Unexpected

I know we just got back from Rhodos but, after having worked this week, I am yet again away from home! This time for a weekend. The plan was to treat my daughter S and her friend T for a nice girls weekend away, just the three of us. Last year T’s mum had done that for the girls and I wanted to return the favour (I had long promised to do so). T has had to deal with a lot of troubles and this was an opportunity for something fun. Alas, it turns out that T isn’t well and was no longer able to come! The cottage I had rented at a reasonable last-minute price was non-refundable. So, quite unexpectedly, we decided to go there as a family instead. We arrived this afternoon and leave again on Monday morning.

The cottage is in the north of The Netherlands, about a two hour drive away from where I live…

It looks like this…

… with this as my view right now as I blog on my phone…

…and I hope that when T is better we can do that weekend away together sometime, here or elsewhere…

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Rhodos cats

Before we even went to Rhodos, I knew we’d be seeing a lot of stray cats. As a cat lover, my cat radar is always active and naturally I noticed the street cats everywhere we went. Every town had them. What struck me is that I never really saw stray dogs even though I was told that they would be there as well. It was all about the stray cats on Rhodos for us. Some didn’t look great, many had scratched noses or other scars, but there were also cats that looked alright and seemed to be fed. From the start, my camera was pointed towards the cats we came across.

The first cats we noticed were the cats living opposite our hotel. There were about 6 to 8 cats there. There was food for them and water and there was one mum with her baby. The baby cat loved a cuddle, mum cat appreciated strokes as well…

We saw a lot of cats on Rhodos. There were black and white cats…

… and ginger (and white) cats…

… and black cats…

… and white cats…

… and white with other colours cats…

… and several more cats of other colours…

We had several personal encounters with cats. In Rhodos city, my daughter approached a mum and kittens. The mum wasn’t too keen on being touched, but especially the one kitten really wanted contact and proceeded to weave around my daughter’s legs…

Mr Esther, my daughter and I were at a Rhodos city park one afternoon and came across a mum and her kittens. They looked well and there was food and water for them. The kittens were keen on cuddling, one even spontaneously climbed into my daughter’s lap and tried to play with her earphones…

At one of the monasteries we went to, we came across a well-looking cat who was very eager to be touched, she followed us around everywhere…

I was curious to find out whether there were any charities on Rhodos that looked after the cats. I found one charity called ‘Kalithea Cats’. They operate locally in the town of Kalithea, and are mostly a charity that feeds and cares for local cats that come to them. People know to find them and regularly, when they arrive at the shelter in the mornings, they’ll find cats and kittens that have been left outside the enclosure. Cats are also brought to them from all over the island. My daughter and I were very curious to see this shelter, so we made a point of visiting it one morning, bringing some cat food with us to donate to them. The shelter is situated in a shady spot right outside Kalithea’s main tourist attraction, the Kalithea springs. As we approached, we saw cats lying around outside the enclosure (which is only used for cats that need special care)…

The enclosure is not so large…

… and the volunteers told us about their work, while also going about their business. The two main people seemed to be the English lady who also answers messages on their Facebook page (and replied to my request to come and vist) and a German lady. They both have been living on Rhodos for quite a few years.

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In the summer they care for a lot of kittens, either without mums or where mums and/or kittens are ill. In the fall, at the end of tourist season when hotels and resorts close in neighbouring tourist hotspot Faliraki, many cats come to the shelter for food. They care for sick animals (there are regular disease outbreaks and eye diseases are quite common) and they care for animals that have been abused. They also try to have as many cats neutered as possible. Occasionally cats get adopted, sometimes even internationally, but they don’t have the resources to organize international adoption. They will allow cats to go if people can arrange all formalities themselves, but arranging all that takes some time. Some cats are also adopted to Germany through an organization called ‘Flying Cats’ who comes to collect some adoptable cats twice a year.

