In prior postings I’ve described my time in Athens and on the Greek Islands of Santorini and Mykonos. Now I want to share with you my visits to some of the lesser-known of the Greek Islands, each of which was a unique and wonderful experience in its own way. So settle in for a tale that will take you to four other Greek islands: Naxos, Milos, Rodos and Symi.
After several days of visiting Santorini with my friends LeeAnn and Dan, we left our hotel to head to the port to catch ferries; they were off to the island of Paros and I was off to the nearby island of Naxos. We had an exciting cab ride down to the port. It was as if we were in a scene from a TV crime show: we were innocent hostages and our cab driver was a criminal trying to elude the cops! Or so it seemed. He practically left skid marks as he pulled out of town, then drove at high speeds on hairpin turns, passing buses, motorcycles and other taxis on blind curves as he flew down the multiple switchbacks to get to the port. My legs were shaky when we stumbled out of the cab and into the ferry terminal.
We said our goodbyes at the dock and almost simultaneously boarded our respective ferries. The high speed ferry to Naxos was not the relaxing, romantic experience one thinks about when contemplating a sail from one Greek Island to another. I wanted to be on deck watching the Greek Islands slowly passing by and feeling the wind on my face, but on this boat it was impossible to even go out on the deck, or to see anything through the dirty windows. The cabin was hot and stuffy, and there was no escaping the sound of the extremely loud TV set showing Greek soap operas. Thankfully the trip only took an hour or so, and soon we arrived at Naxos.
I was met by a man named Dimitris who had come to deliver my rental car to me. He drove me from the terminal to his shop, where I filled out the paperwork and then I was off on my own to explore the island… well, after needing to get gas! Greek rental car deals are pretty cheap, but the whole situation is pretty casual and loose. The fuel gauge was on E when I got in the car, but Dimitris just shrugged and told me to bring it back empty.
I headed to find my new home for the next few days, the Faros Naxos, a property close to the beach on the far southwestern side of the island. The drive took about 20 minutes and took me up and over some hilly, dry farmland and through a crowded little town with narrow streets, before finally skirting the sea, which was multiple shades of blue and green and the nearby island of Paros was looming across the water. I wondered if LeeAnn and Dan were looking back at me from their island. There were many little ramshackle farms and a lot of unfinished concrete buildings that seem to be common on many of the islands. Finally, I arrived at the Faros, which consisted of a roadside, open-air taverna, with a beautiful pool area behind it, and farther back, a white stucco house surrounded by beautifully manicured flower gardens.
A waitress at the taverna, who spoke very little English, brought me to the reception area where I met Nikos, the young manager of the place. Nikos seemed like a long-lost member of the Beach Boys, with reddish-blond hair, a casual, unshaven look and a very mellow interpersonal style. He could easily have blended in on the streets of Venice Beach, California except that his Greek accent would give him away. Extending a handshake, he said in a low voice, “Meester Matt how you are? Welcome to Faros Naxos. I am Nikos!” The Faros Naxos is a family operation; Nikos manages the hotel, while his brother Dimitris (I swear everyone on these island is named either Dimitris or Nikos, with an occasional Stavros thrown in for good measure!) manages the taverna and Mamma cooks.
Naxos is the polar opposite of Santorini: there are no big cruise ships off the coast, no hordes of tourists, no hustle and bustle…just a very peaceful, rural, and laid back feeling. Nikos asked where I had just come from, and when I told him Santorini, he commented about how different the islands are. I joked with him that I’d been with a large group on Santorini and that there were some folks in my group that I’d wanted to push off the cliffs, but I’d refrained because there would be too many witnesses. It took him a moment to process what I’d said, and then he howled with laughter and slapped me on the back. Comparing the two islands, Dimitris said, “Santorini is for taking pictures. Naxos is for relax!”
I went to the taverna for a late lunch and was thrilled to find goat on the menu, a Greek specialty I’ve always wanted to try. I had a lot of trouble understanding the waitress; I thought she was telling me that the goat was cooked in oil and pepper, but finally gleaned that she was saying “oil paper.” The goat was baked in a sort of parchment paper with herbs and spices, and it was very good. I also had a gigantic Greek salad; there are no small Greek salads, they are all big enough to feed the population of a small Greek island and they are filled with ripe, flavorful garden fresh vegetables and delicious fresh feta cheese.
