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Visit to Rhodes

14 Jan 2007

Well, here I am in Rhodes, Greece.

After seeing Alex off at the airport and arranging my life for the final weeks of January prior to starting work at the next assignment I found that sitting in the UK for the next few weeks too much to deal with. Dreary grey skeys in miserable cold damp temperatures while Di is still in China was not something I could face.

So… I booked a cheap fare to the (nearly) southernmost Greek Island that I could find and here I am.

The trip over was relatively uneventful, turned up far too early at Heathrow Airport in London expecting draconian security and lots of queues. Thrilled to find an efficiently running airport and nary an opportuity to observe the back of someones head for any length of time. The English people waiting for planes would have been mightily uncomfortable at this lack of queuing. I am sure they’ll sort the issue soon.

So, killed some time at the bar where they actually have a couple of real ales on tap, and then flew to Athens. The airport there is very impressive, clean, barnlike, and empty. Clearly the result of the Olympic games, I hope it gets some use in the future. There are Internet access points everywhere at the airport but seems they have not been cleaned or serviced since 2004 so most do not work.

An interesting incident occurred in Athens airport. While I was queuing for my next flight I heard a strident New Zealand voice in the crowd queuing for another flight. Bugger me if it wasn’t the Honorable Annette King, former Minister for Health in New Zealand and lady I had the pleasure of doing some business with. It’s a small world.

After a three hour wait, I was on a small plane for Rhodes and arrived to find….RAIN!

Yes, I left England for sunshine and found it raining in Rhodes. Luckily this was a temporary pehnomenon and after about a 20 minute taxi ride to the city centre it had all dried up.

Here is a warning for you: I booked my accomodation in Rhodes through an Internet website and arrived to find the hotel had no record of the booking, will post the name of that website tomorrow. While booking I was also offered the option to buy an airport transfer to my hotel at a cost of get this…. 70 QUID. I declined this and can now tell you the taxi fare is 15 Euro. I will post the name of that website when I next update this.

So this is my first day here and the island is pretty much closed. This different for those coming from the Uk where nothing ever seems to shut. Here, the island appears to be driven by the tourist trade, and pretty much only the tourist trade, so at this time of the year when there are no tourists (apart from me) nearly everything is shut. This is compounded by the fact that today is of course, Sunday!The weather is beautiful, the term “sun-drenched” was coined for Rhodes (or so it seems after coming from London). The sea is bright blue and the water looks very clean and has heaps of fish in. Of course, there are boats everywhere and you can see Turkey as clear as day a few miles over the water.

I visited part of the ancient wall and the ruins in Rhodes city this morning which was great. I have some good photos to post when I get that side of things sorted out.

Tomorrow the plan is to hire a motorbike when the shops open again and then just explore. In the meatntime I will work on the tan.

Sunny Lindos – 15th Jan 2007
I found a motorbike, a BMW 650 water cooled road trail job. More road than trail, of course, but it does the job at 30 Euro a day. I have come down to Lindos which is a “traditional” village on the south coast. There is a huge walled fort overlooking it which you are not going to see a picture of because the camera has run out of battery! The village is very pretty but unfortunately, even in the off-season, it is full of pohms (prisoners of her majesty) who have moved here to live.The sea is deep blue and the little white houses sort of cluster at the base of the cliff overlooked by the fort. There are little bars dotted around (some of which are actually open!), one of which actually has Greek beer…. all the rest are selling English lager and tap beers, no draught… none have food.

I can’t get over Rhodes, the whole island seems to be totally dependent upon tourism and hence everything is closed. The restaurants are empty, not even opening, most of the bars are closed.

Even the shops that sell souvenirs are closed as if they can’t be bothered. I used to wonder how Gerald Durrel could leave this place permenently, now I have some idea, it would have been great for him as a child growing up but his mother must have been bored witless!

Don’t get me wrong though, I am not yet bored. Tomorrow, I plan to visit the North side of the island and I note the roads turn to goat tracks (there are lots of goats here) so it will be intertesting to see what is beyond the bitumen.

OK, off now for more sightseeing. More later.

