Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Business As Usual

You know when June has arrived because the temperatures are ratcheted up a notch (talk about English shooting itself in the foot, there's a case of single consonant, short vowel. If you don't know what that's about, you probably have a life). I know it may not sound true, but it is. As soon as May rolls into June the daytime temperatures go from the upper 20's ºC to the lower 30's, virtually overnight. It's rather nice as it also brings with it the prospect of warmer evenings when you can dispense with the jumper or cardigan, making do with just a t-shirt or polo shirt. Plus, it's Rhodes Rock month.

Don't tell me that you've read this blog and still haven't heard about Rhodes Rock? Shock horror! (or as the Greeks would spell it, Sok horror!) Every June, usually the third weekend, Lindos resounds with the sound of some fab live classic rock music under the stars and it's all organised for love by rock music addicts Eddie and Elaine Yates, a couple of real stars! This year there are several new bands on the bill, as some of the old faves make way for some different sounds. If you think that you may still be able to be in Lindos from June 23rd to 26th and still haven't experienced Rhodes Rock, click here to go to the official website. All things being equal, I'll be on the gate again, so if you think you wanna risk saying hello, please do.

Went to town today, just to do a couple of mundane things. We had a frappe and spinach pie each at "People & People" a really nice small cafe right under the nose of Starbucks, which we don't patronise on principle, because they don't do table service!! "People & People" is really rather lovely and is always crammed with Greeks, many of whom work in the court house next door and can be seen perusing their briefs (they can't touch you for it) while they sip their Elleniko or Frappe. Two iced coffees and two delicious ample slices of spanakopita (spinach pie) and the bill was exactly €10. What was really nice too, was the fact that the waitress came around after we'd almost finished and asked if we'd like a top-up of iced water. You always know if you're in a good Greek Cafe if you get a glass of water with whatever drink you order. If you don't get the water, it's a tourist trap, usually.

The water top-up was indicative of something else, which is very important. In the tourist-trap cafes and tavernas, they want to keep the turnover of bums-on-seats moving and so quickly clear away any glasses or crockery which they think you may have finished with, often leaving you with an empty table whilst you may still not feel inclined to depart yet. But this puts you in the embarrassing position of having to order something else, or vacate so they can get some more fresh clientele in. Either that or sit at an empty table whilst the staff glare at you. To be offered some more water shows that this is the real deal kind of cafe. Greeks don't hurry their coffee. They don't hurry their meals either. We Brits still seem to not have learned the secret of whiling away an hour or two over the dregs of a drink or crumbs of a meal whilst taking in the surroundings. It's how people-watching became a popular pastime, for those who've learned the sport. But I often find if we dine out or have a drink with some Brits, that no sooner have they drained their glasses or wiped their garlic bread around their plates that they're getting restless and asking for the bill and showing an anxiety to move out.

It's as I mentioned in one of the books, I think it was Feta Compli! but it's all becoming a blur now that there are four! We have this tendency to snap photographs and hurry to get home so we can look at them and wish we were back there at the place and time where they were taken. We need to learn how to savour the moment. Sit at that café and breathe. Watch the world passing by around you and listen, smell, feel the air on your skin. let the moment live and linger.

This is what my wife and I try to do. We feel at home in "People & People" because, even though it's in Mandraki, a bustling part of a busy town, there are gentlemen sitting at tables tossing their komboloia, those beads which you often see a Greek fiddling with. They're sometimes called "worry beads" and they are not in any way religious. They're not like the Catholic Rosary. We have a Komboloi hanging from the rear-view mirror in the car and it annoys me when someone says, "I saw your rosary." Sorry, but I'm that averse to established religion that this really annoys me!

Anyway, so why is this post called "Business as Usual"? It's because whilst sitting at the cafe we remarked on how the summer season here in Rhodes is now well under way and proceeding as it always has. Yes, the tourists are perhaps 15% down on last year - so far. But when you consider how many tens of thousands come and go here on a weekly/fortnightly basis, that doesn't amount to a noticeable difference in the streets of Rhodes Town. Take note if you're swallowing all the propaganda from the media whilst still ruminating about whether it's "safe" to come here. The only evidence of any civil unrest which you're likely to see on a Greek island this summer is two Greeks arguing over a parking space. The likelihood of an ATM running out of Euros is no more than of a taverna running out of Tzatziki. The chances of being a victim of crime whilst spending a couple of weeks on Rhodes is probably hugely more remote than where you live back home.

Please, as I've said before and will continue to say, I live here and I know a bit more about what's happening on the ground than all those "experts" they keep interviewing on British (for example) TV. They're scaremongering and risking the possibility of damaging the poor working Greek's prospects and financial hardships even more by making potential tourists think that there are issues about spending a holiday here.

Here are a couple of pics of the Old Town wall...

See you soon?


  1. Thankyou for your reassurance re., our forthcoming visit to Rhodes, The media here are indeed scaremongering,(on some BBC news prog. this morning) i was getting worried in case we couldn't get home!!! that would be terrible n'est pas?

    Are we likely to get a sample of David Gilmour at the Rock fest.???

    "Porridge Oats"

    1. Your guess is as good as mine, but at least Think Floyd will be doing their thing in the ancient Amphitheatre as per usual.

  2. Wife and I arrive in Rhodes for two weeks at the end of the month. We can't wait after having such an enjoyable and relaxing week last year.
    It is good to read that all is well from someone like yourself who actually lives on the island.

    1. I should be very surprised if you don't have a wonderful holiday Tony, and thanks for coming!

  3. Hello John,

    Some of my friends are interested in visiting next year for the Rhodes Rock, do you have any recommendations?


  4. Depends on what they want to do. If they just want to go to the three main nights, maybe best to book their own holiday and buy tickets when they're here. If they'd like to be in on all the action, like pre and post Gig VIP parties (where some of the bands paly either on the beach or a hotel lawn), plus all kinds of other smaller events in the village, it's best to book through the RR website.

  5. Six weeks and counting for us - after a soggy weekend camping at a beer festival last week it can't come soon enough!!!



    1. Nice place Beer. You did mean Beer in Devon, eh Dave? And there we were suffering 28ºC out on the boat all day today (the breeze making it that bit chillier than the 32 or so on land!).

  6. Nah - beer festival at my sister's pub in Sewstern Leicestershire. My heart really goes out to you suffering out on the water like that!!

  7. Sounds like a feeble excuse for a session!! yea, I suffer for my audience...