Russians Invade Rhodes

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August 24th 2016
Published: June 11th 2017
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Issy is not hungry so I go to breakfast on my own. An older English couple comes in to the restaurant. The man is wearing sandals, beach shorts, a blue shirt and a tie. It looks like he dressed his top half thinking that he was going to work, and then remembered that he was on holiday.

We have decided to spend the first half of the day driving around looking at things, and the second half lying on the beach. Issy seems a bit more relaxed about us driving than she was a couple of days ago. Because they drive on the right hand side of the road in Greece, just about everything in the car is opposite to what we're used to. The driver's seat is on the left hand side of the car, and the indicator is on the left hand side of the steering wheel. The brake is however still on the left side of the accelerator, and both pedals are still positioned so that you have to operate them with your right foot. I wonder why this is. I think it would be more logical if everything was reversed. That said, I'm quite pleased that it isn't. I'm having enough trouble trying to remember to drive on the right hand side of the road without also having to worry about whether I'm pushing the accelerator or the brake.

Our first stop is the Monastery of Panagia Tsambika, which is about a twenty minute drive from the hotel. We drive up a very steep and narrow road to the car park. There are lots of mountain goats in the car park. I don't think that mountain goats are very smart, and they don't seem to be very good at staying out of the way of cars. I hope that one them doesn't decide to butt the car while we're parked here. We have read that we need to climb 300 steps from the car park to the Monastery, which is right at the top of the hill. Every fifth step is numbered. I'm not sure if this is to encourage you because you've climbed a certain number of steps, or to depress you because you've still got a certain number of steps to go. There is a cleared area part way up the hill which is covered with small piles of stones. It looks like people have built these piles as part of some sort of ritual. There is even a stall selling stones. I'm not sure why. There are plenty of them lying around on the ground. None of the piles are more than about five stones high. I suspect that it might be too hard to get anything higher than this to stand up. The views from the top of the hill are excellent, despite it being quite hazy. We see Tsambika Beach to the south. It is long and wide, and lined with sun lounges and beach umbrellas. There is a huge hotel complex to the north, and it seems to have a large water park attached to it. The Monastery church itself is very small. All the signs are only in Greek and Russian and most of the people making the hike up here seem to be Russian. Issy says that the Monastery must have some Russian connection.

Next stop is the Valley of the Butterflies on the other side of the island. The car parks near the entrance to the Valley are all full, so we park on the side of the road up the hill from the entrance. People seem to park their cars almost anywhere here in Rhodes. We decide to do what the locals do and park our car opposite double lines on a very sharp bend in the road.

I need to go to the toilet. It costs 50 cents to use, and to get the door to open I need to put 50 cents in a slot. I only have a two Euro coin, and there is a sign saying 'no change given'. The cleaner is standing outside the door. I know he's the cleaner because he has a mop and bucket. When someone comes out of the toilet he holds the door open for me and tells me to give him 50 cents. He has lots of change in his hand, but he says that he can't give any of it to me because the sign says 'no change given'. I can't be bothered arguing with him.

We start the walk up the valley. It is very pretty with lots of tall trees and a small stream next to the path. There are also lots of signs asking people to be careful not to disturb the butterflies. The butterflies must be very sensitive. The signs discourage people from clapping, or whistling, or rattling anything, or even talking loudly. Smoking is also banned. There are butterflies hanging everywhere. We see far more hanging than flying around. The path goes on for more than a kilometre, and ends at a small monastery at the top of the hill. We get some views through the haze to the west coast of the island.

We've noticed that most of the people at the Valley of the Butterflies also seem to be Russian. I start to wonder why most of the people we've seen today seem to be from Russia. I could understand a Greek Monastery possibly having a Russian connection, but I'm not quite so sure how a Greek valley full of butterflies could have such a link. I wonder if maybe the butterflies migrate to Siberia every summer. On reflection this seems a bit unlikely. It's summer now, and I'm not sure that butterflies migrate. I start to worry. I wonder if Vladimir Putin has hatched a cunning plan to invade Rhodes. I think that it would be quite clever to send thousands of Russian soldiers to Rhodes masquerading as tourists, and then have them take it over. I wonder if our Euros will still be accepted. Maybe we'll have to convert them all to Roubles.

We walk back to our car. There were hundreds of cars between ours and the entrance to the Valley when we got here; now there are none. Our car is sitting all by itself, opposite double lines on a sharp bend in the road. I wonder where all the other cars have gone. There are still plenty of people in the valley. I start to wonder whether this might have something to do with the Russian plot.

We drive back to the hotel. We see some mountain goats walking casually across the busy main road along the coast. I wonder why we haven't seen lots of dead mountain goats on the side of the roads here.

I Google 'Russian connection to Monastery of Panagia Tsambika'. I look at several websites. It seems that there is no Russian connection to the Monastery. I also Google 'do butterflies migrate'. I learn that only one species of butterfly migrates, and it is only found in North America. I go into a cold sweat. I am now almost certain that Russia is about to invade Rhodes. I think that we will wake up tomorrow and find that we are only able to get vodka and caviar from the restaurant. I then think that that doesn't sound totally disastrous. My cold sweat starts to abate.

The Russians have already hijacked the wifi at the hotel. I've been trying to upload photos I took yesterday to the cloud since yesterday afternoon, and it's only uploaded ten of them. That's a photo every two hours. I am finding this very frustrating. Issy read me a Facebook post yesterday that said that if you want to find out what someone is really like before you marry them, you should sit them down in front of a computer with a slow internet connection for a couple of hours. I think it's just as well that we're already married.

We don't manage to get to the beach. Instead I wash clothes in the bath, using detergent that we bought from the supermarket. I thought it was detergent when we bought it, but now I'm not so sure. The label is all in Greek. It doesn't make the water foam, so I use bath soap instead. There are plenty of coat hangers in the wardrobe. It is only when I go to take them into the bathroom that I realise that they are the type of hotel coat hangers that are permanently attached to the wardrobe. I assume that hotels do this to make sure that you don't steal their coat hangers. This seems like a lot of effort to go to stop you from stealing something that is really cheap to buy. I hang the wet clothes on the coat hangers in the wardrobe, and put towels under them to catch the drips. I think that washing clothes in a hotel room is very complicated.

We catch a taxi into Lindos, and have dinner at a restaurant in the main square. It is again very pleasant.

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