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Life in Rhodes

December 30, 2016

It seems no time at all since we first tied up in Rhodes new marina but we have managed to accomplish a few things, although not hugely interesting.  However, Christmas approaches and I guess you want an update on life here so far.

Rhodes old town walls

Rhodes old town walls

The first activity to resolve transport issues was to find bikes – which we did eventually.  No 2nd hand bikes seemed to be available.  The marina staff gave me the name of Wheels bike shop which we found with the aid of Google maps.  A very helpful man showed us a few new bikes within our price range.  After a few minutes, we settled on a smallish one for me and a bigger one for Brian.  Both have been great.  The owner put all the bits and pieces on while we went to return our hire bikes, and we proudly cycled back to the boat, wobbling a bit on new architecture!  The hired bikes were “fixed wheel” – i.e. back pedalling stops the bike.  It took us a surprisingly long time to get back into normal mode.

My new bike

My new bike

Next major activity was to get a Greek tax number – needed in order to rent an apartment.  We had been put in touch with Maria who has rental apartments close to the marina.  Gareth and his partner Claire who we had met in the marina had been living in one but were about to move to a new place in the old town They were keen to find someone else to take it on.  We had visited and it was fine with adequate furniture, and nice and close to the marina.

Our cul-de-sac

Our cul-de-sac

So to get a tax number I just needed copies of our passports and to find the tax office.  This is fortunately very close to the marina.  After seeking directions in the maze of corridors we finally found the right counter and it only had a queue of one!  We were given forms to complete, handed them over and fairly efficiently got our tax numbers printed on A4 certificates.  The staff were confused as to our address (Rhodes new marina).  I gave them our “business” card – it has a picture of Alixora on the front with our names and email address.  They were delighted, finally understanding the situation, and all was expedited – with one of our cards stapled to each application!  We were exhorted never to give away our original document, so I got 5 copies for future use.

Gateway into old town

Gateway into old town

We met with Maria and Gareth, arranged a moving date of Monday 7th November, and arranged a rental car for a week.  I had to ask Maria to clear out the cupboards.  They were jam packed with stuff from her family.  We started shopping properly too and have gone back to cooking for ourselves instead of eating out so much!

Lindos Castle

Lindos Castle

After collecting the car we did a short exploratory trip down the east side of the island, finding a large supermarket and Lidl.  The coast road then passes a huge collection of massive tourist hotels – all now being closed for winter.  The tourist strip continues for several kilometres, all boarded up – very depressing.  We headed inland through a couple of small towns, up to the north end of the island and back.  There are some very pretty valleys that we investigated later.

River Valley

River Valley

The following day we had to spend all day securing the boat against a forecast strong southerly wind.  We pulled Alixora out well away from both quaysides and put more lines on. Getting on the boat now, we have to release one of the starboard lines and pull it into the quay on the port side, placing the gangplank to the side gateway.  The arrangement continued to be modified over the weeks!

Then it was time to move, piling stuff into the car and getting it into the apartment.  We didn’t check everything fully, falling into our new bed after a full day.  We were attacked by hordes of mosquitos, having to pull bedclothes over our heads!  Next morning we found there was no kettle, no pans, and a microwave oven that didn’t work.  Disaster – no cups of tea for breakfast so we high tailed it back to the boat for tea and biscuits.  Another day of moving, and finding mosquito repellent and sprays.

The ground floor apartment has a good sitting room with two settees (one long enough for even Brian to stretch out on) and an armchair, coffee table and a couple of cupboards and a TV (we haven’t tried to turn it on). A separate kitchen has a huge fridge freezer (luxury), a good electric cooker, double sink, cupboards and a decent table.  There are four dining chairs – one of which we found was coming apart so that took Brian a day or so to clean up and re-glue!  The bathroom has a proper bath, shower (leaked but now fixed) and a washing machine.  Wow.  The bedroom has a huge built in wardrobe, a set of shelves and another TV, with a couple of bedside tables.

Despite what sounds like a lot of space, we still have boxes of stuff on the floor.  It is amazing what we manage to fit into a small boat. The apartment is surrounded by other buildings, so doesn’t get much sunshine other than first thing in the morning and late afternoon.

