Sublime Symi in September

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Sublime Symi in September

Postby D and E » 15 Sep 2017, 10:41

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The Lone Scallop


We are returning for our second visit of the year to wonderful Symi and whilst historically there has always been around three months between our May and Sept / Oct visits our last minute week in July was only weeks ago.

Normally we stay down in September. We have stayed up in September before but not for several years. 2017 has turned out differently than originally planned.

The run up to this visit has been difficult as our “boy” (cat) Greyam was diagnosed with low red & white blood cells on the Monday before we headed off on the Tuesday. He is a good age and so it was very difficult to say our farewell to him at the cattery that he has so often visited over the years. We know that he is in loving and caring hands with the two girls who run the cattery and we can only hope that he is waiting for us on our return. We are getting regular updates on his well being by text.

Tuesday

After seeing Greyam safely housed in the cattery we headed into Aberystwyth to pick up the one way hire car from Europecar once again taking advantage of the “no penalty for one way” Airport Connect deal and once again we were lucky enough to be given a free upgrade so plenty of room for the luggage. Our own car is a Smart ForTwo and it just about copes with long weekends away, luggage wise, so the Airport Connect is perfect for us.

45 minutes into the journey we found ourselves in a long queue of traffic and word filtered back that the road ahead is closed due to a road traffic accident. Being an A road in Mid Wales we know this could take hours to clear so, like many others in the queue, we turn around and follow the flow which puts about 30 minutes onto our journey to Carmarthen. There we pick up the M4 and it is trouble free motorway all the way to Gatwick via M25 and M23. E was dropped off outside the Sofitel whilst D headed to South Terminal to fill up and return the hire car, returning to the hotel on foot by way of the shuttle. This is about the 5th time we have flown from Gatwick in the last three years so it has become a tried and tested routine.

Using room rate as a measure the Sofitel Gatwick is very popular. We monitored the price for a couple of months in the run up to our departure date and had not D found a third party website rate that was still a third higher than we have ever paid before we would have looked elsewhere and we may still do so in future.

On arrival there used to be several porters available to assist with luggage up to the first floor reception desk but not so this time so E struggled up with the bags. The hotel was in a bit of disarray due to the main bar being closed for refurbishment and although staff were doing their best by offering “Club Sofitel” (free wine, basic spirits, bottled beers and snacks) the first floor cocktail bar was overflowing. It had also been refurbished and the TVs that used to show news and sport have been removed. But the biggest disappointment for us was dinner in the Brasserie which readers of previous Blogs will know we have always raved about. The dinning room had been refurbished and made bigger and we learned that it had only reopened around 10 days before our visit. It seemed that the front of house team were new and were not getting their act together. They missed serving our amuse bouche which we only noticed during our main course whilst other tables near us were being served - when we asked about this they offered to serve it at the end of the meal !!! D had the scallops to start or more accurately one scallop. With a £4 supplement the dish was a single scallop with some black pudding and some finely chopped beetroot and whilst perfectly cooked and very flavoursome we noticed that other guests were being served two generously sized scallops. When asked about this there was an apology. E’s smoked trout starter was up to the usual standard although it took around 35 minutes for the starters to arrive. D’s main of halibut was slightly overlooked and E’s lightly crumbed chicken dish was good but not to the standard that we come to expect of this quite expensive hotel restaurant. There were lots of apologies from the Maitre d but it was almost laughable when he offered to deduct the optional service charge which we could have done ourselves. Anyway a feedback email will be sent as this once superb hotel needs to know that post-refurbishment it needs to up its game. By the way the dry martinis they mix were still up there.

Wednesday

Our flight was scheduled for departure at 09:10 so we made our way from North Terminal to South at 06:45 and had a queue-less check in at Monarch. The airline is boasting a 23kg baggage allowance but this information had not reached Olympic, the itinerary still stating 20kg. but that always proves to be adequate. After a light breakfast of a shared cheese, ham and rocket croissant and coffee in one of the many airside outlets we board and discover that due to a strike by French air traffic controllers over the previous few days our take off slot is delayed 50 minutes.

There is plenty of tarmac activity for D to amuse him from his window seat and E gets stuck into the Monarch onboard shop magazine. The time passes quickly and we are up and away with great views of London.