It was then time to hit the beach. It was probably close to 90 degrees, and the sea looked inviting. Nikos recommended his favorite beach to me, called “Hawaii Beach.” I drove there and found I had to walk quite a bit to find a way down the cliffs and onto the sand. I had a stretch of beach almost to myself, with maybe five other people in sight, all swimming or sunning nude. I would have joined them, but the afternoon sun seemed a bit too bright for parts of the body that never see the light of day, so I was conventional! The water was comfortably warm, refreshing, and clear as a bell, with a totally sandy bottom. Small fish nibbled at my leg hairs, making me giggle.
After my swim I took a drive to some neighboring areas and stopped at a very small grocery store to get some juices and snacks to stock my fridge, but still made it back to Faros in time for a swim in the pool while watching the sunset in the west over Paros, and then almost immediately I was treated to a beautiful moon-rise, as a full moon peeked over the hills east of me. It was really magical!
For the next two days I adopted the oh-so-mellow demeanor of my host, Nikos. I slept till 9:00 or so, wandered to the taverna to have some breakfast that Mamma set out each day, and sat on the porch reading a book till after noon. Typically I had only one big meal each day. One afternoon I went into the town of Naxos and found a highly recommended place called Scirocco where I had a delicious meal of stuffed peppers and fried calamari, and then some delicious homemade ice cream at The Waffle House (not to be confused with the American chain that is nicknamed by some “Awful House”!) Then I sped back to the beach near Faros, this time having the whole place to myself and swimming nude as I watched the sunset while floating happily in the sea. Nikos and one of his helpers, who I am almost certain is probably named Dimitris, showed up at the beach toward sunset to clean and rake the beach. They take such pride in keeping everything clean and doing such beautiful landscaping. Born and raised in New England and descended from Pilgrim ancestors, I felt a little awkward being nude, but they were a distance off and then I saw Nikos toss off his jeans and work in a pair of underwear that were so small that he might as well have been nude, so I didn’t feel self-conscious after that!
On my last full day on Naxos, I drove up through the mountains and saw a different side of the island, one that is more green and lush. I visited the ruins of a temple built In honor of Demeter (of course there is a temple to Demeter here: the name Dimitris means “follower of Demeter”) and I also went to a very photogenic place on the shore close to town where a huge portal was built as an entrance to a temple to Apollo that never got finished. The portal still stands on a rocky inlet. looking like a backdrop from an episode of Star Trek. I ended up going back to Scirocco for a late lunch/early dinner again, this time having a Greek salad, delicious lamb in a lemon sauce, and then the highlight, an orange cake that is a specialty on Naxos. Greek desserts have never been my thing; I don’t like baklava and the other dessert they serve often is called halvah, made with some gelatinous sesame seed paste and covered in honey for good measure. Ick! But the orange pie, now that was a dessert I will remember for a long, long time. Wow!
I took a last swim late in the day, though the wind came up and the temperature felt a lot cooler than the prior two days. I finally had to retreat and watch sunset from the pool, and actually put on jeans and a long sleeve sweatshirt after dark, which was a surprise. I was delighted to have a whole basket of fresh laundry waiting for me on my bed when I returned to the room; the Faros did all my clothes for about 7 Euro, and it was nice to have REAL clean clothes instead of clothes washed with soap and shampoo and rinsed out in the shower! Because I had to head for the port at 8:30 AM the next day and Nikos shook his head and said he would never be up at such an early hour, I settled up my bill that night with him and he inquired about my travels. “Meester Matt… where you are going next?” When I told him I was heading for Italy, he laughed and said, “Italy? Wow! It-a sound like a preety good life to me!” I had to agree.
Mamma set up breakfast for me early and after saying my goodbyes to her (as he’d predicted, Nikos was nowhere to be found at that early hour!), I headed to the port and left my car there, easily rolling my suitcase down to the nearby dock and boarding my ferry. But THIS was a REAL ferry! This boat was owned by a different company than the one I’d come over on and what a difference that made! There were men in shirts and bowties welcoming us on board, staterooms and staircases and restaurants… it felt like boarding the Titanic! Best of all, there was an outdoor deck with a roof, so I could sit in the shade and be outside. Unfortunately, the ride over to Paros only took a little over an hour, but it was a nice little cruise.
