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                               RHODES - GREECE

Our Turkish Visas are only good for 88 days, and then we must check out of Turkey, leave the country, then check back in every 3 months or so. For Canadians, it cost $60 US per person each time for a Visa, which is seemingly unfair since most other countries, including the US are only charged $20 (others are free). I am told it is a reciprocal thing so Canada's policy has not done us any favors while prolonging our stay in Turkey!

We decided to make a quick 1 1/2 hour ferry trip to Rhodes, and return the same evening. Since the ferry to Rhodes involved an early morning departure, were forced to take the very expensive taxi to the Ferry Dock because it was too early for the Dolmus'. The 10 minute taxi ride was 30 YTL ($28), half the cost of the return ferry trip to Rhodes!


We didn't know what to expect when we docked at the harbour in Rhodes. We were pleasantly surprised by the sight of the old town, surrounded by high castle-like walls. We entered through the Marine gate between the twin towers that led into the city culminated in narrow cobblestone streets, lined with a never ending string of souvenir shops at inflated cruise ship prices (or are we just used to Turkish prices now)

 

The town of Rhodes has been inhabited for more than 2400 years. In 1309 the Knights of St John built their citadel over the ancient remains. 4 km of high thick stone walls protected the Byzantine City, at one time retaining the water of the moat which circled the old city, today dry. Rhodes has been designated a Medieval Heritage Site. 

 

From the Greeks, to the Ottoman and Byzantine Empires, Rhodes has evolved into a fairly diverse site of ancient buildings, baths, mosques and churches. Amidst the palm trees and lining the roadways were a large number of what appeared to be stone cannon balls, neatly arranged or put in piles.

 

 

We spent the day walking miles through narrow cobblestone streets. Off the beaten path, only a few streets away from the touristy shops, backstreets and hidden narrow passageways provided hours of entertainment and a real treasure for photography.

As we explored the twisty uneven streets, we marvelled at the Ottoman style homes, courtyards and squares of old houses, covered with bougainvillea.

The twisting narrow alleys reminded me so much of the casba, when we went to Morocco from Spain. Except this time I wasn't sea sick!

We managed to find a grocery store in the newer part of Rhodes on the recommendation of yotties cause the prices were supposedly cheaper and the selection good. So I parted with 100 Euros ($150) for such prized items not found in Turkey, like 3 minute noodles, canned corned beef, canned beans, canned tomatoes, canned veggies, salami and cheddar cheese.

 

  Intriguing tiny courtyards, alcoves and captivating stairways made exploring the old neighbourhoods of the various "quarters" addictive.  

 

Street of the Knights

Lined by Inns of the Tongues, or nationalities, of the Order of St. John, the long cobblestone street leads to the Palace of the Grand Masters.

  We tried some traditional Greek food on our lunch break.   One of many little chapels from which echoed the resounding ringing of bells.  

The Jewish Quarter

still maintains much tradition.

After a quick stop at the duty free shop to buy some cheap booze, we headed to the Ferry dock.

Our Catamaran ride back to Turkey was uneventful, but I can't say the same for our check-in procedures at Customs.

Our Worst Custom's Experience

When we returned to Turkey a very nasty arrogant custom's official ripped open our backpack and promptly took all our groceries away. Said "forbidden"!! And threw everything behind the counter. I knew that Pork was banned for import into Turkey (we didn't have any of that) but I'm not sure how canned goods could do any harm.  We were told to sit outside and wait. So we sat and waited, until all 500 people on the ferry had checked through. The customs guy ignored us the whole time.

Near the end of the line of people, some guy tried to smuggle in a whole hind of pork, hoof on and all!!!! Well that finished off the volatile Customs guy and everything escalated from there. He called some officials to load all the confiscated food items onto a cart and take them away to "burn" them (how would you burn my cans anyway?).

At this point I tried to appeal to Mr Custom and he quickly  became somewhat abusive, shoving at me when I tried to explain that we saw no rules posted and we had previously brought food into Turkey in our yacht, no problem. When he demand that we give him our passports (bad idea) Gord  pulled me away.

As we retreated we heard a ruckus behind us and looked back to see Mr Customs violently throw a jar of beets or jelly (something  red and sticky) into the corridor, the glass shattering and sending shrouds into the legs of tourists, splattering the hallway blood red. A lady behind me who also had food was the unfortunate recipient of this guys uncontrolled rage!!!!
It was the worst display from a government official that we have encountered the whole time we have been away! The next morning I saw his picture on the front page of the local newspaper. A Hero!! for confiscating the leg of pork!!!
 

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