Book Review: Rhodes- A Notebook by Richard Clark

rhodes-coverWhen I received the copy of Rhodes – A Notebook I was, again, intrigued, as I’ve also read Crete- A Notebook (early this year). Just like the book about Crete, Rhodes- A notebook certainly is not a travel guide. But will entice you to travel…

Written by Richard Clark, a journalist who has lived in Crete and traveled extensively between the Greek islands since the 1980s, the book takes the reader on a journey on the island of Rhodes – the largest of the Dodecanese-, with its hidden gems, and to near-by islands (such as Symi). In between his journey tales, Clark adds historical facts, info on mythology and about the Greek lifestyle, but without hurting the flow of the story.

Rhodes is on my bucket list – and I am actively planning to visit sooner rather than later. Clark’s book managed to make me even more interested in what makes Rhodes so special: “Unlike most of Greece and its islands, it is the Gothic architectural style brought here by the Knights Hospitaller for which Rhodes is perhaps most remembered.

I certainly enjoyed the parts about feta – and learned that “ the best time to eat the cheese is July, as feta bought straight from the barrel at this time will have been made from the milk of ewes which grazed on the best of the new spring herbs and grasses, imbuing the cheese with the scents and flavours of the hillside.” – , olive oil – which “poured on a seasoned salad, or bread dipped in oil and vinegar must be one of the most blissful ways of getting healthier” -, wine and honey. The part about street food – gyros and loukoumades – is also a mouth-watering experience, as in any line about the food in Rhodes. Having tasted some of these Greek delights I can only say that I got hungry only by reading the respective paragraphs.

Clark is also very good at highlighting what has happened in very popular touristy places like Faliraki : “The natural splendour of these places highlights the destructive influence of the incursion of generic US burger joints, fried chicken stores, faux pubs and cafes selling poor imitations of north European cuisine.” On the other hand, places like Katavia are so well hidden that it’s easy to miss them when you first go to Greece.

For those who have yet to enjoy a Christian holiday in a Christian country, Greece is the place to be for Easter. And Rhodes makes no exception. As in any Orthodox country, Easter is the most important holiday and Rhodes in spring is a delight.

The Epilogue talks about Greece’s financial situation and the reasons behind it (from Greeks’ problems with authority to how they prefer not to declare the entire income and so on). Having visited Athens in 2012 I cannot help but remember myself what I’ve seen in Athens (closed shops, homeless people…but also a very cheap city for visitors and the locals were welcoming).

Just like the book about Crete, the Rhodes-A Notebook contains a section comprising useful Greek phrases (no, you don’t need to know the alphabet). And also very useful is the section on the history of Rhodes and the Greek food.

And to get you even more hooked on Greece, there are also two extracts in the book: one from Crete-A Notebook and one from The Greek Islands – A Notebook.

I read the book like a novel, always waiting for the next thing to happen and hoping to find interesting bits of information I’ve never know about until now. And I wasn’t disappointed. But I was so hooked that it took me little to finish the book (all in all I can safely say 8 -10 hours).

I recommend the book for any person who has ever dreamed of visiting Greece and Rhodes in particular. I would even say that it’s a must read before planning a vacation because there are so many hidden gems in the book that it would be a shame to miss them when you get to Rhodes.

>>you can buy the printed book here and the Kindle version here.

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