Athens To Symi
This is all slightly out of date now because the boats have changed, and we have the Hellenic Seaways ‘Nisos Xios’ serving the route from Athens to Symi, but I took the Blue Star ‘Patmos.’ You need to check out Andy’s Travel Blog (I’ve put new links in the right-hand column) for up to date news on the ships and routes, planes and airports etc. and have a search around online for images of this new ship and what amenities it has. Meanwhile…
Leaving Athens to travel back to Symi could not have been easier. I had plenty of time as the boat didn’t sail until 3pm, and I was, as usual, up at half-five. I tided up my apartment and later went for breakfast at a nearby hotel where there was an all you can eat buffet for €8.00 including juice and coffee and had another mooch around the local area until heading for the metro at 11.30. The metro ticket machines are straightforward to use and come in various languages. A helpful robotic lady talks you through the process, and you can buy a ticket valid for 45 minutes, or a return ticket, a ticket for five or more journeys and so on; plenty of options. I took a 45-minute one as I was only going six stops (€1.20). You scan the ticket at the open gates – you could risk not paying but I wouldn’t – and then waited for all of two minutes for a train.
Piraeus railway station.
Twenty minutes later I was at Piraeus still with plenty of time to get to the ferry which departed from dock E1. There are maps of the port so you can see where you are going and there are courtesy buses to take you to all of the boarding areas/docks. If you look back through this blog or search (and there’s a site search box on the right too) you’ll see how in April, we took the bus from Athens Airport to Piraeus, which is another way of reaching your boat if you’re coming in by plane. The bus from the airport took about 90 minutes and cost €5.00, and it stops at all the docks until it terminates at E1, so it’s very handy for the Symi ferries and you can’t get lost. But I had plenty of time, the rucksack wasn’t too heavy (it was heavier about half an hour later), it was a sunny day, and I had a new hat, so, after a coffee (€1.20 for a huge mug of Nescafe decaf) I set off to walk around the port.
Piraeus railway station
Of course, I followed the map, well, the edge of the sea and the road which comes with a pedestrian path marked out, a couple of cafes and WCs en route and ended up at a roundabout where I then doubled back. There is a shortcut if you’re on foot, but I missed that. Not to worry, still plenty of time. You can board the ship two hours before departure, and I arrived there are 13.00. To find several passengers already keenly aboard.
The main entrance is right-centre near E8. E1 is far left. I did the red line including double-back at the roundabout. The walk took me 45 minutes.
I checked in, collected my cabin keys – I was given two even though I was on my own, well, you never know who you will meet – paid for the internet for 24 hours (€5.00) and settled in. As it happened, and rather unusually, the boat was 2.5 hours late setting off because the refuelling barge was late, but I was in no hurry. In the end, the ship arrived on Symi only one hour and twenty minutes late, so it caught up some time. I spent the afternoon on the stern deck, one of three, and wrote a little, observed a lot and drank lots of water and another decaf coffee or two to pass the time. I also had lunch in the self-service restaurant (not sure about the dining arrangements on the Nisos Xios) and later that evening had a takeaway salad from one of the cafés.
The boat trip is a lovely way to journey to Symi, watching the sunset over Skiros or Mykonos, or wherever we passed. Listening to the well behaved American students on a trip, some doing their assignments on their laptops, others just chilling, man, as they were from California, and watching people walk their dogs. Sleeping can be something of an adventure in the inner cabins – rattle and hum, sliding when the ship turns corners and so on, but so much easier and more comfortable than choosing a cheaper airline seat or grabbing a piece of floor space and, half an hour before arrival, reception rang my cabin to make sure I was awake.
Blue Star Diagoras
And so, home again and back to Symi. As I said, check Andy’s blog for info about the boats and travel as he is the expert, or ask in the Symi Chat Forum (also now linked in the right column) and see if anyone else has more recent and relevant news on what ship is doing what. It’s also worth noting that Lakis and his son, Thanasis, offer the bus to collect passengers from Pedi, Horio and Yialos and from the boat. The more this is used, the longer the service will stay, so use it, and if in doubt, ask at Lakis Travel or on the bus about times and pick-up points. It’s a very easy journey from Athens to Symi, and it will be interesting to hear from anyone who does this, or the route the other way, on the new Nisos Xios.
Sunset over Tinos
Taviri on Nimos (Symi) where we had our CP ceremony last year
Sunrise over Turkey
And back to Symi
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