We’ve been preparing for awhile. Hot off the heels of my last trip from Mogadishu, I decided to not travel in June so that I could adequately do right by this major upcoming and nearly one month long trip to Greece in July.
Skipping a month to monsoon is a big deal. So big I might even decide to skip traveling in August to recover from a trip like this.
And this all started when last September — nearly 10 months ago! — during my launch party’s afterparty more than half folks from our French Polynesian YW trip last April collectively twisted my arm to organize another yacht week experience in Greece this July.
So it started with friendly trustworthy peer pressure, as it always does. Then I decided if I were to return to Greece I should add places I missed the last time I was there, namely Meteora and Crete. And then I thought if I’m already near the area and I can get sold out Tomorrowland tickets via a Global Journey package where they could book my Greece to Belgium flights. And then, finally with extra time on my hands in July, I also decided to add in the island of Rhodes as an off-the-books visit for myself.
And it just keeps adding up. The little things. Little things to big things. To Rhodes, the place where the Colossus of Rhodes once stood and also was my 7th grade history project where my classmate David Pasternak and I tried to build a model of the former world wonder.
To get here I stumbled upon a ridiculously underpriced $1100 business class flight from New York City to Athens via Air Serbia — My first time paying for business class in cash!
Taking off at 7:30pm on flight JU 501 from JFK to BEG, I enjoyed the quality of AirSerbia’s renovated hard product seats, which were comfortable enough.
Their amenity kit included a hard shell case and in-flight EVVIVA hand cream that I appreciated, although the cotton swab and q-tips I could have also done without.
Their best offer was new in-flight pajamas and slippers to keep!
Landing an hour and a half later at 12pm the next day local time in Belgrade, we had our 2 hour layover cut short to 25 minutes. So once the door opened, me and a couple heading for Mykonos sprinted through the airport within a *20 minute window* to make it to the next gate before our 12:25pm JU512 flight from Belgrade to Athens, also on business class.
Luckily once we arrived at our gate exactly at 12:20pm, they were still checking names and swapping tickets at the counter, giving us an extra 30 minutes to catch our breath. I took advantage of this borrowed time by walking over to the A gates and checking out their Premium Lounge for a few minutes:
This counts as a “throne seat” on a intra-European airline “business class,” right?
Landing in Athens at around 4:00pm in the afternoon less than 2 hours later, I had an original plan of checking one of my bags at Care4Bag so I didn’t have to bring too much for my 3 days trip to Rhodes.
However, it appeared that only an hour’s layover at Belgrade was definitely not enough for a bag to be transferred from my JFK-BEG flight to BEG-ATH: aka my bag never arrived and was stuck in Belgrade. Therefore, I spent another hour at the lost luggage counter in ATH baggage claims with the couple and a few others to generate Property Irregularity Forms (PIRs), with which we could makes claims with insurance, airlines, and to track our bags. At least I made a few friends out of it and got to save money on left luggage.
If it’s to be a first time for everything it’s worth it to commemorate it as a potential opportunity and detour down the line!
I then licked my wounds and boarded Sky Express flight GQ 282 from Athens to Rhodes at 7:15pm which got me into Rhodes less than an hour later at 8:10pm local time.
Getting out of the airport I waited for the €3.50 airport bus #50/51/56 into Rhodes at the café behind the bus stop while figuring out how to contact AirSerbia in different ways (the fastest response was tagging their IG account on an Instagram story; half an hour later that account responded providing me a phone number that has yet to pick up, an e-mail address that has yet to respond, and a website tracking my bag with the PIR that has yet to be updated).
I then boarded bus 51 (50 and 56 are also fine) at 10pm to take me into Old Town, arriving about 45 minutes later.
I walked another 11 minutes from the bus stop and took in everything I was seeing.
Checking into my lodgings at SOFI’s House in old town by 11pm, I reunited with Amelia whom I last saw in Svalbard, and waited another hour for YuHan to arrive by bus. Yuhan met and last saw me when I spoke at an event in DC for Ascend more than 6 years ago in 2017! We then turned in immediately afterwards.
The next morning we woke up with coffee outside our homestay.
Breakfast was no less perfect for a first morning of a trip.
We then began our tour of Rhodes Old City.
One of the oldest settlements in the world and inhabited since Neolithic times, the island was already famous for its cities of Lindos, Ialysos, and Kameiros from the epics of Homer. In 408 BCE those 3 cities joined to become the capital city of the island, also called Rhodes.
Byzantine Empire, the Venetians, the Genoese, the Crusading Knights of Saint John, and then the Ottoman Empire, Rhodes has almost seen it all.
Rhodes’ Old Town is therefore a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the largest and best preserved medieval towns in Europe. Once you cross from bus station over the outer wall and moat, you’ve entered a time machine where you can fancy yourself as a crusading knight stumbling upon castles from far off lands.
Or you can fancy yourself as a tourist wandering around a big giant modern outdoor shopping mall (although one could argue that for centuries Rhodes Old City has always been different iterations of a contemporary shopping mall):
It seems the town centers around Hippocrates Square as a place to start your walk:
Another big part of the old city would be Palace of the Grand Master of the Knights of Rhodes:
Next we just channeled our inner flâneur and continued to wander.
By noon we left the old city temporarily to venture up each pier.
The main show and very northwestern tip marks the spot where the Colossus of Rhodes once stood. Although you’d want to believe the legend how an immense statue straddled the harbor entry, pure engineering physics and historical research suggests both of his legs stayed on one side of the entry and on a pedestal.
Colossus just got served.
The Church of the Annunciation of the Theotokos marks the western border of all of Rhodes’ piers.
The central pier is marked by windmills and former bastion-turned-lighthouse Saint Nicholas Fortress at the very end . . .
The French Tower marks the easternmost pier.
Venturing more northwest, we then walked around the northern part of Rhodes city for lunch, which appears to be a more developed and modern neighborhood compared to Old Rhodes. Definitely nothing uniquely Rhodes here compared to living inside a castle.
Afterwards we retired back in the afternoon for a nap before dinner at at Thomas: Despite an amusing mixup with thinking both keys was accidentally thrown in the laundry that almost led me to miss half the dinner, it was worth it for the views and conversations.
- At time of posting in Rhodes, it was 33 °C - Humidity: 24% | Wind Speed: 24km/hr | Cloud Cover: clear, sunny, hot