Full Circle, less four metres

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The finding of us is always part of the adventure, a slight frisson in the unknown.
Instructions for rendezvous – find the blue dot on the map!
The taxi driver after clarification that they needed neither an hotel or to go to the new Marina but actually wanted to be transported to the blue dot on the map, was not fazed, accepted the mission and soon I got a text to tell me that our friends were on their way.
It was a searingly hot day and as I crossed the four lane highway that curved along the bay I spied a taxi, the neat white bearded face of Ben scanning for Selkie Dancer, and behind him, head out of the window like and excited afghan hound, hair blowing in the wind was my friend String!
So after cooling swims we set off for Symi and Panormitis Bay (‘of the place where there is always an anchorage’) and indeed there was. We have been here before and it is a safe place to leave the boat and take the impressive road by small bus to Symi town.

A yacht squeezes in between the trip boats
A yacht squeezes in between the trip boats

Symi is picture post card pretty in pink and yellow. Square houses in various states of repair, cubes built up around the long narrow inlet but very touristy with trip boats coming daily from Rhodes and Turkish ports so consequently it is a very busy harbour which we have avoided so far. Instead we come to watch and to eat and in this case to discover that my Travelex Cash passport card on which there were loaded a considerable number of euros would not work anymore – expiry date on the card 05/17 – no! that really means, said the girl in the help centre, that it expired 05/15 – makes perfect sense!? I will not be using them again.

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Off then to the island of Tilos where we have an unplanned encounter with Kardes and Mike and Bettine, now on a rat free boat.  Bettine cuts a dashing figure on their ‘stand up board’ while Mike coaches from the side lines! We share a meal together ashore in an old style taverna run by a couple who really needed more help and who had abandoned the menu in favour of simply telling us what they had in the oven and then have to rush out and buy the sparkling water as they had none in and improvise a meal for α χορτοφάγος, reportedly the result was extremely tasty.

Waterfront at Chalki
Waterfront at Chalki

On to our next island, Chalki, where String and Ben had holidayed 27 years before with their daughter Polly. There we had another unexpected encounter with a sister boat Lucy Alice. We had a drink ashore with Ian and Glenda and admired the two Oyster 406’s side by side.

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In the morning we found the apartment and the bakery, retraced the little steps of four year old Polly, sent out with some drachmas for the morning bread, explored much down memory lane and admired the wonderful Choklakia (black and white pebble mosaics) – I have a new project for my garden. It was a charming little port and had changed little in the intervening years. The locals remembered 27 years ago as being, ‘in the time of Lascarina’ which sounds very significant and gentle but in fact just described the travel company that used to hold sway here all that long time ago!

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Next day we rounded the south east tip of Rhodes, famous for the elements that make wind surfing so attractive. In this seemingly remote corner suddenly there were swarms of colourful butterflies flitting to and fro describing patterns in the air and performing strange choreography – kite surfers and wind surfers paradise. We anchored in the next wide sandy bay north of here and there was nothing, the long dark sea behind and little cultural lighting ashore and the moon was very sparse. On up the coast we went when morning swimming was done and watched as bay after sandy bay, shallow and occupied by resorts were passed until we reached the ancient port of Lindos. Nerves were challenged as we explored the Bay of Saint Paul (Keyhole bay) a narrow entrance with huge rocky boulders visible beneath.  Magnified by the water, they seemed to rear up and threaten our keel. We circled in here and then gingerly retreated. (Why gingerly?)
Taking the more prudent option we anchored off the beach in sandy Lindos bay and went ashore for the evening. We walked up through the winding streets, sadly t shirts and tourist tat camouflage a lot of the interesting detail of architecture in the old stone buildings. It would be interesting to come in the winter to see the bones of the place. We arrived at the Acropolis and Knights of St John Castle and following the pungently smelling donkey track around the base, missed the ancient votive inscriptions to the gods. I think by this time we were thinking of food. From high up in the acropolis we looked down to see sprinklings of roof top restaurants becoming visible like the stars as the darkness drew in. We chose one and up we went to join a plateau of diners. It was like the Peter Pan Disney ride, we had whooshed out of the bedroom window with Nana hovering up in the stars, but we were now here, up high, sitting around a table enjoying retsina and lamb and listening to the waiter reminiscing about warm Scottish beer in Rose Street Edinburgh!

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So we ended where we had begun a week before, anchor dropped about four metres north of our original spot.  Then off to find our last supper, a Cretan restaurant called Asterousia.  We were greeted with shots of raki – down in one – some needed a little tuition!  We ate snails and the men had manly meat, lamb and pork from the oven which they declared delicious.  We asked the waiter to arrange a taxi for the next day at 9 am to the airport, more shots of raki!  Getting in and out of the dinghy has never been more interesting, such fondness we have for each other, when after a meal ashore we clutch at each other’s shoulders and knees and giggles threaten to render us helpless.

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Ben is the one on the right!
Ben is the one on the right!

The following day we make our way for the last time from the dinghy, through the little shanty town of buildings that frill the corner of the bay. Summer homes or permanent residence I don’t know but banged together out of disparate pieces of discarded wood and metal, where flowers grow in as much profusion as there are cats lolling around of all shades and patterns and all a size zero.

The taxi came on time – how amazing is that!

It’s Monday again and the trip is Rhodes to Symi! Groundhog Day!
There is thunder and lightening and it is raining hard.
Tomorrow we begin a new adventure, the two of us. We are off to Crete!

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