This day was a more relaxing one with only one stop: Rhodes, the “island of roses.” And it lived up to its name! We started with a drive up Mount Filermos to the town of Ialysos to the monastery, built by the Knights of Saint John in the 15th century. The grounds are inhabited by peacocks and in the monastery is the icon of the Virgin Mary, thought to be brought from Jerusalem by the Knights.
We drove back down to the Old Town which in within the fortification walls built by the Knights of Saint John starting in 1309. Most of it is still completely intact and used, including the moat around the walls (which was never and has never been filled with water). The stone is absolutely beautiful: towers, arches, walls. We walked through town to the archaeological museum, which was originally the hospital built by the Knights. They have beautiful headstones of some of the knights and ancient Rhodes inhabitants, as well other statues and artifacts found on the island. My favorite was an Aphrodite sculpture – she is washing her hair when the sculpture startles her from behind – and that is what he sculpted.
Our guided tour was over at that point, but Granville took us on a little extra trip to the oldest synagogue in Greece: the Kahal Shalom Synagogue. It is now a museum of the Jewish community in Rhodes, which was shattered in WWII. Granville had made many trips to the synagogue and eventually met a man who had grown up on Rhodes and was deported to a concentration camp with the other Jews when he was 11 (or maybe 13?) years old. Granville told us his incredible story (he survived and wrote a book, but it’s only in French) then we looked around the museum.
We then had the whole afternoon free on the island. We got a late lunch with our travel friends then set out to shop. There is plenty of shopping in Rhodes, so mom and I wandered looking for some gifts. It was warmer that day and we had planned to hang out a little on the beach, but it started raining so we made our way back to ship (huddled under one tiny umbrella) and lounged around.
After a fun dinner with our friends, we had a fun night of drinks with our tour director and our tour group in the bar at the very top of the ship! I would definitely recommend a stop in Rhodes and probably spending some time (as in 2-3 days at least) there, especially because the beaches are beautiful!