Yesterday, I was talking about the technical side of our Friday trip. Today it’s more general. We caught the Blue Star Patmos, the inter-island ferry, which was due in (and arrived at) 7.30 for a departure at 7.45. You can book ferry tickets online and collect them from an authorized pick-up point before you board, or you can buy them from one of the island’s travel agencies. I’ve done both, but prefer to have them in advance, so I bought them from Symi Tours. €8.00 per person each way, or €7.00 if you have a Sea Smiles loyalty card, which we both have. The only downer about our morning’s tests and things was not being able to eat until after we’d done the blood tests and I was, as usual, awake by 4.30. I had a couple of green teas and lots of water to keep me going. On the other hand, one of the good things about going for the boat is seeing who and what is coming on and off. On Friday, it was the usual smattering of soldiers, residents, vans, deliveries, the post, trucks, usually at least one donkey and a few visitors. There was a huge pile of luggage delivered to the quay as well, but that was still there when we left, so I wasn’t sure where that was going. Or not.
The journey takes about an hour-twenty, and this boat arrives at Akandia harbour. That’s about a 40-minute walk around to Mandraki, or you can usually find a taxi if you’re quick, and buses stop just outside the port. We had a lift, went to Euromedica and were back in Mandraki just after 11.00 – see yesterday’s post. Hungry, having not eaten since five the evening before, we had brunch on a bench. We bought a pie each from ‘Tasty Corner’ a kiosk/shop next door to H&M – where we called in after to admire the ancient ruins in the basement, if not the clothes. Then an orange juice in the street of new café’s behind the old fish market, before some other window shopping and a wander, ending up at the Plaza Hotel for lunch. A La Carte meals are served just about all day, and non-residents can have breakfast, lunch or/and a buffet or menu dinner and use the bar, pool and facilities. While we were there, we met our local Symi-hero, Michaelis, who was running in the Rhodes marathon on Sunday. (He’s also the guy who reads our water meter.)
Having wished him luck, we dragged ourselves out for a slow walk through the Old Town towards Akandia for the 19.00 boat. We were both a bit knackered after the early start and lack of food and, tempting though it was to return to the bench for a kip, we soldiered on and made it as far as the old fish market before we stopped to have a drink with Irini at the Symi Café. Catching up on news, we fell in with a group of locals, had a good chat and ended up talking to someone who was born 14 miles away from me who later lived in the same small town in Wiltshire as I did – though I was there around the time he was being born, so we hadn’t known each other. The thing with many of the cafes in that area is that they don’t have WC facilities, but there’s a very nice public one beneath the ‘bandstand’ in the centre of the market. It’s not a bandstand, it’s the slabs where fish were sold, but it looks a bit like one. For €0.50c you have cared-for facilities where, for the men at least, you can stand and watch YouTube ‘fail’ videos while you do your business.
The point of mentioning that is to not only be helpful but because we had one of ‘those things’ happen to us. The group at the café asked us if we were brothers; a common question these days. ‘It’s the glasses,’ they said, mildly shocked when we said we were married and explained that no, we weren’t brothers. Preparing to leave and move on, Neil popped across the path to the public conveniences to ‘spend a penny’ (the cost of a wee in London in 1851 at the Great Exhibition if you were wondering where the expression came from). That done, it was my turn. I put my money in the slot to gain access, and the two ladies on duty looked at me in surprise. ‘Back again already?’ one asked. When she saw my look of confusion, she realised her own. ‘Oh! You are twins?’ she spluttered, realising I wasn’t Neil back for another round of YouTube. I explained, again, that we weren’t, and spent a happy few minutes watching people fall off skateboards and being hit in the face by footballs.
That done, we headed off into the Old Town to continue the slow walk to Akandia, but that’s a story for tomorrow.