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Thursday, June 11, 2015

Symi - splendid serendipity!

Symi, a small island that is considered by some to be the most beautiful of all Greek islands, is the first overnight stop on our small ship tour. Barbara, Jo Ann, Nancy and I woke to find ourselves in a beautiful small harbor. After a morning walk-around the tiny port town, our program director Attila, invited us to spend the day as we pleased. Everyone grinned: the flight from Athens followed by walking tours in Rhodes had been grueling. A 4 a.m. wake-up call was just the beginning of a long trip from one side of the Aegean Sea to the other. A superb lunch in Romios' shaded garden gave us just enough energy to board the Artemis before cocktail hour, dinner, and a night sail to Symi.

Atilla informed us that within short walking distance of our mooring in Symi harbor we'd find a pleasant beach for swimming and sunbathing. Motorcycles were available to rent for backroad adventures. There was always the option to explore art galleries and shops in town or kickback on the boat: perhaps read a book or play a game in the air-conditioned lounge or enjoy a mix of sun and shade on the upper deck. The four of us remained undecided, as our morning orientation walk came to a close. Then we heard the Poseidon's captain, Giannis, call out from the town dock: "Ladies, come for a cruise around the island with swimming and a BBQ lunch." Barbara said, "Whaddya think? Do we have time?" No hesitation — almost in unison, we all said, "Brilliant idea: absolutely! YES!!"

Making a quick dash back to the Artemis, we gathered basic day-on-the-boat gear: swimsuits & coverups, plenty of the large fluffy beach towels provided by cruise line, sunscreen, water, and flip-flops instead of walking shoes. Nancy and Jo Ann met us at the Poseidon at exactly 10:30 a.m. The excursion schedule included three stops at small coves for swimming and a lunch stop on the tiny island of Spetses before our return to the Artemis for the daily port talk and dinner.

Our loop around the island stopped first at a cove we called Spaghetti/Macaroni - Greek name: Maroni. After that we swam at Savasilios or "Santa Claus."  The last swim stop was in cove called St. Nikolas, the location where Guns of Navarone was filmed.

Those synchronized smiles tell the whole story. The water was warm enough after a momentary shock of cool. The Aegean is no bathtub! However, knowing that ouzo waited for us after the swim eased the slide from ladder to sea. Can you see our feet?  Divine is my only word for the Aegean's crystalline waters.

After each swim, Giannis welcomed us back aboard with tiny shots of ouzo or glasses of wine. Plenty of water available all day; no need to bring my own water bottle next time. Can you read the sub-text? ( return to Greece is surely in my future :-)

As lunchtime approached, we motored to Spetses, the itty bitty chunk of land southeast of the main island. Populated by a small herd of very hungry goats, its jetty was handy for off-loading the BBQ grill and provisions. The beach, shaded by pine trees, had plenty of picnic tables awaiting our buffet. To one side of the jetty is a pebble beach while the other side is sandy. While Yiannis and crew prepared lunch, I swam out to see if the dolphins who followed us into the dock might return, but no luck. I did, however, have a pleasant chat with an Irishman who had lived a couple of years in Albuquerque. A sometime Celtic musician, he had played in a couple of clubs I'd been to in Santa Fe — small world, indeed!

When we finished the perfect lunch of BBQ chicken and homemade Greek side dishes plus an all-American potato salad that we doctored with tzatsiki, the goats moved in to do KP.

St Nikolas cove, the location where The Guns of Navarone was filmed, was our last swim stop —by then, I was ready for full-on relax. Yiannis offered coffee, cake, more ouzo, wine, or water. Lazing against the cushions while background splashes punctuated The Fisherman of Halicarnassus was heaven. It's the perfect companion book for this trip.

I tried shooting photos into the late-after afternoon sun, but that didn't work for me so I'll add some photos from JoAnn after I take my computer to her on July 6th for picture downloading. 

Take a look below the ladder to see how clear the water is — no coral or other reef items for exploring via snorkel, but gazing at the sea floor while swimming was truly grand!!


Deciding to take the boat trip reinforced our trip theme: "When serendipity calls — as unexpected opportunities arise — say yes and see what happens." As with the necessaries, one visits the loo whenever it appears NOT when you need it. You never know when another will present itself. 

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