On Tuesday night there was a massive thunder storm, so sleep eluded us yet again.  We checked the ropes on Alixora the next morning, more adjustments, then set off to explore Rhodes island.  We headed into an area marked on one of our online maps with several walking trails.  We wound up a long hill, past huge olive plantations, to find a pretty church at the top surrounded by park like gardens, seating areas etc.  It has obviously been developed for weddings and christenings.

Lindos small harbour

Lindos small harbour

We set off round the hill along a dirt road, finding lots of small birds in sheltered bushes beneath sheer cliff walls.  The track emerged on the other side of the hill with views of forests and farmland in the distance.  It was getting on, so we headed back for coffee in our favourite café near the marina.  We left the car in the (huge and empty) marina carpark and collected our bikes.  Parking near the apartment is not easy.  Brian then managed to cycle into a hidden and water filled hole in the road and almost fell off – getting a huge bruise on his leg.  This restricted our walking plans for the next day or two!

Southern tip of Rhodes island

Southern tip of Rhodes island

The next day we drove all the way down to the fairly wild and quiet southern most tip of the island.  We passed a big military exercise area, and a huge industrial construction site on the way to the lovely beach area.  Once there I found a sign (in English) that exhorted us to join the protest group against the proposed oil fired power station to be built inland.  Oops – I don’t think they succeeded.

We watched the waves and looked at the (closed) archaeological site through the fence.  There were a few cafés and a small hotel there, but all closed for the winter.

Southern Rhodes

Southern Rhodes

On the way back we headed up the wild west side of the island, past strange geological formations and then through the central hills – wonderful views and quite wild in parts.

The last day of our exploration we headed up to the large reservoir in the middle of the island.  Dirt roads circle it – a few rather deep gullies caused by heavy rain – but the car managed to negotiate them.  We stopped for lunch on a small outcrop and scanned the reservoir for birds.  There were a lot of great crested grebes, thousands of coots and probably a few ferruginous ducks.  On the way back we headed up one of the river valleys feeding the reservoir.  There was a lot of burnt forest up there, but the valleys had survived.  We startled a small herd of deer on one of the roads – very pretty but I was too slow to get a decent picture.

Oh dear, missed the deer

Oh dear, missed the deer

The car had to be returned the next day, and we had a lot of work to do to clean cupboards and put stuff away.  The washing machine was put to good use (fantastic to have one after 8 years of using laundrettes!) and Brian spent a couple of days dealing with the cupboard under the sink that was in a real mess.  Cockroaches and mice droppings, sodden chipboard etc.  It is now lined with layers of plastic and tape to seal up all the cracks!  The general workmanship in this building is pretty poor with sloppy tile grouting, electric wires hanging loose, sockets coming out of the walls etc.  Brian has spent a number of happy hours chipping away at and fixing the worst bits.  However we are only here for a few months so it isn’t worth doing a lot.

We have lemon and avocado trees outside our balconies, with lemons and avocados!  We can’t reach the latter though. The lemon trees are flowering too, as well as having lemons on them.

The local area is well provided with shops and services.  A small pharmacy and a general practitioner occupy the small row of shops next door, along with a patisserie – lots of gooey cakes.  No I haven’t bought anything there yet!  Then a car hire shop, and finally a small AB supermarket (AB is a Greece wide chain).  Further down the street is Pita Fan – a pita gyros café – which we love!  The marina entrance is about 10 minutes’ walk away and there are three or four restaurants there – we often go to the pizzeria which is run by Italians.

Our favourite restaurant

Our favourite restaurant

Going the other way, towards town, there is a bigger supermarket and a big fruit and vegetable shop which we visit for our weekly shop.  A Chinese clothes store occupies a large ground floor emporium next door.  On the way we pass a butcher, shoe mender, various furniture shops etc.  Even further up a big shop with cleaning materials has caught our eye, and opposite it is a computer shop.  I took the Toshiba there to get the DVD drive fixed for a very reasonable 30€ (why does my euro key not work anymore?)

I needed the DVD drive as I

Our Road

Our Road

have started to learn Greek!  A free beginners class takes place on Thursday mornings at St Francis’ church going through a Greek beginner’s text book with CD.  I have made friends with a couple of Canadian women (Mara and Elizabeth) who are now getting a bit bored with the pace, so we have started our own study group and may speed ahead with another tutor in the new year.

