Sunday, June 11, 2017

Rodos log 6: The Jewish Quarter

I woke up early this morning, so I went for a walk through the old city, which as one can imagine, is deserted at 5:30 am. I was able to repeat some of the video shots which I tried to film a few days previously, which had been slightly ruined by the crowds. Later on, we set off for the Jewish Quarter which is towards the south east part of the city; I thought it would be easier to get there by walking around the city walls from the outside, then entering by the closest gate and walking to the area. This route allowed us to see empty streets which the average tourist does not see. The detailed map which I had was actually rather misleading, as the distances were much smaller in reality than they seemed on the map, so we actually overshot our target. Eventually we found the Kahal Shalom synagogue; I checked the opening times and discovered that we had arrived exactly five minutes before opening.

The synagogue is fairly small, but beautifully upkept. It was exceedingly sad to walk around the synagogue and the accompanying museum, as almost the entire Jewish community of Rodos (then numbering about 4,000 souls) was destroyed by the Nazis in April 1944. A few survivors managed to find their way back to Rodos, but now there are only a handful of Jews living there. We feel an obligation to visit sites of our heritage and honour those who were killed for no reason except their being Jewish. We bought a few items in the gift shop; these were more expensive than their counterparts elsewhere, but the profits go to maintaining the synagogue.

After leaving the synagogue, we were astounded to discover that we were less than 100 metres away from the cafe where we drank the infamous milkshake on the first day. This is another example of the map implying distances which are much less on the ground. Now we knew exactly where we were; we walked back to the seahorse fountain, which is also a Holocaust memorial, carried on a bit more to the fountain which is pictured here, then took the left turn - as opposed to how we entered last week. This was the bottom of Socratous Street; we had been at the top a few days previously.

As opposed to our previous visits to the old city, the streets were much less crowded, which made strolling in them much more palatable. When we remarked on this to a few stallholders, we were told that this is because today is Sunday, which is when many holiday makers return home, to be replaced by new ones. So there are fewer to walk around. Some shops don't bother opening on Sundays.

We stopped in a gift shop where we bought a wide selection of jams, soap, ouzo and sweets. The shop is called Natura Greca and the manager told me that one can order items (though not olive oil, jam or honey) from the website. We were attended to by a very nice sales assistant (well, she must be nice as she laughed at all my jokes) who no doubt steered my wife to spend a bit more than she intended. Thinking about it, there were several shop assistants available, which is not the normal practice. There was also a collection of items carved from olive wood, but these were quite expensive and we declined to buy any. I am sure that the goods on sale are available in one form or another at several other shops.

From there, we continued northwards, in effect taking our evening stroll from a few days ago in reverse. We stopped to talk to one of the stallholders, from whom we had bought linen and dresses for our grand-daughter.

The sharp of eye will have noticed that there is a day missing from this holiday log: yesterday we had nothing planned, which is just as well as we woke up late. This was partially due to the exertions of Symi and partially to the amount of noise (mainly the wind) that night, which made it difficult for me to fall asleep. The only action of note was going to have a massage at the Anesis massage wellness center, which is next to the Blue Sky hotel.

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