If you close your eyes and listen – I mean REALLY listen – you can hear the throbbing heartbeat of life, pounding out the rhythm upon which we all dance.
You can hear it in the whisper of a breeze, in the captivity of the stars, in the dust at our feet and in the mighty shadow of a cliff face. All around us is life, built upon the echo of what came before and the promise of what lies ahead.
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When travelling, I believe it can be tantamount to a sin to not go out of your comfort zone and explore. How can you turn your back on undiscovered land and walk away, claiming to know a place better than when you arrived? So in the middle of the holiday, we journeyed up to the capital of the island.
In the Old City of Rhodes, people live wrapped in the blanket of history; they tiptoe around it and bow to the majesty of their past – and it is beautiful.
Surrounded by walls 40feet thick, it is like a hidden gem encrusted in rock. Though giant cannonballs litter the ground outside, they are merely marked failures of invasion: proud proof of the strength of the city within.
And what a city!
Every street you walk upon is built directly above the original walkways of the past. Each house is connected to the next, the only prevention from caving in fine archways spanning overhead. Cats lounge on doorsteps and grapes hug ancient trees. The market trickles through the alleyways and spills out to the harbour where boats bob in contented surety that their travels are not done. It transports you to a different time; one where community is the root of all life and children’s laughter is piercing and true.
The history is what gives this place such intense character. For years, it was guarded by Christian Knights of all ethnicities until it crumbled under invasions from the Turks. Intricate churches were transformed into sturdy mosques; palaces were turned into prisons; and a severe physical divide was driven through the city by the constructing of a fearsome wall.
However, I am not here to give you a history lesson (although I can recommend an excellent guide who can oblige). The city bears its scars with dignity: in the face of all this turmoil, it has emerged years later with its original Christian beliefs intact and its destroyed streets built anew.
This, to me, seems to be the very point of life itself. This city is a living breathing reminder of who we are and who we have been. It has come face to face with utter devastation and lived on as a cultural jewel. It thrums fiercely with spirit and rejoices in that which it holds dear.
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Some people go away to another country and come back knowing a hotel complex like the back of their hand. By experiencing the heat and the pool, they think they have experienced the country.
Other people create their own adventures whilst away and start to listen to the earth around them.
The history within the Old City seemed to be saying that whatever is thrown at you, whoever pulls down the walls you have put up around yourself and challenges you with malice…
Display your beauty.
Buoy yourself up on the heartbeat of life.