Greek Trek 2017: Rhodes

Quietly, like a thief in the night, my chariot arrives at the port of Rhodes.  Rhodes is as famous as Patmos is obscure.  Everyone learns in elementary school about the 7 Wonders of the Ancient World.  The Colossus of Rhodes is amongst them.  While the Colossus no longer exists, the city of Rhodes on the island of Rhodes still thrives.  What many don’t know, even war movie aficionados, (unless you read the credits) is that you are seeing Rhodes when you watch the movie “The Guns of Navarone.”  Since no such island as Navarone exists, Rhodes became the backdrop and set for the movie.  (The studio planned to use the island of Cypress but political unrest on the island prompted the change to Rhodes.)

The island of Rhodes has a very long and interesting history.  Besides the famous Colossus, the island boasts a medieval old town and the second most visited Acropolis in Greece. (Only the Acropolis in Athens receives more visitors.)  The old town was built along with a mighty fortress and the Palace of the Grand Master by the Knights of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem. Rhodes was under their control from 1309 to 1523.  It came under Turkish rule with the Ottoman Empire taking possession of the island in 1523.  After World War 1 the Italians took possession of the island.  After World War 2 Greece took possession of the island and it has been under Greek rule since.

The tour I am taking leaves at 7:15 in the morning so it is early to rise to get breakfast and be ready for the tour.  Stefanos is our guide and is very informative.  Our first stop is the town of Lindos when the second most visited Acropolis is located.

When you leave the ship you are greeted with this beautiful sight.  (No tender ferrying you from the ship to the shore.)  That is the old city of Rhodes.  You board a bus and are swept off to Lindos.

Lindos has many narrow streets packed with shops.  But we are here for the Acropolis first.

This is the Lindos Acropolis seen from where the tour busses park.  Yes, you have to walk down a long, steep slope into the town before you can walk up to the Acropolis.

There are 2 ways to get to the top of the Acropolis.  One way is easy and I will show that later.  Or, as you can see, there is what I call the death march way: the stairs.  Yep, you guessed it.  I took the death march way following my tour guide.  What I am showing is the easy part at the base of the Acropolis after the long climb.  The stairs below this point are narrower and you can only move in 2 single files: one up and one down.  The single file up side is against a shear rock cliff and the single file down has no guard or hand rail and a straight drop!  There was no such thing as stopping to take a nice scenic picture during the climb.

You think you are at the top when you reach here but that is not the case.

You go up more stairs until you reach this nice shady spot.

This is our guide, Stefanos (I hope I spelled his name right).  He makes the climb every day during tourist season so he is fit and looks like he is out for a walk in the park.  I, on the other hand, was soaked in sweat and very worn out by the climb.  (God, am I that out of shape?!)  Most of the tourists on this climb were totally soaked with sweat as well.

This is the final staircase to the very top of the Acropolis. 

This is the complete scene of the final climb.  If the ruins in the foreground look familiar, it is because this site was used in the movie “The Guns of Navarone.”  Gregory Peck and company walked pass these columns.  It was a short scene but these are the columns.

I could have inserted a nice photo taken from where these people are standing but it would not show the scale of the site.  The site is truly magnificent.

The site also gives superb views of the bay.

And can see the pristine expanse of the beach below with rows of neatly arranged umbrellas.

The Greek government is trying to restore as much of the site as possible.

You are treated to a bird’s eye view of Lindos.  These nice, white buildings were not marred with graffiti. 

Lindos itself is interesting. Along the street to the Acropolis you pass a bar and grill.  (Note to self, stop by for an ice cold beer on the way down.)

And pass along narrow streets packed with shops.

An unusual offering of dresses, coffee and Nutella is made along the street at the crepe shop.

I said there was an easy way up to the Acropolis.  Here it is.  Yes, via donkey. 

For a mere 6€ you can ride to the top.  (The donkeys may be beasts of burden but they certainly don’t need to be burdened with my tubby little butt!)

As an aside, according to our guide, all the donkeys on the islands are American.  After WWII, the United States instituted the Marshal Plan to rebuild Europe.  All sorts of vehicles and rebuilding supplies poured into Europe.  However, the Greek islands had few usable roads that could accommodate trucks.  To get around this, hundreds of donkeys were sent from America to be used to transport material and equipment around the islands.  Once the rebuilding was done, the donkeys were left to the Greeks.  These donkeys thrived and bred.  Hence, all the donkeys are American.

The next and last stop on the tour is to the old city of Rhodes.  Our guide explains the maps that we will find around the old city.  He stated that you can get very lost without these maps.

We walked across this bridge that spanned a park to the gate ahead.

This beautiful park under the bridge was once the moat that protected the approaches to the city walls.  Picture this area covered with water.  It is quite a formidable barrier for any invader to overcome.

One of the ancient cannons still guards the entrance to the old city.

We funnel through one last gate to enter the old city.

Once inside the walls, the old city is a bustling place.

It never ceases to amaze me how quickly crowds can gather and then disperse.

The streets of the old town can be a bit hard on the feet.  Anyone with mobility problems will find this a challenge.

And in the summer it is so hot that any shade will do.

With one last look down an ancient street it is time to head back to the ship.  There are just two more stops: Crete and Santorini.  We head back to the ship for the all night cruise to Crete.

For more information on the sites used in Rhodes along with stills from the movie and how the site looks today, see the magazine After the Battle Issue #177.  The company offers many interesting books and magazines.

 

 

Copyright © 2018  John J Campo

 

 

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