We can’t come to Greece and not visit at least one island. Can we? Of course not. So, from Athens we jumped on a small plane and headed for the island of Rhodes, which is one of the Dodecanese islands (the furthest east group of Greek islands). We had contemplated taking a boat but when we learned that it would be an 18 hour ferry trip (and did we mention that Eva gets motion sick?), and would be almost twice the price, it was a no brainer.
Arriving in the evening, Heidi (our Airbnb host’s friend who helps her out) met us at one of the gates to the old town and led us in the dark through narrow, cobblestone streets to our lovely little house. She later took us to a great little pub, run by a Greek fellow who had spent many years in the United States. We happily dined on burgers and beer, while listening to some classic rock and roll. A superb night all round!
Over the next several days, we explored every little nook and cranny of this amazing town. It is not hard to see why the entire town was designated as a World Heritage Site – there is so much history contained within the 4 kilometres of walls.
In antiquity, the city was famous for the Colossus of Rhodes, considered one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. The Colossus was a statue of the Greek sun god, Helios, and was erected in 280 B.C. at the entrance to the port. It did not last very long, however, as it was destroyed in an earthquake in 226 B.C. Two small deer statutes now stand where many think the Colossus once would have stood.
More recently (but still about 700 years ago), Rhodes played an important role during the Crusades as the Knightly Order of St. John of Jerusalem established a military hospital there. The Order was organized into seven different groups, or ‘tongues’, each of which had a seat and an inn. So, as you walk down the Street of the Knights, you can see the different inns that were associated with each of these groups (i.e., there is the Tongue of Italy, the Tongue of France, the Tongue of Spain, etc.). For about 200 years the order occupied the town until it finally was besieged in 1522 by the Ottomans. At the top end of the Street of the Knights is the Palace of the Grandmaster which, despite the fact that it was almost devoid of furnishings, had some amazing floor mosaics. We poked around here one morning and pretty much had the place all to ourselves.
In fact, we pretty much had the entire town to ourselves…except for those days when we didn’t.
Along with exploring the Old City of Rhodes, we also took some time to discover the island. We rented a car one day and headed south to Lindos, a small village with a castle perched high above us on the hill. While we originally thought we might explore yet another castle, the lure of the water was too great to resist and so in we went. It was fantastic!!
After several days on Rhodes, we decided it was time to head to Turkey. So, we booked ferry tickets to cross to Marmaris, Turkey, only to find out the morning of our departure that the weather was too rough and the high-speed catamaran was cancelled. Fortunately, there was a slow boat to Kos (another Greek island that is even closer to Turkey) and so we got tickets for it instead. We spent a couple of pleasant days touring around Kos, home of Hippocrates – the father of modern medicine.
After two days in Kos, we caught a short ferry ride over to Bodrum, Turkey. As we were leaving the customs officer pointed out that we were three days over the maximum 90 day stay in Europe. We may not have overstayed our welcome, but we had overstayed our visa-free tourist status. Time to move on!!! Many thanks again to all the wonderful people who made our time in Greece magical.