The small town Greek island existence.
RHODES, Greece- Ialysos is the name of the town that I’m staying in on Rhodes. Like almost everywhere in Greece, it’s an ancient place with a history that toggles thousands of years. 10,000 people are said to live here, but there is no indication if this is the summer head count or that of the winter. There is a big difference.
March is the transition between the tourist season of the summer and the ghost town of the winter. The sun shines on most days, the fruit trees are in full bloom, the weather hovers around 60, but nobody is here yet. I like the Greek islands in the off season. The places just kind of shuts down as the visitors go home and many the locals go do something else somewhere else — there is little economic incentive for them to stay.
This leaves absolutely beautiful towns like Ialysos fair game for geographical scavengers like myself. I am not ashamed to say that I feast on countries that are in the middle of economic turmoil or are in the tourist off season. Prices go down, exchange rates tilt in my favor enabling me to get more for less — and my business and presence, I imagine, is more appreciated.
I can walk through the streets here and talk with the vendors getting their shops ready for the cruise ships that will be coming into port soon. The pace of life is overtly relaxed, the feeding frenzy has not yet begun. I am still just some guy walking around with a video camera asking questions, rather than money on legs. I like places that I can see in the raw.
Ialysos is something out of a book. Or, more precisely, it would make the perfect setting for such. It is a town in the traditional sense, and coming here is kind of like going back to another era. The main street is lined with small shops. There is a cobbler, a butcher, a baker, a general store, a few small newsstands, a shoe store, a tailor, a seamstress, a barber, along with a few restaurants that are all held together by an elegant historic church which sits in the town center.
Everything is run by the people who live here; there are no big brands.
The place seems removed from not only everywhere else on the planet but, in a way, from time itself.
We’ve only been here for a little over a week, but when we walk down the street we wave and say hi to a half dozen people. Everybody seems to know us. We eat down the street, shop at the corner store, and go to the local soccer games — which are really something special.
It’s the same old boring ass soccer — if viewing this sport for the first time an onlooker wouldn’t be a a fool to guess that the main objective is to keep the ball in bounds rather than to score goals. Every ten seconds someone was kicking the ball off the pitch but I believe there was one goal the entire match.
But I liked the competition — those guys on the field were beating the shit out of each other — and I liked the fans — they were going nuts, yelling and screaming — but the sport itself is something approaching awful for an American to watch. Where I come from, a sport where one of the main objectives is to roll around on the turf pretending to be hurt isn’t a sport at all — it’s an embarrassment.