Horsemen, Pink Pelicans and Other Beasts
is Colossus day. Prepare thyself for Rhodes
James Skinner Has
Been Cruising The Med for the last five months - it seems- finally he
reaches the Greek Islands
Turkey, hello Greece! bleared Captain Stathis Romeos over
the loudspeaker as we departed Kusadasi. Weve some calm
weather and sunshine ahead. I wish you pleasure for the remainder
of your journey through the Aegean Sea, he added. He no sooner
spoke than it started to rain!
Enter the second half of the cruise. We were to visit, from now
on and at a marathon pace a small fragment of the variety of Greek
islands, thus offering all us mortals aboard a mixture of mythical,
historical and physical peculiarities in tune with the picture postcard
glossies on display in any modern travel agency. Nevertheless, island
hoping from a floating gin palace sounded exiting enough to oil
the geriatric joints ready for action.
Photo© Tony Brown
First stop Patmos, a two by four paradisiacal rock forming part of the
Dodecanese archipelago. As we disembarked and found our island feet, Florencia
began her sermon. This is the place where St. John sat in a cave
and wrote the book of Revelation. There is fortress come monastery built
in the centre of Chora, the capital as a monument to the famous Theologian,
Ah! I remember, I whispered to my wife. Wasnt
that Glenn Ford chasing four horsemen wielding sickles who were shouting
something about the Apocalypse and the end of the world? Hum?
The possible return of Christ fighting the anti-Christ, she
corrected me. I shut up. We continued our visit to the famous monastery
that, as Florencia pointed out, contained one of the greatest and most
priceless libraries in the world, dating back to the 6th century. I thought:
you learn something new everyday!
Our next port of call, after a brief snack on board was the famous island
of Mykonos. By now, the early morning drizzle had turned into torrential
rain as mini hurricane winds literally blew us onto the wharf. By the
time wed walked the mile or so to the town, we felt in tune with
the local fishermen who were sorting out their small craft ready for their
daily chore. The difference was that they were prepared! Despite the weather,
one could see through invisible windscreen wipers why this place was considered
a paradise. The white washed impeccable windmills and houses, winding
narrow streets, miniature shops and sidewalk cafes were better than anything
described in the text books. Even Fulgencio suggested that we forget the
history and enjoy the scenery. As we huddled under a protecting canopy
to sip our thick Greek coffees I suddenly froze as I looked across to
the other side of street. I stared at, not pink elephants but pink pelicans!
What the hell
I snorted as Fulgencia opened her book
and calmly gestured with her professors hand. There lies the
true fame of Mykonos; Petros, the pink pelicans. If you say
so, I thought.
The evening following the departure from our ice cream cake island was
yet another surprise. After finishing a specially prepared Greek dinner,
our cruise director insisted that we continue to enjoy the evening by
watching a display of Greek dancing, but, as he said, with a difference!
And how! Most of you who have ever seen Greek dancing know that you either
do it alone, Anthony Quinn style, or all join together, at arms length
and circle round the floor to the tune of a few off key musicians playing
odd ball string instruments. False! These guys were genuine Greek dancers!
They were members of the ships crew, doing it literally for pleasure.
Here lies the distinction between technically rehearsed dance movements
by paid professionals and true nationalistic passion displayed by sweaty
down to earth human beings. No kidding. Yet as the adrenalin was dished
out in bucketfuls and the evening began fading away in what seemed like
a never-ending dream, Florencia took out her lecture book and brought
us back to earth. Tomorrow is Colossus day. Prepare thyself for
Rhodes was her goodnight message.
Where is this bloody giant? I said. Come on, Ive
heard of Greek gods and other fairy tales, but some huge stone geyser
that was once mounted at the entrance to this gorgeous harbour to frighten
off invaders is beyond me! I just dont believe a word of it.
Florencia ignored me. Thus commenced the days excursion of our next
island. The next few hours adventure would be broken into two sets of
visits, the old and the rebuilt new town of Rhodes. To start with, the
main city, restored thanks to European funding (6M Euros worth) is an
example of money well spent on conservation of the ancient in tune with
modern demands. The impeccable surrounding wall, the buildings and new
souvenir stores blended gracefully thus allowing tourists to enjoy the
visit regardless of their interests. From my own perspective, I couldnt
help noticing the variety of trinkets for sale from Che Guevara T
shirts, and Bruce Springsteen baseball caps to exotic, verging on the
obscene Greek pottery, on display at every street corner. Im
sick of Americana, how about our second watering hole, the real McCoy?
I gripped. I should have said: Hold on to your pacemakers as we
seek out the old Rhodes!
As we decided to exercise our sea limbs and seek out the old city by foot
we asked a local for directions hoping that it was not too far away. Cross
this avenue, and head straight along that road, said the native
in broken English. About 5 blocks up you will find a winding road.
Turn right and in about five minutes you cant miss it. Literally,
half an hour later, and completely out of breath we found it. Although
I cursed Papadopolous, it was worth it. I mean it. The stadium, in mint
condition exemplified Greeces athletic reputation of old. The remainder
of the ruins seemed to be untouched by human hand thus oozing a sense
of true history. Not a hint of modern construction; not even a McDonalds
poster suggesting gladiator-burgers. In fact we seemed to be the only
ones around. Great!
As we returned to the ship, a final snapshot view of Rhodes caught my
eye. At the Madraki harbour two supposedly famous bronze deer stood on
either side of the entrance. Its as if, I thought they were there
to replace the big guy with a new approach to modern protectionism. I
also noticed that one was a he and the other a she.
My God, womens lib has hit this place, I muttered under
my beard. My wife heard and responded, read up on the Bronze Age
and youll find the answer.
What the hell! Id seen plenty for one day. I was now ready for the
final stretch of our journey. Athens; will you have changed when
I return from visiting your offspring?
© James Skinner October 2002
will talk to each other instead of blowing their brains out'
PART I: WITH OR WITHOUT THE VIRGIN ?
ship was a sixties rust bucket all spruced up for the umpteenth time,
just like Bette Davies in Whatever happened to Baby Jane?
CRUISE Part Two & Three
MANY AMERICANS; FROM BOTH ENDS...
- Cruise Part 4
on Carrys On Cruising The Med
Part 4: my cabin was tucked away between the ships kitchen and the
CURSE OF SULLEYMANS TOILET - Cruise Part 5
dont want to buy anything, says my wife, can we please
continue our tour! Im petrified.
the Mediterranean - Part 6
'This way to the whorehouse'
said that the Virgin Mary spent her last days here
World Travel in Hacktreks
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