Day 7: Crusades

Today we head to Greece! I’ve been wanting to see Rhodes for years, and now’s my chance. We’re up nice and early to be at the ferry dock by 8am, fed on cereal from our hotel and raring to go!

We know Kate and Damion who we met onboard Ros on our cruise will be also heading to Rhodes for the day so we’re hoping to run into them, and sure enough they get in line just 2 groups behind us to get their tickets. I have the sudden worry though, I left my cellphone back at the room and so I don’t actually have a copy of our visas with us, just in/out stamps. It’s already hot out but I’m running a couple of blocks back to our room for my phone. I really wish I hadn’t done the e-visa in retrospect. If our Turkish Airline representative had said nothing I’d instead of have a beautiful colored stamp in my passport and nothing more needed without having to spend any extra time than we did anyway. Maybe I can get one on our way back.

The ferry we’re on is a type I’ve never been on before, a hydro foiling ferry. I’ve heard they’re quite fast but never gotten to experience one myself, but I guess the waters are calm enough between Fethiye and Rhodes for its use. It’s hot inside and I can’t wait to get going. Kate and Damion are sitting next to us and we’re discussing passports. Damion lets me see his well-worn UK passport now with all of its metallic paint rubbed off filled with New Zealand work visas, and stamps from places like Ulaanbaatar. Kate’s New Zealand passport has the Kiwi Silver Fern design on it, a design that’s kind of become the national colors, a design I’ve heard is being debated to replace their union jack and Southern Cross design currently in use. The ferry pulls out of the dock very quietly and motors out at a good 15 knts. You can tell the boat isn’t designed to be off of its foils as it lists horribly when it turns thanks to a long narrow design with deep v-shaped hull. Once we’re a little ways out we slowly accelerate and rise out of the water on the foils, stabilizing. It’s a cool sensation as the boat gets calmer and smoother, and the horizon sinks a bit. The speed picks up, and the engine seems not much above idle, but we’re going at a decent speed. It doesn’t seem fast, but it seems effortless and efficient. We go to the back of the boat to a viewing deck that’s probably there for those who get sea sick and it’s clear at water level we’re going quite fast, and height making the speed deceptive. In my book all petroleum has been run out and they use huge hydro foiling trimaran “Clipper Ships” to transport goods, and I can’t help but think of them, and the latest breed of America’s Cup boats and their successors spending nearly their entire time on their foils. I dream of big open ocean sail boats using foils in rough weather, and wondering if it’s possible to engineer something like that, maybe not as efficient as an America’s cup boat, but perhaps stable enough for bad weather.

In 90 minutes I can see Rhodes looming, dry and tan in the sun. We only drop off of our foils as we come past the breakwater which flashes by quite quickly. We disembark and go through passport control gaining an EU stamp for Greece in all of its simplicity.

The first site of Rhodes is quite imposing and exciting. Large brown walls stand ahead, with some small buildings of the same material now occupied by rental services. Small port hole gates punctuate the walls every half mile or so and from one of these we enter into a bustling city filled with tourists. It’s like a Crusades Land at Disney! We split with Damion and Kate and head out towards the direction of the Archeological museum we plan to visit before a lunch break. We somehow overshoot though and end up at Süleiman’s Mosque. The mosque was built in celebration of the Ottomans finally taking the island, but since occupation has changed again it has fallen into disrepair and is currently closed. Well I can’t make it any longer for lunch so we pick an upscale restaurant and sit down with some nice fans on us.

Lunch is good but blander than I’d like. I make better souvlaki. And nothing is cheap, we end up with a $40+ bill for lunch!

We head down to the Museum now with our bearings, but they don’t take credit cards or anything but Euros. We look for a bank nearby and find two. You have to enter with these electrically controlled rooms where you press a button to open the exterior door, and once inside and the first closes the second can be opened after a 9 second wait. I barely fit through the doors with my camera bag with me. Neither bank though can exchange a $20 as they have a 7€ commission… frustrated we’re finally pointed to a money changed who gives us 14€ for our $20, not the best exchange rate, but we need 12€ for the museum, so enough and we’re finally into the museum.

The exhibits are pretty good, though not a lot I haven’t seen before, with little on life in the crusade era which is what makes Rhodes somewhat unique, and mostly just stuff from differently early Greek cultures like the Minoans and Mycenaeans. There are some interesting artifacts from crusader burials at least. We wander for a bit over an hour, enjoying the pretty gardens eventually running into Damion looking for Kate who has wondered off.

