Saturday, 3 September 2016

Rhodes, Santorini - the last of our Greek visit

Rhodes – We docked in the historic harbour (one of three) which is quite close to the ancient gateways leading into the old town. It is quite lovely and our guide today took us on a brief coach trip outside the city walls then returned to show us the Palace of the Grand Masters which had been built in the fifteenth century by the Knights of St John. Later some of it had been destroyed and it was rebuilt by Italians around the mid 1930s for the use of Mussolini. He died before he could visit it (and a good thing too!).

There were numerous children busking - usually playing and accordian and sometimes singing and mostly it was "Never on Sunday" or Zorba's Song (from Zorba the Greek).

The weather still hot and sticky but thankfully with a cool breeze always there to cool us, we were invited to visit yet another museum. This time we decided to sit out in the shade of a tree in a nearby café with cool drinks and wait. Good choice we thought.

Before returning to the ship we had some free time so browsed the many small quality craft shops lining very old paved alleyways and always nearby some very ancient buildings to remind us of the centuries of history around us.

Rhodes is a lovely place – one we’d be very happy to return to some time.

Next day was Santorini - another much looked forward to island.  We sailed into the caldera – the centre of an extinct volcano - very early in the morning and anchored in the only spot in this very deep harbour that the anchors could reach (top of a submerged ‘island’).

We were taken ashore in tenders and from there to coaches which took the very steep zig-zag road to the clifftop.

As you’d imagine there were quite spectacular views and even more when we reached the small, very high villages where it seemed they were perched side by side on the crest of the old volcano, some almost seemed to be slipping down the sides.

A few narrow little streets were the only places where vehicles could reach and most were like alleyways only for walking – or donkeys which are still used today to transport goods and brave riders up and down the steep alleys in the middle of towns. Again the countryside was very dry and rocky but vineyards were plentiful and here they are grown quite differently. Vines are left to grow in a mound on the ground rather than trained up wires, the reasoning being that the spread of the vine mound keeps the soil beneath shaded from the hot sun and aids water retention. A visit to a winery for some tastings and with such really nice wine and very cheap, we took a couple of bottles back to the ship.

Our time in Greece ended with Santorini with a 'sea' day and a bit of relaxation as we sailed into Italian waters.

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