Ged Clapson
Ged Clapson

Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt

If ever you fancy a relaxing holiday, with a wonderul climate, great opportunities to swim, snorkel and scuba dive, friendly people, attentive staff, comfortable accommodation and superb food - look no farther than the Sea Gardens Resort in Sharm el Sheikh on the Sinai Peninsula. Frank (my housemate) and I went there first for Christmas 2014 and enjoyed it so much that we returned five months later. Okay - it's not the Egypt of the pyramids and temples; and - sadly - threats of terrorist remain an issue, although the local security staff seem to be constantly vigilant. But if you just want to chill out in the sun and Red Sea, or eat at affordable restaurants both on site or at Soho Square - the shopping mall that's just a 10-minute taxi ride away - this is the place for you!

 

Read my first review on Trip Adviser. And yes, that's Frank and I above, scuba diving in May 2015.

Lindos, Rhodes

I would normally never dream of going on holiday to a hot climate in the middle of summer. But, in 2012, in an attempt to avoid the chaos predicted in London during the Olympic Games, I decided to go - with my friend and housemate, Frank Temple - to the Greek island of Rhodes. We stayed in the historic village of Lindos in the south east of the island.

 

It is a beautiful location - quaint and full of character. We also met some really lovely people - both local Lindians and folk from elsewhere. But boy! Was it hot! Temperatures regularly exceeded 40 degrees celsius; the breeze was intermittent; and surprisingly, it occasionally got quite humid too. However, we had a really great time and below you will find a selection of images and details of trips from our holiday. Enjoy!

The skyline of Lindos is dominated by its Acropolis, a natural citadel which has been used and fortified successively over 3,000 years by the Greeks, the Romans, the Byzantines, the Knights of St John and the Ottomans (Turks). It offers spectacular views of the surrounding harbours and coastline - so they say! I have to admit: it was too darn hot to attempt the climb up to it - even in the early hours of the morning - so the image below is off the worldwide web. Sorry!

The Doric Temple of Athena Lindia, dating from c. 300 BC in Lindos, Rhodes. Credit: Saffron Blaze
The "villa" (aka - a room) in which we stayed offered us a great view of the Acropolis and was convenient for the village and the beaches - without being in the heart of the activity of Lindos.

Although we visited the main Lindos beach once, we found St Paul's Bay to be quieter and less crowded, so we spent most of our time there. There is a great little beach cafe - Demetrius' - which we would highly recommend. Phaedra and her brothers Nikos and Markos made us very welcome. The bay itself is quite beautiful with caves carved out of the rocky cliffs and the sea is as clear and blue as you could hope. We spent virtually every day snorkelling, exploring underwater, swimming with shoals of fish and generally trying to keep cool!

 

There is another beach on the far side of St Paul's Bay which is a little busier and where St Paul's Chapel stands. This really is very picturesque and was clearly very popular for weddings: there was a constant stream of brides arriving and leaving - including some by boat. Although it's a very beautiful setting, beware: the locals told us that the divorce rate among people who have got married in St Paul's Chapel is exceptionally high!

 

The bay gets its name from the apostle Paul who, according the Greek Orthodox Church, was shipwrecked there. The legend is that the rocks opened up to give his boat a safe harbour and it is not hard to appreciate how that tradition arose. On our final day in Lindos, Nikos kindly took us out in his boat and from the sea, the bay is completely concealled. Then, on turning the headland, it really does look like the rocks seem to part and the tranquil bay welcomes you in. In the winter, apparently, the sea around the coastline can really get quite rough and I've added a photo below (not taken by me) which shows that it really can pretty stormy!

There's no shortage of places to eat in Lindos. Maria's is well worth visiting for traditional Greek food at a reasonable cost. The bar on the beach at St Paul's Bay (below) offers a good choice of snacks during the day; and in the evening, there's tasty food off the barbeque - both meat and freshly-caught fish (middle photo). But our favourite restaurant was Odyssia - where Demetrius and his family and staff (below right) always gave us a warm welcome and served some excellent meals.

As for days out and excursions, the 4x4 Safari was one of the highlights of our trip. With a friendly and knowledgeable guide (Mark), we first headed to the southern-most tip of Rhodes - to Prassonissi, where the Mediterranean and Aegean Seas meet (photo 1 below). Then the itinerary followed the west coast of the island, reputed for its strong winds and rough seas. The waves were spectacular and very powerful (photo 2). On the deserted beach, the drivers had constructed a bar, where they served up a basic but very tasty buffet (photo 3). Then it was back in the 4x4 to a village where we were invited to sample locally-made honey and suma (which certainly had a kick in it - see photo 4). Our final stop was a vineyard and a selection of red wines. All in all, a great day out!

 

Rhodes Town was also a pleasurable experience with its historic battlements and cobbled streets. And finally, we took the ferry to Symi, an island off the Turkish coast, famous for its sponges, its Romanesque buildings along the waterfront and the Monastery of St Michael the Archangel.

So, would we go back to Lindos and the island of Rhodes? Probably. But certainly not in July or August! It's a beautiful place with some really friendly people; but I'm sure it's more pleasurable (and cooler) in the spring and autumn.

From Tosca - Giacomo Puccini:

 


Diedi gioielli

della Madonna al manto,
e diedi il canto agli astri,

al ciel,
che ne ridean più belli.

 

English Translation:

 

I lived for art, I lived for love ...
I gave jewels

for the Madonna's mantle,
And songs for the stars,

in heaven,
That shone forth with greater radiance.

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