Lisbon – We get Hammered and Ride the Tram Cars

From the Restauradores area of Lisbon there are two funiculars that you can take up the hillside. On day one of our Lisbon adventure we took the Elevador da Gloria up to the Miradouro de Sao Pedro de Alcantara, so after our trip to Belem on day two, we decided to cross the Avenida da Liberdade and ride the Elevador  do Lavra up to the Jardim do Torel.

Elevador do Lavra

Elevador do Lavra

This is the oldest of Lisbon’s funiculars having been built in 1884. The area at the top was a bit run down, but we found the Jardim and enjoyed a few beers watching the storm clouds gathering over the Lisbon skyline as the night drew in.

View from the Jardim do Torel

View from the Jardim do Torel

Personally I don’t think the view from this side is a pretty as that from the top of the Elevador da Gloria, however man can not live by beer alone so we jumped back on the funicular to look for somewhere to eat back in Restauradores. The previous night while we were still pretty knackered from travelling we had eaten in the very nice, but hardly Portuguese , Italy Cafe (Avenida Duque D’Aila 26B), but tonight we fancied something local. Finding somewhere with Portuguese cuisine wasn’t as easy as we expected, but eventually we discoved the Restaurant do Calcada (Calcada do Carmo, 35) behind Rossio Station.

After the obligatory starters of olives, bacalhau (salt cod) fritters and bread I tucked into a hunter’s sausage with a fried egg, rice and chips.

Hunter's game sausage with egg

Hunter’s game sausage with egg

Although it might not sound very exotic, it was delicious, the pork in the sausage could hold its head up to any barbecued pulled pork I have ever tasted. Nick’s mixed grill looked pretty good too.

Mixed Grill Restaurant do Calcada

Mixed Grill Restaurant do Calcada

Complete with starters, beers, water and a litre of house Vinho Verde the bill only came to about €70 for all four of us and we got a free aguadente to aid the digestion  from the waiter who proudly told us that he used to live in Canning Town!

Hunger satisfied the night was still young and since the rain was holding off we decided to go for a drink at the Miradouro de Sao Pedro de Alcantara.

Elevador do Gloria

Elevador da Gloria

There’s something very Jules Verne about the solid engineering of these Victorian funiculars that makes me think of films like 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea or Ruler of the World. It would have been so cool to have found the tramcar driven by James Mason or Vincent Price!

Where's Catain Nemo?

Where’s Captain Nemo?

By the time we got to the top of the Elevador it had started to rain, by the time we settled under the umbrella at the kiosk in the Miradouro de Sao Pedro de Alcantara it was bucketing down. In the vague hope that the weather would ease off we stayed for a couple of drinks before braving the downpour back to the funicular and dashing to the Metro to get back to our hotel.

Elevador do Gloria

Elevador da Gloria

My Old Dutch – London WC1

For as long as I can remember the My Old Dutch Pancake House has been a fixture in High Holborn (132 High Holborn to be precise), but up until this weekend I had never ventured inside the place. I fancied trying somewhere different, but economic on Saturday night when Mab remembered that she used to eat here when she was an impoverished student at the Middlesex Hospital.

An old windmill at My Old Dutch

An old windmill tile at My Old Dutch

So after a few drinks at the Holborn Whippet (a marvelous little boozer in Sicilian Avenue serving craft beers like Adnams Oyester Stout) we decamped to the rustic Dutch splendour of My Old Dutch. The place was absolutely stuffed (mostly with students from London University and UCL, but with a good few tourists as well) so it was just as well that we had made a reservation. The restaurant is on two levels and our table was on the ‘quiet’ ground floor. Downstairs was a bit more rowdy with a bunch of Irish lads celebrating st Patrick’s Day.

We started off with a Dutch sharing platter for two.

Sharing Platter

Sharing Platter

This came with six bitteballen (Dutch meatballs), two slabs of deep-fried cheese, a selection of Edam and gouda cheese and some twists of smoked salmon accompanied with a sour cream and a mustard dip. This high cholesterol treat slipped down a treat even if I did burn the inside of my mouth with a hasty bite of thermonuclear bitteballen. For anyone expecting the mustard dip to be a bland continental affair, think again it’s made with English mustard so expect a bit of a kick.

