Sunday -- Rhodes, Greece; Monday -- Santorini, Greece. Wow and wow. Rhodes first. We had signed up for a long (seven hour) tour and were worried that it would be too much for R. Needless to say it was an early start (8:00am) and on to the bus. First stop Lindos Acropolis. This small town is a thirty minute drive from the port city of Rhodes. Aside from its spectacular setting, it also features lots of tourist oriented shops (of course) and more importantly a ruin at the top of a hill right outside the town. First order of the day -- to climb the two hundred and eighty something steps to the top. This was not quite as easy as it may sound since we are talking about old steps of varying widths and heights, also although it's early we are still talking about Greece in June. Get the picture? Good.
View from the top -- stunning. Trip down was much easier. Back in the bus we were off to the beach for lunch at a "five star" hotel. I've heard about these "five star" hotels before and it has been my experience that the more stars cited by tour providers the more dubious the distinction. Driving to the place certainly justified my lack of faith -- a honky-tonk beach town followed by overgrown landscaping. Ah but then ... Well I won't say "nirvana" but it was certainly better than expected. The buffet featured Greek food such as moussaka, Greek salad, pork gyros and for dessert a variety of phyllo and honey pastries. Yummy.
After lunch, R decided he had had enough for the day and we were dropped off at the ship prior to the walking tour of the town of Rhodes that was next on the agenda for the rest of the group. Our conclusion from the brief visit? Rhodes seemed rather like Baja California to the two of us. Very arid, beautiful blue water, rugged terrain, not too many people, a real place. I've spoken of this "real place" thing before and what I mean I suppose is that the place in question a.) has not been completely overwhelmed by tourists and/or b.) defines itself as being more than just a tourist destination.
Other side of view (literally)
Speaking of real verses fake, we now come to Santorini, a place that is keenly aware of its value as a tourist destination. I guess the question is whether it defines itself only in those terms and I wasn't really there long enough to get a read on this although my suspicion is that it's perilously close to falling into this predicament (if it hasn't already).
Still, I liked Santorini. It's almost impossible not to like. I mean the place is gorgeous especially the town of Oia. This town features exactly what you think of when you think of the Greek isles. White stucco buildings with soft edges and sky blue trim. Occasional blue domes. Buildings cascading down toward the sea. Abundant sunshine. Narrow, pedestrian-only lanes. And views, of course, the views -- out to the sea which is a rich, deep blue. It's definitely got "it", whatever "it" is.
But is Santorini more than just an "it" place. I would love to take some more time to find out. And that is what this cruise is all about, getting little snippets of places to find out if we want to come back. Santorini and Rhodes have both made the "will return someday" list.