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New Newport News News: Rhodes edition

Ron and Carol love Rhodes.  We’ve been there twice now and would go again in a heartbeat.  Rhodes Town, where the famous Colossus once stood, was the church to whom Paul wrote the letter to the Colossians.  [get it?]  The Colossus was a statue of shaped bronze sheets over a wooden frame, like the Statue of Liberty [except the wooden frame; she has steel].  The Colossus collapsed in an earthquake early on and lay there for centuries, until the Turks melted him down for cannon.  But I digress.

            When you come into Rhodes Town on a cruise ship, you dock right at the defensive walls built when the Hospitallers left Cyprus in 1307+.  This is an amazing sight and photogenic as you look back at the ship.  There is a tiny beach in the “commercial harbor” which is littered with pottery.  This pottery could be ancient or broken yesterday; there is no way to tell.  I love to stroll this beach and scavenge, so that was our first stop. 

            We entered one of the large gates of the city [traffic whizzes around the harbor, outside the walls; inside is mostly pedestrians and motorbikes].  The 2-storey Hospital of the Knights has been converted into a museum.  Built around a large courtyard, with spacious rooms and vaulted cloisters, the historic building is itself in very good condition—amazing, considering the city fell to a Turkish siege. The collections on display were grave goods from all over the island, ranging in age from Neolithic to Classical Greek to Roman and Medieval.  There is something winsome and beautiful about the items people bury with their loved ones; honoring a life lived, however briefly, by including things of value, as we do today with jewelry, nice clothing or stuffed animals. 

            A courtyard on the upper level served as a coffee shop and the bathrooms were built into an elegant vaulted room.  The actual hospital was an enormous room on the second floor, facing the courtyard, with 3 ft square niches in the walls for the patients.  I’m not sure why they crammed them into the walls; maybe they were crammed throughout the room AND in the walls. 

            I don’t know about you, but our feet talk to us.  This all started with my grandmother, who named her feet [Rose & Violet, alphabetically], my mother [Pansy & Daisy] and me [Damask & Floribunda].  Maybe it all started with the poem

                        Moses supposes his toeses are roses.

                        But Moses supposes erroneously.

Then Ron named his feet [Bloomsbury & Hide Park].  After all this, our feet became sentient and complain constantly.  This seeming digression is to explain why our feet began to whine—we planned a walk across the bay / harbor, to the Aquarium and back through town through another gate. 

            We exited the walls of the city and strolled along the main road, aforementioned re:traffic.  Some of the sights:

·       One of those spas where fish nibble your feet to remove calluses

·       A Moslem cemetery, where the markers are topped with stone turbans

·       An antique boat selling sponges and shells

·       Carts selling charcoal grilled corn on the cob and shish-ke-bab

·       The bronze Buck and Doe statues which replaced the Colossus.

Ron dipped some Mediterranean water, in his never ending attempt to kill himself taste the waters of the world.  He proclaimed the Med to be salt water. 

            Walking past some private beaches, we rounded the bay and entered the Aquarium.  It is small but very nice, with a full storey underground, and gave us a chance to see native Med species, such as the murex [from whence came purple dye], octopus, and lobsters completely covered by the local “fouling community.”  [This delightful term is what sailors call the barnacles, weed, etc that foul boat bottoms.]  There was also a 2000 year old seal, which had been buried as carefully in a family graveyard as the dog.  This was found in a local excavation and led to the conclusion that the seal had been a beloved pet.  I want one.

            We turned inland, heading back toward old town, thinking we might have to eat and use wifi at the McD’s Ron found on the GPS, but we chanced upon ‘restaurant row’ and selected Kokkino, which means red [spelled cochineal in the sources I’m familiar with].  I try not to blather on about the food, but I had moussaka made with fresh eggplant and an almost custard consistency.  Ron’s gyro came with delightful French fries shaped like half tubes [picture miniature barrel vaults or roof tiles.  Go ahead, try].  Kokkino had free wifi and a wonderful dessert brownie with fresh strawberries.  The waiter taught us to say “KAH-low” for good.  He said the word for delicious, but agreed it was impossible for us to remember.

            Much refreshed, we continued back to old town, entering the gate and admiring the moat.  There are layers of walls, offset gates and defenses upon defenses.  Topnotch 14th century fortress.  There are 2 major cross streets in Rhodes Town lined with awning’d shops of great charm and crammed with [mostly] CTC

We stopped for refreshment at Stergios, where we had enjoyed hot tea and baklava when we visited Rhodes in Dec. 2009.  Now, cold drinks were in order.  We enjoyed browsing the shops, but bought very little and eventually got off the main streets to tiny streets, some of which were no more that 6’ wide.  I could touch the walls on either side.  Each was beautifully cobbled, and most had motorbikes parked about, as well as street cats.

            We passed excavations, the most remarkable of which was the Byzantine walls.  The builders [prob ca 400 AD] had used drums from Classical columns as rubble to fill between the facing stones of the wall.  Certainly a higher class of rubble than usual.  We rested in a tiny playground, sadly filthy with trash and cigarette butts, before heading back to the ship.  My scavenging beach was now full of sunbathers—tempting to stay—but I wanted a soak in the hot tub.  The ship’s pool was as warm as bathwater.  An extra benefit of all that soaking was that you cannot hear your feet scream when they are underwater.

N4 48 Med cruise 7 Rhodes edition

www.bucklesfamily.net for photos

www.carolbuckles.livejournal.com for my blog

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