Then the pancakes arrived.

Good heavens they are massive

Good heavens they are massive

They arrived on massive Delft plates covering them right up to the rim. They looked a bit like pizzas’ only they were on a Dutch pancake rather than a bread base. I had the Hot Dutch,

Hot Dutch

Hot Dutch

a wonderful confection of pepperoni, chorizo, cheese, red chili and tomato. Hot and spicy it reminded me of the Vesuvio pizza that I had enjoyed so much at the El Toro Steakhouse in Salou only with a pancake base that contrary to what I had feared worked really well. I also sample Mab’s ‘build your own’ pancake with chicken, spinach, cheese and chili which was quite nice too. Much to my surprise although the pancake base looks very insubstantial by the time we had munched our way through the main course we were too stuffed to even contemplate a sweet one for dessert!

My Old Dutch has only a very limited wine list, but it does have a good selection of Belgian Beers including Fruli strawberry ale and the draft Heineken at £3.40 a pint is cheaper than most nearby pubs.

So what’s the damage? We paid £97.76 for four people with starters, mains, a potato wedge side, a bottle of Cabernet, two pints and Malteasers shake (just imagine slamming Malteasers in a blender with some ice cream) . Price includes optional service charge.

Would we go back? Yes it has a good ambience, it’s not that expensive and there are lots more things on the menu that I fancy trying. They also do a loyalty card – buy nine pancakes the next one is free!

There are also branches of My Old Dutch at Kensington and Chelsea.

Snakes, Soccer and Soho – Mr Wolfe’s Birthday Bash

It was our friend Mr Wolfe’s special birthday on Saturday so we decided to treat him to a meal out in that there London Town.

New Year's Eve Chinatown

New Year’s Eve Chinatown

It was also a special day in London’s Chinatown. The place was rammed with people doing their last minute shopping to welcome in the Year of the Snake, but as we were up there I did a big shop in the New Loon Moon supermarket (9a Gerrard Street) for spices and other Chinese goodies. Aside from getting a few bits you just can’t get in an ordinary supermarket, things like spices, coconut milk and soy sauce are so much cheaper in Chinatown that its worth lumping them back home on the tube.

Chinese lanterns Chinatown London

Chinese lanterns Chinatown London

Next stop was a swift pint for me and the Captain in the Coach and Horses in Greek Street, while Saucy Wench Mab and the Powder Monkey bought some chocolate coffee beans in London’s most aromatic shop, Old Comption Street’s the Algerian Coffee Shop.

The Coach and Horses, Soho

The Coach and Horses, Soho

Now we’d told Mr Wolfe about the Bodean’s at Tower Hill and were keen for him to discover all the meaty goodness of their smokehouse fare, but Bodean’s do not take bookings so we thought if we try the Soho branch in Poland Street and it’s full, there are plenty of other places to eat. When we arrived the waitress said we could have a table in 45 minutes, fair enough we thought and ordered some drinks. Now that was where it all came undone. drinks ordered (and paid for) we were told to go outside and wait on the seating where the cocktails would be brought to us . This turned out to be a couple of benches on the street where the mouth-watering smell of barbecued meat mingled with that of the rancid dumpster and tramp pee. Bodean’s idea of bringing the drinks to us didn’t quite match ours either, fortunately we heard the waitress hollering our order number from inside and we had to force our way back inside past the by now enormous queue to collect them.

By this time we were a bit cheesed off, especially as it had started to rain so when Mr Wolfe turned up we went across to Wahaca in Wardour Street where we got a table immediately and had a fantastic Mexican meal for about two thirds of what we would have spent in Bodean’s

chorizo and potato quesadilla

chorizo and potato quesadilla Wahaca

Like Bodean’s, Wahaca don’t do reservation, but they don’t expect you to wait on the street if they can’t fit you in immediately. Oh no they give you a bleeper and send you downstairs to the tequila bar, which is where we went after the meal and where we were all severely trounced in a game of table soccer by the Powder Monkey.