I half expected to see LeeAnn and Dan at the port in Paros, as I think they were leaving there on Wednesday to go to another island. But there was no sign of them, and I had to move fast as I was hoping to catch a bus from the port to the Paros airport. Information online was sketchy and contradictory, but it seemed that I had only one chance to get a 10:45 AM bus to the airport for 1.5 Euros. If I missed it, the other option was a 25 Euro cab ride. The bus station was actually just a little mobile home in the middle of a blisteringly hot parking lot, and when I inquired about the airport bus there was much confusion and hemming and hawing. Finally, someone who spoke a little English told me that there was a bus at 11:10AM, and that since my flight to Athens was at 12:45PM, I should be fine. However, they cautioned me that the bus doesn’t stop AT the airport, just nearby. They told me 300 meters, which is less than a quarter of a mile, so I said that was fine and bought my ticket. As I walked away, a man in the office yelled out, “Maybe 400 meters!”
When the bus arrived and I confirmed that it was heading to the airport, the driver looked uncomfortable and said, “It goes NEAR to the airport, but does not stop there. It’s maybe 500 meters walking.” (A question for the Paros Town Council: Would it be too much trouble to just have the bloody airport bus stop AT THE AIRPORT? I’m just saying…”)
At 11:40 I was dropped off on a quiet country road in the blazing sun and the driver pointed to another road and said, “That way!” So off I went, pulling my rolling duffle bag behind me, feeling like a mule and sweating like a pig in the noon sun. It really would not have been so bad had it not been so hot, but after 15 or 20 minutes, I entered the tiny Paros Airport building that really wasn’t much bigger than the Paros bus station, and reveling in the air conditioning, I got checked in for my Olympic Air flight to Athens. Of course the plane was an egg beater with wings, and there were maybe 10 of us on the flight, but it was a smooth flight and provided great views of some of the other islands. I think for those traveling to the Greek Islands, the relaxed vibe of Naxos or Paros makes a nice balance with the more crowded islands of Santorini or Mykonos, and I really enjoyed my time on Naxos.
At the risk of offending the Greeks and their proud heritage and language, listening to someone speaking in Greek sounds to me like, “Dippy-dippy-plaka-divvy-plata-kakapoto-mooooose!” Whether you understand it or not, listening to Italian is like music to the ears; it has a wonderful rhythm and lilt that is almost melodic. The same cannot, unfortunately, be said for Greek. After flying from Rome to Athens and on to the tiny island of Milos, I began to hear less and less of my beloved Italian and more and more of what sounded like a made-up language from a Saturday Night Live skit or the language that Balky, the cousin from the fictional island of Mypos on the show Perfect Strangers used to speak. Basically, almost everything sounds like “Dippy-dippy-plaka-divvy-plata-kakapoto-mooose!” But that is when they are speaking slowly and enunciating. Speaking quickly it’s more like: Dippydippyplakadivvyplatakakapotomoose! It really does make me chuckle when I listen to it.
I arrived on Milos on a tiny plane that was just a little larger than a dragonfly. We de-planed down a stairway onto the ground and were led to a small stone building that was called the “terminal” even though it was not much larger than my apartment. We waited in the hot, stuffy little building for almost 30 minutes for luggage, and a couple of fellow passengers said they’d have been happy to have just grabbed their bag from the underbelly of the plane and dragged it in themselves! Finally, the bags arrived, and I went off to the Greeka rental car office… and no that’s not a typo, it was called Greeka! There I met Georgios, who got me all squared away, described a few sights on the island, and told me the way to my hotel. As I was leaving, he said, “I will see you soon!” and I replied with, “Yes, when I return the car in two days”. “No, I will see you sooner. It’s a small island and I live in Pollonia where your hotel is!”
Georgios was not kidding. As I drove out to Pollonia, I thought I recognized him in the car behind me, and sure enough, he started flashing his lights and blowing the horn to warn me I’d just passed the rather non-descript Best Western Pollonia! Waving him on, I made a u-turn and soon I was greeted at the Best Western by Georgios (another Georgios!) who showed me to my room, a very spacious suite with couches, a king sized bed up on its own elevated loft, and a full kitchen – all for about $40 a night! I then set out to explore Pollonia, which took me about six and a half minutes. There is a crescent-shaped main street that runs along a little beach/harbor, and it’s lined with about 7 restaurants, a bakery, a general store, and my hotel. I certainly didn’t have to worry about getting lost!!
I went to the general store to get some cold drinks for the fridge and to buy a toothbrush. I have lost so many things on this trip, I feel I am going senile! I’ve lost a toothbrush, a beloved white linen shirt I got from Santorini last year, one electrical plug adaptor, and at least a couple pairs of underwear have gone AWOL. (Most distressing is that today I discovered I’ve lost the battery recharger for my camera, and I am down to only one battery that is at half strength! If I cannot find a replacement my picture taking days are over!) I wonder why my suitcase doesn’t feel any lighter.