From the museum and its many interesting shapes and textures we headed outside of the wall to the tower of St. Nicholas at the mouth of the harbor. This stone cannonade still standing is being repaired and currently isn’t open much to visitors. Carrying on along the harbor wall we found where Colossus of Rhodes used to straddle a narrow harbor entrance. There is talk of building a new one based on historical notes, but currently on each side of the entrance bronze gazelle stand on tall pillars.

By now my scalp feels pretty sun burned, the city is hot hot hot, though still cooler than Fethiye. We head back to the wall, aiming to follow its exterior for a bit until the next gate. We find that from here we can enter the moat surrounding much of the city walls and cut in through there. It’s really interesting to see the walls from this perspective, though I’d like to see them from above. We find our way back into the city via the French quarter. By now we’re hot and thirsty and a bit tired. We look for a café that will take credit card, but none will, only cash or a 10€ minimum! Fine. We spend 1 of our last 2 euros for some water and look for how to get on the wall. The town is a maze like most old cities are, but we eventually find the entrance. 2€ each. Seriously?! We’re not exchanging more money for a few minute walk with less than an hour until we should be heading back to the dock.

We elect to just spend our remaining time wandering the old streets heading somewhat south east with no particular goal. We eventually wonder into the Jewish Quarter which now is quite untouristy and unassuming finding a nice quiet café under a tree that will take credit cards and has ice cream. We order a tea and lemonade and an ice cream each. They also have the first serviceable toilet I’ve seen all day. I feel like we’re a bit needier than we normally are, but everything is taken care of and we’re eventually on our way.

Tired of the tourists, the trouble with money, and the heat we slowly wind our way back towards the dock arriving 15 minutes early to sand in the wonderful breezeway outside passport control. A queue forms up behind us for some reason before we realize it thinking we’re in line to go through passport control. It’s kind of funny but eventually someone figures out we’re not forming a line and the whole queue starts moving through. Only a bit early, we pass through too getting our Greek exit stamps.

We wait in the shade and board the ferry as soon as we’re able to grab seats with AC and wait for Kate and Damion to hear how their day went and what they saw. We don’t have to wait long, and the ferry takes off on time, it’s quicker leaving Greece than Turkey.

The rider going back is much rougher than the way out, several times we seem to outrun waves and lose lift before catching a foil and getting lifted back up again, the result being a bit or tilting left and right. The twice we lose our lift completely and come splashing down pretty spectacularly. The boat slows and we come down off our foils. The captain then comes on over the intercom and says that due to rough weather we will no longer be able to cruise at high speed and that he was sorry for the inconvenience. Luckily we’ve made most the journey before now and after maybe 30 minutes of going slowly we get in the calm water behind an island and once again can pop up on the foils and cover ground more quickly all the way to Fethiye.

We’re kind of happy to be back in Turkey. Greece has gotten expensive, Rhodes is at least, and Rhodes is horribly touristy. If we were staying there I think we’d have left to go further down the coast to Lindos, but with just 1 day we did what we could. I’m still glad we went, but it wasn’t what I’d hoped for.

We’re all hungry and make plans to meet up at the fish market we’ve heard about. Kate and Damion need to visit the travel agent first to figure out their tickets for the next day and we need to hit up the laundry to get our clothes.

We beat them to the market by about 10 minutes and wonder around until they arrive. Damion isn’t feeling so great so he isn’t join us with the fish, so it’s just three of us. We find a nice set of sea bass and some calamari, but we aren’t able to haggle the price at all and give up. It would be so much easier with one person to haggle on price. The US-Germany world cup match is on and we find a table we can watch from. The waiter takes our order and gives me a dirty look when I just want water. What’s that! The fish turns out good and it’s a pleasant meal. We realize the sun is going down and take some cash from Kate and Damion as they rush off to the ruins. We say our good byes and then pay the check. The waiter is overtly rude and it frustrates me because he’s getting paid the same either way. We should have gone somewhere else.

We wonder ourselves back to our room to catch up on some stuff and shower before bed. I enjoy some tea while Jenn some coffee. My laptop won’t start and doesn’t seem to charge. It appears that the on button is stuck depressed and I have to use a knife to pry the button out. Crud. I’m not sure what I’ll do when I get home regarding this. I’ll try to just sleep and charge this thing without turning it off as best I can for now.

I feel like we’ve not been quite as good with our money as we could be, but that mostly comes from a couple bad choices for restaurants where we’ve had more expensive meals than we wanted. I don’t think given what I know I would have made different choices, this is just turning out to be a more expensive trip than I’d originally thought, and maybe not at the best of times for us.

Tomorrow we plan to hit up the archeological museum in Fethiye which specializes in Lycian artifacts before spending most of the day traveling to Pamukkale by bus, a trip that should take between 4-5 hours.

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