Close to the village of Theologos on the western side of Rhodes is The Valley of the Butterflies.
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.
The moths are absolutely everywhere, covering the surfaces of trees and walkways.
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.
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.
Within the house an eclectic collection of items is on display ranging from traditional furniture, ceramics and lace to an old car radio.
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.
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.