It's May so it must be Symi

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It's May so it must be Symi

Postby D and E » 17 May 2014, 06:48

Here we are again in this magical place - Saturday morning.
The journey from the coast of Mid Wales started on Tuesday afternoon around 14:00. Having discovered the night before that EasyJet had altered the size of cabin baggage that they guarantee can be kept with us rather than be put in the hold so the Internet came to the rescue and we were able to buy a suitable bag en route (Cheshire Oaks).
We stayed overnight in Chester and had a stroke of good fortune when the Holiday Inn Express advised us they were overbooked and would we mind being upgraded to the Crowne Plaza :)
So after a leisurely Wednesday morning in Chester we headed to Liverpool Airport to meet our friends H and P who are with us for their third visit - yes; they are hooked too.
Being too late into Rhodes to catch the ferry to Symi we stayed in that famous of transfer locations - The International which is perfectly adequate for a clean room.
Had a very pleasant dinner in a taverna across the road (avec Bouzouki) that we had been to before and the taxi arrived next morning to take us to the ferry. A very leisurely journey really.
Quite a windy crossing on Thursday morning but that did not deter the Symi stalwarts from being up the front of the Dodek Pride to come round the headland to get the first glimpses of the harbour.
We were met off the ferry by our host Panagiotis of the Thea Apartments who popped us round in the car to his wonderful property.
We are about 25 steps up from the Taxi Rank and the apartments are beautifully designed and furnished and Panagiotis, like every Symi host we have ever met, simply cannot do enough for us. We even had a delivery of Greek yoghurt yesterday !!
First night and of course we climbed the Kali Strata to Yannis Rainbow Bar which was very busy due to the hustings (Election of the Mayor this Sunday) and saw quite a few known faces. Mezes in Giorgios was wonderful with the prawns in filo, the liver, the green beans, the small cheese pies and the aubergine balls and the obligatory retsina ending a wonderful day.
Friday saw us walk up the Kali, meeting Neil at Symi Dream (looking fit after all that walking !), and then down to Pedi for a light lunch of whitebait and beetroot with garlic sauce in Katsarsis - and walked back as the bus was over in Rhodes for a service. Some beer stops along the way in Yannis on the way down and Cafe Manteio on the return. Dinner last night in Trata was a Mezes of garlic lamb, feta stuffed peppers, stuffed tomatoes, the fantastic stuffed mushrooms, tuna salad and a wonderful green veg dish that I think was called horta. That walk to Pedi fairly gave us an appetite.
So now as the Saturday sun lights up the harbour and the sky is cloudless it is time to fetch the freshly baked bread, have a wonder round to the clock tower and back before breakfast and then make plans for the day.
Some photos and video clips are on Twitter : follow @rutakingthep and @greygirly who is also on Facebook as Eiri Stephen.
More to come each day on this thread if you can take it :D
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Postby Pollychops » 17 May 2014, 08:19

Fantastic, looking forward to your next update, reading makes me hungry!!!!
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Postby Gemma1 » 17 May 2014, 09:05

Sounds like a wonderful start to your holiday :) It's also made me hungry though at 8 in the morning it's probably a little early for a Greek meze - Greek yogurt with honey would be nice though ;)

I've 4 months to wait for my 'Symi fix' though do have a week in Crete coming up shortly to put me on ;)
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Postby JuliaB » 17 May 2014, 18:50

You certainly whetted our appetite! Only 4 more sleeps. No doubt our paths will cross in a drinking establishment! 8-)
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Postby D and E » 18 May 2014, 07:25

Yes JuliaB we hiked up last night (well we cheated and jumped in a taxi actually !!) and were in the usual seats !!
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Postby D and E » 18 May 2014, 07:44

