Greece – Rhodes

The World Heritage walled city of Rhodes is an unforgettable sight. Even though we arrived late on a rainy night, sections of the wall were lit to produce a magical atmosphere. As we stepped in through the Marine Gate (one of 11 gates in the medieval Gothic walls), we were immediately lost within the labyrinth layout of this magnificent crusader city. The cobblestoned streets and narrow alleys enhanced our first impression of this picturesque city. We stayed at the lovely Evdokia Boutique Hotel, which was the perfect base to explore old Rhodes. Fortunately for us, our visit coincided with Independence Day and we were swept up in the city’s parade and celebrations….magnificent! After getting our fill of medieval Rhodes, we rented a car for a drive down to Lindos and its famous acropolis, stopping at monasteries and crusader castles along the way. This island of Rhodes is fantastic! We thoroughly enjoyed our short visit and would not hesitate for a return trip.

23 Mar: Touchdown in Rhodes Diagoras airport at 7pm…we were happy to be here after being stuck in the Athens airport for the majority of the day, especially considering that our original flight was supposed to have landed at 2:20pm. Taxi fare from the airport to Rhodes Town is supposed to be 22 Euro and the very first taxi driver quoted us the correct fare so we loaded up and hopped in for the 16km ride. Our boutique hotel, Evdokia, had suggested that we ask the taxi to drop us off at Socratous Str. The medieval walled city of Rhodes quickened our pulses as we approached in the dark…sections of the wall were lit up at night and created the perfect ambiance. We entered the city through the Marine Gate (in front of the commercial harbor) and were immediately enthralled. Old Rhodes definitely knows how to make a first impression! Thanks to Google Earth, we were able to easily find our hotel (Evdokia, 75 Evdoxou Street)…without it we definitely would have become hopelessly lost within Rhodes’ labyrinth streets. The downstairs door to Evdokia was propped open, and the owner, a super friendly guy named Savvas, welcomed us warmly. Evdokia Boutique hotel is smack dab in the center of old Rhodes, and it has been tastefully restored. The original building was erected in the 19th century, and strict building codes must be adhered to in the old city. As a result, the rooms are built around a shared lounge area. Savvas told us that since it was still off-season, there was only one other room that was currently occupied but basically we had the entire place to ourselves. Bob and Ann were shown to their room, and Savvas generously offered for them to take either (or both) of the twin rooms located adjacent to each other in case they wanted to sleep separately. Our room was a spacious double with a compact bathroom…throw in free wifi and Evdokia was the perfect choice for our 3 night stay. Savvas gave us a quick overview of Rhodes (and the rest of the island), provided a map, gave us insight as to the best places to eat and what to see/do, and told us where to be for the Independence Day parade in a few days. Since we were all craving a gyros for dinner, we asked Savvas where the best place within walking distance was and he recommended Augustinos, located outside the city walls. The restaurant was easy to find, packed with locals and we were happy campers in just a few minutes with massive gyros sandwiches served up with Alfa beer…perfect! The walk around Rhodes at night heightened our excitement at exploring the city; we longed for daylight hours so we could thoroughly check it out. Back at Evdokia, we discovered that our room no longer had power. After trying fruitlessly to call Savvas, we just crashed in the twin room adjacent to Bob/Ann. Thank goodness Savvas had offered up both rooms for them to use!

