Lunchtime in Apollona, a small village located within the khaki-tinged hinterland of Rhodes, and all is quiet – save for one terrace set on a small aspect street above the homes. Right here, a mixture of locals and guests sit round picket tables, on which half-drunk carafes of wine, platters of roasted meats and feta-freckled salads are positioned subsequent to bowls of selfmade bread. Between the tables, a stout man in an apron bustles round, explaining dishes, telling tales and pouring the wine he sources from associates’ vineyards on the island. That is Giannis, proprietor and creator of the taverna, Charactersand a person consumed by a ardour for the wealthy foodie heritage of Rhodes.
Lunch begins with three kinds of bread and an aubergine dip thick with sesame and yoghurt. A lot of Paraga’s recipes have been handed down via the generations. Our principal course, a wealthy beef stifado, has been cooked in clay for the reason that morning, giving Giannis a splendidly theatrical second of gently cracking open the ceramic pot to disclose an unctuous stew, served alongside succulent, stock-soaked potatoes. We eat gluttonously, gazing out over the luxurious inexperienced hills, holm oaks and Italian cypress popping up between the silvery-grey olive groves and spindly winery traces.
Apollona is only one of dozens of villages that dot the hills and valleys of inland Rhodes, many linked by strolling trails and residential to conventional tavernas or quiet village bars. These peaceable hamlets are good for spring breaks, when you may spend your days strolling and exploring moderately than avoiding the warmth. This space additionally affords glimpses of a really totally different island to the built-up shoreline. One of many first Greek islands to embrace mass-market tourism, Rhodes is understood primarily as a family-oriented fly and flop – solar, sea and sand with dollop of Greek historical past on the aspect. However it’s earlier on within the season that may be the prettiest time to go to.
Our base for the primary few days is the newly opened Elissa: a slick, minimalist-designed lodge set on the small curving seaside at Kallithea, round 10 minutes’ drive from Rhodes city. Like a lot of the Rhodes coastal strip, Kallithea itself feels just a little pale, however we comply with a advice from the concierge on the Elissa and hop in a taxi for dinner to the small village of Koskinou, a few kilometres inland.
What’s shocking about Rhodes is the way it adjustments inside minutes of leaving the coast. We arrive on Koskinou’s picturesque principal sq., the place a small, brightly lit café is stuffed with males sipping thimbles of espresso whereas a gaggle of small boys hoofs a soccer towards the closest wall. An indication for the Tasos Taverna leads us right into a tangle of cobbled alleyways, the place low-slung, whitewashed homes are draped in nice swathes of tangerine and plum-hued bougainvillaea. It appears unattainable that the intense lights and bustle of the coast are simply 5 minutes’ drive away. As we settle in for heaped plates of smoky rooster, garlicky tzatsiki and luxurious, honey-drenched baklava, it feels as if we’re on a special island altogether.
The subsequent day we got down to uncover a number of the island’s well-known sights – the Roman streets of Rhodes previous city, the historic fortress and the well-known spa at Kallithea Springs. All are full of guests, a lot in order that it’s a aid to get again to the Elissa’s tranquil pool.
Later, over chilly Mythos beers, we pore over an old style street map and plot a route for the next day, taking in a number of inland villages en path to our second lodge close to Lindos.
Fortuitously, driving in Rhodes is simple and unchallenging. The roads are quiet and constructed to accommodate the day-trip coaches and Jeep safaris that seem even within the quietest backwaters. And there’s loads to see, together with lots of of spiritual buildings – mosques, church buildings, chapels and monasteries – every giving a glimpse of the island’s tempestuous historical past, whether or not Roman or Byzantine, Ottoman or Italian. We cease at Go aheada tiny Byzantine monastery perched at an altitude of 240m. The 350 steps show difficult, however the 360-degree vista of the island’s crystalline seashores and luxurious inexperienced heartland is greater than definitely worth the effort.
The south of the island proves to be fairly totally different from the north, the continual sprawl of huge resort resorts slowly breaking as much as reveal the lengthy arc of seaside at Vlycha Bay. We settle into our room on the Beautiful Blu – an architect’s dream of a lodge, with rooms and terraces stepping down the hillside – and gaze out in direction of the jagged mountains throughout the bay, their craggy outlines like huge, sleeping alligators half-buried by the ocean.
The large draw at this finish of the island is the historic city of Lindos however, once we go to, the cobbled streets are full of cruise teams and excursions, and we shortly escape again up into the hills to go to the remoted village of Embonas, mentioned to be probably the most conventional on the island. It’s just a little extra touristy than we anticipated, however nonetheless has an genuine allure, with a number of wine caves, tavernas and outlets promoting regionally made baskets, rugs and linens, together with knitted slippers with big pompoms on the toes which I’m fully unable to withstand. On the way in which again, we take a brief diversion to the small resort of Pefkos, for a go to to the crystal-clear waters on Lee Seaside.
On our closing day, we slot in one final village go to with an early lunch at Lardos, only a few minutes’ drive from our lodge. Like Koskinou, it feels a world away from the frenzy of vacationer buses and tour teams at Lindos. As a substitute, it’s stuffed with the slow-paced allure at which the Greek islands excel. We watch the light comings and goings on the leafy principal avenue and agree that for all the traditional websites and lengthy, sandy seashores, it’s within the quiet inland villages the place the center of this historic island actually beats.
Annabelle Thorpe travelled with the Greek vacationer board (visitgreece.gr)staying at
the Elissa (doubles from £193 B&B; ellaresorts.com) and the Beautiful Blu
(doubles from £226 B&B; slh.com)