"" Writer's Wanderings: Rhodes, Greece

Thursday, October 12, 2023

Rhodes, Greece

My hand touched the rough surface of the stone wall as I steadied myself to take a step up. For a moment I considered that physical connection with something hundreds of years old. We were in the old town of Rhodes, one of the largest islands of Greece and exploring the walled city in the morning before the temperatures would climb too high with the afternoon sun.

The town is famous for the Knights of Saint John of Jerusalem who ruled here between 1310 and 1522 but it dates back at least to the 4th century BC. From our first view after breakfast, I was hooked. Excited to get started on our exploration.

Right below us on the pier was already the ancient foundation of a part of this fascinating place. It was obviously being restored. Two windmills, minus their wings, were a part of whatever had been there. We had a look and then quickly made our way past the eager taxi drivers wanting to offer us tours and started along the boardwalk to the first gate in the wall nearest us. Within about ten minutes, we were inside and ready to begin.

We entered through the Gate Of The Virgin which is a modern opening in the wall to allow traffic to pass through. It was built somewhere around 1950 and takes its name from the Church Of The Virgin just inside. 

It didn't take long for me to say, "This reminds me of Avignon." Our three day visit there had been spent inside that walled city where we enjoyed exploring all the nooks and crannies and discovering so many things.

We decided to stay close to the wall as much as possible to make sure we made it all around the town. The area encompasses 140 acres so we were probably a little over optimistic about seeing the whole thing. 

Shopkeepers were just beginning to set up as they anticipated the traffic from three cruise ships and a large yacht that were in the port. The shops were all built into the structures of the old town, the old archways and probably homes from the period. There were newer structures as well including a mosque that was built a short distance from the old one.

The Street of the Knights was an interesting place. It is a long cobbled street that stretched to the acropolis, the high point of the city. Along the way there were inns that represented all the countries that the Knights were from. The street starts from the old hospital which is now an archeological museum.
Museums not being a high priority for us, we walked up the street.

We found the huge castle that is called the Palace of the Grand Master. There is some evidence that it was built on top of the temple that honored the god Helios and it is thought that the Colossus of Rhodes probably stood there.

Side alleys and small narrow streets were inviting and we explored many of them. So many inviting little cafes and restaurants. We found one that was outdoors in a square that was just in front of the old mosque that was closed and looked under construction for renovation. 

A young woman invited us to sit down and enjoy a beverage and some food. We accepted and ordered a tea and a Greek coffee. I wanted to try the coffee but was afraid it might be strong. When I asked, she said she would not make it too strong for me. Bob ordered a baklava and I ordered something similar called kaifiti which was heavenly. The Greek coffee was only half a cup and I was afraid it would taste like espresso but it was very good. The cool respite from walking and the refreshments were a wonderful addition to our morning.

Once we were out of the shaded comfort of the cafe, we could feel that the heat of the day was already beginning to build. We found a sign that said "to port" and went in that direction. The path took us into the middle of the town more and away from the wall that we had been following. 

It was okay. We had traced our way around the city through the maps that were posted frequently with the "you are here" arrows. We had actually made it most of the way around. Besides, the path took us through  and past some wonderful views of alleyways with hidden cafes and shops many of which had overhanging bougainvillea and ivy. 

I do need to mention that while there were few cars, maybe three or four that we saw on the narrow streets, there were lots of motorcycles mostly with Greek men, faces set sternly, trying to weave around pedestrians who usually parted and let them motor through. And, while the streets were mostly small cobblestones, many had a smoother stoned path down the middle which made walking and motorcycling a little easier. We had to laugh though when we found one street that had small speed bumps.

When we emerged onto the main street where we had first entered, it was bustling with tourists. The shops were all open and doing business and the cafes were full. We were thankful for our peaceful respite where we'd enjoyed our refreshments. 

Our morning could not have been more perfect unless it had been the first morning of several days to spend in Rhodes. I had fallen in love. I hoped we could return someday and explore more. 

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...