9 Greek Islands – Symi

I have written seven books about the history of places I have travelled to.

I travel because my own father always said he would travel after he’d retired, but he never got the chance because he died from cancer when he was 49. I travel for him when I go to places as well as for myself.

If you are interested in history and / or travel then you should check out these books. Please bear in mind the books are travelogues rather than travel guides and so cover the places I visited and the experiences I had. 

Greek Islands

This book keeps it simple and covers nine Greek Islands: Rhodes, Symi, Patmos, Samos, Syros, Paros, Tinos, Delos, and Mykonos. They are all different and all lovely.

This is an excerpt on Symi.

Arriving at Symi Town is the loveliest way to begin any visit to a Greek Island. The bay has low hills on all sides and on those hills are stacked differently coloured ochre Italianate mansions, each one a slightly shade to its neighbour. The slope of the hills means these mansions appear in neat rows above one another, leaving the visitor spellbound by the man-made beauty. Added to this are lines of sail boats, small ferries, and large yachts bobbing rhythmically on the swell by the quay. 

The wealth of Symi has been based on sponge diving and shipbuilding. Indeed just over a hundred years ago, these two industries meant more people lived in Symi Town than lived in nearby Rhodes Town. Symi has always been famed for its shipbuilding and legend has it that Symi provided 3 ships for the Greeks in the Trojan War. Nowadays tourism is the main earner, with enough expats staying on the island to allow some businesses to remain open all year round. Some of the houses built in the last two centuries have fallen into disrepair and the more you explore, the more ruins you will find. 

Symi Town comprises two different areas, the lower town of Yialos and the upper town of Horio, though there’s no real boundary between the two other than an individual’s physical fitness, as the best way to get between them is the 350-step Kali Strata path, starting from behind a pizza restaurant in Yialos.

Yialos stretches around the main bay into the smaller Harani Bay, the main area for shipbuilding in times past. Some boats are still repaired here, though the majority of the vessels tied to the quay are small, multi-coloured fishing boats, piled high with nets, straight out of a photographer’s dreams. On the hill above is a Greek Orthodox Church. Heading around the headland is one of the ways to get to the community of Emborio with its quiet beach and taverna. Emborio offers great swimming and snorkelling opportunities and the water is incredibly clear – the boats almost appear to be floating on air. It’s a lovely walk to Emborio along the road overlooking the sea, but Symi Town’s land train does come in this direction too and there are also taxi-boats who call in.