Thursday, 19 September 2013

Comings and Goings

The turning of the season has never been more apparent to me anywhere I've lived than since moving out here to Rhodes. We're now so used to the different fruits and vegetables that we'll find in the local stores with each passing month, that it's really strange to us when someone who's leaving after a vacation here hands us a couple of oranges in July. We don't eat oranges in July since they're all over the trees here from November through March. If you buy them in July then they're bound to be imported, plus they don't taste anything like as good! Probably only half the vitamin C in them too.

The natural rhythm of the environment is also something we now know well. Well, I say "well" in the relative sense, of course. A botanist or naturalist would probably take issue. Everything's relative. To illustrate what I mean though, this past couple of weeks I've been noticing again the number of Wheatears that have appeared in the valley. They're not particularly apparent during the high summer, so I assume from that they must either live further north still, or perhaps simply at a slightly higher altitude to escape the searing heat. But during what would be termed in northern Europe the spring and autumn months, they're everywhere. I love them because they're so handsome, often putting one in mind of a smaller shrike. They are migrants, spending their winters in Africa, as do the Bee Eaters, so they're probably fattening themselves up for their flight across the Mediterranean Sea. When they're in flight you can ID them easily by their strikingly bright white rump. I always remember Bill Oddie telling us on one of his "Birding" programmes some years back in the UK, that their name is a cleaned-up version of the vernacular "White-arse", if you don't believe me, click here!!

Anyway, the Wheatears, the Bee Eaters, the Swallows and Martins, they're all swooping and circling around as they feed up for their flight South. Of course, those species that we have in common with the UK will stay around here for much longer, owing to our longer summer, but go they will just the same.

Other migrants that are here in huge numbers and have perhaps a greater interraction with the local inhabitants are the tourists. they tend to stay for much shorter periods than the migrating bird species, but they do arrive and depart, come and go, in great numbers to some extent in concert with our feathered visitors. With the end of September now approaching fast, the locals' conversations tend to reflect this fact.

Said George, in our local café, recently: "Aah, Gianni, I'm tired. Only about six weeks to go and I'll be able to get a normal night's sleep. I'll have some time to myself." He's not complaining mind you, it's just a fact. During the summer he lives and breathes work, it's that simple.

Panagiotis, who runs the local "giros" joint, when I asked him how the season had been this year, hunched his shoulders, flicked back a strand of damp-looking hair with an elbow and replied, "Halia [awful], Gianni.

Now, whilst it is true that a Greek will traditionally always say things are bad (just in case a tax office worker is within earshot), in this case I believed him. He's a good man and he's trying to make a modest living from selling excellent quality fast food. His vegetarian pittas, stuffed as they are with lettuce, onion, tomato, cucumber, Tzatziki and a few chips (read this if you're in any doubt!) are spectacular value at €1.50. Quite often if we're returning home mid-evening we'll call him in advance, pick up three of the aforementioned culinary delights, get home, cut the third one into two and wolf them down whilst watching the news on TV. That's a filling meal for €4.50. Can't go wrong. Yet he reckons that his takings are down 30% on last year. 

"The reason?" I asked, already confident that I knew what he'd say in answer.
"All inclusive hotels. The people may go out for an evening promenade Gianni, but they don't spend."

Last Tuesday we had to go into town, with the usual list of things to do, but we were at least able to drop into our favourite taverna in the old town, The Odyssey, for a spot of lunch. Babis was effusive in his welcome, since I hadn't seen him in a long while and we settled into a meal consisting of hummus, courgette rissoles (koloki'thokeftedes), Haloumi on a salad bed and pittas. Yummy to the power of three (come on, remember your school maths lesson)...

More about the Odyssey in this post too.

Just for you, hope you appreciate it, I also snapped these...

Every inch of the Old Town is photogenic though, isn't it. So just occasionally, when something takes my fancy or catches my eye, I'll whip out the iPad and click it, whilst trying hard not to look like a tourist. There's one more shot from the same day here too.

Talking to Babis, the subject came around to his business cards, which had on their reverse side a map, but it was a bit diagrammatical and not that easy to follow. So, he was rather pleased to show me that he now had a new card in circulation, one which makes use of the good old Google Earth aerial shot to show the taverna's location. So, since I heartily recommend the Odyssey, I scanned it...

On the way home, we arrived at Kiotari at around 5.30pm. Now I still had a half an hour to wait until I could meet Trianda'filo, one of my TUI drivers, at the Princess Adriana Hotel, since I'd rather stupidly left my house and car keys on the coach on my return from the previous day's Lazy Day Cruise, so we wondered what to do to kill the time.

The better (and wiser, dare I add) half suggested that we repair to a quiet piece of beach, which turned out to be just below the Boutique 5 Hotel where one can drive right down to the edge, strip to our undies and go for a dip. So we did. Right here, as it happens...

Dead busy, eh? No I didn't take any shots of me or her!! No sense putting you off your dinner (that's in reference only to me of course).

Anyway, feeling quite a lot cooler and fresher, I turned up to meet Trianda'filo, who, bless him, arrived with my keys jangling in his hand and a huge smile on his lips. I'd sent Maria on home since she had a car-full of shopping, so as I set out to walk it myself, Trianda'filo drew up alongside, told me to hop on and drove me all the way to the bottom of our lane, leaving me just ten minutes walk instead of twentyfive. Such a good chap.

So, a few comings and goings have crossed my mind this week. Oh, and I nearly forgot, the Sardinian Warblers are back with abundance in the garden too, busily feasting on the green berries left after the flowers have died on the Lantana bushes.

Life is sweet.


  1. Hey John,

    Great blog ! We're heading to the Princess Adrianna early October, just wondering what the weather is like that time of year and where we can find Gianni for a pitta !


    1. Hi Morgan, well there can be some cloud and storms, it's a bit of a lottery. It can also be wall-to-wall sunshine, you'll have to wait and see. It will still be warm though, mid 20's C. Opposite the hotel there's a lane that runs down to the lower beach road, out the front entrance, slightly left then cross the road. Walk down the lane 25 meters, turn right on the coast road and at the far end of the hotel's property, on the left (right above the beach) you'll see the giros joint. It's Panayiotis who runs it by the way. Tell him that John "O Anglos" sent you!

  2. Hi John.With the tourist season coming to a close might we get a visit from you both on one of your Rhodes Town trips
    Do phone first tho. We do go out even in winter

  3. Thank you John for your detailed reporting as well as your gorgeous photos. I was living in Rhodes for a decade and seeing your articles brings back nice memories . Keep up the good work and more fun in the sun next year.

  4. Hello John, reading your articles as well as seeing the photos brought back wonderful memories of my vacationing on this beautiful isle. Keep up the good work in informing the public about all the fine things one can experience while vacationing there. So long for now from your friend Nicholas.