I then walked across the street and got an outside table at a place I’d read about online called Enalion. The food I had there was nothing short of spectacular, visually as well as taste-wise. I had a colorful chickpea salad with sundried tomatoes, red pepper, feta cheese, onions, black olives and green basil. Then I got an order of the tomato fritters, a fairly common appetizer on the Cycladic Islands, and the main course was octopus that had been sautéed in honey and sweet local wine, and was fantastic. I finished things off with that Greek Island favorite I discovered on prior trips to Greece: Orange Pie! Almost as entertaining as the food was my waitress Georgia (Is everyone on this island named Georgios or Georgia? On Naxos everyone was Dimitri!) Georgia and her father (I did not get his name, but I’m betting it was Georgios!) run the restaurant. She is a quick-witted and warm person who chatted with me a lot and offered me samples of some wonderful after-dinner liqueurs. It was a nice night and I didn’t exhaust myself walking back across the street to my hotel.
The next morning was bizarre in terms of the weather! Overnight we had rain, but there must have been a lot of dust or dirt in the air or wind, because the raindrops the storm left on everything were full of dirt. My car looked like it had been mud-bombed, but then, so did every other car on the street! The skies were on and off threatening rain that day, and it was quite cool, which I was actually grateful for, though it was not really conducive for swimming! I had breakfast at the bakery, where I sat outside and had cake and coffee and a fresh-out-of-the-oven spinach pie. There was a Greek Orthodox Priest dressed in long black robes and a wonderful puffy hat there as well, and he greeted me with “Kalimera” (good morning), and I subsequently ran into him around town at least 6 more times that day. I wondered if his name was Georgios.
I set out to explore some of the island’s beaches. Like Santorini, Milos is volcanic and is known for having many unusual rock formations and colorful beaches. I drove along the western coast and did a bit of wading and hiking on the totally white, rocky Sarakinko Beach, which resembles the surface of the moon – well, if the moon had an azure blue sea!! And then I visited the colorful cliffside fishing village of Firopotomos with its imposing white and blue church guarding the entrance to the harbor. I then drove to Plaka, the island’s capital city, perched high on a mountaintop, and made the mistake of getting lunch at a place that served goat meat. Still remembering a heavenly goat dish I had when I was on Santorini the prior summer, I got sucked in, and ordered the lemon goat. I received a plate of mostly goat bones with a lot of fat and gristle on them, drowning in some watery, vaguely lemony sauce. My nearby French fries were soaking in the sauce as well, and were totally wet and virtually inedible. Ick! It was really bad. The waiter was pleasant enough, but as he collected my plate (with about 50 mushy fries and a pile of goat bones still on it) and asked how my meal was, I had to be honest and say, “Um, there was a lot of water… the fries were all wet.” He shrugged and brought me the bill, but I sure felt better for getting that off my chest!
I then visited a couple beaches on the south coast that were nothing out of the ordinary and the surf was too rough to attempt a swim. As I headed back toward Pollonia. I decided to stop at a place called Papfragas Beach along the way, as the sun was peeking out just a bit and I really wanted a swim. I climbed down the rocks to the entrance of what is a long, calm inlet of water surrounded on two sides by rocky shores. The water was chilly, but I managed to jump in and decided to swim to the end of this inlet to view the natural archways that the sea has created. It was probably the length of a long city block, and just as I began to reach the inlet’s mouth, thunder boomed, very, very close to me and there was a flash of lightning. I hadn’t been able to see it from inside the inlet, but huge black clouds had rolled in from the south and were bearing down on me quickly. What timing! I also found that because I was now at the mouth of the inlet, the current was trying to push me out and keep me from going back up the inlet, so what had been a very easy paddle outbound became a very tough “salmon swimming upstream” battle inbound, and every crack of thunder increased my sense of urgency. I then realized that if I stayed close to one side of the inlet, rather than trying to paddle down the middle, the current was not as bad, and I eventually made it back just fine. Of course about 5 minutes after I trudged uphill back to my car in my wet swim suit, the storm was all gone, and the sun had popped out again! Sigh.
As I drove back to the hotel, I waved to the Orthodox priest who was making his rounds and I saw Georgia in the street. I rolled down the window and asked if she could reserve a table for me that evening, as I was in need of some good food after my horrendous lunch. She said, “I don’t like gossip, but I want to hear all of the details about your bad lunch and where you ate! Come at 8:30 PM!” And so I did and I had another great meal and more fun chatting with Georgia. She brought me a drink at the end called a “submarine”, and cautiously, before she gave it to me, she asked how my blood sugar was. These were my pre-diabetes days, but perhaps this thing helped to put me on the road to diabetes! The drink was an almost sickeningly sweet, candy-like substance made from alcohol stuck to the end of a spoon and submerged in mineral water. It was not my favorite thing, but I didn’t tell Georgia!
