Adventures have a life span.
The dawn of an idea. The early blush of trip planning. The last-minute anticipation and anxiety on the eve of leaving. The crystal-clear yet bleary-eyed reality of travel. The tentative appreciation of a destination. The riveting reality of a new corner of the world ripe for exploration. The ADVENTURE!
Then the looming end of it all. The counting down of days. The new memories relived among new memories still being made. The packing of treasures and dirty laundry. The fond farewells and promises to return.
And then, inevitably, the leaving.
We were coming to the end of our travels in Greece, sailing from our secluded anchorage in Tilos, skirting along the northern coast of Rhodes, and arriving once again in Mandraki Harbor, where we had begun the whole thing. And I was already missing it. Both the good and the bad. Stolen plums, ouzo dreams, dormant volcanos, impossible stars, and gracious grandmothers in the kitchen.
Although we had spent a considerable amount of time on the island of Rhodes, our experience with the capital of Rhodes City itself had been from the window of the rental car or the taxi taking us to the yacht excursion. Now arriving back in the city, we would have several days to explore this coastal metropolis that had successfully wedded the ancient to the medieval to the modern.
We booked a deluxe corner room at the Athineon Hotelli that accommodated all four of us for less than $100 USD per night. Boasting an excellent pool facility with a chic bar and a sea view from our room, we felt like we hit the jackpot with this place. And, looking up the current prices, my feelings then have now been confirmed. At over $300 USD per night now, it looks like the Greek economy has undertaken a full recovery. While I’m happy for Greece, I’m sad that I now must redouble my saving efforts to be able to afford a return visit.
No matter the price, however, the Athineon Hotelli provides the perfect location. We stepped out the front door of the hotel and crossed the road to find the high wooded grounds surrounding the walls of ancient Rhodes. A short walk along the busy port road brought us to the Old Town gate and entrance to the ancient fortified walls of this timeless city.
We hiked the perimeter of the fortifications, taking in the towers and arrow slits that once terrified and repelled invaders but now welcomed tourists and local dance troupes. Being the former, we stumbled upon the latter and bemusedly watched proud parents encourage their children on a stage where Sophocles and Euripides once directed their actors.
Once we had circumnavigated the the city’s original walls, we were famished and sorely in need of adult beverages. Fortunately, there were several enticing restaurants from which to choose. We settled on the Lindos Garden Restaurant to sate our appetite and then hopped from venue to venue, sampling Greek and Mediterranean cuisine until we could eat no more. And it was all fantastic.
By complete accident and sheer luck, we fumbled our way to the Street of the Knights, where I had posed with my brother, Steve, nearly thirty years ago, the famous arch in the background and our whole lives ahead of us. Angela and I recreated the moment with Zack and Ben. Hopefully, they will recreate it again with their children someday. Returning, generation after generation, to this place that stands firm against time and cares not for us or our traditions.
But we found a way to make our own, new traditions as well. On the northernmost tip of Rhodes, Elli Beach is a mix of Orange Beach for its hometown charm, Bondi Beach for its cosmopolitan flair, and the Point of Ayr for its rocky geography. Angela and I bounced our way along the beachside bars and restaurants, holding down the fort as Zack and Ben repeatedly tenderfooted their way out into the surf and back again.
About 200 yards off the shore of Elli Beach stands a diving platform that boasts three levels of difficulty, the highest culminating at 15 feet. Ben dared me to swim out to the platform with him and dive from the highest level. With GoPro in hand, I accepted the challenge and, on the way out, understood why the boys had made so many trips to and from the water — a portion of Elli Beach is dedicated to topless patrons. (Reason enough for Zack and Ben to want to return to Rhodes someday.)
We jumped, dropped, and dove from the highest platform into the emerald and azure sea, counting each splash among our last for this adventure. For our time, this time, in Greece had come to an end.
And though we had seen more than we expected, more than most ever do, we left with a longing to return. The boys had found a place they loved. I had returned to a place I had once loved. A place I could come to love again.
And Angela knew in an instant, this could someday be called home.