Saturday and we set off for Nimborio on foot despite a couple of offers to jump on the train which was doing very well with only one carriage so far.
First frappe stop was in Elpida's which has had a major makeover during the winter - cushions on seats, a brand new toilet and inside looking very shipshape : she told us that her son is taking over the main running of the place as she starts to retire.
We then headed round by Harani where Lazy Days is even lazier after being battered by the winter weather and stopped for a cold beer with Manolis at Odysseus : his daughter is helping out and he has a new chef and a super looking new menu so that has sorted tonight's dinner (will report tomorrow).
We then headed to Nimborio hoping that "the shack" beside the Niredis would be open but alas it is too early so it was an extra few meters before Mythos was consumed. A wonderful lunch of calamari which was grilled perfectly, Mousaka that was as light as any tasted and tuna salad with a very cold kilo of retsina set us up for the return journey.
On the way back we took the right turning and headed up to the church and over the top down into the square which is a route we always enjoy.
Having had enough exercise for a day we headed up to Chorio in a taxi and had the usual couple of ouzo in Yannis followed by dinner at Zoe's. Stifados, meatballs in tomato sauce, bouraki, stuffed peppers and dolmades all top quality as usual in one of our favourite restaurants. After catching up with all her news we headed back down the Kali and then to bed.
Now having got the fresh bread and visited the bank we will aim to get the 10:00 am bus over to Pedi and catch George's boat to St.Nicks as Yialos could be busy today as the people of Symi vote for their new mayor or the existing one of course.
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Postby Pollychops » 18 May 2014, 18:51

Zoe's sounds good, whereabouts is it?
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Postby dilys.jones » 18 May 2014, 21:14

Love your daily diary, we wont be there this May but looking forward to
September :)
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Postby D and E » 19 May 2014, 06:41

Hi Pollychops : Zoe's is indeed one the best restaurants and her beef stifados is a firm favourite of ours. If you head up the Kali Strata from the port to the village - Chorio, the first restaurant you come to is Giorgios, then there are two cafes - keep walking (or stop for a well deserved drink), then there is Zylygos restaurant - keep walking past some shops, a gyros take away and then on the corner on your right is Zoe's. Alternatively jump in a taxi for €5 with tip and they will take you to the door. Zoe and her family are wonderful hosts and we are sure you won't be disappointed : but do try the other two restaurants as they are also excellent. Also up in Chorio, although not open yet, is The Windmills (just down the road that runs to the side of Giorgios) which has a very interesting menu. In the archive section of this site I am sure there are posts relating to where to eat - there are so many good places we never cover them all in our two weeks so we just have to keep coming back :-)
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Postby D and E » 19 May 2014, 06:44

Sorry Pollychops I should have said Zoe's was on your left as you head up the road : it's early and there was a lot of fireworks last night ! See next post.
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Postby D and E » 19 May 2014, 07:10

Well we made the 10:00 am bus and George was waiting in Pedi and took us over to St.Nicholas - he still charges €5 return and it seems like it has been this price for years.
With none of the taxi boats working out of Yialos as yet St.Nicks was very quiet indeed but as the morning progressed a few more arrived with George and some intrepid walkers (not really - it is quite an easy walk across from Pedi) came over so the taverna was quite busy at lunch time. Greek salad, tuna salad, tzatziki and omelettes made for a very nice lunch with the obligatory kilo of retsina of course.
Although the water in May is never as warm as in September we did venture in and found it not that shocking to the system, after the initial plunge :o
E and H waited for the bus back whilst me and P walked back to Yialos and just beat the bus.
Yialos was very lively last night as the results of the election were awaited.
We had our ouzo in Elpida's where her son was working flat out with the bar full. A super mezes of cheese, squid in rice and olives accompanied the ouzo. Right outside the bar was a superyacht that we learned from the First Officer and from Google cost $25,000,000 and could be chartered for no more than 12 people for a week for €500,000 so we are still thinking about it ;)
We then went round to Odysseus for dinner and that was something completely different to any other meal we have had on Symi before. His new chef is taking traditional dishes and certainly making them his own. We had squid stuffed with feta and baked in the oven; mushrooms sliced and baked and served in a light sauce; spetzafia (sausage in peppers) which appeared to be prepared in a wok; grilled vegetables which were enhanced with soya sauce, grilled prawns and filo feta parcels in honey and a complimentary lemon drizzle cake to finish what was a unique and memorable dining experience. Go : it is worth the walk round.
We returned through a crowded Yialos where Pachos Bar was the centre for the mayoral celebrations. The current mayor was re-elected and the fireworks and celebrations went on into the wee small hours.
So now for the morning stroll and see if the celebrants are feeling the effects of what sounded like a long night. And then ..........
(PS - apologies if the spelling of place names and dishes are not as accurate as they should be)
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Postby Pollychops » 19 May 2014, 07:54

