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Departure for Rhodes--A Hurricane-The Gulf of Symi-Its Scenery-Description of the Bay
-The Island of Vurnos-Greek Colony-Island of Patelina-Remains of the Knights of St. John-Village of Darachia-Water Tortoises-Climate-Rhodes-Its Harbour-The Knight's Tower-Fortifications The Strada Cavaliere-Its Council Hall-Escutcheons-A Dream of the Past -The Burial Ground-Ancient Guns-Inhabitante-Greek Quarter-Coudition of he Island-Cause of its Decay- Auction of Bashalicks-Effect upon the People-The late Reforms-Climate-Leprosy-Zoology - The Colossus and Ancient Harbour-The Basha--His Residence and Costume-Troopg-Petrified Beach-A funeral-A Launch-Visit to Marmorice-Its Scenery-Town- A Serenade-Neighbouring Valleys-Summer Houses-Inhabitants --Bees-Mountain Vegetation-Land Tortoises-The Ancient Physcus--Grave-yards-Fattailed Sheep-Bay of Karagatch-The Surrounding Country-Plane Trees-Turkomans-A Shooting Excursion-Proceed to the Gulf of Glaucus,
We left Alexandria with a fair wind, on the morning of the 7th of February, and sailed for Rhodes, whose snug harbour promised us secure head-quarters for some time, and whose climate was said to be particularly mild at this season of the year. In the commencement of this, as in nearly all our other voyages, we encountered a gale of wind shortly after setting out. On the 8th it blew a perfect hurricane, and towards evening the jib-boom was snapped across! At day-light on the morning of the 9th, the island was in sight, but the breeze continuing with unabated violence, and there being a sea of great fury breaking at the narrow entrance to the harbour, it was deemed more prudent not to attempt it, so we shot past with the swiftness of an arrow, and steering to the north-west, made for the Gulf of Symi, on the opposite coast of Asia Minor.
Accurate information concerning this extensive bay is much wanted, as both the present charts and sailing directions are lamentably deficient. Passing the high rocky island of Symi, that stands at the entrance, we pursued our course along the western shore, keeping as near the land as possible, and sounding as we went along, but the cry was still “no bottom at twenty."
THE GULF OF SYMI.
The wind, though somewhat less violent within this deep gulf, was still very high; the clouds low, and coursing through the dark gloomy atmosphere with great velocity. A more inhospitable shore I never beheld; wild barren rocks rose abruptly from the water, now standing out in bold relief, as if opposing our further progress, and now shrouded in the drifting mist; with deep hollow gorges through which the wind howled, and into which the swollen angry water rolled its foaming waves; with nothing of life, no trace or appearance of man--all combined to give these regions an air of stern grandeur, heightened by the hour and the tempest. The night promised to be one of great severity, and the thought of again “beating" out of this bay, to seek safety in the confined sea-room of this part of the Mediterranean, and with so dangerous and unknown a lee-shore, was any thing but cheering. At length, however, upon rounding one of the numerous headlands, a narrow strait suddenly opened to us, towards the extreme end of the bay; we entered, and in a few minutes were in a secure harbour, and cast anchor in seven fathoms water, amidst some of the most magnificently grand and wild mountain scenery I have ever witnessed.
As this part of the bay of Symi is almost unknown to modern travellers, I may be excused for dwelling a little longer 'on its description than I have done in other parts of our voyage. On the north-east is a long narrow island, rising in a slope from the water's edge, to the height of about 400 feet, and stretching to the north for about three-fourths of a mile, with very little vegetation; and composed as is all this part of the coast, of compact grey limestone, veined with red. This island walls off an extensive, secure, and land-locked bay, in which there is anchorage for vessels of at least five hundred tons burthen. As we lay but a short way off the shore, we soon perceived that it was inhabited, and on landing found a small community of Greeks, who informed us that this part of the bay, between the island and the mainland, was called the bay of Vavarra, and the island itself Vurnos. The head of this little settlement was a fine patriarchal old man of eighty, the father of nineteen living children. The colony then consisted of about twelve persons, and a more primitive, simple race I do not think there could be found ; quiet and inoffensive, completely ignorant of, and perhaps caring little about what the rest of the world were doing. These simple, pastoral people live
PATELINA AND VAVARRA.
in the greatest harmony with their Turkish neighbours of the mainland ; and without the knowledge of wants, they sigh not for luxuries which they could not command. Their wealth consists of 1000 sheep and goats, which they feed in this and the neighbouring islands, and which form their yearly support. Their habitations are miserable huts, and their place of worship a small, square, stone building, on the top of one of the surrounding knolls. We procured some mutton and fresh milk from them, and determined to remain in our present position, till some favourable change in the weather invited us out.
