27.06.2011 - 27.08.2011 38 °C
WOW! Rhodes is stunning! From the moment I stepped off the ferry I could feel the history! I was able to take a taxi from the port to my hotel and the taxi was able to drive through the Grand Master Palace, UNBELIVABLE! It reminds me so much of Italy, mainly because Italians controlled the island for much of the 19th and 20th century and many historic buildings were constructed by Italians. Rhodes has a unique island history apart from Greece. Rhodes was the last island to be officially a part of Greece in 1947. Rhodians have always kept to themselves and wanted nothing more than to be neutral and to have peace, something many countries took advantage of. It was desolately forced into many wars that ultimately had other countries rule over Rhodes.
Rhodes is famous for two things: the Colossal of Rhodes and The Knights of Saint John. The Colossal of Rhodes is one of seven of the Ancient World Wonders! The colossal was a statue dedicated to the sun god of Rhodes, Helios. It took 12 years to build! It was destroyed roughly 63BC (if memory serves me right) by an Earthquake, which made the statue break at the knees. About 90 years later, a Sultan came to Rhodes and took all that was left of the Colossal and had the statue melted into money that is now lost forever. Now the only thing that is left is the two deer that was on both sides of the statue at the entrance of the port. There is surprisingly no sign that says “Where the Colossal of Rhodes was” when I was first there, I didn’t know I was there. It wasn’t until the next day of when I went looking for it and asked for directions that I realized I had been there the night before. There is absolutely no trace of the statue from the human eye.
The Knights of Saint John came to Rhodes in order start a “refugee camp” after Rhodes had been through countless wars with Persia, Sparta, Egypt, and other countries. The Knights of Saint John was Rhodes savior in many ways. Firstly, they built a castle with 2 motes that enclosed the town with houses, restaurants, and other shops. Secondly, they built the Hospital of the Knights for the Rhodians of when (good) health care began (Note: this is the island Hippocrates was born and lived on). Thirdly, they brought deer to the island, which supposedly helped the island with the infestation of snakes and scorpions. Fourthly, they were able to help the Rhodians have a source of income by with the port and shipping goods such as: honey, pottery, and linens. Sadly, once the Ottoman Empire ruled over Rhodes, the Knights of Saint John left after putting up a long and hard fight. Shortly after, their means of income was destroyed as that it could no longer compete with other surrounding islands and countries.
It has taken many years, but finally Rhodes is a part of Greece and supporting itself once again by tourism.
I would like to have you know that I have travelled many countries and have always been able to navigate myself quite well. When I lived in Australia last summer, I could navigate myself around the country without a map. When I went to Europe for a few weeks one summer with my family, I was the one in charge of figuring out how to get to the next destination. I rarely, if ever get lost. This does not come from my mother’s side of the family, this is certain. However, Greece is a very different country that I get lost in every single day! I blame this on the lack of street signs and incorrectly drawn maps of the cities.
My first day in Rhodes, I arrived an hour and a half early before check out. So I left my luggage at the hotel and asked for directions to a fantastic pizzeria. They handed me a map and drew on the map of how to get there. No problem. It was a simple 10 minute walk.
Thirty minutes later….
I am at the Acropolis of Rhodes. I look at my map; I am getting close to the star on the map (my destination). So I decide to take a quick detour and explore the Acropolis and Stadium, only to find out that I do not have my memory card for my camera (therefore no pictures of this site). It was nice, but the Acropolis of Lindos was much better as I later find out. I decide to go back on my journey for pizza. I get back on the “main road” I notice on the map I can easily save myself a few minutes if I take a left instead of going straight for a little more. At this point it still has not occurred to me I am lost.
I take this little detour and see a man with a computer bag getting out of a nice car-I am in a good neighborhood, nothing to worry about. I follow him thinking he must be going to a café. Then I noticed the graffiti on the walls… then all the smashed windows in buildings…then a large group of men wearing bandannas. Just act casual, take this road up here on your right. I take a right. Shit! This is a dead end! Act casual, turn around! I begin to walk back and I notice 3 men are following me. Great! This is just what everyone was telling me to stay away from, they are going to kidnap me and sell me to slavery!!! Be cool Abby! You run 3 miles every day, you can out run them if necessary. I look back, yep they are still there. Okay, no worries just take this left and if they take the left then RUN! I take my left…they take a left…and I BOLT!
I then notice they go into the second house of that street…okay, so maybe I am a bit of a drama queen!
After an hour of walking around like a chicken of my head cut off and giving up on the bloody map, I find a Goody’s eat settle for BBQ burger. And manage to make my way back to the hotel.
God has totally surprised me and open so many opportunities for me on this trip (and has been protecting me as you can see)! I went to the Acropolis of Lindos, which is amazing! It was quite a hike up the mountain if you decide not to take a donkey but well worth it! My guidebook never mentioned their being an entrance fee for the Acropolis but unexpectedly the cashier asked if I was student. And that’s when I remembered my friend Mitch telling me one night to never throw away my student id-it always gets you at least 20% off somewhere. So after searching in nearly every compartment of my wallet, I find the thing. “Oh you are American?” Yeah can’t you tell by the accent?! “Yes, I am from North Carolina” “Ahh, you can go in free then we LOVE American students!” “Really?! Thank you!” And apparently, Greece really does love American students. Since then, I have used my student id at every historical site and I have either received half off or free admission. Talk about an investment! I have so much extra cash now for my trip that I never expected to have! Do you know how many ice creams I am able to get a day now?! =)
I have made some really good friends at my stay in Rhodes! Adam, is a rugby player and a tattoo artist that I met in the Paitia one day, he is beyond nice and protective of me in a “big brother” sort of way. At night, I would hang out with him and his friends around the tattoo shop on bar street and then have drinks later. He would always make fun of me because of how much I eat! He would always say, “You are so tiny but eat so damn much!” And yes he is correct, I eat A LOT!! Every 2 hours to be exact!
Constainapole is the most intriguing person I have ever met. He is only 26 and has a Master’s in teaching computer science, travels, and always tries new things. He made me realize that it doesn’t matter how bad you may be at something, it is always worth taking the chance to see if you enjoy something.
Also, I could never forget my rescuers Tony and Mary! One hot afternoon, I decided to go to the 7 springs of Rhodes. This is not easy in any way to get to! You must first take a bus from Rhodes to Kolympia. Then the 7 springs a 3km walk to the pathway off the road. Then you must hike up a mountain, only to walk down the other side, to the walk through a tunnel to get to. Adam told me once I get to Kolympia to get a taxi for about 5 Euros (he would have taken me but he was working). However, once I get to Kolympia, there were no taxis in this deserted town. So I start my walk, on my walk I find a restaurant to ask if I can call a taxi only to find out that it would be 30 Euros. He recommended hitch-hiking. Umm, I am an American girl by myself…I don’t know about this. But God sent me two Angels that day, Tony and Mary. These two people were so gracious enough to give a ride to the 7 springs and back, without harming me It was incredibly kind of these two strangers to give me ride in a foreign country, without anything but a thank you in return. Thank you, Tom and Mary!
I am now in Mykonos and my next blog will be very exciting, so stay tuned for the adventure!
Tony and Mary!
Where the Colossal of Rhodes was!
Acropolis of Lindos!