Hi D and E,
Thanks for the tip on Zoe's, we will certainly go there as well as the Windmill. We have been to Georgios many times before and will again this time. We have always walked past Odysseus when we have gone to Tholos but looking at what you enjoyed last night we will be trying it out also. I had a look on the webcam late last night and it looked as though there was party going on as there were lots of people talking, drinking etc. Enjoy your day and look forward to tomorrow's post.
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Postby Gemma1 » 19 May 2014, 08:05

Loving your reports D and E :) I usually have the stifado at Zoe's on my first night in Symi as it's one of my favourite Greek dishes and not too far to venture when I've first arrived though I do keep bumping into my landlady Anastasia as she's usually there helping out ;)

Are the sunbeds at St Nicks free this year if you eat at the tavern?
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Postby D and E » 19 May 2014, 09:08

Hi Gemma1 : sun beds aren't free - yet. We have seen this before as we try and visit in May and September. We have paid in May and then found in September when the taverna is in full flow that if you eat there then the beds are free. Yesterday they were €3. The taverna was just getting going so the menu was limited - none of those wonderful sardines or chicken souvlaki yet.
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Postby JuliaB » 19 May 2014, 10:14

Mouth-watering descriptions! Two more sleeps then Symi here we come! :)
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Postby D and E » 20 May 2014, 06:59

Yesterday (Monday) was one of those Symi days when the sun didn't actually show its brilliance but you knew it was there. The usual bread run and stroll to the Clock Tower was supplemented by a stop for D and P to have an espresso fredo which certainly kicks the brain into action. The cafes were busy from early - perhaps this was just a continuation of the previous nights festivities. The re-elected Mayor was doing his rounds and receiving his congratulations.
Following the usual breakfast of yoghurt and honey followed by fresh bread, ham and cheese on the balcony we decided upon a lazy day just wondering around Yialos. Whilst E and H wandered round the shops, joining D and P for refreshments at the Corner Bar and Stellar Bar, the day boats arrived and the usual people watching saw the day pass in that enjoyably paced way that it often does on Symi.
Lunch was back at the cafe in the square that does such good pita sandwiches and a lovely omelette.
Collecting a selection of baklava from Patiserie Nicholas opposite the International Restaurant we returned to Thea for afternoon coffee and each to their own - sleeping, reading, Tweeting, Facebooking, Candy Crushing !!!
And so we headed up for dinner via Yannis Rainbow Bar to Zylygos. Many others must have had the same idea as he was very busy and our host Lefteris was in full flow. We always marvel at the energy of restaurant staff on the island - they work ever so hard. The not to be missed imam (baked aubergine with sweet onions) alongside horta, green beans, lamb and lemon potatoes, chicken with prunes and stuffed tomatoes was Symi cooking at its best.
Heading back down the Kali Strata the two cafes were in full flow and that Mayor who we had seen first thing that morning was still doing his civic duty but looked distinctly tired - he had had a long day or two.
Tuesday morning and the sun is proving a bit elusive at 07:30. It is pleasantly warm and the plan is to have a day walking around the intricate lanes of Chorio.
Kalimera :)
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Postby Pollychops » 20 May 2014, 20:13

Mmmmm.....Zylygos, that's another one on the agenda. Has the little bar on the corner of the steps opened this year, when we visited last year it was closed and that was in mid June. We have always found that a great little place to sit on the steps, admire the view and chill. Looking forward to tomorrow's post.
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Postby D and E » 21 May 2014, 06:47

Hi Pollychops : could that be the Opera Bar just at the right angle turn on the Kali when the home straight to the top is in sight ? We normally visit in May and September and over the years it has been a bit hit and miss as to whether the bar is open or not when we are around. When it is, it is indeed a favourite stop with its views down to the clock tower end of the harbour. We recall many years ago the owners producing a Kali Cocktail, so good that it sticks in the memory.
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Postby D and E » 21 May 2014, 07:11

