Stepping off the plane into Rhodes, Greece was such a contrast to stern Berlin. We were warmly greeted by the man at the car rental place and he was thrilled at my attempts to speak a few words of Greek. Everyone here calls the girls “princess” and high fives them wherever we go. T is super shy about all the attention she is getting but after a few days in Greece, she has warmed up a bit to it.
Our accommodations are in the centre of the old town. We don’t really have an address that makes sense and we do not have a GPS. After circling the main city a few times and getting turned around, Derek enters the old town. The warren of narrow streets twist and turn, scraping the mirrors, I have no idea how people drive through these cobbled streets that look like they were made as walking paths. We find out later that only residents are permitted to drive in the old town. The host who meets us tells Derek that the “free parking” is anywhere outside the walls of the old town. We move the car and find that people have parked haphazardly anywhere they feel like. Derek hops a curb with the car and parks against the outside of the walls… We don’t get towed in the two days we park there, so obviously it was fine.
We settle in and then drive up into the mountains looking for the butterfly valley, on the way we stop in a tiny town where an old woman comes immediately out of her taverna before the car has even stopped. She beckons us into the restaurant and we are her only customers. Her son comes and takes our order and they bring us more food than we could possibly hope to eat. The woman sits at the table beside us and watches us take every bite, every once in a while she rattles off a stream of greek and smiles at us and nods. We speak words of appreciation of the food back and nod and smile, everyone is happy. We watch the cats cavort in the square as we eat. Arriving at the butterfly valley, we find nothing but locked gates and silence, so we continue down the mountainside. We find the next two places we stop to see ruins also closed, either because it’s too early in the season, or it’s Tuesday.
Animals are everywhere on Rhodes. Cats in the streets, in the tavernas, sleeping on walls, yowling at 4 am. The cats are everywhere, but they seem loved and well taken care of, even though they are stray. People have placed trays of cat food out all through the island. Down near the water there is a stand with a cat shelter and a collection box to provide money to feed the cats. T puts some money inside and stops to speak to every cat we see. Dogs, I’m not sure whether stray or not, wander the streets as well and lounge lazily in the squares we pass through. Dogs also awaken us with wild barking at midnight, 1 am, 2 am, 3 am… when the cats take over with their yowling and fighting. Goats are everywhere outside of the city, we see tiny goats, and great big goats with scary horns. The car rental guy told us that the car has dents in the roof because the last time it was taken out goats jumped on the roof!
The next day we drive around the island. We explore Lindos and the castle above Lindos. The streets are whitewashed, narrow and windy. The cats are everywhere here as well, to T’s delight! We dipped our toes in the sea, the kids wanted to swim, but it was a bit too cold for it today. We hoped to swim at the end of the island, but when we got there, we found that it was freezing and there was a ton of garbage washed up on the beaches. We have found all the beaches to be very dirty and full of washed up plastic. We also stopped at a tiny little castle in the middle of nowhere on the north side of the island. It was so peaceful to climb up to it near sunset and listen to the cow bells ringing in the valley below. We saw a sign near this castle that pointed down the road to get to a beach and caves, so we started down the road. The road soon turned unpaved, and then it turned into a road suitable for a jeep and not our tiny rental car, at this point we turned around as we didn’t want to get stuck… we never found the beach.
Our last day in Rhodes we explore the museums and old town before catching the ferry to Turkey.
Challenges we have found in Greece are mainly around saying no, and getting clarification. We had one restaurant experience where we got royally screwed because the man interrupted us looking at the menu, which had reasonable prices and said “I’ll make you a plate to share, a special plate!” Our mistake was not asking how much, because when the bill came it was a 60 euro plate! I just about died! The people are so friendly it is hard to say no, but if you don’t then you will end up paying for it. We had a few experiences where we should have been more firm but we weren’t. We are learning now, and it was good practice for what was coming up in Turkey! The kids are doing pretty ok considering how fast we have been moving and how little sleep we have had in the past few days. Z is really struggling, but we are working through it. T is fine other than when we go too long between eating, and her vomiting. We are going on a vomit every second night right about now, and can’t pin down what is causing it. T is loving the different languages and learning how to say different things in Greek and Turkish.
We are two days into Turkey now, will blog some of Turkey in the next day or two!