It is many years since we flew with Monarch and they still prove to be an excellent airline. Good bar service with Hendrick’s Gin & Fever Tree Tonic being D’s measure of a good airline. A 95mph tailwind sees some time made up but we land at the same time as another plane and there is a bit of a scrum to get through the doors and into the Passport Control area where every booth is manned and giving each passport a very cursory glance we are soon at the baggage carousel and our bags are there before D has time to avail himself of the traditional first can of Mythos from the vending machine.

We had to laugh at the passport officer we encountered who just kept saying “You're In” as we briskly passed him - we do wonder if it will continue to be like this in a Post-Brexit Europe.

The speed of bag recovery had meant that E had not had time to get to the Olympic Desk so we did that together and explained we we are making our own arrangements for the night which turned out to be fortuitous as the designated hotel was the Golden Days which appeared on Google as being quite far out of Rhodes Town.

We caught a taxi to the Best Western Plaza and were in our room on the 5th floor with excellent balcony views down to the port by 16:30. We then went out for a walk around the Old Town finding Socratous Garden as we always do where we had a small Mythos, after which we traced the route to the Nireas Fish Restaurant that Robert’s Blog had highlighted so that we could find it again later in the evening.

We returned to the Plaza, showered, changed and D went down to the bar for an ouzo and found that Greece were playing Russia in the European Basketball Championships live on the TV and this was being eagerly followed by a few locals. We headed to another favourite venue - the Yacht Club where a wave of tiredness hit us. We put this down to the worries over Greyam and the resultant impact on recent sleep but we both agreed that we would not do Robert’s recommendation justice so we headed back to the Plaza and made do with the perfectly adequate hotel buffet dinner.

Nireas Fish will have to await the next visit as the menu and venue looked very inviting.

Thursday

After the varied choice of the Plaza’s buffet breakfast we caught a taxi to Akantia where we presented our Olympic voucher at the ticket office and we we are aboard the Panagia Skiadeni by 08:00 for the 09:30 sailing. D always errs on the side of caution.

It was a beautiful morning and we sat out with a frappe watching our fellow passengers board and it did become a busy boat with many day trippers seeking out the delights of Symi. We bumped into J&M whom we hadn't seen for years and it was really nice to catch up with them.

We berthed at the Clock Tower and Fotini, the Olympic Rep on Symi, made sure those staying up got on the right Symi Tours bus whilst she personally too, care of those staying down. The bus dropped us at “the bins” and D became the “Tour Guide” to get guests to Anastasia’s. He only lost two of the ten arrivals but when Anastasia pointed this own he soon found them and delivered them safely to the apartments.

We are lucky enough again to be in our favourite Room 5.

After unpacking we headed down the Kali Strata encountering Maria “Herbs” for the first time. We kindly explained we had just arrived and had two weeks to entice us with her €10 bundle of various dried herbs. Actually the competition from the shop beside the Olive Tree is now hard to resist on this front.

We headed to the familiar comfy chairs of Cafe Aiglios and had a small draught beer and as we then made to move on we were asked by the owner what would we like and so an ouzo and a retsina arrived as our “welcome drink” - that’s Symi for you. Amazing generosity.

We then decided to bus back up but as we had half an hour to go until the 16:00 bus we had another ouzo and retsina in Cafe Alegrito and As D had forgotten to pack the beach towels E went to the very nice shop two doors down and returned with a couple of very nice beach towels made in Greece from linen, cotton and bamboo. Oh and a beach bag to carry them in.

Lakis was spot on time and we were back in Anastasia’s for a read and rest before getting ready and heading to Yannis Rainbow Bar where business was steady. It is nice to see and catch up with regular Symi Visitors and A&A and then N&P came over and then P gave us an insight into the Symi International Film Festival that he has been organisation. It starts on Monday coming and does seem to be an amazing feat that has been pulled off in a very short time.

And so as tradition dictates our first night is at Giorgios for mezes and so we ordered the crispy filo roll with cream cheese and shrimps that is the ever reliable and rich Bourataki. The imam that has been baking in the oven for hours with the sweet onions on top infusing beautifully with the tender flesh of the aubergine; the green beans stewed with onion, tomato, finely diced potato and garlic and the light but very flavoursome meatballs in tomato sauce. As regular readers will know this is always accompanied by bread, large bottle of water he a half litre of retsina.

And so it was Kali Nichta and home to bed.

