A Symi Holiday: Day 3

These Boots were Not Made for Walking

No sooner had I closed the lid on my laptop from yesterdays blog, it started. I believed it to be a rooster, welcoming in the sunrise. But this rooster clearly had mental health problems. Certainly no sense of time. It was 3am and not 7.30am. Not only that, it had less of a “cock-a-doodle-doo” and more of a “caroo goo AAARGHH CACKOO”. I can only compare it to the likely sound of a practicing trombone player slowly garotted. Other roosters down the hill seemed equally confused, replying with “cock-a-doodle… eh?”.

A few hours later something more troubling startled me awake. Initially it sounded like a mobile phone vibrating on a table. A deep moaning hum shook the windows. It was a ship in the harbour, hooting with almighty power. Enough to shake the window panes, perhaps long enough to tear the space time continuum itself. When it stopped what seemed like minutes later, bells started to ring. A trio of chimes rang out near me, followed by another trio further down, then above, then more and more. These chimes went on for half an hour. At present I don’t know the significance of a Wednesday in Symi or in Greece overall, but it felt like they had some significance*. Oddly, the guy further up the hill from me was chiming four times. Perhaps he was the one with the rooster.

Today was meant to be a photography day. I stuffed my day pack as lightly as possible (camera, gorilla tripod, 50mm prime, 18-135mm, 75-300mm, 11-16mm, spare t-shirt, wireless trigger, IR filter, ND filter, 2 bottles of water). Unfortunately it was overcast from morning till late afternoon. The drop in temperature meant I could wear jeans and there was less chance of me being fatally killed by dehydration on the walk back up all the stairs**, like yesterday. Not swayed by the lack of sunshine I headed towards the stairway; Kali Strata.

My escapades late yesterday evening on the Kali Strata where upon I dived into the fridge for water at the nearest cafe led me back to The Olive Tree, ran by Jenine and Tina. I re-introduced myself as “that bedraggled fool from yesterday”. They knew who I was. As a token of my appreciation I ordered a BLT breakfast and a coffee to start the day, making sure I left a tip.

The sun just didn’t want to shine, nor the clouds want to move but blue sky could be seen in every direction other the perfect island-sized cloud overhead. And the winds had picked up. In case you’d forgotten Kali Strata is a walkway up the side of a hill from the harbour up to the ‘old town’. Another description would be wind tunnel. Even Jenine and Tina were concerned when a particularly large gust blew something over, causing glass to smash. It turned out to be the the scooter belonging to the recycling guy who collects the (staggering amount of) empty beer bottles.

Not distracted by the winds nor the cloud I set off down the steps where several angles and interesting scenes presented themselves. Brand spanking newly decorated houses stood beside ancient ruins and crumbling walls, graffiti spray painted onto old buildings, stairway after stairway of contrasting life and culture. For a change I decided against taking lots of photos, instead opting for sunlit versions perhaps the next day or later in the week. Today went from being a photography day to more of a location-scouting day.

And so I just kept walking. I got to the harbour and crossed the Kantirimi bridge, walking past the many sponge shops. Interestingly, Ian informed us on the walk yesterday that although the ancient trades of Symi were sponge diving and boat building, neither exist today. All of the sponges sold on Symi likely came from Florida. Which is a sham(e). Carrying on past the clock tower (every village needs a clock tower) I followed the road along the coastline, passing the relatively empty shingle beach and kept walking. I was told there was another small village called Emporios with a beach much further round the island, and with my feet set on walking I was determined to try and get there.

Symi Panoramic

Once out passed the shingle beach of Symi there isn’t much to see. On your right is a sheer drop down into the clear blue sea, and to the left is a desolate scene of red and silver rock taken straight out of any documentary about the Moon or Mars. I felt like the only person on the island the further round I walked, meeting hardly a soul along the way (apart from the old guy driving the colourful tourist toy train who drove past twice, waving toward me like I was some fairground attraction).

An eternity later it became apparent that walking further was almost pointless. I had reached a turning point. A literal one at that. Cars, busses, and tiny toy trains must circle in this vast concrete area before heading back along the desolate road. I could see sugar cube dwellings dotted along the cove at the next turning at Emporios, but by that point nothing inside me felt the need to see them up close. By day three on Symi, if you’ve seen one dwelling you’ve seen them all. Beach or otherwise, I wasn’t prepared to venture further by foot. Not to mention my feet had managed to push the insoles of my boots up my ankles.

Before heading back I took the opportunity to snap this JCB perched by the edge of the cliff, set against the lunar landscape. Random indeed.

Lunar JCB

Before I knew it, several hours had passed by whilst walking. It was 3pm and a lot of the shops and restaurants back in Symi were closing. I continued back and popped in to the Dolphin, a pizza place I ate at yesterday (sucker). The trustworthy owner took my order and closed up shop around me. Other customers were turned away, whereas I was left to dine alone in his empty establishment. Strange but true.

And that was pretty much the end of the day! The setting sun turned the clouds pink and purple at around 6.30pm. Unfortunately the sun sets on the other side of the island, so there won’t be any spectacular sunset photos from me. On the other hand, sunrise is sure to be mind blowing. I plan on spending a late evening in the harbour so I can get some night shots of the area.

Having checked the weather (wifi suddenly appeared in the apartment!) it was due to be overcast today with 80% chance of thunder. The rest of the week supposed to be high’s of 26 degrees with little cloud.

We didn’t have thunder, but around 8pm we definitely had beautiful pink lightning to the North every few minutes:

Symi Lightning

This was a long exposure shot taken in complete darkness to try and capture a lightning bolt. Took me a few attempts to get the lightning!


* A fellow visitor in the apartment above told me the early morning hooting was likely from a large ferry from Athens that rarely visits Symi. The huge one I saw had “Blue Star” written on it. The bell tolls were likely linked to the arrival and departure of the ferry as they rang out again at 4pm.

** Also, I counted the steps I took from the marina to the apartment. 358, +/-20 for my photography distractions.

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