Trip Start Dec 27, 2012
Trip End Mar 26, 2013

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Flag of Greece  , Attica,
Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Surprise surprise, today we had an early wake up call and I wanted to murder whoever was on the other end of the line. We had our rushed breakfast and today we were all on the same tour so all of us piled onto the same tour bus once we had disembarked. The tour guide seemed really good but I was so sleepy and I think most of us dozed off and missed bits of the information we were being given. I definitely did as when I remember the discussion going from cavemen 6000 years ago to somewhere in the medieval period and I'm pretty sure stuff happened in between! Anyway it was about a 45min drive to our destination and we were going to the ancient acropolis of Lindos. This was (as you would expect) up on top of a hill/cliff and the modern town was sort of nestled down below in the bay. While I did miss loss I did hear that Rhodes is the 4th largest of the Greek islands and its big enough that locals do 'pack' the car to go from one side to the other even though it is only 80km long. The main city of the island is also called Rhodes and this is a really cool looking area. It's a bit like Dubrovnik, all enclosed in massive walls and it looks a bit like a castle. The reason this area and the Lindos acropolis look like this is because after the original cities were here in Ancient Greek times (800BC) but in the 1300s the knights of John the Baptist came here and changed and reinforced all the old structures. This group was made of priests and soldiers that came from Jerusalem and they travelled around setting up hospitals and spreading Christianity. They came here on the way to Europe and kind of accidentally stayed! They eventually left (for Malta) in the 1500s basically because they were sick of defending themselves against the Ottoman Turks but they never actually lost a battle here. So then the Greeks had Turks rather than knights living in their cities and they were eventually freed by Italy in the early 1900s and so today there are both Greek Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches here and lots of the older generations speed Greek and Italian. Going back to the Ancient Greek times (before the knights and the Persians and Alexander the Great) the Lindos acropolis had a temple to the goddess Athena, then there was a massive porch type building where the pilgrims could leave their offerings and a priest would deliver them to the actual temple. There was also a front building that was used for meetings and things. Even back in Ancient Greek times the area wasn't just a place of worship, the fortified walls meant it could be used for protection when pirates attacked and town meetings were held here. Right now back to the later history (sorry I have jumped around a bit!), the original buildings I have mentioned were damaged under Roman rule and when the Persians attacked Greece and also lots of the statues and offering were taken away so today we only see parts of the three Ancient Greek buildings that stood here and the walls built by the knights.

We had been told by Courtney that when we arrived at Lindos we could ride a donkey up to the acropolis but on the bus ride there the guide mentioned it would be a reasonably hard walk up and that donkeys could be used in summertime. We were all really disappointed because the donkey ride was something I really wanted to do. However when we got off the bus and started our trek there were donkeys at the bottom of the climb so Elysia, Alyssa, Aliesha and I climbed on. It was lots of fun and made the climb a lot easier on us but my donkey snacked on grass like the whole way up. The donkey handlers were good too as they stopped and took photos of all of us with the view behind us.

Once we got to the top we rejoined the rest of the tour group (who had to walk haha) and the first thing we saw was this awesome carving of a boat into the side of the cliff before you reached the walls surrounding the acropolis. This was a tribute to Athena and being as it was carved into the rock it could be destroyed or taken away! We listened to some more information on the layout of the site and then we had free time to see the acropolis, the views from the top of this hill and then to explore the modern town of Lindos. We took lots of photos of the still standing sections of the buildings and the view out over this gorgeous little beach called St Paul's Bay. Once we were done with sacred town we headed down to the actual town. Here we hit the shops and visited the beautiful Panagia Church. Every inch of the walls inside the church was covered in murals. It was beautiful! While we were there this priest left and it was really weird, he kissed about 6 of the pictures on the walls, the bible, the cross - so devoted. Wondering around the town was cool too as they had these patterned pebbles on the ground everywhere. They apparently keep everything cool and they were really cleverly designed.

After this we had a bus ride to a pottery place and on the way there the guide gave us information on the Greek people of today as he felt that this kind of information is how you really experience a country and the stuff you will remember. Honestly, the Greek lifestyle and their traditions are crazy, it's just like my Big Fat Greek Wedding. He told us at a small wedding there would be about 700 people at the ceremony, 300 at the reception. A big wedding; 1500 and 700. He said the wedding the goes for 3 days and there are all these weird traditions they have to follow. The cost of the wedding is split 3 ways between the grooms family, the brides family and the best men. Then at the wedding the guests pin money on the groom and that is used to pay everyone back. Also every daughter is given a dowry house by her parents when she gets married. Because everyone works flat out for the 8 months that its warm, the fathers spend the 4 months of winter every year building a house for their daughter/s. so they start as soon as the daughter is born so then by the time they are married the house is ready! As we were driving along we could see all these partly finished dowry houses. They other weird tradition he explained to us was in relation to naming your children. If you have a son he is named after the dads father, the first daughter is named after the mums mum and then the next two kids are named after the other grandparents. So you can't name a boy or girl what you want until you get to the third one. This ends up being very confusing when all the cousins have the same names. The pottery demonstration was very cool (and fairly similar to the one we went to after the Argolis tour) but everything was very expensive and breakable and so I waited on the bus after the demonstration.

Our next stop was the old town of Rhodes that I mentioned earlier. We entered the city walls and the first building we were shown was a palace that was actually rebuilt by the Italians about under Mussolini's rule. It was originally built by the knights but it was used to house all the ammunition and it blew up at some point in history. But they were able to rebuild it according to the original plans as they found them in one of the other buildings. However many of the old houses and things were the ones that were were built in the time of the knights. The other thing that the town of Rhodes is famous for is the Colossus statue. This was one of the seven wonders of the world but unfortunately it only stood for about hundred years before it was destroyed by an earthquake. The statue apparently stood in what is basically the middle of the town today but all the pictures show the statue straddling the water at the entrance to the port but this was simply how one artist depicted the statue yet everyone believes the rumour today! This part of the tour was pretty short and sweet really but wandering through the town was really nice. The old houses were so cute and the fact that people still live in them today is really cool.

After the tour we headed back to the ship and today the lunch was served on the deck which was nice. We had the whole afternoon on Rhodes and everyone had different plans about what they wanted to do. In the end Elysia, Alyssa, Victoria and I changed into thongs and packed our bathers just in case we wanted a swim and we headed back to shore. We spent probably an hour or so wandering around the old town and sort of enjoyed it more. We took lots of photos and went into all the tourist shops and then Alyssa and I walked out to the main beach that Courtney had shown us on our maps. It was a lovely walk the waterfront area was all really pretty but the beach itself was kind of crappy. It was all pebbles! Australia totally has the best beaches in the world. Alyssa and I did dip our feet in but it was a bit cold for an actual swim. After that we just enjoyed the sun and chatted before heading back to the boat.

When we returned to the boat we were all in rest mode and so we chilled out for awhile before we had to get all dressed up for the Captain cocktail party. Once we had reassembled as a group we went to meet the captain and this literally consisted of us lining up and having a photo with him. We then got free cocktails in the star shows lounge and Gavin hilariously upended the whole tray of drinks. The captain made a bit of a speech once everyone had had their photos and then we decided to quickly bail before the awkward rock and roll show started. We then headed up to the disco deck to what is now becoming 'our spot' for a few more drinks before bed :)
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