Here’s another email from my travels in Greece. Being female and traveling solo can sometimes be a tricky thing, but I was very, very, lucky while I traveled. My guardian angel must have been working overtime.
The Kind of Bad Planning That Would Give Parents a Heart Attack (2003)
Let me skip a few weeks and start where I began the solo portion of my trip a couple days ago. Whew, its been action packed since I set off for Rhodes which is almost as far east you can go and still be in Greece. You can see Turkey from here.
I made the mistake/fortune of catching the longest possible ferry to Greece. It stopped at every port between Naxos and Rhodes; therefore I’ve docked at/seen half the Cycladic and almost all the islands in the Dodacanese. Unfortunately that meant that by the time I arrived on Rhodes it was 1 am.
I had arranged a room and thought to taxi there in my plan but that was foiled from the beginning. As soon as we were let off the ferry I talked to a cabby and it turned out that no taxis go to the street my pension was on becuase it was within the walls of the Old town (the largest inhabited medieval town in Europe) so I had to walk…
In theory it wasn’t far, but…
Imagine walking through narrow twisted streets of a medieval city (built by the Knights Hospitalilers) in the middle of the night. There were some people around the main streets close to the port and I asked a shopkeeper who was closing up store for directions. He gave me some and wished me ‘good luck’. It was at that point I started getting a little more worried. I turned up the street he told me and suddenly there were no people anymore. There was also only limited lighting. That began my semi random fast paced walking, in my backpack, in the general supposed direction of Omiru street past derelict houses, occasional staring men and young people heading to town on scooters, a garbage pickup truck I had to squeeze by, and into a deserted area where I was chased by street dogs and down another street (which thankfully) turned out to be the one I was looking for.
But wait! My story isn’t over yet. I found the pension I was supposed to stay at but the door was locked and no one answered when I knocked/rang the doorbell. There were two other pension nearby and I tried similar things to a similar result. That was when I made the hasty decision to walk into the new town (somehow) and try my luck there. Of course I still only knew the general direction that was in and this is a medieval walled town so there are only 9 exits out of it and I was getting fairly tired/paniky. I picked a direction and continued walking again down random streets. My map was virtually useless in the dark. It was about 2:30 am when luck kicked in again (someone must be watching out for me) and I ran into a sign pointing out the Rhodes youth hostel. The door was open and I walked in. There were two men playing chess in the courtyard. They explained that the people that ran the hostel had gone home for the night an hour earlier but one of them was kind enough to suggest finding an empty bed to crash on and just paying someone in the morning. He also pointed out which were the women’s dorms and helped me to find one. Quite thankfully there was one bed left and I sprawled out for the night there.
The next morning I found my pension again but the door was locked so I went next door. That was another stroke of luck. I must have looked pretty pathetic and desperate, but the french owners of the place were extremely nice and set me up with a room that usually costs 120 euros for practically nothing. I was in heaven! A four posted iron bed with a canopy as well as air conditioning for the first time in weeks (and they gave me free breakfast)!!!
Mmm you know, despite some occasionally snobby treatment in more touristy areas, and the cliched stories of inappropriate male advances, the kindness of strangers more than makes up for it. We were spoiled rotten in Cephalonia with free dinners and cake miraculously appearing in our rooms. Other times, being gifted free fruit from friendly shopkeepers after terrible attempts at mangling the Greek language. All in all this trip’s made me a little less jaded… people are usually willing to help (if they can), if you just ask.
I still have a few more days on Rhodes then I’m off to Kos, the birthplace of medicine and hippocrates. Then its off to Italy! That should be another adventure in itself.