Christmas part two

So, Christmas is always two days here in The Netherlands. Christmas Day on the 25th and what is Boxing Day in the UK is called “Second Christmas Day” over here.

Traditionally, we celebrate Christmas Day with my in-laws. Mr Esther is an only child, so it’s only the 6 of us. The in-laws came over in the afternoon of the 25th and stayed for a nice low-key but festive dinner that Mr Esther prepared (he enjoys doing that way more than I do)…

20181225_183633_resized

Yesterday, the 26th and Second Christmas Day, we always celebrate with my family at my mother’s apartment. I have loads of brothers and sisters and only one of them and his kids couldn’t be there, they’re in Israel. The rest were able to come, even my brother and niece who live in London. So it was pretty busy with my mom, my aunt, 6 siblings with 2 partners and a friend, and 7 nephews and nieces. My mom always starts with reading a passage from the bible and a little speech, this year it was about having compassion for others.

20181226_162504_resized20181226_162451_resized20181226_162445_resized

My dad is still very much missed and was also commemorated…

20181226_162207_resized

We then celebrated Christmas with a few gifts and everyone had brought something to eat for a buffet dinner. There was music and dancing and a lot of jolliness…

… and within no time my younger brother J spawned an idea: he wants to take my two kids (17 and 15) and my other brother’s daughter (14) to London to stay with my third brother D and his daughter (also 14) over New Year’s! D and his daughter were totally up for it, and after checking flight info it became clear that this idea was very affordable. So, within an hour of the idea being born, a flight for four was booked to London and the four of them will be staying at D’s around New Year’s! This means that for the first time in 17 years Mr Esther and I won’t have a New Year’s Eve with our kids… that makes me sad but at the same time I am also thrilled that they are going on this mini adventure with my brothers! Great cousins and uncles bonding time.

The upside is that Mr Esther and I can go off and do something on our own. So, we booked a hotel in Hamburg and will spend a few days there around the New Year, just the two of us! I’ve only once ever very briefly passed through Hamburg before, know little about the place but am told it’s a fun city. Now we’ll get to see for ourselves. If it’s going to look anything like this, it’ll be cool!

This Christmas break keeps on giving. Perfect respite after the shit time I’ve been having at work. I hope to be so filled up with joy and happiness that by the time I return to work, I will be energized again and maybe things will feel a little lighter.

Advertisements

The Rhodos-Navarone-Peck trail

This past summer I was on the Greek island of Rhodos, it was beautiful there (I wrote about it here, here and here)! It was also the location where a lot of the movie The Guns of Navarone was filmed.

My first real fangirl crush in my teens was Gregory Peck and I still love the man. I went on a Roman Holiday pilgrimage in Rome 8 years ago, which is 4 years BB (Before Blog), so I’ve only gotten around to mentioning that in passing here. Now that I’m already 4 years into blogging (I’m just realizing as I write this that I missed my 4 year blogiversary at the end of September), I’m aware that my latest pilgrimage could also be blog post material. So, here is an account of my pilgrimage from last summer: figuring out where exactly Gregory Peck & team filmed The Guns of Navarone!

Guns-of-Navarone-banner

In a movie challenge I once did here on blog, I named this movie as a favourite war movie. I can appreciate a good war movie but tend to not watch them more than once. The Guns of Navarone is one of the few exceptions, mainly due to Gregory Peck. Even though the movie is 57 years old (filmed 10 years before I was born, released 9 years before I was born) I realized while I visited the island that there are still traces to be found of the time when Navarone was filmed there. I discovered that it was mostly filmed in Rhodos city and Lindos and the stretch of land between those two towns.

Near the (extremely touristy and busy) Faliraki (halfway between Rhodos and Lindos) there is a hotel called the “Gregory Peck Beach Apartments”! Of course, I just had to drive by that… If I had realized this existed before booking our holiday, we could have rented rooms there, but in the end I think we were happier with where we were. So, I just took some quick drive-by pictures of the Gregory Peck beach hotel…

A little further south of Faliraki you can find the (also extremely busy) “Anthony Quinn bay”. Anthony Quinn bought that bay while he was filming Navarone, although I understand that in the 1980’s the land was reclaimed by Rhodos. Whatever the squabble with that was, the bay is still called “Anthony Quinn bay”. We didn’t swim there (too crowded) but I did get out of the car to take a few pictures there as well:

In the nearby Kalithea springs (right next to the cat sanctuary we visited) there were pictures on the walls commemorating the movies made there, most prominently Navarone…

I’m not sure what was exactly filmed at Kalithea, maybe this scene?

Kallithea maybe

… but cool to see the film referenced there!

I have screencapped some locations shown in the movie and I have my own pictures (and some of Mr Esther’s) that we took this past summer. Putting those side by side made me see how much of the fictional place of Navarone was photoshopped (or whatever they called that technique in the early 1960’s). Navarone is made up of parts of the town of Lindos mixed in with parts of Rhodos city, but more about that later.

