21/6/2010 After a short 35 minute flight from Heraklion we caught a cab to the hotel. The hotel is in the Old Town and this seems to present a problem - we travelled for 15 minutes along the coast lots of huge resorts Sheriton, Hilton etc in high rise buildings, (we have not seen high rise since Athens). On the edge of the city wall we are left to be transferred to a golf buggy for a free shuttle to the hotel. The Old Town is basically all walking streets not even cabs get in, only limited access for residents. Our hotel is very central in this fortified old city; within the large fortified walls are markets, shops, restaurants hotels, museums, small squares and lots of people. We dropped our bags and went out for a cold beer and to watch the parade, lots more family groups and younger people, the town is known as a party town and our hotel had a warning on the hotel website saying that it could be very noisy at nights because it backs onto a disco and bar area! We only booked on the net for one night in case we had problems.
We went for a good look around plenty of restaurants and bars. We decided to eat next door to the hotel in a family restaurant - daughter, son and mum (the cook) - we were shown into the kitchen to view the specials of the day and chose artichokes cooked in tomato just fantastic, lemon beef and rooster apparently more flavoursome than the feminine alternative! We went to bed about 11 pm slept well and were not disturbed by music so booked for two more nights.
22/6/2010 Our first walking tour around town was to the Knights Quarter, to walk up the Avenue of the Knights that leads the home of the Grand Master of the Knights of St John of Jerusalem. This was where the Knights lived and they were divided into seven "tongues" or languages which indicated where they originated - England, France, Germany, Italy, Aragon, Auvergne and Provence. Each group was responsible for defending a section of the wall. The Grand Palace at the top of the Avenue is now a museum but was an important meeting place with 158 rooms although all not open to the public, somewhat like many grand castles in England, Cardiff Castle etc, Although originally dating from the 1300's when the Knights were forced to leave Jerusalem and moved to Rhodes it was successfully defended against all enemies until 1532 when Sultan Suleyman the Magificent finally overcame Rhodes and it fell under Turkish rule. It remained under the Ottamens until 1912 when it was extensively renovated by the Italians - to be a summer palace for King Emmanuel II !! Many of the floors are ancient mosaics removed from Kos for those renovations. The Knights moved to Malta and continue to meet to this day.
After a cappuchino freddo we walked through town to the harbour, booked our tickets for Symi for tomorrow and checked out the shops!(Mal loves that part!!) Lunch upstairs looking down the main shopping street. At the Greek shop opposite the lady had undergone a major upgrade -she had very blond hair , wearing a halter top supported by enhanced hardware and had botoxed lips!! We went to a good restaurant recommended by Lonely Planet (waitress was from Scotland). Quite a number of young women from all parts of the world appear to become attached to young Greek men and end up staying for many years!