24 Mar: We had a full day to explore medieval Rhodes city. After having breakfast in the common lounge area, we packed a picnic and ran into Savvas as we headed out for the day. After telling him about the power outage in our original room, he said he would fix it and recommended that we move back into our room when we got back later that day. We deferred since it was no big deal to stay in a smaller room but he insisted, stating it would be no problem for him at all and he wanted to make sure we were comfortable. We climbed up Sokratous street (Old Rhodes’ “main” street) towards the pink domed Mosque of Süleyman. From there we should have cut to the right to visit the Palace of the Grand Masters, but since we really didn’t know where the main entrance was, we wandered about the labyrinth streets of the Knights’ Quarter (where most of Old Rhodes medieval historical sights are located), and admired the 12m thick city walls of the city. According to our guidebook, the Old Town of Rhodes is the oldest inhabited medieval town in Europe. Even though we were hopelessly disorientated, there were fantastic views of the city in every direction. Eventually, we made it back to the main entrance of the Palace of the Grand Masters (6 Euros each) and we were thrilled to find out that we were the first tourists of the day! Becky inquired if the wall-walk tour was offered in the off-season, and we were disappointed (but not surprised) to find out that the program is only run during the peak season (a 1 hour tour of the city’s walls on Tuesdays and Saturdays at 3 pm, entrance from the Palace of the Knights. The guided tour is the only way to get a very different perspective of the city’s defensive walls and moats from the vantage point of the knights tasked to defend Old Rhodes from attack). The 14th century Palace of the Knights is a medieval castle, occupying the highest spot in this city. It was previously a citadel of the Knights Hospitaller, functioning as a fortress, palace and headquarters. Today, it has been converted to a museum and is usually invaded by hordes of tourists. Imagine our luck to have the entire place to ourselves! Immediately after entering the palace we were staring in wonder at the Gothic arcades and the checkered courtyard. Marble statues erected in the portals stood guard in the courtyard. Afterwards, we climbed up the stairs to the second floor of the palace, easily imagining the grandeur of the palace in its heyday. Surprisingly, there was no one monitoring our visit and we had free reign of the palatial rooms, many of which had beautiful floor mosaics. We spent the greater part of an hour here, thoroughly enjoying our visit. Towards the very end, a large group of young school children on a field trip caught up to us, but that was it in terms of visitors. Off season is definitely the time to visit Rhodes! From the Palace of the Grand Masters, we strolled down Ippoton, more commonly known as the “Street of the Knights”. This 600m cobblestoned street was built over an ancient path leading in a straight line from the Acropolis of Rhodes to the port. In the 16th century, the street was bordered on both sides by the Inns of the Tongues (each nation had their own inn for their respective knights, and the inns were used as eating clubs, meeting halls, and temporary residences for visiting dignitaries). At the very end of Ippoton Street, we ran into the old Hospital of the Knights, one of Old Rhodes’ largest medieval buildings. Built in 1440 by the Grand Master d’Aubusson, and completed a mere 49 year later, the hospital today houses the city’s Archaeological Museum (6 Euros each). On the first level, we were greeted by a seated marble lion and large stone cannon balls built into pyramids. But the real gems were on the second floor of this excellent museum. From medieval tombstones to sarcophagi, countless sculptures, statues, figurines, coins, mosaics, and clay pots are strewn throughout. Notable standouts include the bathing Aphrodite, a 5th century grave stele of Krito and Timarista, and the 2nd century head of Helios. Utterly engrossed, the four of us spent hours doing our own thing before reuniting in the gardens next to the mosaic wall displays. There, we had a lunch picnic while soaking up the warm rays of sunshine. Fantastic morning so far! After lunch, we decided to head towards Mandraki Harbor, which used to serve as the city’s main harbor and has been in use since the 5th century! The Colossus of Rhodes (one of the seven wonders of the ancient world) once stood at the mouth of the harbor, but today statues of a male and female deer (Elafos & Elafina) greet arriving