Symi Dream

Living on a Greek island

A Greek island blog from Symi in the Dodecanese islands of Greece. "James’s great talent lies in his careful observation of the absurd and the amusing, the dramas and the difficulties..." Anne Zouroudi.

Symi Dream - Living on a Greek island

I’m not a travel agent, but…

I’m not a travel agent, but…

Yesterday, I was talking about Rhodes and my trip there (today). Just after that, someone sent me a message asking for ferry advice, and could I help as there isn’t a boat suitable for their Rhodes arrival. So today, I decided to point out a couple of things. First of all, I’m not a travel agent and can’t magic ferries out of nowhere. You should always double-check your connections as timetables change. If you want to see the latest Symi travel news, then take a look at Andy’s blog – the link is over there on the right where the banner says Travel Blog. He covers flights too, and not just from the UK, but like me, he’s a blogger, not a travel service. Then, you should check out the latest timetables on the websites of the three ferry companies that run daily services between Rhodes and Symi. If you’re coming via Kos, then you can look at two, Blue Star and Dodekanisos Seaways.

More random Rhodes pics today.

More random Rhodes pics today.

The Blue Star Ferries currently run three times per week from Piraeus via Symi to Rhodes and back. Their website is here: Blue Star Ferries and the site is available in English, as are all three. Use the Book Online button to enter your dates and see the timetable. You can buy tickets online and then collect them at the kiosk at the ports using the reference number you are given online. Again, that applies to all three companies, I believe. The crossing time takes one hour on certain ships and about one and a half hours on the other. The boats go from Akandia harbour, the furthest from Mandraki.

Casino in winter

Casino in winter

Dodekanisos Seaways run the catamarans, the Pride and Express, plus the Panagia Skiadeni. Their website is here: Dodekanisos Seaways. The search options are there on the front page and easy to handle. These crossings take roughly 45 minutes on the catamarans, and 90 minutes on the larger Panagia. The catamarans leave from Kolona hardcore and the ferry from Akandia. Both Blue Star and the Spanos (as Dodekanisos are known locally) offer loyalty cards which you obtain from places like Symi Torus or the shipping offices on Rhodes. Note: if you take a Panagia crossing via Panormitis, you have to buy a two-stage ticket or the online booking will say you can’t get here. Buy one from Rhodes to Panormitis and a separate one from there to Symi port. The boat makes a stop at Panormitis for (90 minutes? Can’t remember), and thus it counts as a final destination.

At the Acropolis

At the Acropolis

ANES is the Symi island company and now run the Sebeco, a kind of large speed boat, mainly open, passenger ferry that takes around 90 minutes or less depending on the weather. This runs several times per day and at useful hours. Their website is here: ANES. This boat comes and goes from the Commercial/Tourist harbour in Rhodes, which is on the way towards Akandia harbour. Think of it like this: you start at Mandraki (Rhodes New Town). The day trip boats (which you can’t get as ferries, only day trips) run from Mandraki. Walk around the harbours, and you come next to Kolona, follow the wooden walkway, and next is the Commercial/Tourist/Cruise ship harbour, and keep going along the coast and you come to Akandia. Keep going after that, and you’ll end up in Faliraki or somewhere, but let’s not get into that.

Inside the Grand Master's palace

Inside the Grand Master’s palace

My usual advice, for those travelling independently, is to check the ferry times before you arrange your flights. So many people have contacted me saying, ‘I arrive in Rhodes at 6 pm, what’s the best ferry to get that night?’ To which I reply, there isn’t one, you should have checked before you booked your flights. We’re not an island where there’s a regular, every-hour crossing 24 hours per day. On some days later and earlier in the season, you might only have two crossings per day, if that. Always do your research, or you can easily find yourself with only five days on Symi out of a one-week holiday. And remember, I’m not a travel service, just a guy blogging whatever comes into my head each day. For real travel advice, see an expert.

This was in March last year

This was in March last year

Symi Greece photos

Rhodes tips

Rhodes tips

Tomorrow, I am off to Rhodes for the day to blurrily see an optician through glasses that need updating. Apart from having my eyes tested as I do every year, I want to ask about contact lenses. I’ve not worn them for 17 years, but before that, I wore them from the age of 17, so it seems an appropriate number of years to have waited before seeing about using them again instead of, as well as with, glasses. The boat is early, around 6.30 I think, I will check the tickets later, and that will mean I have several hours before the appointment at 11.00. It will also mean a long, leisurely walk around the three harbours of Rhodes to somewhere like the Plaza Hotel for breakfast (€7.50 for the full buffet at the last visit).

Random Rhodes photos from March

Random Rhodes photos taken one March

I’ve said it before, but this hotel is a good place to ‘hang out’ while you wait for an appointment or a flight because the bar is open to all, serves drinks, coffee and snacks all day, and they have a pool you can use if you want, as well as the usual facilities. You’re able to leave luggage there, and the only thing you should do in return is use the bar, restaurant or at least buy a drink or a coffee. It’s also pretty central and easy to get to by taxi from the ports or by foot if you don’t mind the walk. There’s a new walkway now all the way from the commercial harbour to the gate at Mandraki. Be careful if you walk through St Paul’s Gate, the old stone bastion between Kolona and Mandraki, to cut off the road via Symi Square as you tend to find aggressive ‘beggars’ there. I once had a woman come up to me and greet me as if we were long-lost buddies only then to turn verbally abusive when I told her I wasn’t interested in buying her tat. Just ignore politely and walk on with your ears closed, or follow the main road through the other gate and over the bridge.

Symi Greece photos

If you don’t want to or can’t walk from the boats to the hotel or wherever then there are usually taxis you can take from Akandia (if using the Blue Star ferry). These can get used up quickly if you’re not first off the ferry, and you might want to book in advance. In this case, I use Rodos Taxi. You can find them online with that link, and book in advance. You may pay a couple of Euros extra, but at least someone will be waiting to whisk you to the airport or wherever. You must, though, book online at least one day in advance; otherwise you can’t do it online and will have to phone, but the number is on the site. There are other services available too, and I’ve used a couple to collect people from the airport, pre-paid and leaving the passenger nothing to pay unless they want to tip.

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And talking of tips, that’s it for my getting to Rhodes tips for today.

Symi Greece photos