Knights of Old

Trip Start Oct 22, 2005
Trip End Ongoing

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Tuesday, August 8, 2006

Catching the long, boring ferry to Rhodes wasn't much fun. The ferry we had was pretty dated inside and didn't have many passengers, but it did break the monotony by stopping at Kassos, Karpathos and Halki along the way. Megan got a splitting headache and slept almost the entire nine hour trip, whereas Rick watched movies on the laptop.

When we pulled into the port of Rhodes we weren't greeted by a view the ancient Colossus (one of the seven wonders of the ancient world built to celebrate the end of the 305 BC siege, now long gone and now replaced by two columns supporting bronze deer (no idea why)), but instead by a local guy holding up a hostel sign in the crowd. As we had no accommodation booked and it was around 9.30PM we figured we could negotiate a room with him. Another couple also had the same idea, so all four of us followed him through the town, passed the masses of holiday makers out for a bit of shopping in the laneways of the Old Town of Rhodes. At the hostel we all ended up in a cosy four bed room. The couple, Becky and Dan, were on their university break and doing a bit of backpacking around Europe and the Greek Islands. As we were pretty stuffed we went out to organise a ferry to Turkey, grabbed a bite to eat that cost and arm and leg (you pay extra for music, bread and the "free" aperitifs they bring out that then appear on your bill) and went to bed. Unfortunately we were kept awake for most of the night, not by our dorm mates sleeping cosily next to us, but by the continual laughter of a woman in the courtyard below. Her loud cackle of a laugh should be banned, period.

The night before we had been convinced by the hostel owner that we must stay at least one day to really see what Rhodes has to offer. Getting up pretty early the pebbled streets were empty and we wandered around the Old Town by ourselves watching it come alive. There were women opening shops for the day and laying out their wares and others wandering down the narrow cobblestone lanes with fresh produce. You could almost close your eyes and go back in time to when Rhodes was occupied by the warrior monks the Knights of St John in 1309. They were ousted by the Ottoman Turks in 1522. The knights provided aid to pilgrims on their way to the holy lands during the crusades and they built all of the fortifications around the Old Town that are still in place today.

Wandering around the streets we started at the Eleftherias Gate near the old harbour. Walking along the shore we ended up at the moat of the Palace of Grand Masters. The Grand Master was the elected leader of the Knights of St John, the knights coming from the likes of English, French and German to name a few. The Palace was fully restored and refurbished by the Italians for Mussolini, even though he never visited Rhodes. We had to head back to the hostel so we walked down the Street of the Knights, where they used to reside. Back at the hostel to pay for another night, even though we did scour the Old Town looking for a cheap pension they all were either full, too expensive or wanted people for longer than one night. With that sorted Megan wanted to do a little bit of market browsing. As were heading the Turkey we figured we'd be able to get most things there and hopefully a lot cheaper than the inflated tourist prices. Afterwards we headed back to the port and walked to the old windmills and the Ayios Nikolaos Tower. Inside they had a free video showing when the Tower was built and what it was used for until the Knight's defeat in 1522.

As we were heading to Turkey we figured we'd better pack up our stuff. At the hostel Becky and Dan dropped in to read a book on Turkey we'd bought. We ended up chatting for ages with them and after saying good-bye, bumped into the around the corner at a really nice take away place. There a lady home cooked everything, including some Greek dishes that were not on the menu. With our tummies full and saying good-bye to Becky and Dan again, we headed back to the hostel for what we were hoping would be a quiet nights sleep.
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