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

A Couple of Updates

A Couple of Updates

We were in Yialos on Sunday and discovered that there is a new boat connection planned. I don’t have all the details yet, and I’m not sure if they have been finalised, so don’t take this as gospel. But, we may soon have a local ferry that will leave Symi for Rhodes in the morning, come back and then do the trip again later, returning to overnight on Symi. That will be a great help for the tour operators and guests trying to get here, not to mention the morning crossing to Rhodes which, at the moment, you can only do three times per week.

IF

Still in Yialos, I’ve also learned that the new laundry in the narrow street running from the Harani Bar to Sarantis Stationery Shop, have restored the public toilets male & female, and showers are also now available. Handy for everyone by the sound of it.

IF

As for my news… There isn’t any really. We had cloud and rain over the weekend but not as badly as they did in Rhodes by all accounts. Half an hour of that and then the sun came out again, then it clouded over but didn’t rain, and the wind got up, then it was back to normal in no time. As the old postcard used to say, ‘We get some kind of weather here all the time.’ Yesterday was sunny/cloudy/cooler/warmer, so the weather’s clearly not quite made up its mind what it’s doing. Mind you, when I say cooler, I mean back down to 29 or something.

IF

Athens To Symi

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This is all slightly out of date now because the boats have changed, and we have the Hellenic Seaways ‘Nisos Xios’ serving the route from Athens to Symi, but I took the Blue Star ‘Patmos.’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…

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Thiseio station

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Harbour art

Symi Greece Symi Dream photos

Still walking…

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.

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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.

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Sunset over Tinos

Symi Greece Symi Dream photos

Taviri on Nimos (Symi) where we had our CP ceremony last year

Sunrise over Turkey

Sunrise over Turkey

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And back to Symi

London Greek Film Festival

London Greek Film Festival

We’re onto Sunday now and the evening of the awards ceremony in Athens for The London Greek Film Festival. They also hold a ceremony in London but have the one in Athens for those who can’t make it to London. The festival accepts and honours films and scripts that are either written by Greek people or that are about some aspect of Greece. That’s why ‘Girl Gone Greek’ could be entered. It was written by an English author, Rebecca Hall, and scripted by me, currently a very reluctant English person. [Rebecca’s blog, Life Beyond Borders is here.]

London Greek Film Festival

London Greek Film Festival

It was a hot evening, but thanks to the excellent metro in Athens I didn’t have to walk far and arrived at the cinema just as Rebecca was getting out of a taxi with a friend who was accompanying her. The ceremony was held at the Cinema Alkyonis in the Victoria area of Athens, not far from the metros station. We arrived early, so the shot of the cinema interior is before the 100 or so people arrived.

London Greek Film Festival

London Greek Film Festival

London Greek Film Festival

London Greek Film Festival

We watched trailers and some shorts from the winning entries for 40 minutes and then there was a succession of awards for various categories. I have no idea what I said when we came to ours. I babbled in Greek for a while, only realising later that I was using the wrong tense in my verbs, and all the time I had in my head, ‘Must not call Rebecca ‘Rachel.” That’s the name of the main character in the script, you see. I didn’t, but trying not to kept interrupting my concentration, so when I got as far as I could in Greek, I mumbled ‘gamoto’ (which is a bit naughty) and switched to English, even then I can’t remember what I said, but I did manage to thank the festival, Rachel… Rebecca! for asking me to write the script, and then thanked Greece for, basically, not being the yUK.

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The prison bar (it’s not called that, it’s called TAF)

That done, a bit of networking later and we headed off to Monastiraki for a glass of wine in a prison, as you do. Fascinating building, still with the cells intact around a central courtyard, so it looks run down. It isn’t though, the bar and courtyard are modern, and the music wasn’t too loud, the people there very friendly, mainly a young crowd, and the prices not bad at all. One drink there and I wandered back to where I was staying and home. Monday was a shopping and chilling day with a trip to the Acropolis (where I found €10.00 on the ground which I gave to the homeless Moroccan guy near my apartment the next day) and another visit to the restaurant I’d used before. This time it was a piece of salmon the size of a boxing glove (but much more edible). I wasn’t allowed to leave the restaurant until I’d had another glass of wine and then an ouzo from the management. This Greek philoxenia can really give you a headache – it was the ouzo – but it’s good to see it happens even in the swanky parts of Athens.

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TAF balcony

I’ll bung up some extra photos, and next week, I’ll tell you about the journey back, and then we will be back to the usual Symi Dream kind of blogging. Have a good weekend.

Symi Greece Symi Dream photos

TAF bar

Symi Greece Symi Dream photos Symi Greece Symi Dream photos Symi Greece Symi Dream photos Symi Greece Symi Dream photos Symi Greece Symi Dream photos