Rhodes: "Now Is Finish The Season"
4 November 2009
Dear Family and Friends,
On the ferry from Marmaris to Rhodes, I met a delightful young couple so when we arrived at the port in the early evening, and since I didn't have a hotel reservation, I decided to tag along with them in their taxi to their hotel that was almost completely dark - no lights on in the windows, just like many other big resort hotels we passed along the shoreline.
Then my own light went on! "So that's why I couldn't make an Internet reservation." Everything's closed. Or about to close. That's why the hotel receptionist was aloof and cold and indifferent. "Now is finish the season," he proclaimed, with just a hint of disdain.
The taxi driver brought me back to town to a small hotel that was still open. But I was quite alone as I wandered the streets. Most hotels, restaurants, shops -- all dark.
How lucky I am! "Now is finish the season" means that the throngs, masses, hordes and hosts of beach-going vacationers are gone. How easy it is to rent a car -- one agency is open. (They accepted my Thai driving license.) How easy to drive around the island - the roads are empty. How easy to see the sights - they all welcome the few of us lucky visitors, including Kitty and Daniel, my travel companions for the day. (I met them at the agency so we shared a car.)
The Filerimos Monastery was built by the Byzantines in the Fifth Century. On the north coast of Rhodes, the monastery overlooks the Aegean and is a popular site for weddings and baptisms. A baptism was about to begin. We hinted slightly, but Kitty and Daniel and I didn't rate an invite.
Ancient Kamiros was built in 700 BCE. "Kamiros was one of the three large Doric cities of the island, which united with Ialyssos and Lindos in the 5th century B.C. to create the powerful city - state of Rhodes." * The ruins of temples, cisterns, storehouses and homes are spread out over the base of a hill and up the hillside. Is it my imagination or do the homes get bigger near the top where the view of the placid sea commanded higher prices?
Lunch was fresh fish at a seaside restaurant - Taverna New Kamiros.
The next day I am on my own for a circumnavigation of the island - down the east coast and then around the tip and up the west coast.
Kallithea Springs or Terme Calitea was known to the ancient Greeks for its restorative and medicinal spring waters. Without a hint of doubt, the brochure says, "The waters at Kallithea were suited for the treatment of conditions such as arthritis, skin conditions, obesity, diabetes, tropical diseases, dysentery, malaria, allergies, asthma, cystitis, diarrhea, and intestinal conditions." (If only a long drink could delay the onset of my next birthday!) "Now the season is finish" so it's only 'yours truly' wandering around the modern spa buildings and gardens while the workmen are storing the beach chairs and disassembling the patio awnings. www.kallitheasprings.gr
When we think "Greek Island," Lindos is what we imagine: narrow cobbled streets, whitewashed homes with brown wooden doors and black grillwork, shops selling fresh peaches, restaurants selling fresh squid. Dating back to the 10th Century BCE, the town sits on a spit of land jutting into the sea and was a major trading port of the Greeks and the Phoenicians. Looming high, high over the town, the Castle of the Knights of St John was built before 1317 on the foundations of older Byzantine fortifications that were built on Roman walls that were built on the Greek walls of the acropolis. At the base of the mountain there's even a Roman (or is it Greek?) theatre. **
On the west coast, 300 feet above the sea stands the ruins of Castel Monolithos built by the Venetians in 1480. I climbed the narrow, twisting rocky path, 300 feet to the top. "But it's not for the ruins or even the churches that you would embark on the strenuous climb to the top -- it's the breathtaking view from there that looks over the sea and the numerous islets off the western coast, the mountain of Akramytis and innumerable hills, as well as the village of Monolithos below." ***
Atop the Castel I met one family of three. At Lindos there were a few tour groups but at a coffee shop in a small square overlooking the sea, I met just two other young people hanging out. At Kallithea there was one other couple taking photos. And at Kamiros, besides Kitty and Daniel, there were maybe a dozen people wandering the ancient ruins. For all of us, "the season not finish." For travelers, for me, it's always "The Season."
όλες τις εποχές Ιανου
** My friend Mark Layton in Thailand works as a Second Assistant Director on feature films. Apparently, one of my photos of Lindos was of a narrow street that he said was used in one of his films. Do I have a new career as a Location Manager?