visitors. To get to Mandraki, we first strolled past three 14th century windmills (all that remains of the original 14 medieval windmills which used to grind wheat at the end of the pier). A squat, circular 15th century fortress of Saint Nicholas stands guard at the edge of the pier. It was closed due to renovations. Today, Mandraki Harbor is a marina full of luxury yachts, cruisers, hydrofoils and catamarans. Just across the harbor stands Evangelismos Church, the town’s cathedral. Built in the 1920s, this Italian built replica of Knights Church of St John in the Old Town dominates the harbor. Since we weren’t able to do the medieval wall tour, we opted to circumambulate the massive moat surrounding the city’s medieval walls. Only problem was, we didn’t know which point of access to enter from. A nearby tourist information office was quite helpful, providing a city map and showing us that we were just feet away from one of the access points. One of the staff also kindly looked up the phone number to our car rental (Marathon Rent-A-Car), since tomorrow was Independence Day and we weren’t sure what time to link up for our car. A quick phone call to Marathon confirmed that they would be closed tomorrow but open again at 9am the next day. One of the staff would drop the compact car off for us at Evdokia Hotel…brilliant! Meanwhile, Robby was having a mini-meltdown with his shoe. Frustrations mounted as he attempted to fix the inner lining and support structure…since this was his only pair, he had no choice but to make it work until he could buy some new shoes! The walk around the moat was fantastic…lots of photo opportunities and very impressive workmanship. Any invader considering an attack on the city would be a suicidal one, at least from our vantage point in the moat. Bob and Ann decided to call it quits by the time we reached the Gate of St. Athanasios, so we decided to split and continue on, walking until the moat ended close to the waterfront. From here, we walked around the outskirts of the wall by the harbor, entering back into the old city through the Marine Gate. The fountain square and Socrotous Street market area (Platea Ippokratous) was surprisingly devoid of tourists…we can imagine how crowded this will get in the height of tourist season! Wandering the city streets of Old Rhodes is a delight…we didn’t really know where we were going but felt confident we wouldn’t get too lost and turned around. We stumbled upon the remnants of “Our Lady of the Bourg”, a once magnificent Gothic church erected by the Knights in 1456 to protect them against the ever present threat of a Muslim invasion. A local on a motorcycle was maniacally zooming about a town square with a parrot perched on his shoulder. Once was funny, twice was slightly intriguing, but after a dozen times with his engine revved up as obnoxiously as possible…it was too much for some of the restaurant owners to bear and he took a vicious tongue lashing from an unhappy proprietor. We were done with our sightseeing, and decided to find some beer and radlers for a pre-dinner drink. Armed with our goodies, we head back to Evdokia only to find to our dismay that we didn’t have a key! In the room shuffle, we had neglected to grab a key and we hadn’t anticipated separating from Bob and Ann. Despite pounding on the door, ringing the hotel phone like crazy and standing on our tiptoes to get free wifi to send an SOS message, no one came to our rescue. After downing a beer and radler apiece, we decided to grab dinner when we heard footsteps pounding down the stairs. Bob had just happened to glance at his email and saw our increasingly desperate emails. Ann had heard the phone ringing off the hook but shrugged it off, never imagining in a million years that it was us frantically trying to gain entrance to the hotel! Our original room had power, so we quickly swapped rooms, grabbed a key and went back out for some dusk/sunset photos. For dinner, we headed to a nearby restaurant “Fotis Melathron” (aka the horseshoe restaurant) as it was mere feet away from our hotel and Savvas had recommended it. The food was tasty but very expensive! Bob and Ann shared a seafood platter for two while we had the grilled meat platter. Yummy but super expensive…in fact, this was our most expensive meal of the trip so far. While at dinner, Savvas called to inquire if we were ever let into the hotel (he finally got our email messages!). When we returned to the hotel, Savvas was there to greet us with some souma (similar to raki) and several bottles of wine. Both were excellent with Bob and Ann savoring the red wine. Great way to end our day in Rhodes!

