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The Holy Land Cruise

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Part 6 - Rhodes / Sea Day

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Day 7 – Rhodes

Let me begin the review of this day just like we began the day itself – with some impressions of the Ocean View Café. As on all the other days, the breakfast was excellent and the choice of food was fantastic.

Different kinds of bread, pastry and delicious whole meal muffins (“Feelgood Muffins”) formed the base.
 

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And even beyond that, nothing was left to be desired.

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Seats were always available, both inside and on the outer deck, which we preferred.

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And if, like today, the sun was giving us her biggest smile, what else could we possibly have asked for?

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The Silhouette wasn’t the only ship visiting Rhodes that day. TUI’s “Mein Schiff 2” was here as well, just anchoring at a short distance from the shore. Does she look familiar to you?

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Rhodes was another port we wanted to explore walking. I had found a useful map on the internet, and the tour on it would take us to all the interesting corners of town.

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We already had a beautiful view of the town, surrounded by an old city wall, from the deck of the ship.

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We could also see Mandraki Harbour, which wasn’t only the starting point of our tour but is also said to be the site of the legendary Colossus of Rhodes.

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Still at the cruise port we found this beautiful sculpture.

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The strongholds of the ramparts and the city walls reminded me of Malta.

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Right at the fishing port we found this converted old fishing boat. The bright colors of the sponges, shells and other curiosities for sale were nice to look at.

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A few more pictures of the “Mein Schiff 2” taken on our way to Mandraki Harbour.

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Does she still look familiar to you? OK, I will solve the riddle... The German company TUI Cruises is a joint venture of TUI and Royal Caribbean. When founded in 2008 they started with two used ships, the “Mein Schiff 1 & 2” (My Ship). The two ships were the former Celebrity Galaxy and Mercury. So if she looked familiar to you, it is because you probably know her as the old Celebrity Mercury.

By the way: TUI Cruises is very successful and rapidly expanding. Brand new “Mein Schiff 3 & 4”, very modern and luxurious ships, are already sailing, 5 & 6 will follow before 2018 and 7 & 8 are already ordered.

Of course there were also many other motives without a (big) ship in the background.

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Mandraki Harbour was the ancient military port of Rhodes. Statues of a deer and a stag mark the spots where once the Colossus of Rhodes is said to have stood.

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Little guys like this one live in the walls by the water.

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Not far from the harbor we found the New Market with some shops and restaurants.

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Following our tour we passed through the Eleftherias Gate and went inside the city walls.

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The Municipal Art Gallery is just behind the gate.

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Not far behind we turned right into the Street of the Knights. This street was the main road to the Palace of the Grand Masters of the Knights Hospitaller.

Even today ornate facades recount the former importance of the buildings.
 

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I liked these old buildings a lot and couldn’t get enough of them.

At the end of the street we passed through a gateway, behind which we turned right and reached the Palace of the Grand Masters.

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Afterwards we reached Orfeu Street, a street with many restaurants leading past a bell Tower. For an admission fee you can climb the tower and visit the bar at the top which is said to give you a great view. The fee includes one free drink. But we chose to have a drink in one of the cozy restaurants in the street.

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Following the road, we came past the Suleiman Mosque and the Turkish Library.

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Even if they were quite touristy, we liked the narrow streets and colorful shops very much and enjoyed their special flair. I liked to imagine how life in the city walls must have been during the time of the knights in the 7th century.

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The walking tour led us outside the city walls through another small gate.

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For a while the tour followed the exterior of the city walls, where we found more interesting and beautiful objects.

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We re-entered the walled old town through another gate (Gate of St. John). The way back inside was very interesting. It led across various bridges and through many gates and walls, which made us aware of the dimensions and complexity of these fortifications.

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Following this street (Pythargora) we entered a completely different part of the old town. Although the alleys were just as narrow and winding as on the previous pictures, they were much less touristy. We saw a completely different face; some doors opened to the street and offered a direct glimpse of a bed in someone’s simple bedroom or a kitchen, where a woman was in the middle of cooking a meal.

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Naturally, this street eventually took us back to the touristy part of the old town and the Hippocrates Square.

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Here, not only people could cool down in the countless restaurants around the square, but also birds refreshed themselves at the fountain in the center of the square.