Mexico 2012 – The Lap of Luxury

A lot of travellers look down on package deals and all-inclusive holidays – I remember a particularly catty comment I received from one of the Simonseeks’ editors knocking the value of a guide I wrote to the Mayan Riviera because people on all-inclusive breaks were just ‘handed things on a plate.’ I think that sort of attitude is just pretentious snobbery, the thing about travel is that it offers many different opportunities according to how people want (or indeed can afford) to do things. Travel isn’t all about spending 24 hours on a bus in the Andes on $2, with only a goat for company.

Mayn Riviera sunrise

Mayan Riviera sunrise

Now while I am not above snagging a bargain easyJet fare and hotel deal on the internet see our trips to the Prague, Tallinn or Cyprus for example), I don’t think there is anything wrong with enjoying a touch of luxury from time to time and that is exactly what we got at the Grand Palladium and White Sands on Mexico’s Mayan Riviera. What I liked about the Grand Palladium resort was that it had been developed in an ecologically sound fashion where the advantages of providing local employment were balanced with protecting the environment. The coastline of the Mayan Riviera is mangrove swamp, which provides a natural barrier against hurricanes coming in from the Caribbean and these mangroves have been retained as part of the resort infrastructure.

Mangrove path

Mangrove path

Naturally some of the wildlife has had to be relocated or confined.

Myan dolphin? I don't think so

Mayan dolphin? I don’t think so

but many of the other creatures like the coati, iguana and agouti roam quite freely around the discreet villa blocks that fringe the central lagoon.

Basking Iguana

Basking Iguana

The lagoon teams with fish and trees are full of colourful birds. Down on the white coral sand beach we watched osprey and terns dive for prey, pelicans fishing and high above frigate birds soaring on the thermals.

Our apartment was luxurious with a huge wide-screen telly, a constantly restocked mini-bar, bath room with spa bath and a safe that was placed on an eye-level shelf in the wardrobe (hooray for that no lying on the floor to access our valuables). Getting around the resort was by golf cart, an erratically timetabled boat of on foot.

Eating opportunities were fantastic. We had the free range of a host of restaurants, like Rodizio, a Brazilian grill where grilled meats were carved off gigantic skewers at our table, we got to eat the whole farm, turkey, chicken, pork, two types of beef, lamb, rabbit, sausage and pineapple. Ok I know pineapples don’t run around going baa, but after so much meat it was very cleansing to the palette .

Rodizio - not for vegetarians

Rodizio – not for vegetarians

Other restaurants included: the pan-Asian Bamboo which did a nice line in beef teyiaki. Sumptori the Japanese restaurant had Teppanyaki tables, but we didn’t want to wait for that and contented ourselves with some very good sushi and a delicious beef soba that just melted in the mouth. El Dorado is a steak house that does a fantastic Fillet Mignon. Ribs and More is exactly what you’d expect, I thought the beef broth starter was great but the burger (and a good burger is my guilty pleasure) was a bit ordinary. the only real disappointment was La Adelita the Mexican restaurant, where although the food was nicely presented it was a little bland.

Lovely presentation - enchilada at La Adelita

Lovely presentation – enchilada at La Adelita

On our previous visit in 2009 we also tried Portofino, a very competent Italian and Mare Nostrum a pan Mediterranean restaurant which tried to be all things (Spanish, Greek, Moroccan, Italian) but didn’t quite pull it off successfully.

Then there were the bars. There are bars on the beaches, by the pools and in each of the four hotel lobbys. There is even one for cigar smokers called Churchill’s appropriately enough. All the bar men can knock up a decent Margarita, Martini, Cosmo or Manhattan. And of course the all-inclusive advantage, no big bar and restaurant tabs to spoil the end of your stay with a huge credit card bill.

While I agree that this is a fairly sanitised version of Mexico we still got out to visit the archeological site and a Mayan village at Coba. however I also noticed at several points along the highways police road blocks manned by seriously tooled up coppers, a stark reminder that Mexico is still wild, untamed and dangerous outside the perimetre of our luxury resort. Only today it isn’t so much banditos and revolutionaries, but drug cartels calling the shots.

Edinburgh – Sampling Deep Fried Black Pudding and the Kama Sutra

That got you going didn’t it? Read on and all will be explained.