Milos was a fun diversion, and the small-town life there and the chance to mingle with the locals left me with fond memories of this tiny island.
Rodos & Simi (2015)
On yet another trip to Greece I opted to explore a couple more of the islands: Rodos (Rhodes), and Symi, two of the easternmost of the Greek Islands, not that far from the coast of Turkey. I picked up my rental car at the airport on Rhodes and headed south and east toward the town of Lindos to my hotel, the Lindian Jewel. I was surprised by how big Rhodes is; it is among the three or four largest islands of Greece and it was almost an hour’s drive from the airport to the hotel. The scenery was an interesting mix; in some places is was just rather flat and not terribly scenic, and then I’d pass by stunning mountains of shiny gray granite stone with beautiful green trees and shrubs seeming to grow right out of the rock.
The hotel was not quite as fancy as it had looked on its website, but I had a deluxe sea-view room with a view of Lindos Beach. I got settled in and in the remaining hour or so before sunset I went swimming in what seemed to be rather chilly waters, but with the air being so warm, it felt good. Not another soul was on the beach at this point, so I had things to myself. After my swim, it was already dark and I was pretty tired, having been traveling for 8 hours to get from Israel to Rhodes, and then the hour long drive, so I decided I’d dine at the hotel’s beautiful outdoor restaurant. The ambiance was nice, but the food was mediocre and over-priced, and the waiters were rather cool. Note to self: no more meals here.
My time on Rhodes was completely unstructured, and it really felt like the vacation I needed after a busy and hectic couple of weeks of traveling. I slept in, getting up in time to partake of the restaurant’s free breakfast buffet, which was actually quite good. Then I’d take a drive to explore other parts of the island. One afternoon I drove south to Kiotari Beach where I decided to have a late lunch/early dinner at Stefano’s Taverna, located right on the beach. I sat on an open terrace with a view of the sea and dined on an appetizer of several dips (hummus, tzatziki, relishes), followed by a wonderful salad of beets, onions, feta cheese and toasted walnuts and for those of you who know how much I typically hate nuts, I’ll have you know I ate every single walnut! It was just delicious! The main course was an enormous portion of perfectly grilled calamari with lemon and French fries, washed down with a Greek beer called FIX.
After dinner I drove to the far southern tip of the island and took a swim at Prasonisi Beach, which I had almost entirely to myself. Then I followed the road leading along the western coast of the island, and just before the sun was setting, I descended from a mountainous area near Monolithos and down to another remote beach called Fournos. I hadn’t passed another car for miles. I reached the shore and walked the deserted beach – well, deserted except for a few goats with bells around their necks lurking on hillsides and cliffs and staring at me cautiously, but otherwise I was alone. The sun began to set behind some clouds, turning them every shade of orange and pink. But then in the east, a full moon rose over the cliffs and created a shimmering trail in the water. It was hard to know which way to look. What a gorgeous celestial show, and it felt like it was happening for my benefit alone. It was total peace and beauty and a wonderful gift.
Back in Lindos that night, I walked down to the old town that features an acropolis and winding streets reminiscent of Santorini or Mykonos and still full from my late lunch, I grabbed a very good cone of gelato and just strolled the town and people-watched.
Another day I explored the beaches of the east coast. I stopped at Anthony Quinn Beach, named after the actor because when he filmed The Guns of Navarone in this area, he fell in love with it and bought a plot of land there. It was one of the most beautiful beaches I’ve ever seen, but was way too crowded for my liking, so after taking some pictures, I retreated to Tsambika Beach, and parked at the far northern end. The water here was sparklingly clear and there were maybe a dozen people at this end of the beach, so it was a perfect refuge for me. I spent a long time in the water, but took a lot of time to take photos and even to climb the 100 foot tall sand dune that rests against the nearby cliffs. At one point, as I was floating and paddling around in the water, I looked down, marveling at how in 8 or 9 feet of water, I could see the rippled sand on the bottom as clear as a bell. And then my attention was drawn to something beneath me and I let out a gasp as I saw a long, rounded white thing floating under me. Was it an octopus? A really big squid? A huge white jellyfish? Momentary panic was replaced by hysterical laughter when I realized that the “big white thing” floating so close under me was… my right thigh! Good Lord! I really need to get a little more sun on these legs of mine!