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We followed suit and found ourselves a table on the upper level of one of the restaurants. Over some grilled feta and gyros we watched the crowd below before we continued our tour.

From one side of the square, the Marine Gate led back to the port.

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We didn´t return to the ship yet, but followed the street on the other side of the square along further shops and more interesting old buildings.

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And so we reached the Sea Horse Fountain at the Square of the Jewish Martyrs, reminiscent of a poorer part of history. At the time of the German occupation, this was where Jews were rounded up for deportation by the German Wehrmacht.

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At the end of this street we left the old town through the Milon Gate, through which we could already see the blue sea.

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Which is where the beautiful Celebrity Silhouette was waiting for us.

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With Celebrity, we always enjoy the welcome back aboard. Friendly souls greeting you with warm smiles offering wet towels, water and fruit punch.

We indulged again in our cherished routine and went for a drink at the Sunset Bar to give this beautiful town an appropriate farewell.

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To us, this day wasn’t only special because of the visit to Rhodes. It was also our anniversary. On 10/10 a few years back we said “I do” under blue skies in New York’s Central Park.

I love my wife, and I am very happy with her. But I’d like to repeat one particular compliment I have already made her – and basically us – because it just fits: We travel sooo well together! Our choice of vacation, our interests on vacation and our togetherness on vacation are so harmonious that it contributes a lot to the joy of our trips. We simply experience together, which is great and not to be taken for granted. (Thank you, darling!)

Already on embarkation day we had booked a table for 10/10 at the Tuscan Grille, which we remembered so well from our Constellation cruise. However, we slightly regretted the early booking. As already mentioned, on board the specialty restaurants were now advertised with a 50% discount. But it didn’t matter, we just wanted to enjoy the meal, and we did. Food and service were excellent, just as we knew it. When we were just about to burst after delicious starters, wonderful steaks and heavenly desserts, the waiter arrived with a surprise for our anniversary. How kind!
 

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When we got the bill, the very friendly restaurant manager asked again if everything had been alright and mentioned that they had deducted 30% from the total – unsolicited and without any request on our part! What a nice gesture! A perfect ending of a perfect day...

 

 

Day 8 – At Sea


It was ideal that we had a day at sea to recover before we’d reach the highlight of the cruise. It was another day with beautiful weather so we could enjoy our breakfast on the terrace in the sun at the aft of the ship again. We had actually planned on having breakfast at the BLU, which is also excellent. But the fresh sea breeze, the sun and the view made us change our minds – again.

A little tour of the buffet:

 

 

At breakfast we summarized the past few days on the Greek Isles. Birgit said she could easily do it again... What a dare! My discovery nerve was tickled. I had a mission. This in combination with a sea day, and I was in my element!

The Celebrity homepage, just like the RCCL page, is accessible onboard via Wifi at no extra charge. But before I could browse it for possible routes, we had to go through passport control of the Israeli authorities. We had already received a paper the night before, telling us the time at which we were to present ourselves.

We joined the queue. When we saw Doug and Luis arrive (the couple from Aventura/Miami we had met in Taormina), we told them we had already been waiting for them, so we could stand and wait together... And so the waiting was filled with nice conversation. At some stage we reached a first desk, collected our passports and moved on to another official. A brief “Hello” and one or two questions, a stamp on the landing card (not in the passport) and we could leave. On special request you can also have your passport stamped directly. But if you travel a lot and only own one passport, this is not recommended. There is a long list of countries who consider and Israeli stamp a refusal of entry.

We had such an animated conversation with Doug and Luis that we continued it in the cozy seats of the Martini Bar and talked the time away until lunchtime. While Birgit decided to spend some time in the sun, the other three of us had a look at what the buffet had to offer. Unfortunately, the dishes at the Thai and Asian corner were very tasty again...

In the tranquility of the „Hideaway“ I used the afternoon to look for cruises to the Eastern Mediterranean/Greek Isles on the Solstice Class and found three possible trips which I wrote down to compare and show to Birgit.

The right time to enjoy a good latte macchiato from the self service coffee station in this stylish area.
 

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It wasn’t difficult to spend the rest of the day, either. Gym, sauna, Apple class, food... it sure wasn’t boring. When we went to bed after a drink in the Sky Lounge, we did so in happy anticipation of the next day, which to us represented the highlight of the cruise.

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