Rhodes: "€ 6.00"

November 3, 2009
Rhodes

Dear Family and Friends:

The Old Town of Rhodes is a pleasant place. The Old is now spiffy, with well-restored city walls, churches and mosques. There's the harbor of course where The Colossus once stood. And since most of the 1.7 million visitors -- mostly from Great Britain and Germany - had already departed, I shared the streets and plazas with just one small yet enthusiastic group of Israeli cruise passengers.

I looked for a cup of coffee but decided to avoid the tourist traps in the main square. I strolled up a street and spotted three Greek men sitting and smoking outside a small café. I figured I'd get a legitimate coffee and a fresh local pastry at a good price. Wrong! I chatted for a while and enjoyed my cappuccino and baklava. I called for the check. €6.00. Six Euros! $9.00 US! For a coffee and cake? How can the locals afford that? Can I? The Germans maybe...only 6 Euros. And the Brits...£5.38. But for me? 9 bucks? Almost 300 Thai Baht!

I guess I have been away from the West for too long. I know I am spoiled. But in a good way?

I recovered from my sticker shock, rinsed my sticky fingers and strolled back to the main square. What do I find? A reminder of the shock...and the horror...of just sixty-five years ago. A stone monument to the one thousand six hundred and four Greek-Jewish citizens who were deported from Rhodes by the Nazis. Way out here in the Eastern Mediterranean, on an island closer to Jerusalem than to Berlin, they hunted us.

Now in the 21st Century, on the beaches here in Rhodes, the Germans and the British, Americans, Israelis and Greeks (and maybe a few Scandinavian girls with only half a swim suit?) all of us share the sea and the sunshine and the sticky buns. Maybe 6 Euros, even at twice the price, is a fair price to pay after all.

Jan

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