Ok...so the journey of Greece started in Rhodes. We landed in Athens at night, so didn't really get to see the city much and our plane left for Rhodes about 5:30 in the a.m. We arrived early at our hotel, but our sweet receptionists, of whom we both became best friends with, told us we could leave our luggage with the hotel and go explore. We walked directly to the beach, where the wind was blowing wildly, but it wasn't super cold. I thought it was funny that most people in Rhodes were wearing heavy jackets, beanies and sometimes gloves. Stephanie and I were in heaven walking around in short sleeves and swimsuits. Sure, early in the morning, we sported long-sleeves, but all in all the weather was 70 degrees. That is like summertime for us!
The first place we went was Old Town, Rhodes. Old Town is a Medieval City and Castle of the Knights. Back in the day, the knights used to house aristocrats, nobility, etc. in this portion of the city which is only about one block away from the ocean. It was so cool to see how the Greeks have preserved and changed the city to still maintain the integrity of the space, but have cute little restaurants and stores along the small little alley's. This picture is of my favorite little space. I call it my Sleeping Beauty Castle. This was only the outer wall and wasn't even a room. It was a look-out tower.
I think my one of favorite things about this little city was the roads that were paved in rocks. It didn't even look like these people used cement, but there were roads and spaces near the insides of building that were decorated with smooth rocks that made crazy designs. In fact, when we visited Lindos, a little city that surrounds the Acroplis, most of the insides of their shops were paved with these rocks. These designs were everywhere. It has become such a trademark that they even sell tiles that have pictures of these designs. The picture to the left was in front of their historical library, where you can see texts inside of glass from almost 100 AD. It was pretty amazing.
So, jumping ahead, we had fantastic food and our hotel room was so cute! I loved the location of our hotel too. We weren't where all the other swanky hotels were, we were literallly 1 minute away from the beach, 5 minutes from New Town and 10 minutes from Old Town. It was perfect and not too crowded. Apparently during peak season, the town more than triples in size.
We were able to be in Rhodes for Oxi day, which is 'No Day,' the day of the National Anniversary of Greek Independence. Most know it as “Ohi Day” in honour of General Metaxa’s famous “Oxi!” (no!) as a refusal to Mussolini’s demand to occupy the country during World War II. I found this other website that has another description for Oxi Day, which is essentially a message from Archbishop Demetrios, which I found pretty interesting.
So, Stephanie and I were able to see a parade celebrating this day. While we watched, we talked with a woman who told us that during the year, there are about 60-80,000 residents of the whole island of Rhodes, but during the peak season (summertime) the town population increases by at least 200,000 people! She also explained to us the different groups that were participating in the parade. There were many dressed in traditional uniform, but then the rest of the parade consisted of school-age children in their classes. They were mostly 6th grade classes, but some had younger children. It was such a cool day!
That day we explored the New Town and then went back in to Old Town. I have pics saved on my other computer and will try to find out how to post them in a slideshow or something. So, anyway, in New Town we went to the lighthouse and the pier that used to have a statue of a 32 meter high bronze statue of Apollo, the Colloulus of Rhodes, standing at the harbour and boats could travel underneath the legs to enter the port. You can read all about the history of these places on this fantastic website: Explore Rhodes.
That night, we visited the Acropolis of Rhodes that had ruins of the Temple of Athena Polieus and Zeus Polieus, the Nymphaia, Ordeion, Temple of Pythian Apollo, Stoa building, Artemision and the Stadium. We stopped at a local ice cream shoppe, where apparently, I looked very Greek. Everyone spoke Greek to me and I pretended for a brief second that I understood them, followed by a "I'm sorry, I don't understand." I wish I knew how to say it in Greek...maybe I could have fooled them even more. Most every day, Stephanie and I went back to our hotel and rested. It was hard to wake up after an hour's nap...especially when we were out once we hit the pillow, but we got up that night and decided to go to this very swanky floating restaurant. Our meals came out and the portion was of such a size that we were able to order a delicious dessert at the end. See, in America, the portions are just too darn big...so I never have enough room for dessert. It was perfect. I felt ultra swanky too. Despite the 'tourist' outfit I was wearing, I tried to play it off by looking really cool!
The last day on Rhodes, we rented a car and went all over the island. Steph was a maniac (in a good way) behind the wheel. Move over Greekans! We first made a pit stop to lay out on the beach at Faliraki. The area was beautiful and totally beat the beaches in New Town. We laid out for two hours and even jumped in the semi-cold ocean. We had the place to ourselves. I can't even imagine how it would be to have more people there. It would almost be like visiting Mission Beach in San Diego...no room to sit, trying to surf and getting bumped in the head by people and boards and things. I kind of liked that it was just us and a couple others braving the cold ;)
Anyway, that is when we visited Lindos, where we had to wind our way through houses and shops in order to get to the Acroplis, which was built in the 3rd century by the Knights of St. John. We were able to see a renovation project that has taken years to get funding of at least 3 million dollars to renovate the medieval theatre constructed below the Temple of Athena. It was pretty amazing to see the reconstruction and renovation projects underway. Imagine digging up remains and constructing a similar pattern while making everything earthquake safe and vistor safe....what a project! I can't even imagine how many different organizations there are involved in it, but I am excited for the reunion tour of Greece (Stephanie and I decided we were going back in 2015). Maybe more will be done by then!
Then we took our journey around the island to see a couple different castles, the first being in Monolithos, where the castle overlooks the waterfront on the opposite side of where we beached. It was gorgeous. We then quickly hurried to the next castle, of which I can't remember the name. We made it there just in time for sunset. It was beautiful! The ruins left me wondering who in the world lived there and what room we stood in to watch the sunset...I always wonder. If only we had something like Dumbledore does in Harry Potter where we could see into different memories! That would be pretty awesome to know what went on... Anyway, after we made it back to the city of Rhodes on Rhodes...we explored new town at night. The night life was booming. The day before, because it was a holiday, everything was closed. So, we did the best we could before almost passing out from hunger and tiredness. We hit bed pretty early that night. Even the sounds of kereoke from the bar downstairs didn't keep us up. We were out!