It was a shock to meet a family from our little town in California at our small pension (The Spot Hotel) in Old Town, Rhodes. We run into so few Americans on our travels, so it is always surprising to hear an American accent, thus it caught our ear when they said they were from California.
Lo and behold, they were a doctor and nurse who worked in our local hospital and had two beautiful teen age daughters with them. Mozart has a particular attraction to girls between the ages of sixteen and thirty (she seems to think of them as her peers and wants to “play” with them) so she was enthralled with the daughters and followed them around like a puppy. They had all just returned from a trip to Turkey and were on their way home, so it was pure luck that we should meet. There are not too many Americans that go to Turkey or Rhodes so it was a fun surprise to meet a family from our hometown.
When we got off the ferry upon arrival to Rhodes, we got talked into looking at another pension, mainly because it was a free ride to the Old Town, so we thought why not have a look. Sadly, it was horrendous and dirty, so then we were stuck in an out of the way part of town, in the heat, in a labyrinth of narrow streets with no names. By chance we were very close to one of the pensions mentioned in my book and we found this out by a kind man that we had flagged down from his moped zipping by and putting him on our cell phone with the pension owner who spoke Greek and English. Thus, like most of our mistakes in adventuring on whims, it all worked out well and is an entertaining memory.
“The Spot” pension was very clean, had good air condition and an (expensive) internet cafe, plus a great location, so we were pleased to make it home for a few days. The owner was a Greek who was born in Canada and grew up in New York City, so easy to talk to and highly aware of both cultures. He is a musician and had some amazing guitars in his collection.
We were captivated by the Old Town and enjoyed walking around just taking in the ambiance as it feels like a happy place in summer. It looked different than any other place that we have been and has some magnificent medieval buildings, plus the 15th-century Knight’s Hospital which is now the archeological museum. There were similarities to Carcassonne, France that we visited last fall, but for some reason we enjoyed this area much, much more and it was much less crowded here. Plus the harbor added so much too as it is hard to beat the castles and yacht combination with blue seas all around.
The Knights of St. John came to Rhodes in 1291 after fleeing Jerusalem under siege and established themselves as masters. The medieval fortification walls around the city are twelve meters thick and today just add to the fairy tale feel of the place. In 1522, Rhode City was attacked and taken over by the Ottoman Empire, so there are those influences as well. The Colossus of Rhodes (a giant statue of Apollo) was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World and speaks of the importance of this area in antiquity, but no longer exists as an earthquake toppled it long ago.
We enjoyed learning more about the history and Mozart was captivated by the knights and castle atmosphere. As dusk came and things cooled, the main square fills up with people in a lighthearted holiday mood. There are people at every restaurant calling you in and our first night we picked one right in the middle of the action with a seat overlooking it all from a high terrace. Later we strolled with our requisite ice cream like so many others near the main fountain.