Athens to Istanbul & A Week In Egypt

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Rhodos - Lindos & The Knights City

The morning of April 5th took us to the picturesque city of Lindos on the island of Rhodos (Rhodes) via a quick walk through the old city and a stop at a porcelain manufacturer’s shop. Lindos is very pretty with its wide long beaches, steep cliffs and verdant hills. It is known for the Byzantine fortress on its acropolis as well as being an ideal beach vacation area. Most of its winding streets are just wide enough for a donkey, so there is no car traffic beyond the central square. It has a little gem of a church, the 15th Century Panaghia of Lindos, with superbly restored Byzantine walls and floor panels, an ark shaped ceiling, ornate umbo and censors. Lindos is a pleasant place to visit and some of the new beach hotels look like an ideal spot to just bask in the sun and do nothing for vacation.

Instead of returning to the ship for lunch, we asked the bus driver to drop us off at the Pili Eleftherias (Freedom Gate) entrance to the old city. The Knights Quarter is truly a wonder of Venetian architecture – giant buttresses, three moats and a large complex of hostelries. We had toured here before and loved it.

We went directly to the Palace of the Grand Master (the only main structure we had not visited before). A small admission fee allowed us into the Palace, built in the late 1100’s, to view its fabulous collection from the Order of the Hospitaliers or Knights of St. John (the Baptist) who came after the First Crusade and capture of Jerusalem by Western Europeans. The collection includes: massive wood furnishings, icons, sarcophagi, sculpture, oil paintings, coins, glass, stained glass, pottery, medical equipment, and incredible floor mosaics from the island of Kos dating from 5 AD. The structure is enormous and has tall vaulted ceilings, a long green marble stairway, arched doorways and windows. It spectacularly conjures up the reality of the Medieval period.

The Knights lived in the Collachium area at what is equivalent to inns. Many of these are open for visitors and sport the flags and emblems of their parent countries. Inside their gates are beautiful courtyards and gardens to be admired as one passes. A few have been converted to museum type shops, but the main district (to find shops and restaurants) is past the inns in the "burgus" where most public buildings used to be. Because we had stayed until the museum closed, we decided to take our time and drift back through the burgus towards the port. We browsed a few shops, picked up a fun selection of Greek seasoning blends, and stopped for a late "light" lunch at Romeo’s. They served a tasty tzaziki, a tomato and cucumber salad, and plate of tender and delicious grilled calamaris and octopus. We enjoyed a bottle of Rhodes premier wine, Chevalier de Rhodes. It is a hearty and vibrant red wine that has benefited from the loving care given to the grapes back in the 1300-1500’s by the French who planted them. We enjoyed the company of a tiny white cat who greatly appreciated the tidbits we offered to her. In Greece, the cats belong to everyone, and everyone tries to take good care of them.

A stroll through the Sea Gate along the quay, across from the great wall, brought us back to the ship for a brief siesta. We needed to rest before going to the Captain’s dinner and show. We enjoyed a perfectly prepared prime rib dinner accompanied with Hatzimichali wine. Considered the best red wine in all of Hellas, it is robust, refined and gorgeous. The band members played some music as the steward poured a round of champagne and the waiter brought us an anniversary cake for dessert. We finished the evening with Grand Marnier at the floorshow. It featured Leroy Shiff of Platters fame doing some great bop tunes.

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