From the beach I decided to drive farther north to Rhodes Town, the island’s walled capital that sits at the northeastern tip of the island for dinner. I went to the ferry terminal and picked up my tickets for my upcoming ferry trip to the nearby island of Symi, and then I wandered the streets of the town and had dinner at Mama Sofia’s Tavern. The owners are two brothers who are real characters, wandering from table to table, introducing themselves, learning the names of every customer, explaining the menu, and making jokes. I dined on an amazing mixed seafood salad and then a lamb stew, returning to Lindos long after dark.
On my last full day on Rhodes I spent a lazy afternoon back at Tsambika Beach, and then I headed to Pefki Beach and the Philosophia Taverna, which is perched high on a cliff with a view to the west – the perfect vantage point to see sunset. More spectacular than the sunset was the meal, which featured a simply delicious octopus salad, phyllo dough pies stuffed with sun dried tomato, a “vegetable tower” of grilled peppers and zucchini, and an order of perfectly fried calamari and lemon. It was a perfect meal for my last night on the island. I can’t say that Rhodes can compete with the beauty of Santorni, but it has a lot to offer, the beaches are wonderful and it was a warm and welcoming place for me to relax and unwind for a few days. I can’t help but let out a contented sigh as I reflect on my time there.
The following morning, I had to leave the hotel early and drive up to Rhodes Town to catch a 9:00 ferry to the island of Symi. I had read about Symi in guide books and thought it was worth just an overnight stay. It’s an hour from Rhodes and even closer to the Turkish coast. I sat in an open air area on the top deck under the shade and watched the blue waters and the mountains of the Turkish coast float by.
Arriving at the port on Symi was as special as the guidebooks said: the horse-shoe shaped harbor is surrounded on three sides by multi-colored buildings and homes that terrace from the shoreline all the way up into the high hills above the town. Taller mountains, dotted with tiny villages that seem accessible only to goats, form a dramatic backdrop. As I left the ferry and walked along the waterfront there were all kinds of shops and cafes, but the many shops selling hundreds of kinds of sea sponges in a myriad of shapes and sizes really caught my eye. I also enjoyed watching fishermen working on their boats or repairing their fishing nets. Of the many islands I have visited in Greece, this one seemed to be a real “working island” and I appreciated the glimpse of what everyday life is like here.
I spent my night on Symi at a private house I’d rented that was about 75 steps up from the waterfront. It was a split level, with a kitchen/living area downstairs and the bedroom and bath upstairs. On the upper floor there was also a deck that looked out onto the harbor. It was a great spot. I had a lazy day on Symi, having lunch at a small taverna where I met an amusing father and daughter from England who now lived on Symi. She had just finished a degree in Women’s Studies and her thesis was about the treatment of women in Muslim communities within Great Britain. Evidently her research revealed that with increasing frequency, British authorities are allowing Muslim communities to enforce sharia law instead of the British system of justice, and this is bad news for women. For example, if a woman is sexually attacked, she has to have four male witnesses come forward to defend her; otherwise, she is judged to have had sex out of wedlock and is punished! The British dad was simply beside himself about such things being allowed to happen in his country and was ranting and raving about issues in a way that told me we could be close friends if I too lived on Symi.
After lunch I walked to a beach on the edge of the town, and though it was rocky and difficult to get in and out of the water, I enjoyed a wonderful soak in the clear seas, with no incidents involving being startled by my own pale thighs! For dinner I went to a place called Tholos that my British pals recommended highly. I had a seat right by the water’s edge from where I could watch the stars come out and the lights of the town twinkle to life, all reflected in the glassy water. Huge fish, a foot or two long, splashed in the water right below me as I dined on a homemade pasta with butter and cheese, followed by octopus cooked in red wine. The night was warm, with a slight breeze, and I had to marvel at what a truly peaceful and lovely place Greece, and this island in particular, really is.
Some final thoughts: For those of you thinking about a visit to Greece, I recommend spending your first two or three nights in Athens, and then selecting a couple of different islands to explore. I believe that Santorini should not be missed, but after a few days there, sneak off to at least one of the other, more tranquil and less touristed islands to get a more authentic flavor of life in the Greek Islands. Not unlike the islands of Hawaii, the Greek islands have many similarities to one another, but each one also seems to have a unique personality and offers some very different scenery that make it worthwhile to add to your travel itinerary. And if you have visited some of the other islands not described here, I’d love to hear your impressions so I can figure out where to go next!