We helped out a bit with feeding the cats. I stood guard over the food of one spooked cat (who had been abused in the past and had a scrappy, half tail because it had been set on fire once) so that she could eat in peace without fear of her food being eaten by others. Spooky cat had been gone for a long time, the staff had feared she had died, and she’d only resurfaced recently so they were determined to have her eat as well as possible. My daughter alerted one of the volunteers to a wound in one of the cat’s neck. Not a deep wound, but it did need a little attention. And there was also time for cuddling the cats and giving them a little attention…

When we left again, we promised to donate some money (mentioning Kalithea cats in the donation) to help them buy food and other necessities for the cats…

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So, for #InternationalCatDay I made my donation…

I always knew I loved cats but now I have the suspicion that it could easily turn into something more, that one day I may turn into an old cat-lady caring for tons of cats myself…

The end of our Rhodos holiday

Our holiday on Rhodos is over and I wanted to share some final pictures of our final week there.

On the Wednesday nine days ago, after we had visited Kalithea, we picked up an already roasted chicken from a nearby supermarket, baked some potatoes and made a salad to eat on our hotel room balcony when there suddenly was a loud knock on our door. Mr Esther (finishing dinner preparation) answered the door while I was out on the balcony setting the table, already in pj’s after taking a shower. I heard a cheerful hullabaloo, went inside to see what was going on and came upon a huge surprise: my two brothers who both live in Israel were standing there and grinning! While reading updates in our family chat about our holiday, my younger brother Yo had thought, “why not also pop over to Rhodos for a surprise visit for a few days?”. The flight time from Tel Aviv is only 90 minutes, after all. Yo had wheedled info from my kids on text to find out where exactly we were staying, he shared the plan with my oldest brother Day, and their plan unfolded (booking an Airbnb not far from our hotel). It was an awesome surprise!

My brothers had just eaten, but joined us for our dinner and helped pick the chicken clean. The next few days, during the day, we did what we had planned and they did what they wanted to see. We visited the butterfly valley, for instance (mentioned that in my previous post), while Day and Yo went to sightsee in Rhodos city (something we had already done). In the late afternoons and evenings we all met up for dinner and drinks and catching up and laughter.

Day also rented a quad and went off on his own with that for a day but in the afternoon took my daughter for a ride; the next afternoon it was my son’s turn for a ride as we all headed up to Filerimos monastery together.

The kids, Mr Esther and I had been to Filerimos in our first week and this time Mr Esther and I actually went inside the monastery with Day coming with us…

… while Yo and the kids strolled around the grounds…

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Yo and Day had arrived on the Wednesday and left again on Sunday morning. We had another half week of Rhodos left where we mostly explored the less inhabited middle and south part of the island. We stopped by the ruins of a castle, which also gave us beautiful views…

… with later in the afternoon a stop for an hour or two at a beach…

The inland has beautiful hills…

… and on our way back to the hotel one evening we stopped at a restaurant in the hills during sunset for dinner. It was so beautiful to eat there!

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The inland / south has also seen its fair share of fires, still visible in the landscape…

We’ve been to a monastery inland which houses the most sacred icon on Rhodos…

… and we’ve been to the south tip of the island, which is a very windy beach with lots of surfers. We didn’t swim there…

… but took a dip on another beach instead on our last full day on Rhodos…

Our last day on the island was this past Wednesday (August 8th). We had to vacate our hotel room at noon, transfer to the airport would be happening at 4 pm. So, we left our suitcases at the hotel and walked the 10 minutes to the beach. No swimming (we had no towels with us, plus sand and salt in hair and on skin are a drag when you still have to fly) but we relaxed by the seaside on beach chairs with this view over the blue blue sea and view to Rhodos across the bay…

The kids loved such a sun and swim drenched holiday and for a change didn’t want to go home! But alas, all good things must end some time and after two and a half weeks we journeyed home again. We arrived at home just before midnight on Wednesday night and now have many new lovely memories to look back on.

