Rhodes, although a Greek island, is within sight of Turkey. Once home, it is believed, to the Colossus of Rhodes that straddled and guarded the harbor. It has been controlled by pretty much every government in the Mediterranean since 7th Century B.C. and that is reflected in the many architectural styles, and temple and palace remains on the island.
We docked just outside the old city which is surrounded by a wall. Once inside the old city, you'll find a fine selection of stores selling knockoff designer fashions. I was able to purchase a D&G T-shirt and Versace sunglasses for the Eurotrash T-dance on the ship for about 10 Euros!
Once you pass the shops and wander into some of the lesser populated streets you can find beautiful buildings and courtyards spanning thousands of years of construction.
|Messina and Taormina
Messina is a rather unattractive port city with some pleasant squares and monuments. We opted to find the train station and attempt to reach Taormina via the local rail system. Upon finding out that the next train was an hour away, we found an outdoor cafe in a shaded square and had coffee.
The train ride to Giardini, just below Taormina, was about an hour on an air-conditioned train and cost all of 3.60 Euros round trip. We then braved a local bus up the hill to Taormina for another .60 Euros. The ride up the switch backed road offered views to both sides of the bus and not a little fear for the braking ability of the cars barrelling down the narrow road.
Taormina looks like a Medieval walled city even though it has much older roots. There is still a Roman era amphitheater perched high atop the hill affording sweeping views of the coastline. When we arrived, it was early afternoon and incredibly hot. We opted for a break and found the best gelato I had tried on the trip so far.
Check out the panoramas of the view and a village square.
|Naples and Pompeii
OK, if I thought Messina was unattractive, Naples was even uglier. A port city with all the charm of Newark, NJ, plus the thrill of Italian drivers. One cab ride and I not only got the life-flashing-before-your-eyes-experience, but a good adrenal gland emptying as well. It's commonly accepted that Italians speak with both their mouths and both hands. That being the case, Italian taxi drivers should be forbidden from speaking since it takes at least one hand to drive a car.
We arrived in Pompeii in the peak of the heat and tourist season. The population of tourists must have nearly equalled the original population of the city before its destruction. Despite the many people speaking many languages (we identified Italian, Mandarin, Japanese, Spanish, Greek, French, Finnish...yeah, someone actually recognized it, German, Russian and a little bit of English...both the Queen's and American), it is an awesome site. The preservation after nearly 2000 years provides an opportunity to see entire structures and artwork in amazing condition. Seeing the life-sized casts of people in the throes of death is nothing less than spooky.
Click here to view some panoramic images.
After a few hours in Pompeii, we hopped a local train to Sorrento for some shade and refreshment. Sorrento is built upon large ravines that lead to a steep coastline. Their beach is a group of breakwaters with flattened tops for chairs.
The town is a warren of alleys and small streets filled with shops and cafes. From here you can also take a ferry to Capri or back to Naples (which we tried and missed). We had lunch in the square, a walk around then collapsed at a cafe until it was time for our train ride back to Naples.
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