[Did you wonder why there were blanks and ???s in the original post? I was WiFi-less for 4+ days and have just realized I inadvertently ‘published’ my Rhodes draft. Wix needs to install a two-step ‘Publish’ function. Merde. I have since filled in the blanks and added a bit more info for your reading pleasure.]
July 1, 2019, Rhodes, Greece — To avoid a 19-hour ferry ride, we flew from Athens to Rhodes, in the Dodecanese, for our three-day/one concert side-trip. At the Athens airport:
Pythagoras Sat Here
Located in the South Aegean, Rhodes is the fourth largest island in Greece. The city at the north tip is also named Rhodes, plus there are 44 villages on the island. The city depends on tourism, the villages on agriculture... think olives, olive oil and wine.
Passepartout’s Rhodes Bureau opened for business...
... at our modern, high-rise, 5-star resort hotel, which looked across to the Anatolian coast of Turkey.
That evening we went on a walking tour of the medieval part of Rhodes, and it is wonderful — much like Malta. A UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1988, Rhodes was first inhabited around 4000 BCE and fortified in the 7th century during the Byzantine era. Fortifications were not only against enemy countries or city-states, but against pirates.
The Old City was constructed in the 12th century and 4,000 people live within its walls. I am tempted... though, like all the beautiful, historic places that appeal to me (like Malta), it is filled with tourists. The residents are allowed to drive their vehicles within or through the walls only twice a day, two hours in the a.m. and 2 hours in the p.m. If they extended those hours, they might reduce the number of tourists... just a thought.
Rhodes became famous in western Europe starting in the 13th century, when the Order of Knights of the Hospital of Saint John of Jerusalem was formed to minister to sick and wounded Crusaders. The order was also HQ’d in Jerusalem, Malta and Saint Petersburg. The Rhodes branch occupied this area for 213 years.
But ‘do no harm’ did not apply: these knights who performed charitable medical care were also warriors. Hailing from England, Germany, Italy, France, Provence, Auvergne, Aragon and Castille, they were referred to collectively as ‘the 8 tongues.’ These ‘hospitallers’ built a gorgeous city and amassed property and significant wealth from trade, since Rhodes is located at the crossroads of two major Mediterranean sea routes, the Aegean and the coast of the Middle East.
This is St. John over D’Amboise Gate, one of the main gates into the fully-walled medieval city.
The moat was never filled with water. Knights stood on the parapets and picked off the enemy as they crossed the lawn. The round stone balls on the lawn are ammunition for the enemies’ trebuchet catapults.
The Palace of the Grand Master of the Knights (above) is famous for its mosaic floors, which are in almost every room.
The dome of the Mosque of Suleiman and its minaret are visible from the palace.
The palace boasts two Murano chandeliers. Never have cared for Murano glass...
Another mosaic, this one of the Nine Muses.
The main courtyard of the Palace... remember this for later.
Along the Street of the Knights on our way to dinner.
In one of the squares... no, I can’t tell you what this building is.
I can tell you that this is dorado, and it was tasty. We all expected to eat a lot of fish in Greece. Instead we ate beef stew, sausage, chicken and moussaka.
These strays enjoyed the dorado, too. I had a conversation with one of the singers, a veterinarian, about To feed, or Not to feed strays. She said, they’re hungry — feed them. So I did.
The next day was music-centric... rehearsals plus our final concert of the tour, held in the open-air courtyard of the Grand Palace. This was our best attended concert — the courtyard was bursting. It helped that we were joined by two choirs, one mixed adults, the other teenage girls, from the Rhodes School of Music. And it was free.
I had a coughing fit so I snuck out of the back row and watched the final number from the back. All three choruses sang a medley of Greek folk songs with terrific accompaniment by piano, bass, guitar and the indispensable bouzouki, which is actually a Turkish instrument brought to Greece in the 1900s.
All the Greek people I had contact with were friendly, and most young people and some older people spoke English. An older Greek woman touched me on the arm after the concert to thank me for our performance. I assured her it was our pleasure...
To come: Last day on Rhodes — in the scorching heat. #