Thursday, 31 May 2012

Wrong Country?!!

After posting yesterday's blog entry, we still had some time in Rhodes before leaving for Diagoras airport. Wandered past a park area we have passed before, but never noticed the muslim graveyard there. Some wonderful grave markers.
Nice minaret over the area.
One last time by the Aegean before we had to go to the airport...
At the airport, waiting for our flight to be called. Luckily, we were just about on time, and even managed to get a bit of extra leg room on the plane. Arrived on time and leisurely wait before we caught our train back to Bath. Got home just before midnight, so we didn't have to wake up our house sitters!
In the (cold) light of a UK day, the garden looked luscious - especially after the relative sparseness of Symi vegetation.
Took our house sitters down to the station before taking Bella out for a walk over at Stanton Drew. Saw this unusually shaped old lock up.
Not the famous stone circle (which does not allow dogs) but a nearby other example.  Lots of stone age activity in this area.
We finished off our walk with a yummy end-of-holiday lunch at the Pony and Trap in Newtown. Great vista.
This day a year ago, Su saw a big fallen branch at Weston church (most excitement there for some time!) and photographed this unusual figure on a house there.
Apologies if this blog isn't very inspired - still recovering from the culture shock of not being in Greece with warm temperatures and blue skies (even if there were big clouds!). It may take some time - plans are being laid for our next visit to Symi already. More will be revealed when details are firmed up…

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

The Leaving of Symi

Up with the dawn, having heard cockerels crowing through the night as usual. Beautiful sunrise over Pedi Bay, and views over Yialos as we walked down the Kali Strata to catch the Dodekanese Express to Rhodes. Walked past several large boats - never seen one with a doorbell and a personalised doormat before!

Smooth crossing and transfer to the Hotel International where we dumped our cases for a few hours before we get shipped to Rhodes airport a few hours before we are due to leave. Wandered around Rhodes for a while, spotting unusual church, the Tornado Laundry and some frog graffiti. We are now holed up at the Plaza Hotel drinking decent coffee and taking advantage of their WiFi.

Just checked our flights, and the outward bound flight is boarding on time, so it looks as though we should arrive back in the UK in time to catch a train to Bath tonight. Let's hope it's not **too** cold, as we're both still in Symi clothes! Tomorrow's post will tell...

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Pedi Focused Day

Awake quite early after last night's guitar playing with George. Opened the shutters to our view of the Pedi valley, and quite a cloudy sky.

After breakfast, we went round to visit George with a few domestic bits and bobs. Sat on his terrace and admired his views, which are similar to ours, but a little higher up the hill and virtually uninterrupted.

Passed the Windmill Restaurant (getting ready to open next week) on the way to the Olive Tree for lunch before walking down through Pedi valley one last time this trip. Managed to get quite close to a big lizard on the way. Down by the bay we dangled our feet in the water by the taverna and drank beer. Claudia came by with dogs Cookie and Delphi, who went for a paddle. It was really peaceful down there.

Finished off our sojourn with a yummy chocolate ice cream and ambled back up the road. Lovely avenue of eucalyptus trees on the way back. Now starting to pack our bags after our month in Greece - could stay for longer! We are up and off really early to catch the Dodecanese Express to Rhodes, where we'll have a few hours before we go to the airport. Will try to post a blog at some stage, but it maybe Thursday...

Saying our "au revoir"s to lots of friends here - hope to be back before very long!

Monday, 28 May 2012

More Research on Symi

Today we went down into Yialos again, finding yet another way down the hill. As ever, great views over the harbour and across to Nimos. Found out about getting dongles for laptops on future trips, so we don't just have to cafe hop for WiFi! Still checking out possible places to stay in future as well.

Had a delicious lunch at the Trata and decided to climb back up the hill to the Chorio. Needed to put in at the Olive Tree for a breather after that. Today has been muggy and cloudy on and off.

Mugginess contributed to a siesta after which we went down to the Symi Dream wine night. Quite a gaggle of people there - some residents, some visitors. Fuelled by this, we climbed up the hill to explore some more in the last of the day. Actually found the Two Fishes which Steve & Kerry Finch had been looking for the other day.

Came back down before the sun disappeared, so we didn't get stranded in the maze of streets. Had a lovely meal in the apartment, and just about to go off to the Sunrise to play guitar with George one last time this trip.

Tomorrow is our last full day on Symi - it's gone so quickly.....

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Nimborio at Last

Last night we had dinner at the Olive Tree, which also held a fundraiser for the medical surgery and Symi Animal Welfare. This took the form of a performance by a duo called Ellis & Connolly who are based in Cambridge - lots of Beatles songs and other mainly 60s covers. As the audience were mainly of that era, much singing along ensued. Some laughs and 90 Euros raised for good causes.

Despite having stopped by the Sunrise on the way back last night, this morning we were up early and refreshed to clear, blue skies. We set off down the Kali Strata into Yialos and walked up over the hill past St George's Church on the top. Coming down into Nimborio, there were only two other tourists there. Good to see Maria and her daughter and Manolis again. Sat enjoying the peace of the bay over a lemonade and watched a couple of gulets come into anchor there.

