Rhodes was, and still is, a very pretty island, with wooded hills in the ‘interior’ and well-preserved old towns within ancient fortifications – including of course the two arms of Rhodos harbour where Colossus once bestrode the entrance. The three of us found a quiet corner on top of the city wall to make camp, conveniently situated for a water tap and even public toilets, a rarity in 1963; while below us the narrow streets were teeming with stall-holders and buyers of everything from local produce to car tyres, with fresh fish aplenty. Although it was of little use to us, with no means of cooking it!
A highlight of our visit was a bus-ride across the island which dropped us off at a valley called ‘Petaloudes’.
Fifty years ago there was no walkway or well-worn path upstream, just a rough track with overhanging branches and rock-strewn pools and waterfalls – but the main attraction was the same: literally thousands of butterflies swarming in every direction. Imagine the silence, the deep shade, cool grottoes and colourful clouds passing by!
The day before we left the unaccustomed rich food (I can’t remember what) took its toll and I had an intestinal crisis 400 yards from ‘our’ public convenience – so I ran, without a word to my friends, full pelt around the city wall, giving no quarter to pedestrians or other hindrances until I arrived unbowed, just in time to avoid disaster! As you can imagine, the event became the stuff of college lore for many months after we returned.
But it was time to sail away again! Destination Crete, a jewel in the history of Greece and even hotter than the mainland or the Aegean islands.
…..to be continued