I went on an Island Hopping trip with Contiki Holidays and it was absolutely amazing. The ferry rides were beautiful, we stayed three days on each island, Santorini (which you really ought to include in your itinerary!), Ios and Mykonos. Everything about Greece is stunning but if it's scenery you're looking for I really do recommend Santorini, there is nothing more beautiful than a Santorini sunset. Rent a jeep for the day and check out the beaches! Have an amazing time!
I visited Rhodos for the first time in 1955. There was the old town with the Crusaders Castle, some stalls, a quiet and impressive place. We drove along the seashore to the north, just a narrow road, a few scattered small huts between the road and the street, painted in nice pastel colors.
The second time I visited in 1986. The old town was much more touristy, though I couldn't find the same ceramics which I bought in 1955. When I wanted to see again the shore, it was hidden by endless modern hotel rows, it was very disapointing. The castle was impressive as before.
The third time we were on the Zeus Dodecanese cruise. There were so many tourists that it was hard to notice the locals.
There are endless tourist shops, but there are very many good products of individual artists, really special and different than in other Greek locations.
We visited Karpathos on our Dodecanese cruise. The island is very mountainous with pine forests, beautiful shoreline and beaches. We landed at Pigadia in the south, rented a car for a few hours, the farther north we drove, the narrower the roads got, soon there were only unpaved roads, not allowed with the car insurance. We saw only nature, I like to be high up on an island where I can see the sea on both sides. None of the tourist accommodations that I can see now on the websites.
Twenty years ago we stopped at the north point of the island with a regular ferry from Rhodos to Crete. There came on the boat local women in traditional dress with their baskets of produce and belongings, not a tourist show. I'm told that now everybody wears international T-shirts and pants.
Many want to see the unspoilt "real" places, and by visiting them they change them. We didn't change and bring modernity, because we didn't get there at all.
Simi is so different from all other islands. Different architecture, different ochre colors in place of the white cyclades and Astypalea. It gives a more elegant feeling. Except of the way along the bay, every place is reached by climbing many stairs. So there's a beautiful view.
At the nicest viewpoint there is - what else - greek coffee, where you can sit and rest from the climb, and watch those poor tourists pulling their suitcases up the stairs, and we know that their hotel is still higher up. Later we also see that there's a road winding up from the side, but nobody told that to the tourists. Now I think that if there hadn't been that hidden road, there would have been donkeys.
Higher and higher, we get to the church, this one white. There I missed a beautiful picture, because I was busy watching. But maybe you wouldn't be able to see anything anyway, it was a freshly whitewashed pavement with white flowers, and a completely white cat.
Astypalea is the most western of the Dodecanese islands, it belongs there officially but in character and architecture it is Cycladic. We were there on a cruise from Crete, and stayed there an extra day because of strong winds.
The island is dry, with a beautiful village uphill, under and around a Venetian fortress, a row of windmills at the entrance. The architecture is typical cycladic, very clean, all white and blue without any private initiative embelishments.
There are almost no tourists, the thing I liked most is that nobody tried to sell me amything, there are no souvenir shacks.
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