Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Rodos, Greece

This is the island that is commonly known as "Rhodes" to westerners. I asked our excellent tour guide, Lefty, about the proper spelling for the island's name and he said that for pronunciation purposes, the name should be spelled "Rothos". Rodos is a very beautiful island and holds a significant place in history. It is where the "Colossus of Rhodes", a 100-foot statue of the sun god Helios, and one of the seven wonders of the ancient world once stood, and is also an island where the Apostle Paul's ship found a hiding place in a bay with an opening so narrow it looks like a lake from above.

The tour we chose was to the Acropolis of Lindos, which is undergoing restoration work. The top level is a temple to Athena. We learned that the supporting walls dated from medieval times, because when the Romans were destroying an area, they always destroyed the walls so the city would be unprotected. The restoration work incorporates original fragments with newly made pieces, so that columns, for example, would be complete. One could choose to ride a donkey from the meeting place, or walk up the stairs. We chose to walk, and enjoyed that. The ascent did not require a lot of physical effort, but the donkeys are better for those who are not real sure-footed.

There is a bazaar located between the Acropolis and the meeting place, which is very nice, and far more civilized than I would expect. It was more like a shopping district than anything else, and much of the path through it was roofed over with vines. The path, as well as the stores were mosaics of small river rock, done in white and black.

On the road to our next stop we encountered a small flock of goats wandering free. They acted as if they owned all of the land. We also saw many groves of olive trees, and it was clear that a large percentage of the trees were ancient.

Our tour next took us to the Bonis pottery, to see how Rhodian pottery is made. Pottery is a specialty of the island, passed down through families, and it used to be a dominant trade. Today, however, there are only eight families left who continue the pottery tradition. We were shown how the pottery is made, and how to tell original handmade pottery from fakes. Usually we are not happy about tours that have shopping stops, but this one was an exception. Not only was it very educational and informative, the products were also beautiful, and there was no pressure to buy.

The port at Rodos is beautiful. We saw a lot of ferry boat activity, but only one other cruise ship. The view from our cabin window of of a medieval city. I think it would be nice to see more of the island at a future date, and also to explore the city Rhodes, which we lacked the energy to do after finishing our tour.

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