The North Side of Rhodes – 16th Jan 2007 

Well I set out at about 8:30 am to explore the north side of the island of Rhodes. The island is quite hilly in the middle and as I started riding in the shadows of the hills the cold was actually quite biting so first stop was at the village of Kato Kalamonas to buy some motor bike gloves. These definitely helped and I rode on with the water on my right and the hills on the left. The north side is definitely more attractive than the south, greener and prettier and you can see lots of islands dotting the sea which is that deep blue that I have only seen here.I then went to see the ancient city of Kamiros which has been on the side of the hill for more than two and a half thousand years. It is a really impressive ruin and you can see the houses where the ancient Greeks lived, the old temples, and the ruins of houses where the Roman occupiers lived. Walk through the bedrooms, it is quite something.

From there I travelled further West to Castle Kastellos which is the ruin of an ancient castle on a pinaccle overlooking the water. What a view! Took some fabulous photos and then went on to Monolithos where I stopped to look at another castle. This one was even more spectacular than the first. Right on the top of a craggy peak but didn’t take too much to walk to it. It looks down on the most beautiful sea and there is not a beach in sight. Very remote.

Next, off to Apolakkia where I had lunch at a little taverna in the town square.

No other tourists were in sight and no one spoke English but they managed to scrape up some delicious calamari and Greek salad for me. On leaving I had ridden about 15 klms when I ran out of petrol, so switching to reserve I had to back track because there are not many petrol stations on the island.

After filling the tank I decided to head back to the city along the centre of the island. That was a bit of a mistake as I ended up on a four wheel drive track between Profilia and Laerma which meant riding through mud, and two rivers.

Eventually got there though and then from Laerma to Apollona, Dimylia, Sorni and home. It was a long day, got in at nearly five and my butt is very sore!!! Might take a day out tomorrow.

A day off – 17th January 2007

Well, got the news today that I did not get a job that I had applied for in Canberra. Can’t say that I am really disappointed as I wasn’t quite ready to make the move back there anyway but I always get frustrated and depressed when I get knocked back for roles for which I thought I was well suited.
Last night I also had a call from a retained serach firm in London who had been given my name as a potential turnaround leader for a large financial services firm, of course my hopes went right up but I should have heard the warning bells when they said they had not read my CV (I know they have it). Clearly the call was not a serious approach but rather a fishing expedition.
I took the day off riding around Rhodos to do some reading and get my glasses fixed. Met a lovely Greek couple who ran the optometrists. They have just arrived back from Australia (most people here have) where they spent New Year’s Eve at the opera house.After browsing a few of the shops I have visited the remains of the Rhodos Acropolis (not a lot left!) and a warren of caves where the ancient Greeks used to hide out. Now I will probably go back to the reading ready for a big ride tomorrow to the very end of the island and then back to Lindos where I hope to get those photos I missed out on last time.

4th Feb 2007

Well I am pretty convinced that no one is reading this but here goes anyway.

I came home from Greece a little early, had ridden the entire island of Rhodes from top to bottom, left to right, south to west, and north to east. I can tell you everything was closed!Anyway after hearing about the terrific winds in the UK that week I decided to come home and check that the shed was still standing and the beamer still had a roof! Sure enough everything was fine so I spent the week before Di returned updating and improving the snoxalls.com website. It has been a lot of fun and I have learnt a little along the way.

Di arrived home on schedule, a little the worse for wear, a bit of flu and a stomach upset that I am sure she will get over shortly. She has all sorts of horror stories about the hygiene in China and the way they treat food. Also the horrible corruption and the issues that arise as a result.

Had an interesting day at my Auntie Pamela’s house yesterday.

I helped Adam clean out the flat which is at the back of the property and nearly killed myself doing it. Have you ever moved a piano? My God I think they load it with bricks or something. Unfortunately my second cousin Elten couldn’t make it to help us out which was a disappointment.

Tomorrow I start the new job. Working at King’s College London, looking forward to it so wish me luck. It will be really good to get back into the routine and remodel a new organisation.

If you DO read this have a look at Alan’s fotolog. There are some really nice pictures and he is obviously getting the hang of that new camera.

Cheers for now, more when I get the energy.

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