Day two of our Edinburgh adventure and the Sun was shining as we set out from Dr Caligari’s in search of breakfast. Despite the promise of square Scottish sausage, No.1 High Street was still closed, so we decamped to the Circus Bistro (8 St Mary’s Street). This is a new venture by our friend at the Turkish restaurant Empires at No.24 St Mary’s Street, and very nice it is too. With a nice bright naturally lit interior the early morning food is fairly standard cafe fare, breakfasts, pastries, cakes and coffee etc, but of excellent quality and competitively priced. the omelettes are particularly good very light and fluffy. The evening menu is a bit more adventurous and unlike Empires it is licensed so you don’t have to bring your own booze. I suspect we might investigate further in the future.

The Dome wrapped up for Christmas

Lunch was a much grander affair as it was the daughter’s birthday. We trekked over to the neo-classical splendour of the Dome in the New Town (read more about the Dome and its history here) . Now in the lead up to Christmas you can’t make advance bookings so we got there nice and early so that we could enjoy the splendour of the Grill Room that used to be the banking hall.

The Grill Room, very seasonal

Having got there early we fell foul of Edinburgh’s prissy Sunday drinking laws and had to wait until 12.30 before we could get stuck into the celebratory cocktails, but at least it was pretty. The Christmas menu was pretty good too with some Scottish favourites like Haggis and Neeps and Mince and Tatties.

Deep fried Black Pudding

And this is where the Deep-fried Black Pudding comes in. This starter could have all gone horribly wrong,  but the pudding was crispy on the outside and soft and yielding within. On top a layer of sharp beetroot chutney, three balls of deep-fried white pudding and some weeds. The white pudding was really crisp and not at all fatty, which I had been a little worried about, but the combination was as near perfect as could possibly be. Can’t think of a better use for blood! Certainly better than letting sparkly vampires drink it

Dome Burger

I do like a good burger and my Dome Burger was just that. It was pretty substantial too! There was no way that was going into my mouth without some serious surgery to cut it down to size. Nick was forced into submission by the Mince and Tatties, ‘Good, but very rich’ was his opinion, but I can not offer an opinion on the ladies’ haggis, not my thing at all. The Dome’s cocktails are pretty good too and they have quite a kick. My Manhattan was made with white vermouth over red, hence it was a lovely graduated pink sinking towards the girly glace cherry at the bottom.

Considering we all had starters and mains, plus coffee and seven cocktails between the four of us I though the bill not unreasonable at around £150.

It was that evening we decided to try out the Kama Sutra. It wasn’t the first time either. Way back in the late 90s Mab and I had used the first generation Kama Sutra in Glasgow and found it to have a very imaginative menu. Now there is a branch in Edinburgh at 105-109 Lothian Road, about 20 minutes from Dr Caligari’s. We were soon settled inside out of the cold with a couple of ice-cold Cobras to warm us up.

Of course you can always have haggis pakora if you want to go local, but I started with pan-fried scallops with ginger and coriander, it was melt in the mouth heaven.

Pan fried scallops

Mab had the tandoori lamb chops, she let me try a bit, it was very tasty.

Tandoori Lamb Chops

For the mains I tried the Chicken Taka Tak, this was something I hadn’t tried before and I wasn’t disappointed, very tender chicken in a spicy tomato, ginger and chili sauce. Mab’s Masala Dosa was the perfect antidote to all the meat she had so far consumed over the weekend.

Masala Dosa

Just as well she hadn’t opted for the mountain of meat that was Nick’s Kebabi Khazani.

Kebabi Khazani

Just like the previous night we had over ordered a bit, forgetting that the daughter’s Biryani also came with rice, however the evening wasn’t over when the food was cleared away as our waiters snuck up with a chocolate pudding and a chorus of Happy Birthday for our birthday girl. What a nice gesture, we hadn’t told them, one of them must have just overhead us talking about it. So thank you very much boys!

Edinburgh’s Kama Sutra is every bit as good as the Glasgow parent. Our bill came to £108.45 for four including starters, mains, two lots of rice, two naans, three sides (Excellent Ajwani Bhindi it was too), four beers, two lassi and a bottle of Chilian Cabernet, but we got a walloping 20% off (£18.05) with the Kama Sutra discount card I had taken out from their website. We will certainly try it again.

