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Pole to Pole

Day 47: Marmaris to Rhodes

Michael Palin - Pole to PoleWhen we leave our hotel some guests are already staking out sunbeds, and frankly, I wish I could join them. Our journey across the Mediterranean now looks a lot of effort. There is no direct maritime connection between Turkey and Egypt, but if we can reach Limassol in Cyprus there is a connection from there to Port Said. However, the Greek Cypriots, still bitter about the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in 1974, will not allow Turkish-registered vessels into their ports. Our only chance is to travel to Greece first and hope to pick up a boat to Limassol from there. This will add to our schedule and our workload which, with the whole of Africa still to go, is the last thing we need.

We join the queue for tickets on the ferry to Rhodes, the nearest of the Greek islands, fifty miles to the south. The fact that we are carrying equipment and luggage for a world trip does not make things easier. These small boats are hard pushed to squeeze 200 people aboard. But persuasive and persistent work by Clem and Angela secure us the places, and we join the backpackers and the Italian bikers. My last memory of Marmaris is a quayside shop sign advertising the services of 'Doctor Satan, Gynaecologist'.

The crossing to Rhodes starts idyllically as we push through the narrow gap of the bay and run out alongside the Bozburun peninsula in what is unarguably a turquoise sea. But a stiff westerly wind lurks round the end of the peninsula and whacks us hard on the starboard side. The Italians rush to the stern to lash down their BMWs, and it only takes one substantial wave across the upper deck to cause an exodus of distressed sunbathers clutching soggy paperbacks.

Around lunchtime we land below the well-preserved medieval fortifications of Rhodes town. The Knights of St John built them when they took over the island in 1309. The Turks then ruled for nearly 400 years until they were evicted by the Italians in 1912. Rhodes has only been a part of Greece since 1945. We book into a tiny, characterful guest-house called the Cava d'Oro built into the city walls and bearing the date 1281. Accommodation is simple and cramped and seems to attract backpackers with huge loads who get wedged in the doorway.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Pole to Pole
  • Day: 47
  • Country/sea: Turkey
  • Place: Marmaris
  • Book page no: 104

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