Headed back into Yialos along the coast road, enjoying the clear blue skies and sea. The concrete of the road was hot, but a breeze had come up which cooled us down. I was impressed by the newly installed solar-powered street lights - what a change from when we first walked along what was a dirt track.

Coming into town, delighted that Tholos was open. We had a very tasty lunch there, watching the Panagia Skiadeni come into harbour. Boasted the decaying Lazy Days on the way round to catch the bus back up the hill. Stole some WiFi from outside the Sunrise and then wandered back to our apartment. Read for a while before our eyelids wouldn't stay open. Awoke to a still hot afternoon. Proper tourist day :-)

Saturday, 26 May 2012

More Exploring

After another late night playing at The Sunrise, up bright and early to see a few houses that we might stay in on future visits. This involved more walking up and round the Horio.

Saw some nice places, but forgot to take photos apart from the date on a piece of coquillage in the courtyard of one house. Coquillage involves hammering in pebbles to earth, so is very labour intensive. Modern versions set pebbles into concrete, so that they are more raised than older examples. There are lots of examples on Symi and other Dodecanese islands, often in church squares.

On our way around the Horio, we saw the donkey train ferrying building materials to one of the many renovation projects going on. Because much of the Horio is inaccessible by road, this is the alternative - effectively doubling the cost of building materials. Hard for the donkeys on the marble steps that abound, and hard on the steps.

After that we had a nice lunch and ended up having a siesta. The clouds have blown away leaving clear blue skies - as warm as the UK!

Friday, 25 May 2012

House Hunting and Boat Spotting

Woke earlier than I wanted to, given how late we were last night! I was rewarded by the sight of a glistening Pedi Bay in the early morning sunlight. This was as good as the morning got - the clouds came over and looked quite ominous.

We got our act together and strolled down the Kali Strata into Yialos. We popped in to a couple of agencies discuss possible places we might stay on future visits to the island. We have arranged to look at some before we leave Symi on Wednesday. Better than just relying on web site pictures.

We had a drink at Agialos Cafe before a stroll round the harbour to inspect the ugly, battleship-grey futuristic gin palace (like something out of "Stingray") that has been berthed in the harbour on and off for the last few days. A traditional style Turkish Gulet came in as a real contrast.

The ultra-modern boat had to move to let the Proteus get berthed, and had some difficulty weighing anchor. Spoils the image a bit!

The clouds were still threatening, so we decided that today wasn't the day to walk to Nimborio (we have prior experience of being caught out by rain that way before). So we caught the bus back up to the Horio and had lunch at the Olive Tree before a siesta.

The rain never materialised, but it has been a cooler day than of late ( cooler than the UK!). The clouds have just cleared a little to make a lovely evening. Off down the Sunrise later to play music with George and Clare (I'm billed on Facebook as a "special guest star"!), so not likely to be an early night tonight either...

Thursday, 24 May 2012

We met Symi Dream Alarm Cat!

Went up to Neil & James' last night for a drink and to admire their glorious views over Pedi Bay and the windmills. We had a lovely time and got to see the nerve centre of the Symi Dream empire. We also got to meet Alarm Cat in the flesh - he is an adorable, affectionate deaf cat with one blue and one green eye. My dark red shirt was soon adorned with white fur.

Today we have explored the Horio a lot more - it seems that every time we walk around we find completely different parts of it. The twisting narrow streets were designed to confuse pirates and other invaders, and do the same for tourists! We came across some spectacular views and interesting decorations on shopfronts.

After walking up, round and down alleys and streets of the village, we continued down the Pedi valley to a beer at the taverna on the shore. Having climbed the hill, now writing this in Cafe Manteio listening to "world lounge music" looking down at where we were earlier and across to Turkey in the evening sun.

Next we will have something to eat before going to day one of the Sunrise Cafe three day festival. Tomorrow we plan to visit Nimborio via Yialos - we might even make it!

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Trip to town

We had a few things we wanted to do in Yialos today, which meant a trip down the hill ( after a stop at the Olive Tree for a coffee and one of their delicious muffins. Went down the Kali Strata (easier than coming up it!)

The water in the harbour was spilling over the road, even though yesterday's wind had abated. Did our chores and then watched the world go by from Agialos Cafe till it was time to catch the bus up the hill. Lots of passenger boats in the harbour today - we saw the Tilos Sea Star, Proteus, Agios Nikolaos and Panagiouda Skiadeni in one sweep - and the Symi was out in the bay while those four were at the quayside. Looking up for visitor numbers! Noticed that nobody had moored at Berth 101...

Had a beer at the Sunrise before a tasty lunch at our apartment, and then watched the single cloud left in the sky as it evaporated.

Off up to Neil & Toby's later on and probably go back to Zoi's for dinner tonight. Such a hard time we're having :-)

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Windy Tuesday on Symi

Last night we went down to the Symi Dream wine night, where quite a few of the Australian painting party turned up as well as Sue & Gerrie and Peter Vidal. After that we explored round the back of the Kali Strata, ending up at the Rainbow Bar. Jude and Mike were there, so we joined them for a few minutes, which turned into a lot longer. Wandered back towards our apartment, but the gravitational pull of the Sunrise Cafe captured us for a few hours before we finally got there.

