Monthly Archives: July 2020

Rhodes

Map courtesy Pinterest
Rodos or Rhodes is the capital of the Dodecanese Islands, the farthest of the Greek islands from the mainland. It is a rather large island second only to Crete in size. It was an important centre in the 5th to 3rd centuries BC. It was part of Roman and Byzantine empires before being conquered by the Knights of St. John in 1310. Fringed by sandy beaches, with good hiking and lively nightlife, Rhodes attracts thousands of tourists in normal circumstance years. There is no connection between Rhodes the island and the Oxford University Rhodes Scholarship which was established through the will of Cecil John Rhodes.
Putting in to Rhodes Town
We had time to see the Acropolis of Rhodes, the Palace of the Grand Masters, the Street of Knights and wander the streets of the old town. The famous Colossus of Rhodes statue was one of the seven wonders of the ancient world but collapsed during an earthquake in 226 BC.. It is no longer visible however constructing a new one has been envisioned. Acro means highest, topmost, or farthest and polis means city. In ancient Greece, an acropolis was a settlement, especially a citadel built on a high hill with steep sides which provided a good defensive position. We toured around the site with our guide but after having seen Ephesus the day before, it was hard to hold our interest for long.

  • Friends Glenn and Betty

The Palace of the Grand Masters was the highlight. Founded by the Knights of St John also known as the Knights Hospitaller, the Knights of Rhodes and the Knights of Malta. This order was founded around 1099 in Jerusalem to provide care for poor or injured pilgrims coming to the Holy Land. It is named after St John the Baptist. The order was also present for pilgrims during the middle ages on Spain’s Camino de Santiago after taking over from the Knights Templar. Several organizations continue the Hospitaller tradition today such as the Sovereign Military Order of Malta. The Palace of the Grand Masters had been a fortress but became the knights administration centre and home of their Grand Master. It is one of the few examples of a gothic architecture in Greece. We enjoyed touring its insides and out and dreaming of the days of the chivalrous Knights and of their mysterious Grand Masters. Routed by the Ottoman Empire in 1522, eventually Italy took over their palace which served as a holiday home for Benito Mussolini. His name can be seen on a plaque inside. Italy transferred ownership of the Dodecanese Islands to Greece in 1948. Lots of fascinating history here under the dry warm sunshine. Next we sauntered down the Street of the Knights in the UNESCO World Heritage medieval town centre. Along this 640m long cobbled street, the Knights of St. John constructed 7 different inns in the early 16th century. These represented the 7 countries that the Knights had originated from. Each facade is decorated with emblems and details of the home country. Auberge de France is the most splendid example. These inns are still functional today.

It was soon time to head back to the Nautica. We had had another full day of sightseeing and were ready to relax over dinner and a drink.

Friends Lydia and Tony
The Oceania Nautica
The newly envisioned Colossus of Rhodes bids us goodbye.

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Ephesus

Resuming our Eastern Med voyage, nothing could prepare us for the glory that was to come in downtown Ephesus.

Before we get to that, a curious outcome, the Hagia Sophia Museum in Istanbul has just been reconverted to a Mosque. This is big news in Turkey as it is apparently being done to shore up political support for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Many do not think this a good idea. Living history for sure.

Our ship put into Kusadasi, Turkey on a perfect sunny day. We boarded a private tour bus for Ephesus, a 30 minute drive from the port. Yes Ephesus is the famous Greek city mentioned in the Bible many times in Saint Paul’s epistles. It was one of the ancient 7 churches of Asia and had come under Roman rule in 129 BC. The Christian Council of Ephesus was held there in the 5th century that confirmed the Nicene Creed and condemned Nestorius. Today it is a favorite tourist site. Its extensive antiquities are still being uncovered and lovingly restored.

Our first stop was the House of the Virgin Mary. While not formerly recognized yet by the Catholic Church as verifiably authentic, pilgrims visit the shrine based on the belief that Mary was taken there by St. John to live out the rest of her days after her son Jesus’ resurrection and ascension. As we were a group of Catholics, it was spiritually meaningful for us to visit this site and for each make a written prayerful wish and leave it on the wall with thousands of others.

We then continued on to Ephesus which was very crowded. What an experience it was strolling down the main street of a Roman formerly Greek ancient city. There were dozens of buildings and monuments in good to excellent condition. They are constantly uncovering and restoring more. We marveled at the facade of the Library of Celsus and chuckled when our guide pointed out a tunnel running under the street to the brothel. We tried out the open air public toilets for size. We sat ourselves down in the huge open theatre and could hear the echo of Saint Paul preaching. Even though it was very busy, it was a beautiful marvelously maintained historic place to visit, to experience and to ponder about its mysteries. We will not soon forget Ephesus.

Tired, we headed back to Kusadasi for some shopping which was pretty good. In fact it was so good Dave decided to by a ring for Marie. We picked out a nice one and the proprietor said to come back in an hour or so and it would be ready after it was polished and adjusted. So Marie went back on board the Nautica and Dave wondered around a bit and then went back to the store for the ring. Well it wasn’t ready yet…. Not to worry. Dave waited and waited and finally it did come after servicing.

But now Dave had only 10 minutes to get back to the ship before its scheduled departure. Sprinting like O.J. Simpson in the Miami airport to the Hertz counter, he hurtled plant stands, dodged street vendor wagons as he bee lined it for the dock. Running onto the dock, the crew were just about to winch up the gangway when they saw him coming. They cheered him on with “Come on, you can make it!” just like in the ad. At last he jumped up onto the gangway just in time. A little too close for comfort but in the end we were happily reunited in time for happy hour. It was such a great day! Lol!

To be continued.

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