Greek class entrance

Greek class entrance

There are other learning materials on the internet, so we share ideas and use what we find.  Mara has a Swedish friend, about my age, married to a Greek and who speaks fluent Greek.  She has offered to host our group as well, improving our pronunciation.  Her apartment is huge and very nice, I want it! Κάλα πολύ!

St Francis

St Francis

So that takes us up to the middle of November.  Since then our routine has settled down.  Brian goes to the boat most days, coming back for lunch.  Shopping, washing, finding stuff etc takes up a bit of time.  There is a market near the marina on Wednesdays and Saturdays which I have visited a few times.  Mostly fruit and veg, but I did find a couple of cushion covers to augment what is in the apartment.

Market day

Market day

I press on with my Greek as much as possible.  Other time consuming things are dealing with hassles with our house in Glossop, and now dealing with boat damage.

We have had several storms (just high winds really) but the last one was a doozy.  Not so much the wind, but the marina design is such that a massive swell comes in and tosses the boats around.  This week (14th) it was so bad that two boats sank, many others were damaged (sterns hitting the quayside, cleats ripped out) and in our case (and many others) a broken fairlead (where the ropes are guided on the edge of the boat) at the bow.  It is part of a large aluminium casting so repair or replacement is going to be problematic. Susie and Micke have been living on their boat, but I found today that they also are now going to move ashore.  Both suffer from seasickness even in the marina.  I am working on getting a group organised to discuss the issues with the manager and press him to find a solution.

Broken fairlead

Broken fairlead

Here is a link to the local news article and video on the sinking boats.  http://www.rodiaki.gr/article/354006/megalh-kinhtopoihsh-ayth-thn-wra-gia-na-mh-boyliaxoyn-dyo-skafh-sth-nea-marina-rodoy

They have now been lifted and taken away for repair somewhere.  Their entire sterns were bashed in, propeller on the motor catamaran bent and twisted, but the water damage will be incredible too. Poor owners.

Mara alerted me to the St Nicholas parade on odos Kanada on 6th December.  So I headed up the road to the little eponymous church about 200m away, in time to see the congregation lining up, the band arriving and then priests in bright robes heading out with the huge painting of the saint, and various ornamental bits – probably a relic or two!  The parade this time was just around the block, so I was able to catch them coming back up our street, with the band in full swing.  There was a lot of genuflecting, ladies scattering holy water on the marchers and incense being wafted around.

What else of note?  In the mornings we hear lots of birds trilling away.  The apartment is in a small cul-de-sac, so road noise is minimal, but we can hear all these birds – in cages!  We do have a flock of sparrows, a few collared doves and a couple of small warblers (indeterminate type) that flit around.

Stream next to the market

Stream next to the market

Greece hasn’t yet caught on to the idea that plastic bags are an environmental hazard.  Every shop plies us with carrier bags, even when we brandish our re-usable ones!  But I have yet to get to grips with shop opening times, where they close at 1pm for the afternoon, only opening again at 5 or 6pm and staying open until 9pm.  I just don’t do evening shopping, so have to do anything where I need a small shop in the mornings.  Fortunately the local supermarket and the big one up the road stay open all day.  Not Sundays though!  And there is no Amazon in Greece – hmm.

Walls

Walls

Another useful pair of shops down the road is a general household wares one called Joy.  What is it with electric kettles?  Our posh one we got last November in Italy broke – just before its one year anniversary.  I emailed the company (via Amazon) and amazingly got a refund of the purchase price.  That was excellent.  So we went to Joy and bought a new one.  That broke within a week (on a Saturday evening too).  But they have replaced it without question.  It is still a hassle.

Next door to Joy is a large stationery shop – I love going in there.  They stock books too, which is where the Greek beginners’ book came from, and a new rucksack for Brian, flash cards for my vocabulary learning, all sorts of things.

Stream next to the market

Stream next to the market

And now it is nearly Christmas.  The shops had Santa Claus and Christmassy stuff displayed from early November.  They are getting very busy now.  We decided to splash out and have booked a few days in a boutique hotel in the old town.  We haven’t been there at all since we arrived, so we can explore and climb up to the ruins nearby.  Most of the tourist tat shops in the old town are shuttered up for the winter so it is a bit of a ghost town – but nice and quiet!

Ancient windmills

Ancient windmills

Time to put the Christmas lights up now, so I will stop here, wish you a merry Christmas and good health in the new year.

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