One of the more boring aspects of living in Turkey is having to renew visas every three months. This we do by popping over to the nearest Greek Island for the day and having a new visa stamped into our passports, by the Turks, on our return journey.
There is a great deal of history and lots to see in Rhodes. After all, the Colossus of Rhodes was one of the Seven Ancient Wonders of the world. This visit was going to be interesting. Cultural. Informative. Educational. My archaeological family heritage coupled with its zest for learning would be satisfied. Right? I hadn’t counted on the combined forces of Nate and Jamie with the brightest of beer glints in their eyes.
We had met Nate the night before with Mark. He’s over from New York for a couple of weeks working on a project that Mark’s currently undertaking. Suffice to say that the evening was such a success that he ended up sleeping on Esper overnight and decided to join us on our day trip to Greece. Although he didn’t actually sail with us we like to think of Nate as an honourable crew member (or a sleeping crew member). He gets a mention in the ‘Crew’ section of this website and is our first and only ‘honourable crew member’.
After a nice early start (none of us is a lark, by the way) we headed off. I’d been reasonably careful about not over-indulging the night before, but I don’t think the same can be said of the other two. Copious amounts of non-alcoholic liquid were consumed on the way across and a plan was hatched to go to the first ‘decent’ café/bar we could find in order to have some breakfast… and maybe a Bloody Mary. Not an auspicious start for my plan to show our American cousin some of the historical splendours Greece has to offer. Nevertheless, after a wait for Nate to clear passport control (being a Yank it took longer) we set off in the direction of the old town and the castle.
Unfortunately, so did the rest of the passengers on the catamaran.. and the entire contents of two neighbouring cruise ships.. and other assorted passenger ferries. We were soon in a crowd to rival Oxford Street at Christmas, all heading down the same tiny ancient cobbled streets, lined with shops selling the usual evil-eye-embroidered-polyester-cheap-leather-tat interspersed with locals trying to entice us into their dodgy ‘English Breakfast Served Here’ restaurants. Being three like-minded souls we took the first available turn off the main drag and found ourselves far enough away from the crowd to be able to hear each other speak. When we’d left most of humanity behind and the streets started to look a bit more decrepit we relaxed. We stumbled across a back-street bar with “the best views in the Ancient City of Rhodes”. It was a great spot, with comfy sofa-style seat areas and good music quietly playing under its bamboo and vine-covered rooftop. Naturally a handful of Germans had beaten us there, but it was a little bit of heaven. Quietly we drank coffee and fresh orange juice whilst taking in the scenery.
Next off, a zig and a zag across the Ancient City to our destination. This proved more difficult than we had imagined. Nate and I wanted to zag, but Jamie wanted to zig. As usual, Jamie was right. Finally we reached the castle – sort of. It proved to be much bigger than I had remembered from my previous trip (30 years ago with Mum) and more spread out. We decided to visit the Palace of the Grand Master, which looked the most impressive bit of the whole structure. “Right guys, the entry fee’s 6 Euros each.” I said. “Sounds like the price of 2 beers to me”, muttered Jamie. “I’m so glad you said that”, replied Nate. I went up to the barrier and had a look inside. I remembered it from last time, so lamely agreed that actually going inside wasn’t necessary. And that, Dear Reader, is the extent of our historical tour of Rhodes Town.
We passed the Hospital of the Knights, the ancient Temple of Aphrodite and numerous other treasures in our search for the perfect bar. We found a very nice one and sat at a table facing a girl in a yellow mini dress wearing white knickers (so I was told later). This had the boys enthralled. So began the rest of the trip. Eventually the need for solids set in and we asked the waitress to recommend a local restaurant. She sent us to Mandala, a short walk from the bar. No-one else was there. The food was generous, tasty and cheap. We sat outside under the bougainvillea and whilst J and N tucked into countless beers I drank my way through a half litre of Retsina (which Nate agreed, tasted like diesel). The owners are a Swedish Mother and daughter team who have been there for 9 years. They could not have been more charming. It is a great place to eat and apparently gets busy with the locals in the evening. I have a feeling Jamie and I will be back there next time…
We arrived back at Yacht Marine at around 6 and fell straight into the bar. Nate was whisked away by the powers-that-be to dinner with some VIPs involved in the boat project, which wasn’t fair. As he said later, a total waste of 4 hours of his life. We stayed on, drinking with Benn and Becs (Engineer and Steward, respectively, on the boat) and bumped into our old mate from Yat Lift, Dave, with his 3 lovely twenty-something daughters; Nate nearly cried when we told him about that the next day.
We rounded off the night by getting back to Esper on a bicycle/basket contraption provided by the marina. Jamie “rode” with me crouching in the large basket. Again we zigged and zagged, then flew down 4 steep steps onto the pontoon, carefully avoiding the slope especially designed for bikes, and narrowly escaping being dumped into the sea. We crashed. A kind Samaritan picked us up, dusted us off and took the contrivance back.
We find ourselves often depending on the kindness of strangers in the wee small hours.