Soho – Coffee, a Shot of Garlic and some Pastis

Having a child free weekend it was off to Soho on Saturday night for a bit of adult time.

After a bit of booze shopping at Gerry’s we had a mooch in the Algerian Coffee Stores (52 Old Comption Street). Established in 1887 this has to be one of the best smelling shops in London with 80 fragrant coffees and 120 different teas on sale. You can even get a coffee to go at a bargain £1 for an espresso, beats Starbucks into a cocked hat in my opinion.

Best Little Coffee Shop in London, the Algerian Coffee Stores

Shopping done it was time for a drink so we went to the French House in search of some pastis. It’s not a big boozer and the downstairs was absolutely rammed, but one of London’s best kept secrets is the new upstairs bar where the restaurant used to be.

View from the top, upstairs at the French House

Just like downstairs you can only have beer in halfs, but you can generally get somewhere to sit down. There are some pretty groovy prints on the purple painted walls, featuring some of the French’s illustrious former patrons, like Aleister Crowley, Robert Plant and Jimmy Page, which are available to purchase. We settled down at the bar and spent an hour or so chatting with the barmaid over a couple of Henri Bardouins, while waiting for Mr Wolfe to turn up. The French has an interesting history which you can read here

Our dinner date for the evening was at Garlic and Shots (14 Frith Street).

Garlic and Shots

We hadn’t eaten in Garlic and Shots for ages and some of the reviews I had seen on-line recently were pretty rough, but I suspect they must have been by people who hate heavy rock music and just don’t get the Swedish restaurant’s point. There are 50 shots on the menu and garlic comes with everything! It’s in the beer, the starters, main course and desert (garlic and honey ice cream is surprisingly good) . A round of garlic beers ordered we hit the menu. I ordered a crayfish starter which was delicious followed by the enormous garlic burger.

Garlic Burger

It was heavenly. We shared sides of baked whole heads of garlic and the most gigantic slabs of tasty garlic bread ever. I even forced down some of that legendary garlic ice cream. considering that there were four of us and we had three rounds of garlic beer, starters, mains, sides, water and desert I thought the final reckoning of £200 including service wasn’t bad.

London’s Brick Lane Market

It won’t come as any surprise to learn that Brick Lane was once a centre of brick manufacture in London’s east-end, thanks to the local deposits of brick clay. During the 17th century Huguenot weavers seeking refuge from Catholic persecution in France settled in the area. Then successive waves of Irish, Jewish and later Bengali immigrants followed the Huguenots, attracted by cheap rents and unskilled jobs in the ‘rag trade’. Today the area around Brick Lane is known as Banglatown and famed for its street market and many curry houses.

Brick Lane the heart of London’s Banglatown

With the benefit of hindsight I think we may have planned our visit the wrong way around when we arrived at Aldgate East Tube Station (District and Hammersmith and City Line).

Handsome London Transport roundel – Aldgate East Tube station

Taking a left up the Whitechapel High Street we passed the Whitechapel Art Gallery (handy hint its free to get in with nice clean free to pee loos) and these jolly Vampire carrots,

Vampire carrots – London street art

before making another left into Osborn Street. On 4 April 1888 the prostitute Emma Elizabeth Smith was killed in Osborn Street. Some people believe that she was the first victim of Jack the Ripper, although there is no hard evidence to link her death with the Ripper murders. Osborn Street leads into Brick Lane itself and you are soon surrounded by the tempting smells of fragrant spices and Bengali sweets wafting from the many Asian shops and restaurants. It was all too much, and after stocking up on bargain bags of spices (so much cheaper than our local supermarket), a bag of freshly cooked samosas from Madhubon (42 Brick Lane) were being devoured.

Freshly cooked samosas, too delicious to resist.

Almost every restaurant we passed seemed to be the proud owner of a ‘Best Curry in London’ award. Menus were perused, but it was a bit early in the day and the delightfully spiced and quite substantial samosas had taken the edge off our hunger.

