When in Rhodes

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When I am looking at a magic smile under a blue summer hat, sitting with the sunshine reflected all around me, surrounded by white, yellow-hearted Frangipani, in front of walls that are hiding behind curls of lilac Bougainville and having coffee in the afternoon, then I am on Rhodes.

When the rosy Rhodian pebbles on the Aegean shore demand my attention, when I am going for my morning swim, then I am at a place where I like to be a lot. (And yes, my dear pebbles, I adore you, even though you don’t make it very easy for me to get into the water.)

And when a tiring evening sun enflames cloudy mountain tops on the horizon and daubs sky and sea with colors you might not have even known existed, and when taverns at the water’s edge turn on their lights, then I celebrate my good fortune to be on this wonderful Island of Rhodes, enjoying a lively night in convivial company, sharing tasty local wine and fresh food.

I am a writer; I am mostly here for professional purposes. In Rhodes City, in an old building located on the top of a little ridge, is the International Writers Centre, where writers from all over the world get together.

This is no coincidence. The influence of tourism and the legacy of history characterize the people of Rhodes as open-minded and straightforward. And so, twenty years ago, the society of international writers, choose Rhodes out of three challengers for its permanent home. Rhodes, with its different influences from abroad since the earliest times until today and the experiences which that brings, is a unique setting for writers.

The rugged landscape of the island, garlanded with pine and cypress forests, vineyards and remarkable olive trees, is a gem. It happens sometimes that, in one of the beautiful taverns in the middle of nowhere, the friendly couple running the place will offer a plate of olives, cheese, bread  —on the house, of course—even  though you just ordered something to drink.

I celebrate my good fortune to be on this wonderful Island of Rhodes

I travel a lot. And some places leave a special impression, a feeling you know on ‘first sight’. And so it was in 2010 when I first came to Rhodes. Maybe it is because I love rocks and water.

But later I figured it out or at least I think I did. I now guess it was a promise. A promise that here, as a writer and poet, I will find the strength of images that I am looking for;  a view from the outside that brings insight into the inner workings of the mind and a way to understand and translate them.

And while I am there, there’s the bonus of sharing experiences with my fellow writers, gathering  memories of events and incidents and spending time with friends.

Last time, when saying good bye to a lady, she wished me a pleasant flight and added, with some regret: “I hope the weather will be better next time you are going to come”. The weather? Okay, for May it was a little windy, not quite as warm as usual and one afternoon a bit of rain, but always sunny.

That is what I love so much about Rhodes and the people there. Making an apology for weather that I could only dream of.

You have to know: I am from Hamburg, Germany…


    need a bit of help, am going to Greece in September with 2 friends. We have a tight budget and are in our 50ies. We are there for 13 days and want to spend time site seeing yet also need relaxation.With the travelling we do not want to waste days travelling where are the must see places that could make our trip a very memorable one. When I got a map of Greece I noticed that many a place that I would have loved to see for culture… are way too far in such a short visit. We arrive in Athens and shall spend some time there yet want to see other places where the city life is far away… lol can you help me … Thank you

    • James Belias

      Hi Carol.
      Your best bet is to divide your time between Athens and one of the larger islands. In Athens, two days would be appropriate for you to take in the essential highlights, such as the Acropolis Museum, the Acropolis itself and its surrounds via a guided walking tour, perhaps an evening/sunset trip to Sounio and dinner at a great restaurant like Strofi.

      As for an island, Rhodes or Crete are really big in size meaning you can see and do a lot, without feeling like you’ve covered the same ground, and also, you can get some top R&R with the amazing beaches. These two islands give you a balance between cultural/historical sites, modern comforts, convenient travel and of course the world-class beaches. If you go to Rhodes you can very conveniently go to the most beautiful island Symi for either a day trip or an over-nighter.

      Good luck! FYI – I’ve travelled to Greece almost each year since 2004 – I’m a big fan of the place