Today proves a hard, anticlimactic close to our sojourn in Rhodes. I have a difficult time sleeping, tossing restlessly through the hollow of the night, and then snore through the dawn and miss the morning shoot. We spend the morning packing and preparing for departure. Tonight we will depart for Athens, the heart and soul of Greece. Unfortunately, we haven't thought enough about timing: we must be out of our apartment in Rhodes before noon, but the ferry won't leave until the evening.
The discomfort of our exile is magnified by a change in the weather. After two days of pleasant temperatures with a brisk wind to dry the sweat, the days have grown stagnant, and a sticky swelter has settled in. We avoided these unpleasant conditions yesterday by staying in our cool apartment during the heat of the day, but today we have lost our shady shelter.
For lunch, we purchase Gyros sandwiches from a booth just off the main square. These are marvelous. The Greeks substitute french fries for the lettuce commonly used in the West. It makes for a delicious, albeit cardiac-deadly, meal. The first day I had a Pork Gyros, which was lovely: thin greasy shaved pork slices. Yesterday I tried the Halloumi cheese Gyros, also sensational. For our final day I reverted to Pork.
We spend the afternoon in a vain attempt to find a Museum of Early Christian and Byzantine Antiquities we thought we'd seen on one of our maps. This quest is unsuccessful. We do discover an old Islamic library which is interesting. We also poke our head into St Francis' Catholic church. The church is modern, with twentieth century artwork on the walls. The only thing I find attractive is a splendid fresco of the annunciation.
The sun jackhammers us against the stones of the alleys. Finally, in desperation, I suggest we return to the Anakata cafe (where we'd had lunch our first day in Rhodes) for drinks beneath their leafy bower. This proves a success, and we spend our last hour in Rhodes enjoying cool fruit drinks (a glass of wine in my case).
The church bells strike 4:30 and we return to our flat for our suitcases. A long, hot pull through the streets of Rhodes was made slightly easier by knowing where we were going this time. In the harbor, our behemoth of a ferry, the Blue Star Two, waits to swallow us and convey us to Athens in its belly. It is a sign of how hot and tired I am that I don't even stop to take a photo of our vessel from the quay before we board.
We walk on at the back of the ship, along the starboard side of the car ramp. We ride up two escalators and then an elevator to reach our cabin, seven decks above the waterline. She is a big boat. Blessed relief, our four person cabin is air-conditioned and a polar wind strikes the sodden back flap of my shirt. I think I am going to like this ship.
We depart from Rhodes at 6:00. A thick haze lays over the old city, frustrating the camera. No matter. The Blue Star Two is so fast that minutes later we are north of the island and it is vanishing in our crystal blue wake. Farewell Rhodes.
Dinner is at 7:00. Amazingly enough the ferry food is both inexpensive and tasty. It is truly surprising to have just one of those adjectives apply. In my experience, any place that commands a captive audience (airports, trains, etc.) usually has the poorest, overpriced food in the region. Full marks to the Blue Star Ferry company for its excellent cuisine.
Sleep comes hard. The vibration of the screws shakes its way up from the steel bowels of our vessel: thrum-thrum-thrum-thrum. It rattles us in our berths. Thrum-thrum-thrum-thrum. Various objects in our cabin take up the vibration in sympathetic resonance: the bathroom door buzzes, a piece of plastic rattles. A long night ahead.