the unspoilt countryside and coastline, and then cross the island to see the acient fortification of Kastrou Monolithos. We stopped at the village of Kataira for lunch at a little cafe, sitting by the beach with a glorious aquamarine sea as a background. It was so much quieter there, I imagine you could stay for weeks and not see another person.
Suitably refreshed, we set off and drove higher and higher to cross the mountains. You could definitely feel a drop in the temperature, it had been 97 Fahrenheit at the resort, and it must have been a good 20 degrees cooler up in the olive groves. The road became very sinuous, almost an endless set of hairpin turns as it made its way down the, leaving us breathless.
The north-western side of Rhodes is a stark contrast to the south-eastern side and it’s bustling resorts. It is vibrantly green, with towering pine trees, and olive groves nestled in the valleys. The villages seam to tumble down the hillsides, and cluster around a town square and fountain, or picturesque chapel. You’ll often find a ramshackle roadside stall selling goods from the local farm, such as honey or olive oils.
We arrived at a viewpoint overlooking the Kastrou Monolithos, and I’m sure on a fine day the view would have be breathtaking, sadly we were met with clouds boiling up the valley obscuring our view. In fact the clouds were quite spectacular, as the warm wind blowing through the trees, and over the car park whipped the clouds into a frenzy. Following the stony track we climbed up into the castle an explored the ruins. The view down was amazing from the vertical cliffs of the castle, and you see why the Rhodian’s picked that spot to defend their isle.
The inside the fortification was quite dilapidated, very little had be done to restore it to its former glory, exceppt to consolidate it. However, at its heart was a beautiful white washed Chapple, which was being lovingly cared for. The misty wind whistled through the old structures, gave the castle an eerie feeling.