Overheated and itching madly from the overnight attention of the mosquitoes we woke early and as we drank tea we were startled by the clatter of donkey hooves on the marble steps as they began their heavy days work carrying building materials from the top of Kali Strata to the bottom over and over again.
Prompted by Kim during terrace breakfast I reminded the woman about the promise of air conditioning repairs but I wasn’t terribly hopeful about this when she shrugged her shoulders in a sort of ‘how should I know and do I care anyway’ sort of gesture and looked at me with a distinctly blank face. I reported this to Kim but for some reason she was a lot more confident than I think she had a right to be.
We walked to the harbour and along the harbour perimeter road and past the sponge shops. Sponge fishing used to be really big in Symi but over fishing and then disease almost drove the valuable creatures to extinction, trade collapsed and many sponge divers left the island to take up similar employment in Florida in the USA. In the next bay were the remains of the ship building industry and that was a disaster story as well because in the nineteenth century Symi was famous for its high quality boats but it built so many that it cut down all of its trees and ran out of wood. No business sustainability plan – that was the problem!
For a while we walked along a new road that climbed steadily without ever getting anywhere so abandoned that and clambered down the rocks instead to a secluded rock where we were able to go swimming in the inviting sea. The last time in the sea was in the challenging temperatures of the English Channel but this was nothing like as traumatic and we enjoyed an undisturbed swim in the silky warm water of the Aegean Sea.
After a swim we walked back to the Pantheon via the bars of the harbour for a drink and the mini market to purchase lunch and then went to see who was right about the air conditioning repairs. It was me of course so Kim phoned Andreas whose excuse was that unfortunately things get done only slowly on Symi so prospects didn’t look very good.
After self prepared lunch we waited around for a while to see if the repair man would turn up and watched the builders working on the renovation of a property opposite. We were amused by the lack of health and safety as men struggled to manoeuver heavy roofing timbers into place without any mechanical assistance at all. Waiting for the repair man was proving to be a complete waste of time so we abandoned the vigil and returned once again to Ano Symi passing again the man on crutches who was also rather surprisingly repeating yesterday’s epic struggle to the top of the town.
We visited the rather disappointing redundant windmills, climbed to the very highest of the blue domed churches and passed by the old derelict kastro before finishing with a Mythos on a roof terrace bar and then returning to the accommodation to prepare for a second night out dining at the same taverna as the previous evening.
The evening was even hotter and more uncomfortable than the previous night but with extra applications of mosquito repellent we got through without any more bites. When I say got through that is not strictly true because Kim was so uncomfortable that she was up two hours before dawn at five o’clock and out visiting the harbour even before the sun, like me, was showing any interest in the day.
We had enjoyed the first full day in Symi so much that we did exactly the same things all over again with just a few variations to see the places that we thought we might have previously missed. It seemed that there might be an air conditioning repair today because the woman at the apartments asked us to leave our keys which she explained that she would just casually leave on the window ledge for the repair man to let himself in but we refused to do that so that seemed to scupper the prospects immediately.
The reason we like island hopping holidays is that we both become restless and fidgety after a couple of days and like to move on to something new. There is nothing worse than routine on holiday but the trouble is that it can quickly establish itself and we demonstrated that today.
First we repeated yesterday’s harbour walk, but did visit a church that we had missed before, and then we returned to what we thought was our private beach for a little more swimming but sadly our personal rock by the sea was unusually busy today so that meant no naturist swimming this time. A lunchtime drink, lunch at the apartment, a rest (after her unusually early start Kim was a bit disorientated today), a walk to Ano Symi, and a pedicure for Kim passed away the rest of the day.
On our first walks it had been the stunning views over the harbour that had mostly caught our eye but we were used to all of that by this stage and now we had established an eye for the detail. One of the things that spoiled Symi was the careless attitude that the islanders seem to have towards waste disposal and we couldn’t help noticing that the derelict mansions were being used as convenient rubbish dumps and all of those that hadn’t been secured were being used as unlawful landfill sites, which was a great shame.
The air conditioning repair man didn’t arrive of course but at least I was able to negotiate a 20% discount on the room with Andreas because of the inconvenience and after a third evening meal at the same taverna we suffered another uncomfortable night in sweltering temperatures and worrying about insects. In the morning we packed and left before breakfast and made our way down the Kali Strata and to the harbour to catch the half past eight Dodekanisos Express ferry back to Rhodes.
As we sat on the open top deck the sun began to spread from behind the mountains and as we left golden rays spilled into the horseshoe shaped harbour and brought the colourful houses to life and as the ferry left and Symi slipped away we were glad that we had added this island to our growing list of those visited on our Aegean odyssey. We had enjoyed three days here but we were now ready to move on.