Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Ancient Islands

Sorry about the delay in getting back to the island hopping account. I hit the "publish" button too soon on the poems (Emphemerality) last time, so I am being cautious here.

Plus, some of the humdrum of daily life has intervened: such as spreading mulch, cutting back chrysanthemums.

I have also spent time fighting V*riz*n on my father's account. That is his ISP for Internet access, and his computer has been unable to find its IP address. So, he and I have spent hour (make that HOURS) on the phone with customer service reps somewhere in the world. I have typed more DOS commands in the last several days than in all my prior years using a computer. And, guess what, he's still NOT back online, despite V*riz*n's assurance to the contrary!


When last we left our heroine, she was on her way to the island of Rhodes. This ancient island has figured prominently in history. Probably best known as the site of the Colossus of Rhodes (one of the 7 wonders of the ancient world), Rhodes has been occupied variously by the Minoans, the Persians, Alexander the Great, the Romans, the Knights Hospitaller (during the Crusades), the Turks during the Ottoman Empire, the Italians, and finally the Greeks when they were united as part of Greece in 1948.

We went to see two sites on Rhodes--Lindos, where the Acropolis (which just means "high city") features the Doric Temple of Athena Lindia, built in 300 BC; and the town of Rhodes.

The Acropolis of Lindos

You can see where the steps are leading up to the top--just on the left of the photo.

And the crowds of people climbing, climbing, climbing. . .

If you wanted to, you could take a donkey ride. Up the steps? I don't think so!

And once you reach the top, you can see the beginnings of a wonderful view.

And some of the reinforcements.

More walls to repel or protect.

And the view of the harbor of Lindos below.

And the Doric Temple of Athena--the reason we climbed.

The next site, the town of Rhodes, is in fact a walled city. Built by the Knights Hospitaller, it is touted as the largest extant walled city in Europe. It was built in the 1300s, and withstood many attempted invasions. Portions of the palace there were destroyed in 1856, then rebuilt by the Italians, during their occupation. The town has now been declared a UNESCO World Heritage site, a much appreciated development, as that brings money in for restoration.

We left Rhodes, and then traveled overnight to the island of Patmos. When we arrived in Patmos, our local guide solemnly informed us that we were going to see the second most holy site in all of Christendom. Her assessment--after Jerusalem, the cave where St. John received the Revelation of the Apocalypse is the second most holy site.

Well, I can't dispute someone's individual belief, but it seems to me that this pronouncement is a bit of a stretch.

We boarded a bus to ride up the hills on this small island to reach Chora which is nearby the Cave of the Apocalypse. Below we could see Agriolivadi Bay. Just as our bus was climbing, we stopped for a brief photo opportunity--and then the bus engine refused to start. So there we stood. Lovely views all around.

The bay below--note the house on the right.

Isn't this a wonderful house? Could you see living here with the view below?

With these horses in the field next to the house?

And this goat herder and his goats on the hill above the house? Not a bad place for the bus to break down. Well, our local guide commandeered a passing bus (another tourist bus) and off we went.

Far above us was the Monastery of St. John the Divine--we had opted not to go there, but it was an imposing site nevertheless.

Then into the town of Chora, with its lovely little town square. Since we were there on Sunday morning, we watched the elderly ladies getting ready to go to church in Skala, the main town below. They went there so they could visit with their friends and gossip.

The next stop was the Cave of the Apocalypse. On the off chance you are not up on New Testament literature, the last book in the NT canon is the Book of Revelation. Written by an author named John who tells the reader he was on the island of Patmos when he received his revelation, we know the book was written during a time of Roman persecution of Christians. The author was basically a political (or religious) prisoner who had been exiled to Patmos. The Romans did that--exiled people to islands like Patmos.

That much I have no trouble accepting. Where the skeptic in me comes out is in descriptions of the cave itself. So, how--I ask--do we know it was THIS cave that John was in? And how do we know he was IN a cave when he received his revelation? And how do we know he put his hand on the cave wall, in a niche (now rimmed in silver), as his hand-hold to help him get up? Or how do we know that rock was his "pillow"? My skepticism was pushed right over the top when the guide told us we would see a place in the cave where the rock split into three--proof of the Trinity. Huh? Maybe the rock just split. You see--I am the skeptic.

We went down many steps into the cave--where we were NOT allowed to take photographs--and where a Greek Orthodox service was underway. Here is where the men attended Sunday service. I felt somewhat disrespectful walking through the cave, but our guide urged us that it was quite acceptable with the priest. So we all trooped through to the chanting of the Gospel in the three plus hour service.

This photo comes from another website featuring tourist attractions on Patmos.

So the next and final stop on this journey will be mainland Turkey--the ancient town of Ephesus.


NCmountainwoman said...

If you are going to have a bus breakdown, you couldn't have selected a more picturesque spot.

I loved the tour. Did you have to dodge a lot of donkey manure on the way up the steps? A donkey ride up those steps seems much more dificult than walking.

I never knew the story about St. John the Devine writing in a cave, although I knew he was exiled in Patmos. Like you, I am skeptical when someone knows the absolute spot of such ancient happenings.

I don't want this trip to end.

Trixie said...

What a spectacular post! Oh, to go to Rhodes.

I, too, am a skeptic. I want to know the line between holy site and huckster site.

Anvilcloud said...

Can't blame you for being a teensy weensy bit skeptical.

mon@rch said...

interesting place!

Ruth said...

Beautiful scenery, interesting history. When I toured Israel, I was equally skeptical about many of the holy sites we saw.

Beverly said...

I love your travelogue. And as far as Ver*zon goes, they have made lots of enemies in Florida, coming in with the F*os offers. The service is wonderful, but the customer service has left a lot to be desired.

Tossing Pebbles in the Stream said...

I certainly am enjoying these geography and history tours.

Ginnie said...

Amazing photos. Do the donkeys actually go up the stairs? I would think it would impede the pedestrians.

Mary said...

Love those donkeys. I'd be skeptical, too. Lovely photos of the sea...

KGMom said...

About skeptics and donkeys--

I am skeptical primarily because so many of these "holy" sights we saw were not determined to be holy until sometime in the 1300s, 1400s, 1500s or thereabouts. In other words, at least 1000 years after whatever events. With no written record, the church decided the holiness of said sight because someone had a vision. Well, I am not one for visions revealing universal truths--personal, maybe; but not universal.

The donkeys--I think they really are for show. They take tourists around the narrow streets and little marketplaces. I did not see ANY going up the stairs. So I do think they were mostly a tourist attraction. But cute!

Pam said...

I'm finally catching up with my blogging friends. What an experience it was to arrive here to share the trip of a lifetime. The photographs are a stunning record of your travels and your commentary is wonderful. So much to see, so much information, a real treat.

Susan Gets Native said...

That is beautiful, beautiful, beautiful.

I am jealous, jealous, jealous.

: )

RuthieJ said...

The scenery is so beautiful, Donna.

I had to chuckle when you talk about being a skeptic on the St. John and the Apocalypse story. I recall many years ago on a family vacation (when we were still kids) our parents took us on the tour of the Mormon Church in Salt Lake City. Before the tour started, Mom took us aside and strongly advised us that even though the tour guide might say something we disagreed with (as Lutherans) we were supposed to 'keep our mouths shut!' and ask Mom & Dad our questions later.