25 Mar: Happy Greek Independence Day!! We slept in until 8am before getting up for breakfast. Savvas told us the best place to be for the Independence Day parade was in the New Town area by the harbor (near City Hall). We had seen the New Town area from our walk to Mandraki Harbor the day before, with the main street full of buildings erected during the Italian occupation. Hence the strong Italian influence on the architecture (Art Deco, Neoclassical), specifically seen at the City Hall, Post Office, National Theater, Governor’s Palace. A sizeable crowd was already gathering in the streets, and we hurriedly made our way over towards the City Hall to grab a good spot for the parade. It was lovely seeing so many locals dressed in traditional costumes as they celebrated Greek Independence Day! Greek flags galore were being waved in the air, and an aura of cheer and excitement filled the harbor front. The energy of the crowd was palpable, and the weather couldn’t have been more perfect. The wide variety of traditional Greek costumes caught our eye and everyone happily posed for photos. We took dozens of pre-parade photos before grabbing a spot by the roadside to wait for the start of the official ceremony. Scanning the crowd, it is evident that Greek pride is strong, from the young to the old. It was amazing seeing little kids proudly waving the Greek colors and the throngs of spectators forming up to watch the annual parade. What a huge turnout! Happy with our vantage points, we enjoyed the hour long parade as group after group proudly marched past. The first third of the parade were groups wearing traditional Greek outfits…beautiful colors and designs! The second third consisted of groups of school children dressed in their smart uniforms marching in unison, while the last third of the parade included military personnel. Overall, it was a fantastic parade and we felt so privileged to be able to witness the pride and joy exuded from everyone marching in the Independence Day event. Two thumbs up for Rhodes’ parade! Bob was invited to join a family’s post-parade BBQ, but we respectfully declined, not wanting to take advantage of their hospitality. Instead, we mingled with the revelers in the street before we finally decided to head back to Augustinos for their giant gyros platters. On our way there, we stumbled upon an open supermarket (well, technically it wasn’t open for business yet, but the owner who was doing inventory kindly invited us in). Here, we loaded up on some wine, beer, radlers and postcards. The wait staff at Augustinos was as friendly as ever, and they piled our plates high with food even though we really just wanted gyros sandwiches. The owner of the restaurant came out to personally greet us, and the meat carver from the previous night brought out a complimentary platter of chicken gyros, and our waiter served up a free dessert concoction of dough smothered in chocolate. The food was excellent and we left feeling completely stuffed. Bob and Ann were keen on heading back to the hotel, but we decided to keep on wandering, walking along the outside moat wall to get some unique views of Old Rhodes. Soccer fans were gearing up for a game at the stadium, and we could hear all the excitement from far away. Too bad we didn’t have tickets to the game…the energy of the crowd was fantastic. Instead, we stopped by a kiosk to pick up some drinks and decided to hike up to the acropolis of Rhodes on Monte Smith (St Stephen’s Hill). Located just above the New Town, there are actually a few remnants to check out, the 3rd century stadium, a small theater, and the remaining columns of the Temple of Pythian Apollo. Since access to the acropolis is free, we expected more visitors but the weather took a turn for the worse and it appeared we were the only two foolhardy souls out for a hike today. When the rain started coming down with some force, we sought refuge beneath a shady tree while we downed our drinks, waiting for the rain to relent a bit. The ruins of the acropolis are worth a cursory visit, but it didn’t take us long to explore so we returned back to the outer moat wall and continued on to the waterfront where we got some nice shots of Rhodes. Back at the hotel, we met Evdokia (Savvas’ wife) who was going to be doing an interview with a local reporter about her cake decorating business. She had brought by several samples and happily chatted us up while we waited for the reporter to arrive. Once the reporter arrived, we made ourselves scarce as we didn’t want to be in Evdokia’s way. Instead, we went up to the rooftop terrace for some amazing sunset photos overlooking the old town. Afterwards, we hung out in our room and had a couple of drinks before getting a knock on our door. Evdokia said that the reporter was keen to interview her American guests and would we mind answering some questions? Of course not, and we managed to get Bob and Ann in on the action too, ha ha. We felt a bit bad because it felt like we had hijacked Evdokia’s interview (it was supposed to be about her cake decorating business, not what a bunch of Americans thought of Greece and Rhodes). The reporter took tons of notes and we drank the night away, as Savvas had broken out the good wine again and was keeping us topped off. We were told to check for the newspaper on Friday (printable version), with an online edition coming out over the weekend, and to use google translate since the entire article would be in Greek…how awesome! Bob was particularly proud of his answer for the city to reconstruct the Colossus of Rhodes in order to lure visitors in 365 days a year. The hotel had one other guest arriving for the night, an older British traveler named Joe. He was greeted, shown to his room and invited to partake in the wine and chocolate cake…what a reception, ha. Once Savvas broke out the souma, we knew it wasn’t going to be an early night so we stayed up at chatted for a few hours, getting an offer to help us find a yacht for our future sailing cruise of the Greek Islands. Evdokia & Savvas are simply the best…wonderful hosts.

