Why do they have such weight restrictions on everything. Again I had to pay for over weight baggage. I either need to dump stuff or ship things home. However, it is the amazing olive oil and unbelievable 10 and 20 year old balsamic vinegar I bought at mercato centrale in Florence that is doing me in. Now I added a wee little bit of pine and thyme (ooohh internal rhyme) honey. Well since I don't have to catch a plane until Istanbul, I will figure things out then.
Rodos is amazing. I know I use that word often, but it seems each place is outdoing the place before. I arrived here on a little twin prop plane from Santorini. It was a choice between a 45 minute plane ride and a 12 hour ferry ride. Since the two islands are so close, I can't even begin to imagine where it went for that long. I was met at the airport by Margherite - the daughter of Anastasia who owns - runs - the hotel. It is a large room with two sets of sliding doors and a wrap around balcony. There is air conditioning which is fantastic as the temperature here is 35 degrees plus or minus. I wandered along the beach line feeling the island. It is like the pictures of Miami in the movies - endless beach chairs and umbrellas and people of all shapes, sizes, and states of dress (or undress). I bought some fruit and some wine, but alas could find no kefylatiri and returned to my room. Supper was at a restaurant where everyone got a free ouzo after dinner. I am liking this place.
This morning, after a leisurely breakfast of espresso and an omelet, I took the bus into Old Town. Here the adventure begins. I crossed the moat into one of the worlds most intact fortified city. Various nations built and added to the fortification as they took control of Rodos in their turn. The Knights of St John were biggies here for a while and they were big into the hospitality - caring for strangers, the ill, and such. They built their palace up on the hill, as all wise conquerors do, and developed an incredible city. The palace is mostly a museum, but walking along the marble-floored corridors lined with thick stone walls and well-built doors, I could imagine the intrigue of the court. I am sure for all the visible halls and stairs, there are an equal number built into the 5 and 6 foot thick walls. Every major room of the palace had mosaic floors - all of which came from Ios and were originally laid in the 6th century. Being Canadian, we forget how old parts of the world are. In Santorini, paleo Akrotiri is dated to 17th century BP. The history of Rodos is numerous centuries before Christ made his appearance. It is mind boggling to know that there were civilizations that had running water, sewers, sub floor heating all before the aboriginals even thought of crossing the straits into North America. But I digress. Sometimes, thoughts just become to powerful to ignore.
The highlight of the day. I was wandering through the market streets of Old Town and stopped to watch a woman creating a woolen knotted carpet. Before too long, Ismail started talking and before too much longer he was taking me into the carpet shop. He pulled out a carpet - woolen - and explained the process of making the carpets and how the best woolen ones are made from the spring wool that grows around the neck and along the back as it is clean, long, and oily - three important qualities for carpets. The rug was beautiful and for some reason it reminded me of my Baba. Maybe because she used to weave, maybe it was the colour or the pattern, but whatever it was, that carpet was the best. He had his assistant unroll about 30 more carpets over the next while. He had Irina make some greek coffee so we could sip coffee as we looked at carpets. He brought out his "Ferrari" carpets that I just knew were upward of 30000 euro. He told be about how various carpets have local lore woven into them. For example there are the carpets he calls Noah's arc as only the tribes around Mount Ararat have that pattern. He explained the "belly button" carpets, which at one time were very large as they had to fill the rooms of the sultans. The dancers had to stay in the centre for if they danced beyond the ring, they became shorter by a head. He brought out a carpet that acted as a table in the tents. People sat around the edges with the carpet over their laps while the food was placed in the middle. It was important to sit under the carpet so that if bread fell, it wouldn't hit the floor as it was considered sacred food given to nourish man. And the stories continued. We began to eliminate carpets and were down to three. Then Ali unrolled another one. It stayed and two others got rolled up. Funny enough, the one carpet was the original one. He unrolled another, but after all the time and looking, it had to be the first carpet. So we discussed price. I bought it. I initialed it on the back to ensure I got the right one and then picked a date for shipping.
Ah, should life be so simple. As i was paying for it, I happened to look behind the shop owner and got goose bumps. There on the wall was an absolutely stunning silk carpet. It took my breath away. Ismail went to look at the price and then wrote one down. I looked. I am just a teacher was my response. Yes, but you will tell others so we make you a good price. I asked him to take the carpet down so I could see it outside. The goose bumps returned and even more so. To make a long story short, I now own a woolen and a silken carpet - both to be shipped home.
We talked some more, took some pictures, and discussed the rest of my trip. They helped me set up the land rover safari I wanted to go on. Ismail told me to come back and he will make a list of contacts for me to see in Istanbul, who will expect nothing, but will take me to places that most tourists don't go. "Kismet" was all he said when I was leaving. The thought that they saw me coming a mile away flitted through my mind, but I really think I happened upon a group of wonderful people. They even told me where I could go to find kefylatiri cheese.
Soon I will meet my niece and her traveling friend for dinner. Today has turned out to be a wonderous day.