I’m not going to lie – the ferries heading South towards Rhodes don’t half leave early in the morning. 7.40am from Nisyros was OK but our ferry to Symi today leaves at 5.50am. A bit of a killer!
Anyway, it has to be the Blue Star Patmos because of my sister’s tendency to get seasick – even when the sea is like glass! I do love the big ferries anyway and definitely have a soft spot for the Blue Star fleet.
We are all really looking forward to our visit to Symi, but for now – farewell Tilos!
As we sail towards Symi, we are treated to the most spectacular sunrise over the Turkish mountains – all shades of a tequila sunrise! Other passengers are stirred from their semi-comatose states to come and view this amazing spectacle. Definitely worth getting up at the crack of dawn for!
I have been trying to get to Symi ever since passing through it on the ferry to somewhere else – about 17 years ago. I was taken by the beautiful shoe shaped port with houses set amphitheatrically around the hillside. This was way before the larger ferries were banished to dock in the very non-descript new harbour extension. Symi has always managed to evade me – until now. The island always seemed to be a little too far out of reach whilst hopping around other islands. But now I’m here.
We do in fact arrive in the non-descript harbour extension just as daylight begins to light up the surrounding hillside. Once disembarked we see my sister and her husband into their prearranged lift to their hotel and then watch the Blue Star Patmos head off towards Rhodes.
We are staying up in the Chora in a windmill. As it’s my birthday in a couple of days time I thought we’d push the boat and stay somewhere special and memorable. We have to make our own way up there but from the boat it didn’t look very far so off we set on foot.
Oh how many times have I made this mistake before! No it isn’t very far if you are going downhill and don’t have lots of luggage with you! The trek up to the Chora nearly killed me. It was already very hot and the road that we took was very bumpy – a bit like a scaled down version of the Alps! Google maps as usual sent us on a merry old dance down the wrong streets. When we arrived in the Chora, an elderly couple sitting in their front garden asked us where we were looking for. I told them O Milos Windmill. She told me it was Stavros and she would phone him to come and get us. Within minutes Stavros was coming down the hill waving to us. There was another steep hill to climb, but after thanking the couple, I gained my second wind and made it up in no time.
The windmill was absolutely delightful. Definitely worth the hike up the hill to get to it. Stavros and his wife live in a small house next door to the windmill. No sooner had we arrived, Mrs Stavros brought us a try of biscuits and refreshments. We were absolutely over the moon with the windmill. It was simply but tastefully decorated – a bit of a challenge with a circular building I would imagine. There was a bed up on a mezzanine level and a small living area with shower room on the ground level. Out on the terrace it offered fantastic views over the harbour.
After unpacking we take our first foray out around the Chora. The windmill is one of a cluster of around 14 that sit high on the ridge overlooking the port. Some are privately owned, some are available to rent and others are still in a state of dereliction. If you have 1.1 million euros there are 6 up for sale all ready to be developed and refurbished!
Chora is really charming – a photographers paradise! It feels like an oasis of calm compared to Gialos which is deluged with a series of tour boats from early in the morning until late afternoon. As we walk around the edge of the Chora we stopped to explore a little church, accidentally startling a group of goats which then proceed to run for the hills.
From Chora we wandered up to the Kastro where stray chickens wander the streets. You can just get lost in the ancient, vaulted alleyways – often having to clamber over rubble. It is a wonder how some of the buildings still stand.
We did venture down to the port later that day as calm began to return to Gialos. We took the main road that winds down to the harbour extension. Why I don’t know but it was the last time we tried this. Roadwork meant that part of the way we had to walk in the road against oncoming traffic. I did like the view from here though and we also passed a decommissioned Symi bus.
This is such a stunning island and I am so impressed with the unique architecture. The old boat yard has such character and at every turn there is a building that will take your breath away. If you like photographing windows and doors you will be in absolute heaven here.