We are off to Rhodes now. This morning we awoke a bit late and had a hurried breakfast at the colonnade restaurant after a tipple monadic and cappuccino. We then headed to the Grand Salon to meet our tour of Patmos and St. John’s cave/monastery.
There were about 40 of us on this tour, when left by bus and climbed the hill to the monastery. There are 25 Orthodox Christian Monks who live there.
Historically, under the reign of Emperor Demetrius of Rome, the upstart Christian religion was persecuted. Some were killed, others exiled. So. John was exiled from Ephesus to Patmos. Pagan gods were worshiped on Patmos and John was further persecuted on Patmos. He lived in a cave high atop the hill, where God revealed himself in a voice likened to a waterfall or trumpets. At a lecture we attended, the professor pointed out that the loudest noise known to the ancients was the sound of rushing water or trumpets. It is said that the power of God’s voice split the ceiling of the cave into three fissures, symbolic of the trinity. John is the patron saint of Patmos. He lived in exile for about two years, baptizing a growing following on the island. Demetrius was murdered and the next Emperor of Rome was tolerant of Christianity. Those exiled were allowed to return and John returned to Ephesus, where he eventually converted the island to Christianity.
Now I am not a believer in all the god stuff, but history is fascinating. To know that John the Baptist (or Theologian as he is known on Patmos) lived in exile in a cave on Patmos for two years is amazing. We visited the cave, saw and spoke with monks, and toured the monastery and its museum. The monastery cataloged about three thousand books and manuscripts that it housed, though only about one thousand remain today. The manuscripts were written by scribes on animal skin then on papyrus. The oldest manuscript is on display in the museum, though it is nearly impossible to make out the writing. That manuscript was broken into parts with pages on display in Rome, in So Petersburg Russia, and here in Patmos. The illuminated manuscripts on display are fascinating. Each page contains a passage from the bible centered on the page, a painting at the bottom of the page, and commentary explaining the passage taking up most of the page.
It was fascinating touring the monastery.
We next went to a mansion dating to the 17th century. The wealthy on the island at that time were merchants who build their houses on the hillside. This house/mansion war reminiscent of Spanish homes with high wooden beamed ceilings. The great room, was once an open courtyard that was enclosed sometime later. We met the owner, an 87 year old woman who’s ancestors build the house.
Next we went to a family owned taverna for a bit to eat and a demonstration of Greek folk dance. Three gentlemen dressed in traditional Patmos garb danced three exemplary dances, then the fun began. One fellow, who looks quite a bit like my father, started picking people from the tour to come up stage to learn some dance steps. The young couple to my right politely refused, and I was selected along with about 11 others. Only later did I learn that Ellen had extended her arm over my head with one finger pointing down as if to say, “take him”. She thought since only males were dancing, she was safe. Nope, the fellow took her by the arm too.
This was embarrassing at first, but became great fun. The dance steps were not that difficult and everyone was a good sport about it.
The bus took us back to port a short time later. Ellen and I wandered the town for a while, eventually stopping at a gelato shop. Every flavor looked good. Ellen ordered and headed off to the bathroom. I had fun bantering with the young woman behind the counter, ordered gelato for Ellen and I, and explained that Ellen had the money (which she did). When Ellen came out we paid, took our gelato and the woman handed us a napkin. Ellen asked for another one, and she handed us about 10. I said, ” the gelato is free, but the napkins are extra…”. The gal, then grabbed another 10 and handed them to us with a smile. “That’ll be extra”, she said and we all laughed. She then seriously asked if we wanted the second 10, which we didn’t. We sat in the shade outside eating and after a while the gal came out to clean the tables and we got to know her a bit. She was from Rhodes, the island we are headed to now. She said Patmos was empty now, there were only two small cruise ships in port, but when one of the big ones arrives, it gets crazy busy. It’s the difference between an extra 500 people versus an extra 3000 to 5000 people. The town is small, only two or three streets.
After our gelato, Ellen searched for a pair of plain black pants to no avail. I was fading fast, a combination of lack of sleep, fatigue, and the building mid-day heat. There was no breeze to cool things down. We took the local tender back to the boat. Changed into more comfortable clothing (for the monastery we had to cover knees, shoulders, and midriff), we headed to the pool-side restaurant for a bit of lunch, then back to our suite for siesta. We almost missed dinner we were so relaxed as the sun began to set. Luckily Ellen checked the time and we arrived for dinner 30 minutes before they closed. Ellen had a prawn appetizer and sock-eye salmon, I had steak Tarik (seared steak trimmed with pepper corns, fruit, and balsamic reduction) and Filet. The ship misplaced our half bottle of wine which didn’t show up until dinner was almost over. Not a problem in the great scheme of things. I had a small glass and saved the rest for tomorrow’s dinner in restaurant #2, the chef’s choice sampler of food combinations. I’ve read this is not to be missed and requires a reservation 24 hours ahead.
After dinner we sashayed down to the Grand Salon to hear the Seabourn Singers perform old and contemporary selections. They were really good, ending with “rule the world”. We almost continued the evening with dancing at “the club”, but thought better of it. We’re worn out, but tomorrow is another day.
For tomorrow, on the island of Rhodes, we will not take a tour opting instead to wander the old city.
We could get used to this lifestyle. The destinations are stunning; the food wonderful bordering on extravagant; and the company; both guests and crew, are both informative and lots of fun. Aside from my half bottle of wine going missing, everything has been stellar and what’s a bottle of wine in the great scheme of things? From controlling debarkation and embarkation, to remembering our names and providing very personalized service, Seabourn has been in a class by itself.
Tomorrow, the ancient walled city of Rhodes.