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View From The Plaza
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Re: Sublime Symi in September

Postby D and E » 16 Sep 2017, 06:19

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Akantia


Friday

Weather Report at 09:00 - Anastasia’s Room 5
Baro Pressure 1002
Humidity 33%
Wind Speed 0.0 mph
Temp Shade 29.5 C
Temp Sun 37 C

As our supermarket plans had been pleasantly hampered by the owner of Cafe Aiglios the day before, we had an excellent excuse, as if we needed one, to have a lazy breakfast in the superb Olive Tree where we had our usual poached eggs on brown (E) and white (D); possibly the best Americano on the island and D had a zingy apple and ginger juice. D started the blog and we watched the Sea Dreams come into Yialos so it had to be around 11:15 by the time we got to the supermarket and stocked up. Justine and the team are always bubbly and full of laughter and nothing seems too much trouble for them.

As ever the supermarket was bustling with Sotiris being the source of plenty of banter and laughter - if only our local Morrisons was as much fun. Back to the apartment with the provisions and water and we discovered that we had a faulty kettle. This is catastrophic for E who is a regular Teapot. But just as we were going to find Anastasia there was a knock at the door and there she was and by 5pm on our return to the room a brand new kettle was waiting and E was a very happy girl.

We had been down to Pedi. We walked down the Pedi road and had a frappe in the relatively new bar area of Katsaras. The beach was almost full but we found two sun beds down the far end and spent the afternoon there. E had a wander to the kiosk and had a sausage pie. Whilst on the beach we met some of the family from the Corner Cafe in Yialos but as D was swimming (the sea is always so inviting at this time of year) he could not say a proper hello to Yannis. When he came out of the sea he had a walk up the road and found him, only to be seated down to a small beer and a lovely mezes of sardines, olives, ham, cheese and horta - a very unexpected light lunch that E was quite jealous about. But then this is Symi where people you only know from holidaying over the years show so much kindness and friendship. It never fails to touch us deeply.

So D had to think quick after this “incident” and as he needed the ATM we walked back to the apartment from Pedi and then he headed down the Kali Strata and on his way back popped in and booked Mythos Fish for Saturday night. We went there years ago and had the legendary mezes; D’s sister goes almost nightly when visiting the island; and prompted by Pollychops blog and his guilty conscious over his impromptu mezes lunch with Yiannis - enough said.

D returned to the apartment via the School Steps but taking a right turn before the steep bit and rejoining the Kali. His light blue shirt was dark blue by the time he got back so he will have worked up a thirst and it was time to get changed and head to Yiannis Rainbow Bar for the nightly aperitif.

There was a steady stream of business for Yannis with many familiar faces coming and going before we headed to Zoe’s which was also very busy when we arrived at 21:30. Nikos was busy on the grill and Zoe’s aunt greeted us at the front door whilst Kristos and Zoe were busy serving upstairs.

We shared a starter of tuna fish salad, beetroot and skadalia (which an adjoining table described as the most garlicky thing she had ever tasted and this would test her boyfriend’s devotion). D then had the Symi Lamb that he had been dreaming about since the last visit. A hunk of lamb shank that had been slow cooked came in its own juices with some carrot and those fabulously waxy potatoes. E went for the sea bream cooked as a whole fish on the grill with perfectly crispy skin and presented with an array of salad and vegetables that makes this a very special looking dish. E loved it. With a piece of cinnamon cake and glass of wine as a night cap we caught up with Zoe’s news before heading home to the sound of the traditional Greek music emanating from Giorgios Taverna.

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The View From Cafe Alegrito


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Unforgettable Bourataki (Thanks Les :-) )
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Re: Sublime Symi in September

Postby Gemma1 » 16 Sep 2017, 08:55

Great blog as always and glad to hear that the strike by French air traffic controllers didn't affect you too much. I had some friends travelling from Manchester on Wednesday and their early morning flight ended up being delayed until the evening so they missed their first night on Symi.

I'm already drooling at the thought of all that delicious food - and the stunning view from room 5 at Anastasia :)
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Re: Sublime Symi in September

Postby JuliaB » 16 Sep 2017, 18:48

Following your blog with interest. Just spotted you passing Café Aglios as we sat supping our G&T's - and a freebie from the owner!
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Re: Sublime Symi in September

Postby D and E » 17 Sep 2017, 07:35

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Symi Lamb a la Zoe


Saturday

Weather Report at 10:30 - St.Nikolas Beach (far side)
Baro Pressure 1011
Humidity 50%
Wind Speed 1.1 mph
Temp Shade 30 C
Temp Sun 34 C

D was up by 07:00 before the sun is shining over Yialos but Pedi is bathed in beautiful colours. He starts on yesterday’s blog before taking care of Teapot E and then heads up to the bakery through the variety of lanes that gets you there and back. A small warm bread still for 60 cents and he is back and breakfast is on the table. Yoghurt and local Symi honey from the kiosk at Pedi with nectarine followed by bread, cheese and ham and we are sorted. D sizes some photos whilst E acts as editor in chief and the blog is posted.

