Posted: 4/13/2012


       Getting up early to walk from my hotel to the ferry to Rhodes I missed breakfast, but should have waited. The overnight BLUE STAR LINE, overnight from Pireaus was an hour late, and then took an hour to dock, three attempts and another hour wasted, before its last leg.

      It carries 1,800 passengers and 650 cars and trucks and is fairly new, but the 100th anniversary of the Titanic disaster could not escape my mind. Once on board I inspected the lifeboats and my escape route-women and children first- NOT ! WHAT ABOUT ME ! Of course this is Blue Star Lines, NOT the ill fated White Star Lines.

     It brought me back a half century or more when I was a child and a passenger on the SS Princess Victoria, from Stranraer in SW Scotland to Larne in Antrim, north of Belfast. Its a very short trip but on the return journey the spray reached the upper deck and I was not the only one getting seasick. I remember the kind nurse and the ships officers helping me I NEVER SAW THEM AGAIN ! 

      Four months later the ship sank with only 30 survivors after the so called watertight vehicle loading doors took on water.  Four years ago I went to visit the memorial on the quay side in Larne prior to watching Northern Ireland v Sweden at Windsor Park, Belfast.

    Anyway, this 3 plus hour sailing to Rhodes was uneventful and it got calmer and it was very comfortable on board. With so many islands, many too small for an airport, ferries big and small are plentiful. After disembarking I walked into the Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage site which is inside the Knights of St.John fortified walls. I stopped off for a lunch and a Greek draft beer and was soon made to notice three cats brushing against my legs waiting for some scraps.

     I was hoping to catch a football match here at the little 3,000 capacity Diagaros stadium, home of Rodos FC, just outside the Old Town walls, but this weekend is EASTER in the Greek Orthodox calendar, and they were taking the weekend off. I did however find a great little sports pub round the corner from my Hotel Parthenon, which itself had drastically reduced winter rates. Less than 20 Euros a night including breakfast and they even lent me a laptop for free. I am using it for this blog.

     Approaching dusk a religious Epitafios procession passed by the hotel and we all threw rose petals and as they walked by and sang hymns.

     If you ever visit Rhodes go and see the friendly barman at Cafe-Bar VETO at 28 Oktovriou & Stavrou Streets-near the Shell petrol station and 100 metres from the sea.  Viannis is his name, and he supports Olympiakos of Athens and also Liverpool. I watched a rerun of Manchester City v West Brom with him and admired the hundreds of scarves, signed jersey and banners brough by customers/ Leeds United, Ado Den Haag, Uruguay, Svenska football, Pompey are Back ! Leewarden, Midjuttland, Sheffield Wednesday, Celtic.... BRING HIM one of yours.

    I will be back on Saturday for the FA Cup semi-final from Wembley and his great draft beers.