Symi – Dodecanese

4

Before leaving for Symi, I stayed in Rhodes for a further two nights. Again in the Old Town (can’t get enough of that place), but this time the Hotel Andreas hosted my stay.

My bedroom in the Watchtower of the Hotel Andreas - Old Town - Rhodes

My bedroom in the Watchtower of the Hotel Andreas – Old Town – Rhodes

Andreas is an old Turkish mansion, converted into a seven bedroom guesthouse. I was incredibly lucky to be hosted by David and Constance, the owners, in the old Watchtower. Drifting off to sleep was a pleasure, gazing at the castle in the distance and feeling the breeze through the windows.

Symi

And so to Symi. About an hour and a half away, again by catamaran, I was whisked into a quieter world. To me, Symi consists of two parts: the Harbour area, or Yialos—bustling with tavernas, activity, cafés and hubbub. A great place to people watch, and to stay in the thick of things.

Symi
Symi – looking down to the harbour

Then there’s the Chorio—the town on the hillside.  It’s quieter, but also more traditional and a great place to watch and greet the locals.  This is where I stayed, courtesy of and hosted by Symi Visitor who book accommodation in restored houses in either the harbour or Hora. They secured me a beautiful ‘cave’ like dwelling, the Blue House: bedroom downstairs, steep wooden stairs to the living and kitchen area. It was just so, well, peaceful!  Leaving my house in the morning, I “Kali mera”d a Greek man in his house, he called after me:

Welcome to my island

My Little Blue House accommodation
My Little Blue House accommodation

Expats

One thing I notice about Symi: there are a lot of expats here, but not the ‘gin and tonic’ brigade. They’ve established successful business—examples include the Olive Tree Café (think a lovely tea shop and cakes with Mediterranean snacks and a to die for view), Symi Dream run by Neil Gosling (talented photographer offering photographic walks twice a week, plus studio).  They all contribute to the local community.

Olive Tree Cafe - great views!
Olive Tree Cafe – great views!

I loved the Windmill Restaurant in the Hora, run by Greek Michalis and English Rhiannon.  A professional dancer by trade, she’s seamlessly made the transition into making freshly prepared mezes – how delicious. And in the winter, she teaches dance!

And then the Secret Garden: an old house between the Hora and towards Pedhi beach.  (Another) Michalis and his Belgian wife Katya have transformed their dwelling into a courtyard cafe / bar serving breakfasts, crepes, mezes and open until – well – whenever the last person leaves, which could be 6am.

The Secret Garden
The Secret Garden

There are so many wonderful people on Symi.

The Greeks are friendly, greeting you in the street, wanting to know more about you and – in my case – insisting their children practice their English.

I’m impressed at how well the expats have integrated, with what appears – on the surface – a lack of cliquishness that I’ve found on other islands.

Tips for Symi

  • It’s perfectly safe to leave your door unlocked (maybe not wide open, but even then I wouldn’t be surprised if it was OK).
  • Come and book a rental home from Symi Visitor and stay for about five days, longer if possible.  There’s so much to see and do, and you’ll make friends and more than likely be invited to their homes.
  • Be sure to visit the Hora – maybe climb the 400 steps to the Square from the harbour in the early morning, or early evening.
  • Stop off on your way walking up the Kali Strata to visit Neil of Symi Dream.  His photography gallery is beautiful, plus he’s a character in himself (you are, Neil).
  • Water: very limited!  Freshwater is shipped in erratically, and the desalination is used in the winter.  Recycle your water as much as you can – respect the environment and your host island.
  • Pedi: Be sure to visit this beach around the other side of the island.  Hitch a lift with the locals (like I did), it’s quite safe.
  • Architecture: the architecture here is stunning – Romanesque establishments which are a relic from the Italian occupation and wealthier times.

All opinions expressed here are my own

4 COMMENTS

  1. Exciting to be reading your posts on Rhodes and environs! We’ll be spending 5 nights on Rhodes in early October (sleeping in the Old Town too). Symi sounds lovely – it would have been nice for us to overnight in Symi. Alas, time doesn’t allow it. Hopefully a daytrip (which we hear is possible by passenger catamaran/ferry) will give us at least a taste of the island.
    Sand In My Suitcase recently posted…Grace Santorini: Swooning over forever sea viewsMy Profile

  2. What a lovely write up of Symi! Do you have accommodation details for where you stayed? The blue house looks lovely and I’d love to book it for my next visit to Symi in September.
    Many thanks !

    • I’m so glad you liked the write up – thanks Johanna. That particular accom was booked through SYMI VISITOR ACCOMMODATION http://www.symivisitor.com and as I said in my piece, they specialise in renting out local people’s houses.
      Be sure to specify your exact needs – ‘The Blue House’ had no internet, but there was a delighful little cafe with wi-fi not far away where I sipped coffee and caught up (who wants to be on the internet all day though?!)

      Be sure to mention my name – that you saw the entry in my site, but they will also know me from Rough Guides.

      Good luck Johanna!

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