It has been windy all day today on Symi, although it is calming down a bit now. We delivered a jigsaw puzzle from Richard to the Olive Tree and shortly afterwards he, Barbara and Norman came in to bid us and Jenine & Tina farewell. They are leaving on the 7.45 am ferry tomorrow, by which time the wind should have died down.

After a WiFi session there, we went back down to Pedi, the wind making it a very pleasant walk. Wandered round the boatyard and up the quayside before settling down with a drink at the Pedi Beach Hotel. Trish and others from the Parkers' party were there soaking up their last rays before returning to the U.K. tomorrow. Sat there enjoying the view, and occasional splashes by spray before wandering back past the now closed Touris Shop Pedi.

Tonight, we plan to eat at Zoe's, which reopened for the season last night. Tomorrow we will be in Yialos in the morning and then visiting Toby & Neil's house early evening. More things happening later in the week, so our time here continues to keep us busy!

One last thing to say is that there is absolutely **no** sign here of riots, bad feeling towards tourists, shortage of euros in the many ATMs or lack of opportunity to have a good time. There **could** be many more visitors to help the local economy and counteract the fiscal bullying from Brussels and Berlin (not to mention David Cameron having the cheek to tell the Greek People how to vote on June 17th).

So take advantage of those late deals on Greek holidays and come and have a brilliant time here like we are!

Monday, 21 May 2012

Walking up and down from the Horio

This morning we set off early (for us) to test drive the instructions as to how to find the Donkey Tracks at the top of the Horio, starting at the Olive Tree. Su has written on her blog about this new series of guides.

The walk involved navigating through the pirate-deterring maze of winding, narrow lanes whilst steadily climbing up the hill. We found a couple ambiguous instructions (I was there as the idiot in idiot-proofing) but resolved them successfully. Ended up right above the village with stupendous views over Nimborio, Yialos and Pedi bays and across to Turkey. Met David from Marseilles there, who is on Symi for the best part of two months this Summer.

After wending our way back down the hill, passed this great example of many layers of whitewash. Arriving back at the Olive Tree we celebrated with breakfast and coffee, before setting off in the opposite direction down to Pedi bay through the valley. Much cooler off the road and under the trees. In Pedi, we came across Richard waiting for the bus back to Yialos in the taverna on the beach. After he left, we enjoyed the view before climbing back up the hill to some lunch, and then some washing.

Su is having a siesta, and I wonder if I should rouse her to go down to Toby & Neil's wine night at Symi Dream? Tomorrow's blog may tell...

Also shown in today's photos, a great piece of graffiti that defeats my mathematical abilities (the Greek letter
Pi is "p" in English - still too
gnomic for me) and one of the beautiful but wicked teazle/thistles that are in abundance.

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Busy Social Whirl

Last night saw us at the Olive Tree for a bistro supper. We were joined by Hilary, who owns the Little Blue House where stayed over Easter last year. The three of us then formed a team called "The Dynamics" for the quiz that followed (raising funds for the local medical centre). We came a close second, but claimed a moral victory because the winning team (all resident expats) did better on the specialist Symi questions. Talk about home advantage!

After that, we strolled down to the Sunrise Cafe and met up with George. I borrowed a guitar from Derek (thanks very much!) and managed to busk along with George while we accompanied Claire's singing. Good fun and this went on till gone 2 pm and involved more wine being drunk, as well as too much vodka on my part... Not having played guitar since we came away to Greece, "I've got blisters on my fingers" (to quote John Lennon on the White Album).

Slept in a little later this morning, being barely troubled by the bells of all the churches in the Horio. I've been a bit sluggish for some reason! It has taken me most of the day to resemble a functioning human being - the wages of sin.

We've walked back down to Yialos, and popped in to see Debby and fetched up at the same cafe as yesterday. WiFi signals drag us in.

Tonight will probably be a quieter night but who can tell on Symi...

Only one photo today because of a technical issue, to be sorted by tomorrow. This is Tina in action at the Olive Tree with quizmaster Peter in the background.

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Easy Day on the Rock

After yesterday's exertions, we have had an easier day. Strolled down to Yialos, did a bit of shopping and a lot of sitting in cafe people watching and chatting.

Tonight we are off to supper at the Olive Tree followed by a charity quiz night in aid of the medical centre. Then it will be along to the Sunrise Cafe to play guitar with George, while Claire sings. It's all go!

In no particular order, pictures today are of last night's bouzouki-accompanied dinner at Giorgio's, a pair of shoes spotted this morning, views from the cafe, ferries in Yialos harbour and the sign of the Sunrise Cafe.

Friday, 18 May 2012

Busy social whirl!

Yesterday afternoon we went for a walk down to Pedi Bay, spotting prickly pear flowers and wild alliums on the way down. The bay was still and sunny, and the old cake shop sign still there (Drunk Pirate Cake!).

Walked back through the valley, with giant seed heads, friendly goats ( which Su may show more of on