To the north is another small island, called Patelina, on which are the remains of a considerable town, said to have belonged to ' the Genoese, and to have been destroyed by them on their leaving this place in the sixteenth century. There were here several small, Greek chapels, the walls of which were covered with Scripture pieces, and painted in fresco, which have been sadly defaced by the Turks. The whole island is now, however, covered with a close underwood of mastic, broom, white gum-cistus (cistus creticus), and fætid sage, so that it is difficult to do more than relate the fact of this place being the site of a city. In the water along its shores I found quantities of the mollusc, called Pyrosmea.
An arm of this bay of Vavarra turns to the N. W., and within it stands a most remarkable conical island, that has all the appearance of a fortification, but which is a steep craggy rock, crowned by an ancient wall, not, however, of any great antiquity, for over one of the entrances we found a Maltese cross; probably it belonged to the knights of St. John, either a colony of those that held the island of Rhodes, or a settlement made here after their expulsion from thence by the Turks. On the mainland, to the west of our position, we found considerable ruins of a like age and structure with those I have already described. It must have been a delightful retreat; and the remains of several villas running along the water's edge are still traceable, but the whole place is choked up with weeds, which have become the abode of numbers of porcupines, whose burrowings are to be seen on all sides. The salvia fætida, salvia Æthiopis, polerium spinosum, and different varieties of brooms clothe the hills; but there are no traces of the heath to be seen, and no forest trees whatsoever. The different curves and sinuosities of these bays give them more the appearance of Highland lakes than parts of the sea.
TAE VILLAGE OF DARACHIA.
12th. We visited the Turkish village of Darachia, situated to the N. W., in one of the deep narrow arms of the bay. We found it to contain about a dozen families. The men were a robust, well-made, noble-looking race, and were to us civil and obliging. They had never heard of detonating guns before, and expressed the greatest surprise at ours. A small stream empties itself into the sea near this village, its banks fringed with magnificent oleanders, on the exposed roots of which were hundreds of small black tortoises,* that dropt into the water at our approach. Some fine olives flourish here, and also fig trees and almonds; the latter covered with their lovely pinkish blossoms. We saw numbers of jays and hoopoes, and bought several red-legged partridges, which abound in the hills, from a venerable old Turk, who had with him a decoy bird, one of the best trained I ever saw.
We found the weather much milder here than at Alexandria; for although the mercury did not rise above 63° in the day, the evenings were fine ; and the air, though not so warm as we could have wished, felt healthful, and totally different from that of Egypt. During the 14th and 15th we experienced much cold; the wind east, and veering to the N. E.
On the morning of the 16th we left the bay of Symi, and reached Rhodes during the day. The island is rugged, and the coast in many places precipitous, but the point on which the town stands is a low sandy beach, running down towards the sea. On it are rows of windmills, which, with a few arrow-like minarets and the summits of some of the towers and fortifications, are all that catch the traveller's eye, till he enters within the small square modern harbour, or, to speak more correctly, dock, for the high walls and forts around, together with its sheltered position, really
* Emys decussata—the water tortoise.—These curious animals abound in this part of Asia Minor; they swim with wonderful swiftness, and are to be distinguished from the land tortoises by their greater flatness or compression; by their being plantigrade, i. e. walking on the planes of the anterior and posterior extremities, while the land ones are digitograde, i. e. walking on the toes; also, by a membraneous expansion between the toes, which are furnished with long hooked nails; and, also, by a greater length and mobility of tail, which acts as a rudder.
THE KNIGHTS TOWER AT RHODES.
deserve for it this appellation. Our position was delightful ; high walls shut us out from the sea; on our right was the tall stately form of the knights' tower, washed on the one side by the calm water of the harbour, whose only motion arose from the impetus of the passing bark, and on the other beaten by the rolling swell that dashes up its base.
This square tower is memorable, not only on account of its being one of the most beautiful of its age, but because within it was made the last stand of chivalry in the east ; and around it took place the last struggle between Christianity and Mohammadanism at the close of the crusades. Several other towers and castles, both round and square, raise their heads above the surrounding battlements, and in front is a handsome quay, which generally presents a scene of great and varied interest ; being crowded with the natives of many lands, differing in costume, language, and appearance, yet all engaged in that common pursuit of mankind-gain. Some sheds and coffee-houses, shaded by an aged plane tree, relieve the monotony of the line of dead wall that forms the back ground of this landing-place.
The British consular agent, Mr. Wilkinson, sent his dragoman on board, a venerable old Jew, who had served Sir Sidney Smith in a similar capacity. With him we proceeded into the town, passing through the gate of St. John, a noble specimen of its