26 Mar: Goodbye beautiful old Rhodes and hello Lindos! Today we were finally leaving to explore the rest of the island. After a quick 7am breakfast, we were packed and ready to go by the time Savvas arrived. Becky settled the “bill”…we had prepaid back in November which is something Evdokia Hotel rarely does but Savvas looked back at his old records and found a receipt from several months ago, so everything was settled. At 9am sharp, our Marathon Rent-A-Car representative arrived with our car parked nearby. He took one look at our bags and sighed heavily…unsure if our compact vehicle would meet our needs (60 Euros for 2 days, all insurance included, no credit card details given with payment made in cash). Robby and Bob went with the biggest bags first to see what they could manage while we finished up some last minute packing. After thanking Savvas for his excellent hospitality and vowing to be in contact the next time we return to Rhodes, we reluctantly said goodbye. Squeezing all of our bags into a compact car was a logistical challenge but Bob and Robby were up for the task. Leaving the old city was a bit of a challenge with ongoing road work, detours, and one-way streets but we finally managed to successfully exit one of the nine pyles (main gates). A local market of fruits and vegetables just outside the walled city caught Bob and Ann’s eye, so we made a brief detour before driving onward towards Koskinou, our first stop of the day. Only 9km south of Rhodes town, we actually missed the turnoff for the traditional village so we had to continue on the main “highway” until Robby was able to do a U-turn. Our guidebook informed us that “Koskinou has been luring in camera toting tourists for years, with its traditional, neo-classical 19th century houses, many of which are painted in bright, primary colors. Most have exterior walls decorated with exquisite details in plaster or with elegant columns. An impressive portal, usually a heavy wooden door that is framed by a huge and imposing, carved stone arched surround, welcomes guests to the house.” We wandered Koskinou for a bit, admiring the architecture of the traditional houses and playing with the friendly dogs of the village. From Koskinou, we drove onward towards the coast, making our way to Kalithea Thermi, a circa 1929 Italian spa built right next to the sea. Our guidebook stated that the buildings look as if they could have been transplanted from Morocco, complete with mosaic-tiles, colonnades, and countless archways framing stunning sea views. Today, the baths are no longer in use, but visitors can visit the restored rotunda and use the facilities to swim at the nearby beach. The main dome was under renovation when we visited, but we got to check out the entire complex for free, so not a bad consolation prize. Next was a brief stop to check out Afoundou’s church tower, followed by a lunch break at Panagia Tsambika Monastery. While Bob and Ann set up our picnic, we decided to climb up the 298 clearly labeled steps to the top of the rocky promontory overlooking Rhodes’ eastern coast. Apparently on 8 September each year, female pilgrims with fertility issues will walk (or crawl on their hands and knees) from the main road up to the top of the monastery to pray for the chance of a child…no thanks! Just hiking up was enough for us, with fabulous views of the coast our reward once we reached the top. We were the only visitors to this remote monastery, and got to check out the interior of the original 17th century church and its fading frescoes. Just below us, the beautiful beach of Tsambika Bay beckoned, with its blue turquoise waters. Back at the parking lot, we enjoyed a relaxing lunch before the overly friendly goats of Tsambika came begging for food. The weather started to take a turn for the worse, so we continued on our journey to the village of Archangelos, where we had a brief stop at the ruins of the fortress. Here, we had commanding views over village but the rain started pelting us so we quickly abandoned our plans to explore Archangelos further. Instead, we drove directly to Lindos, our final destination of the day. Finding our lodging for the night, Chrysa Studios (35 Euros/night), was relatively easy. The rain started picking up, but we figured it was now or never to explore pretty Lindos so we dressed for the inclement weather and drove down to the town square (Ann’s knee was bothering her so we didn’t want to force her to hike down and back up to the apartments). Lindos is definitely the top tourist destination outside of Rhodes’ Old Town. It is a picturesque village located about 48km south of Rhodes Town, making it easy to explore the island’s top two sights. Our guidebook raved that “visiting the impossibly pretty