Joseph Truman started brewing ale in Brick Lane in 1663, of course at the time beer was safer to drink than water. Truman’s Black Eagle Brewery was swallowed up by the brewing giant Grand Metropolitan in 1971 and ceased brewing in 1988 as the brewing giant attempted to force beer lovers to drink nasty keg beers like Watney’s (AKA Grotney’s) Red Barel. Recently the old brewery has undergone a bit of a renaissance,  as the buildings have been redeveloped into indoor market spaces to rival those of trendy Camden Lock.

Just some of the food on offer at the Old Brewery

Certainly the selection of food stalls offered an even wider choice than Camden, with Bengali, Chinese, Caribbean, Cuban, Ethiopian, Japanese, Mexican, Moroccan, Spanish, Thai,Tibetan, Turkish fast food joints all doing brisk trade. Thankfully I was still full of samosa so avoided having to make a choice. Aside from the food there were stalls selling new and vintage clothing, jewelry, antiques, prints and other craft items to the shabby-chic students, Guardianistas, tourists and sharp dressed young media darlings that make Brick Lane such a trendy place to hang out today.

Passing on through the bustling street market we came to Brick Lane’s legendary bagel bakeries, Although most of Brick Lane’s Jewish immigrants have moved on, Biegal Bake (59 Brick Lane) is still going strong. Open 24 hours a day, it’s London’s oldest bagel bakery and produces over 7000 bagels every day. Biegal Bake is famed for its hot salt beef bagels, they must be pretty good since people were queuing two deep inside the shop and out on to the pavement. We looked at the queue and decided that no matter how good they may be life was too short for standing in line.

By the time we’d reached the Shoreditch end of the market, we were starting to get hungry, however we were now at the wrong end of Brick Lane for the curry houses and my ankle was starting to hurt. Fortunately we were close to a part of London colonised by some later immigrants, the Vietnamese Boat People and it was a short walk,

Spiny Norman perhaps

passing some more great street art, including this imaginative locksmith’s door,

Locksmiths – Shoreditch

to Kingsland Road (AKA Pho Mile). I’d eaten in the Viet Hoa Cafe (70-72 Kingsland Road) before, so I was keen to share the experience with my fiends. They weren’t disappointed. I tried the chicken with pickled vegetables . The chicken was delightfully spicy while the crunchy pickles had just about the right amount of sourness. I also polished off Mab’s tasty Singapore noodles. With beer, tea and egg fried rice the damage only came to £57 for the three of us. A perfect end to a pleasant day out.

I think the next time we visit Brick Lane we might try navigating from the overground station at Shoreditch High Street and walk down Brick Lane to the tube at Aldgate East. Hopefully if we get there early we can have a salt beef bagel and a curry.

Meatdrunk

We have just had lunch ay Bodeans BBQ at Tower Hill, I had a massive Burnt End platter (the burnt ends of BBQ beef) which was delicious, but now I feel like this.

Sleepy Lioness Whipsnade.

Rhodes: The Valley of the Butterflies and the Island of Halki

Close to the village of Theologos on the western side of Rhodes is The Valley of the Butterflies.

Jersey Tiger

The butterflies are actually moths which in the UK are known as Jersey Tigers. The Jersey Tiger is quite widespread throughout Europe, but was until recently confined to the Channel Islands in the UK. Now there is even a breeding colony in South London. I suppose that’s global warming for you. In Rhodes the Tigers congregate in this particular river valley, where the humidity is just right for breeding.

Entrance to the Valley of the Butterflies

The moths are absolutely everywhere, covering the surfaces of trees and walkways.

Jersey Tigers everywhere

During this part of their life cycle they are dependant upon stored energy reserves from their time as a caterpillar as the adults have no digestive organs. As a consequence it is expressly forbidden to startle the moths into the air with hand claps or whistles as they need all the energy for breeding. Anyone caught doing that gets a €50 fine from the National Parks Service.

We visited the Valley of the Butterflies as part of a day trip that also took in the nearby island of Halki. Taking the ferry from the nearby port of Kamiros it’s about an hour from Rhodes. Halki (also called Chalki) is the smallest of the Dodecanese Islands with a population of just over 300. It used to be a centre of sponge fishing before the days of synthetic materials, but tourism is now the major earner.