The film opens in a temple, which is the temple of Lindos…

Lindos templeI don’t know if they reconstructed the temple somewhat for the film or whether more than 50 years later the temple has just fallen into more disrepair. This is what it looks like now…

Lindos temple now (3)

Here are some more pictures of the temple in the film next to my own; these columns for instance…

Lindos temple (3)Lindos temple now (9)

… or stairs on the temple grounds…

Lindos temple (5)Lindos temple now (1)Lindos temple now (8)

… which makes me suspect they put in more coast scenery in the film than I remember actually seeing there.

In this following comparison, my picture was taken pretty much on the spot where Gregory Peck himself stood! Now if that isn’t following in Peck’s footsteps, then I don’t know what is.

Lindos temple (4)Lindos temple now (10)

Early on in the movie Gregory Peck awaits some of his team at a harbour, this was filmed in the old harbour of the city of Rhodos…

Rhodos harbour (1)Rhodos harbour now (3)Rhodos harbour now (2)

When we came back to the harbour on another day, there was a boat covering the arch, but I stood on the same pier Gregory Peck had stood on (didn’t go much further, so not quite in Peck’s spot, as this pier was a private gated area that we had asked to take a quick look at).Rhodos harbour (2)Rhodos harbourRhodos Harbour now

The real photoshopping happens when you look at the fortress rock with the guns and the town at the foot of that rock. This is what we see in the movie…

Guns rock (2)

That was filmed in Lindos with that horseshoe bay, which actually looks like this…

Guns rock nowGuns rock now (1)

In the movie, the town at the foot isn’t white, like Lindos is, but dark and it’s also fortified. They had also added on a huge rock where the guns from the movie title are situated. I found an archive picture of the rock add-on:

Guns rock set

There is also a little fortress at the foot of that rocky mountain which houses the guns. That little fortress in real life is nowhere near Lindos, but is another part of the old Rhodos harbour, so this was photoshopped into the frame as well for that location.

FortressFortress now

The gate to the fortress, at the bottom of the fortress hill, is in actual fact one of the gates of Rhodos city…

There’s a shot inside the gate and while going through our pictures I found a shot of ours inside a gate which I think may be the same location:

Gate insideGate inside now (2)

There is a gate to a bridge with at the other end another gate and that one I immediately recognized from my own pictures. It was a nice spot, also in Rhodos.

Another gate was visible in the movie, which is in actual fact also a Rhodos city gate…

There was a shot of a street with at the end what I know to be a mosque in Rhodos…

Rhodos mosque backgroundRhodos mosque background now

And there was some action filmed on a square, which I think may be a square that I photographed as well. The stairs on the left in the screencap are, I think, the stairs on the right in my picture. Also in Rhodos.

Rhodos townRhodos town now

In the movie we see our hero Gregory in front of what looks like a little gazebo. It’s actually the washing place of what used to be a mosque, yet again in Rhodos…

At the beginning of the movie, the team must scale some cliffs…

During a boat tour we did near Lindos, we stopped at what the captain said were the cliffs that action sequence was filmed on…

And these scenes…

… look like they may have been filmed in the aforementioned Anthony Quinn Bay (not far from where those cliffs were scaled)…

AQuinnBay (6)

Somewhere halfway through the movie you see a wedding party walking through a very white-washed town…

Although I wouldn’t exactly know where that is, it looked an awful lot like Lindos which is completely white-washed…

A little further on the wedding party was celebrating outside on a square. While I don’t remember an open space large enough in Lindos for this to be set in (it’s all quite narrow there), there were many elements that still made it feel like this may also have been filmed somewhere in Lindos, possibly right outside town where there are now parking lots. In Lindos, but also on some other parts of the island, there were white-washed tree trunks, also seen in the movie…

VIllage (5)Village now painted treeAnd the town square, though different, made me think of the town of Psynthos where we ate lunch a few times.

VIllage (3)Village now

The tower shown at the beginning of the film even looked a little like the Psynthos tower or another tower we saw in Archangelos…

VIllage (1)Village tower now

Of course, while I was in Rhodos I wasn’t aware of most of these locations having been in the film. I did know the harbour and Lindos bay were in it, but I came across the rest of the locations when I compared screenshots I took from the film to the photos we’d taken. Normally this would be a very Mr Esther-like project, he has far more patience for this stuff,  puzzling over where what was in history and what it looks like now. It was fun combining his historical buildings fascination with my movie-love. He was helpful in finding the exact pier in the harbour that Gregory Peck had stood on or pointing out that the small fortress below the guns was actually located in Rhodos harbour. I’m thinking he may enjoy reading this post and who knows, maybe more changes / comparisons / corrections may come from that. 🙂

vlcsnap-2018-07-24-00h28m12s603

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…

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…

IMG_0689

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!

IMG_1201

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! 😎