village of Lindos with its dazzling white sugar-cube houses, dating back to the 15th century and virtually intact, climbing the hill overlooking a breathtakingly scenic bay to the cliff-top ruins of the magnificent ancient acropolis with the sanctuary of Athena Lindos, the highlight of the village, dating back to 4th century BC, literally feels like walking into a painting. It affords such glorious views that it’s no wonder that it is the most photographed village on the island. The inviting beach below, a delightful crescent of golden sand lapped by brilliant blue waters in a tranquil a horseshoe shaped bay, is a focus of millions of pictures.” If that description doesn’t make you chomp at the bit to explore Lindos, nothing else will! Down in the labyrinth old alleys of Lindos, we quickly got lost but it was nice to explore, rain and all. We checked out the one restaurant that was open (recommended by our apartment owner) but the prices were sky high as it obviously catered to tourists. None of us were keen on spending over 100 Euros for dinner, so we voted to drive around to find an open supermarket. Since it was now late afternoon, we worried that everything would be closed already but we did manage to backtrack and find a massive supermarket that was still open for business. Ann managed to score a whole leg of lamb which the butcher graciously chopped up (bargain priced at 18 Euros for over 3kg), and we threw in salad, cheese, wine, potatoes, mushrooms and dessert to round out our meal. Total bill was under 50 Euros…that’s more like it! Back at Chrysa Studios, we combined our kitchen utensils and cookery and managed to have one well stocked kitchen. Unfortunately, our hot plate tripped the power breaker and we were unable to fix it ourselves, so we had to call the owner on his cell to come check it out. He laughed when he realized that we were cooking up a feast, and suspected that our hot plate was dodgy so he swapped it out…problem resolved! Dinner was amazing, with Ann cooking the lamb and potatoes to perfection…yum. The neighborhood cats surrounded our apartment complex, looking for a handout. It was unbelievable how many of them appeared out of nowhere. Since our clothes smell of lamb, we decided to hand wash some laundry and take showers before calling it a night.

27 Mar: Lamb omelet for breakfast…yum! Unfortunately for us, the weather this morning was no improvement over yesterday but we were on a mission to check out Lindos’ Acropolis. Ann’s knee was still bothering her so she decided to skip out and Bob opted for a leisurely morning as well. So off we went, hiking down into quaint Lindos’ alleyways where we stumbled upon its ancient amphitheater before eventually finding the footpath leading up to the Acropolis. We read that the climb from the village to its famous Acropolis is steep and difficult, but honestly it was such a short and insignificant hike that we suspect the donkey taxi drivers must be writing those descriptions in order to scare tourists into renting a donkey for a ride! Rain threatened to downpour but we managed to make it to the ticket office without a drop of rain. Entrance to the Acropolis was a hefty 6 Euros each, and we were the first visitors of the day. The first thing we noticed was a relief stern of a warship carved into stone at the base of the staircase leading up to the castle. The impressive castle is the stuff of storybook dreams…it was so easy to visualize knights of yesteryear calling the imposing fortress home. Once through the portal, a heavy rain ensued. Bad timing on our part! Our consolation prize was a series of ancient monuments waiting to greet us despite the deteriorating weather conditions. These included the 342 BC columns of the Temple of Athena Lindia (built on the highest point of the rock of the Acropolis), as well as the propylaia stairway leading to a Hellenistic Stoa. The vistas from the Acropolis were second to none, despite the now serious onslaught of rain. There were fantastic views of Lindos Bay (to the north), a bird’s eye view of Lindos itself (to the west), and St Paul’s Bay (to the south). The rain was pummeling us relentlessly so we sought refuge inside the medieval headquarters building before it finally eased up for a bit, allowing us to finish our visit to the Acropolis. Back down in Lindos, we came across the town’s most interesting building, the Captain’s House Bar. The intricately carved stonework on the doorway (known as “pyliones”) lured us in, and a friendly owner gave us a brief rundown on the history of the famous building…it was well worth the purchase of a bottle of water for unlimited photo opportunities! The pebble flooring, known as “hohlaki”, consisted of black and white pebbles set into the