More impressions of Rhodos

Some more to share of beautiful Rhodos, like the ruins of the ancient town of Kamiros…

A lizard we watched for a while…

We saw some old, small, medieval churches with still intact 15th century frescoes (and at one monastery were required to dress modestly, hence long pants and long scarf around my daughter’s waist)…

We’ve tried out a few beaches (also snorkeled)…

We’ve seen pretty sunsets…

We’ve been back to the city of Rhodos…

… and visited the antiquities museum and the grand master’s palace (with mosaics mostly recovered from the island of Kos)…

… we saw a small medieval 10th – 12th century (opinions are divided) church with frescoes…

We went to Kallithea Springs…

We’ve seen scores of butterflies (which apparently technically are moths) in a Butterfly Valley. Camouflaged they are easy to photograph, in flight rather difficult (and that’s when they reveal the red underneath their wings)…

And there are always goats to be seen, even on the road following their farmer driving a truck…

This isn’t the last of it, there are more pictures, but those are still on my camera. Leaves more to share & blog about in time! 😎

Rhodos – hot and beautiful

We’re having a grand time on our family holiday! It’s evening as I start typing this post on the large balcony of our hotel room. My view as I type is this (click to enlarge) and on the right you see me in a corner of the balcony at my laptop (picture taken a few days ago)…

Not such a bad place to be blogging! It’s been very hot here (not surprisingly), but with daily dips into the pool or into the sea, it has been very doable! We also go sightseeing, but find shadow spots, drink lots of water and just take it easy.

So far, we’ve been to Filerimos monastery (not inside but on the grounds), which is in the nearby hills and gives beautiful views of the stunning surroundings…

We stopped in the village of Archangelos to take a look at the church there…

We’ve been to Rhodos city…

My daughter made a clear statement at one point of what she thought of me taking pictures of her, but couldn’t resist petting a street cat that came to claim her attention and she did want a picture of that…

Speaking of street cats, there are so many here on Rhodos. I’m a cat lover and it’s not always easy to see the miserable ones but we have also seen cats (like the one my daughter petted) that seem quite alright. Here are some of the cats I’ve taken pictures of in several places on Rhodos…

Mr Esther and I have also felt brave, leaving our kids alone at the hotel for a few hours, at the pool…

… while he and I drove to the village of Psynthos…

We had a lovely lunch at a local restaurant (had the best dolmades I have ever tasted in my life there!) and watched the world go by for, oh, I think two hours!

It’s amazing how much can be observed in such a small village over that amount of time! The street cats know exactly where to go to get some food. The red cat stopped by each restaurant on the square and was rewarded at least once, two other cats were rewarded by our neighbours at the table next to us (by the time they came near us, we had finished eating)…

Two boys were having a hell of a lot of fun on a bike…

Deliveries were made, like from this truck that drove through the village with watermelons…

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At one point a car parked in front of a neighbouring restaurant, a monk stepped out, walked to the restaurant, talked with the people there, and one of them came to the parked car, opened the boot and started unloading sacks of (I think) potatoes. The monk then proceeded to help set the table at the restaurant for what I presume was the family who owned the place…

There was a group of young men at the restaurant opposite ours who sat there at least as long as we had been sitting at our spot, chatting and playing cards…

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… and a little old lady who’d been walking around took some rest in the shade under one of the very old olive trees…

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I love people watching!

We also visited the very beautiful (but touristy) town of Lindos…

… and went for a 90 minute ‘cruise’ in a glass bottom boat…

That day was Mr Esther’s and my 19th (!!!! Where has the time gone?) wedding anniversary (and 26,5 years together). The mini cruise took us right by the rocks that were featured in the Gregory Peck movie The Guns of Navarone; these are the rocks where the team had to climb up at the beginning of the movie and the kids took a picture of us there…

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We later climbed up to the Lindos Acropolis, which the captain said was older than the Athens Acropolis. Not so much of the original build has been preserved but some of it has been restored. It was very beautiful there, with beautiful views over the Mediterranean…

We also visited an Ostrich farm, which served Ostrich omelet and Ostrich burgers!

My daughter was invited to stand on Ostrich eggs, which are apparently so strong they can take up to 150 kg of weight (I didn’t dare test that theory myself)…

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And at the farm, my son was the goat-whisperer. I swear, every goat he petted loved it and leaned into his touch…

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We’ve been here for over a week, have swum either in the pool or in the sea pretty much every day, and we’ve already seen quite a lot. It’s a whole different world from where we live, it’s pretty and fascinating and there will be more to come! We have another week and a half to go. 🙂