After two weeks of walking up to six hours a day through the south of France, my GENi sandals and I fly to Greece. These are my orthopedic sandals from the Australian boutique shoe company FRANKiE4, owned by podiatrists Caroline and Alan McCulloch. I always walk a lot while travelling, so good supportive footwear is a solid investment.
So here we are, walking Greece with FRANKiE4. We pound the pavements for many hours all over the centre of the Greek capital of Athens. My former hometown gets a lot of bad publicity with constant violence and protests over much-hated austerity measures. When there are no demonstrations, it’s pretty much business as usual and the Athens centre is very walkable. The historic areas of Plaka and Monastiraki are compact and well sign posted. On the first rainy of autumn, I notice people slipping on ancient marble steps, but my GENi sandals never falter. And their Greek goddess style look right at home. That’s my friends Janet and Deborah in the photo below, shopping for gifts that day. They are long-time Athenians and know the best places to shop.
On the southern Agean island of Rhodes, I climb over rocks in the bay of Kalithea, where waterfalls cascade into the pristine sea. My tour guide is Taste for Travel’s foodie writer Georgia Gerardis, and we loll around on sun beds, drink iced coffee and swim in the cool water. What a dreamy little place. Five stars!
Georgia also takes me to the Old Town which is one of the best preserved medieval towns in Europe. In 1988 it was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site. The capital town of Rhodes is situated in the northeast tip of the island and has a population of 11,000. For much of the year it has a massive daily influx of tourists, many from the cruise ships docked in the port right next to the medieval town with its distinctive walls, ramparts and fairytale castle architecture.
The Palace of the Grand Masters, reconstructed by the Italians in 1940 after it was demolished by a gunpowder explosion in 1856, stands out because of its imposing entrance and well built towers and battlements. The Old Town is a lot bigger than I thought, and it takes several hours to thoroughly window shop. The best buys are jewellery and carpets.
We drive to Lindos, the Santorini-style white and blue village about 50km from Rhodes town. It’s a steep and winding walk up to the village, which has sweeping views of a large bay, and is overshadowed by ancient ruins and medieval magnificance.
Pebbled floors are a distinctive feature of Rhodes, and decorate the Lindos cafe of Gel o Blu, which also displays the Turkish influence of banquettes – low-set couches which encourage you to sprawl for hours.
After I return to Athens, I walk some more but increasingly get into beach time. It’s autumn but the temperatures are still sizzling at around 30 degrees C. I take a 171 bus daily to Varkiza beach, about an hour southeast of the city centre, which costs just 1.20 euro. (Buy your ticket at a street kiosk, because they’re not sold on the buses. And there’s no guarantee the kiosk nearest to the bus stop will sell tickets either) It’s 5.50 euros for adult entry to the Plaz Varkiza beach and the lounge beds shaded by wide umbrellas are free Monday-Friday after the peak of the summer season. They’re usually 8 euros daily.
GENi do a bit of sunbathing while I swim in brilliantly clear water. For four weeks in Europe these are the only shoes I’ve worn except for one cold, windy day in Provence, and going out at night. I’ve thrashed them. One metal stud has fallen off and they’re a bit scuffed in a couple of places, but hey, they worked hard and we walked hard. Who knows where we’ll go next? GENi, you’re just magic.
More info: www.frankie4.com.au