We then packed our bags for a day at St.Nikolas. We walked down to Pedi and are there for 09:30. George is around but we must wait for his brother as it is his brother’s boat that is being used just now. E grabs a couple of frappes from the kiosk and we head over around 10:00. There are already some people who have walked over and the taverna and the cafe area are already open. We got settled at the far side and it wasn't long before the Yialos taxi boats were delivering people and by around 11:30 St.Nicks is buzzing.

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St Nikolas Beach
St.Nikolas Beach


We have a swim and then a frappe, D having an espresso fredo which are particularly good on St.Nicks. Then a bit of sun and reading before a light lunch in a very busy taverna with people being told to wait 10-15 minutes for a table. We share a very nicely sized Greek salad, tzatziki, and calamari and as ever it hits the spot. A big table of some very well known and long established Symi Visitors and Residents are enjoying lunch as we head back to our sun beds for more sun, swimming and reading before getting the 4pm boat back to Pedi and walking up to Anastasia’s in quite a hot afternoon sun.

Showered, changed in Yannis Rainbow Bar by 18:30 for just the one as we were heading down into Yialos. But as we sat sipping our ouzo and retsina we got the text that deep down we knew might come but had hoped for the best - our amazing pussy cat, Greyam, was no longer of this world.

Anyone passing us as we walked down the Kali Strata must have wondered why there were tears and whilst we have always dealt with the loss of friends and relatives by celebrating the life rather than dwelling on the passing it can be hard.

We headed to Elpida’s and raised a glass or two to his memory and tried our best to recount to each other the wealth of stories that his 14 years and 2 months has given rise to. We laughed, cried and smiled throughout the evening - he will never be forgotten.

We bumped into Takis and caught up with his news and the fact that a well known face that has been with him at the shop for many, many years is no longer there.

Elpida's was busy with tourists and locals all enjoying the wonderful small mezes that accompanies the drinks. We had that very tasty dense pork sausage, sweet tomatoes, cucumber and sheeps cheese with our first drink and then a spetzofai - deeply smoked sausage slices cooked in a rich tomato and pepper sauce - with our second and then we headed to Mythos Fish Restaurant through a busy and bustling Yialos.

We are sure Greyam would have approved of our restaurant choice as he was a great lover of a corner of fish, a morsel of crab, a sliver of smoked salmon or the odd prawn that we would give him as a treat.

We had been to Mythos main years previously and had chosen the mezes and recalled that you needed a good appetite to do it justice. We took stock and decided to take a straight starter and main course approach. We had the Coquille “St.” Symi and the Aubergine Mille Feuille to start. The coquille is prawn in a rich cream and cheese sauce oven baked and presented in a scallop shell whilst the Mille Feuille is a very rich aubergine based mouse - both are examples of very fine cooking. We then had fish - sea bream and sea bass. One in an ouzo and fennel dressing and the other with caper and herbs. Two generous portions of two fillets each with horta and very well made Dauphinoise potatoes - not over creamed - just perfect. We had a harbour side table and there were many visitors and Greeks enjoying this fabulous restaurant which now must return to our regular list.

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Aubergine Mille Feuille a la Mythos


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Cocquille St Symi a la Mythos


We made it just in time to catch a crowded 10pm bus up and getting off at the windmills made our way down through the lanes when a shout stopped us in our tracks. None other than our long time friend Konstantinos the taxi driver had spotted us from the balcony of his new house so we exchanged our news and said Kali Nichta to him and his family and headed home to bed and thoughts of Greyam.

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Greyam - Simply the Best
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Re: Sublime Symi in September

Postby Gemma1 » 17 Sep 2017, 08:57

So very sorry to hear about Greyam :(
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Re: Sublime Symi in September

Postby JuliaB » 17 Sep 2017, 09:58

Sad news for you indeed. We understand how you must be feeling.
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Re: Sublime Symi in September

Postby silverfox » 17 Sep 2017, 15:00

Yet another wonderful journey on this magical island.

Thank you so much for sharing yet again and we do agree about Mythos....i'm sure we will visit more than once next year.

So sorry to hear about Greyam but i'm sure you have great memories and will toast his name a few more times on Symi.
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