Halki from the ferry

As you approach the island the influence of the Venetians and Genoese who ruled the island before the Ottoman Turks arrived in 1523 is immediately apparent in the architecture of the houses and church in the port of Emporio which is the only large settlement on the island. We had lunch at Maria’s, a dockside taverna where the baked aubergine (€6) was delicious, before heading into town to explore.

To be totally honest there isn’t really that much to see aside from The Traditional House of Chalki, which an enterprising widow set up after the death of her husband.

The Traditional House of Chalki

Within the house an eclectic collection of items is on display ranging from traditional furniture, ceramics and lace to an old car radio.

From the wind up gramophone to the knackered old car radio, just some of the eclectic items inside the Traditional House

In the beautifully tended garden there is a fine display of peppers, pomegranates and limes along with a vending machine that dispenses beer, chocolate and condoms, everything you could wish for a good night out!

I spent some time chatting with our knowledgable tour guide, John on the return journey. He’s an ex-pat Brit with a part Greek wife. Aside from the guiding he has written some books on Rhodes and has a blog called Ramblings from Rhodes. You will find a link to the blog on the right, go pay him a visit to find out some more about the island.

Back on the mainland we arrived back in Lindos just in time for a quick shower before dinner. That night we ate at the Kalypso, a delightful rooftop restaurant.

View from the rooftop at the Kalypso restaurant

I started with the Feta Sagnaki, Feta cheese wrapped in filo pastry basted with honey, followed by a lamb kebab in Feta and tomato sauce on pita which was exceptionally good. Our youngest travelling companion had the Greek burger which was so good that her father and I forced down every leftover scrap. With wine, water and coffee the bill came to only €90 for the four of us. Kalypso was the only restaurant we ate in twice during our stay (not counting beachside tavernas) on the island so it’s highly recommended.

The trip to the Valley of the Butterflies and Halki was booked through the Thomson Holidays website, cost £37.99.

The Rhodes to the Beach

By the time the donkeys woke us up on day three of our Lindos adventure we were ready for our first day at the beach.

Lindos Alarm Clock

The Old Town’s taxi donkeys are tethered all over the place so we passed a good few of them on the way to the death alley that passes for a road on the way down into Lindos. It was good to see that they do get regular days off where they can stand about looking disagreeable instead of grumping around town. Goats keep them company or perhaps it’s fairer to say steal from their feed buckets. The goats are more or less free to go where they please as it is up to local land owners to properly fence in anything that they don’t want the goats to eat.

Morning travellers

Lindos has two sandy bays down the hillside from the Old Town. The main bay has two stretches of beach connected by a rocky path and plenty of tavernas. Just around the headland is St Paul’s Bay where the apostle Paul arrived in antiquity to spoil all the pagan fun that was going on the island. We opted for the smaller of the two beaches in the main bay, hired some sunbeds and umbrellas which came with a complementary Lilo (€4 per person) and settled down for some serious relaxing.

Lunch was taken at the Skala Taverna. We ate here twice during our stay, as the menu had some interesting items that I hadn’t experienced before in Greece, like Spetsofai. This was a stew made with Greek village sausage, Feta cheese, tomatoes and onion. Quite nice but the sausage itself was a bit bland for my taste. I think if I was to make this at home I’d use a spicier one like a Spanish chorizo. Depending upon what we chose lunch usually came in at about €45 for four people with beer, water and coffee.

Orthodox Church Lindos

Hitting the trail back into town it was time for ice cream. Now there are a few ice cream parlours in Lindos, but the one we wanted to try was Gelo Blu. Gelo Blu is located within the courtyard of another old sea captain’s house deep within the old town’s winding lanes. The building is relatively new, dating back to 1911, just before the 1912 Italian-Turkish War where the Italians got to take Rhodes and the rest of the Dodecanese Islands away from the Turks.  It was worth searching out, the ice cream came in about 20 flavours and was absolutely delicious. For €3 you get two great big dollops.

Peach and Cookies ice cream at Gelo Blu

That evening took us to Caesar’s, a rooftop restaurant in the Old Town. I thought the menu a bit expensive (€102 for four including water and an indifferent wine.) while the portions were a bit stingy , but I suppose we were paying for the view.

View rendered unto Caesar’s