Tuesday saw the early morning very light cloud disappear quickly and it became the perfect Symi summer day. After frappe on the harbour front we climbed the "back stairs" to Chorio. This approach gives some wonderful views down into Yialos. The walk certainly made a cold beer in Yannis all the more refreshing. Lunch was a pork gyros from the gyros bar located just before Zoe's : a pita stuffed with tasty pork and tomato plus a chip or two and some mayo at €2.30 is another indulgence that we seldom resist. A walk up through the back lanes of Chorio, with the usual number of dead-ends being encountered, was rewarded with wonderful views over to Nimborio and Turkey beyond.
On the return journey to Yialos D decided to take the long way round using the pavement that follows the main road. The photographs from this route looking down into the harbour make the effort of the longer walk worthwhile.
The evening sun was perfect so after a game a Maltese Cross (a particularly frustrating game of dominoes but excellent fun) on the balcony it was Ouzo in Elpida's followed by dinner at the harbour side Katherinettes restaurant. Only the second time we have been but it now has a firm two out of two strike rate for excellent food.
A Mezes of mushrooms, peppers stuffed with feta, feta plus another cheese oven baked with tomatoes and peppers, stir-fried chicken with peppers and onions and meatballs in a tomato sauce was nothing less than perfect. It is wonderful how each restaurant's use of different herbs and cooking methods make similar dishes taste so unique.
The sun is already up so the bread run commences and then we head for the 10:30 Possiedon outing with Captain Yannis whose lunchtime BBQ is legend !
Yasou :)
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Postby Gemma1 » 21 May 2014, 08:30

D and E wrote:
Hi Gemma1 : sun beds aren't free - yet. We have seen this before as we try and visit in May and September. We have paid in May and then found in September when the taverna is in full flow that if you eat there then the beds are free. Yesterday they were €3. The taverna was just getting going so the menu was limited - none of those wonderful sardines or chicken souvlaki yet.


Will wait and see whether they're free or not in September then. I'm not great one for lying on sunbeds in Greece but after my walk to St Nick's it's nice to relax with my book for an hour on a sunbed before lunch :) Won't be going to the beach every day so 3 euros won't break the bank ;)
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Postby Andy W » 21 May 2014, 11:06

D and E wrote:
Hi Pollychops : could that be the Opera Bar just at the right angle turn on the Kali when the home straight to the top is in sight ? We normally visit in May and September and over the years it has been a bit hit and miss as to whether the bar is open or not when we are around. When it is, it is indeed a favourite stop with its views down to the clock tower end of the harbour. We recall many years ago the owners producing a Kali Cocktail, so good that it sticks in the memory.

Better known as the Kali Strata Bar. I was told in April that it wasn't expected to open at all in 2014. Of course on Symi the impossible sometimes happens..
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Postby Pollychops » 21 May 2014, 12:00

Hi D and E yes thats the bar I was thinking about, we have had many a good time sitting there, lets hope it is open as we are staying in Chorio and would be good to end the night there watchung and drinking.
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Postby Pollychops » 21 May 2014, 12:03

Hi Andy,

Just replied to D and E's post and now read your's. Lets hope it does open. Strange really as its in a great location. Maybe a possible retirment oportunity for someone to take it over.
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Postby Pollychops » 21 May 2014, 12:05

D and E another great post..................have you considered doing a book on your gastronomic experiences
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Postby Andy W » 21 May 2014, 13:53

Pollychops wrote:
Hi Andy,

Just replied to D and E's post and now read your's. Lets hope it does open. Strange really as its in a great location. Maybe a possible retirment oportunity for someone to take it over.

It does seem that Chorio was a bit over-supplied with bars (if that's possible?). Grande won't reopen in 2014 either,and Astrid couldn't find a buyer when she closed Asteropi's bar last year. The only recent-ish opening was Michaelis' new venture, the Secret Courtyard.

However Mandeio still offers superb views of the Pedi Valley from its terrace bar, both Lefteris' and Rainbow by the square are excellent for people watching, the Village Cafe (ex Glaros, ex Angel) has new operators this year, and the Sunrise is as welcoming as ever. Then there's Ringo, by the bus stop, and Bloom further down the Pedi road.
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