ground in an eye-catching pattern. Two thumbs up for Captain’s House Bar…we felt lucky to have come across this hidden gem in Lindos as our guidebook hadn’t mentioned it. Bob and Ann had packed up and loaded the car by the time we reached Chrysa Studios. They were ready to start their day! We wanted to dry off a bit first before heading out, with Becky blow drying her soaking wet boots. Since we had prepaid, we left our room keys in the door and took off for the day. Our agenda was quite simple: to make our way over to Paradisi on the west coast of the island so that we would be right next to the airport for our ungodly 6:45 am flight. From Lindos, we drove towards Monolithos, making great time despite the inclement weather. The medieval fortress of Monolithos (named for the 750 foot monolith on which it is built) was an impregnable castle built by Grand Master d’Aubusson (of the Knights Hospitaller) in 1480. It was never conquered but is heavily ruined today. Inside the fortress stands the white church of Ag Panteleimon. The ramparts provide fine views overlooking the western coastline of Rhodes. We arrived just as another massive storm unleashed, dissuading Bob and Ann for a visit. Meanwhile, we braved the elements and were rewarded with a full soaking within seconds. The views were quite nice though…too bad the weather was utter crap. From Monolithos we backtracked to the mountain village of Siana, the highlight of which is its picturesque 19th century Saint Panteleimon Church, which dominates the center of the village. Torrential rain poured down…this was definitely the most powerful storm of the trip thus far. From Siana, we drove onward to our last stop of the day, the easily accessible 16th century Kritinia Castle (apparently the Knights Hospitaller loved their coastal castles to serve as lookout points, since there are quite a few castles dotted around the coastline of Rhodes). Since it was not too much of a climb from the parking lot, Bob and Ann joined us to explore the ruins of Kritinia. Built by the Knights of St John (originally on three levels), the castle ruins are definitely worth a wander. The rain continued unabated, and we were all ready to relax at our apartment in Paradisi. Thankfully, we had Google Maps as the GPS was super helpful in finding our apartment, the Old House. The owner, a pleasant older gentleman named Mike, was really friendly and super helpful. He urged us to park right outside the apartment to ease the offloading of our luggage, and offered to call Marathon Rent-A-Car to coordinate an early morning drop off at the airport (instead of tonight as we had originally arranged). He also went out to buy us two copies of the local newspaper as the interview in Rhodes was supposed to be published today…indeed, imagine our surprise when we made the front page of the news!!! His apartments were excellent, fully furnished with a full kitchen, washing machine, massive living room and spacious bedroom. Perfect for only 35 Euros a night! Old House was perfectly situated in the center of town…we were just a few minutes stroll from a massive supermarket where we bought dinner ingredients, wine and laundry detergent. The washing machines in both apartments got quite a workout as we wanted to wash all of our laundry while we had a chance. Dinner was tuna casserole (super yum) with salad, olives, cookies and ice cream…we sure were eating well in Greece thus far! Poor Robby thought it was a great idea to help Bob finish off two 1L bottles of wine (one white wine which was quite tasty and one red which should have been used for cooking, not drinking!)…they stayed up late telling stories and laughing until Robby stumbled back to our apartment at midnight. Of course dinner (and the wine) came up a short time later…no bueno! Everything went into the washing machine for a quick rinse since puke got everywhere. Becky ended up using an iron to dry everything out since the fan on full speed was not cutting it. What a night to remember.

28 Mar: Less than four hours of sleep on a hangover…Robby was in poor shape this morning as we got up early to pack and get to the airport. Thankfully Mike had arranged for our rental car drop off this morning instead of last night; he was such a life saver! We drove the short 1km distance to the airport and dropped Bob and Ann off at the check in area, returning the rental at the arrivals parking lot. Mike told us to hand the keys off to the parking attendant, and Marathon Rent-A-Car would pick up the keys later that day…too easy! Check in was a breeze, and before we knew it, we were on the 6:45 am flight to Athens and then onward to Santorini. Goodbye beautiful Rhodes; how we love thee!

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