Here follows a geography lesson! the first part courtesy of Google Earth's recent imaging of Symi.
For those of you who don't know, Symi is a small rock in the sea...right on the edge of Europe, dominated North and East by the bulk of Asia Minor.
Symi has a main town (Which we can call Symi to make it easy, though it's main parts are Horio and Yialos), a few villages (Pedi, Nimborio...), and some fine beaches, almost all of which are best reached by boat. I've tried to put the main ones on this map.
Christos and I are "Nimborio bathers", which means we swim almost exclusively at Nimborio. As residents of Symi without a boat of our own, it's just not feasible to use the taxi boats to go swimming every day. Some go to Pedi, some to Nos beach on the edge of Harani in Symi town, and others go to Nimborio. You can get to Nimborio by road or, my much-prefered method, by foot up via the path that passes by the monastery of Agios Giorgios Drakountas.
Here's the view of Nimborio from up at the monastery. It's been featured many times before on the SymiGreece site, but I never tire of it.
Perched high above Nimborio, on the opposite side of the bay, is the church of Agios Nikolaos Stenou. If you look east...
...(that's it!)...you can see Symi's fish farm...and a little west, the characteristic red blob that is Kokkinochoma, which literally means "Red Earth"...and a bit further west...a beach!
Zoom in, and...
...ooohh...the perfect camping spot to see the sun rise over the sea in the morning!
The first part of the path was clear...down into Nimborio...buy lots of cold drinks from Maria...and then start climbing upto Agios Nikolaos. With all that weight on my back it took a lot longer than expected, and the path isn't the best, though easily followable. The views down to Nimborio on the first part of the climb are rather beautiful!
We reached the church after half an hour...I am not the fittest man and my heart was thundering in my chest. A rest was needed, and where better than inside the cool church.
Looking back, the houses of Horio lined the curve in the hills with the Kastro dominating, and the monastery of Agios Giorgios Drakountas like a sentinel in front of all.
Very soon after leaving the church, we were on the very northern edge of Symi, looking out towards Turkey, with Datca dim beyond the heat haze from the sea.
After a while, we were surprised to find a small farm and a fertile-looking valley ahead of us. A large dog barked non-stop as we approached, accompanied by the screeching of a cat.
From the farm, a path went downward to a ravine overlooking the fish farm. We had walked too far East, and had seen no obvious path down to the beach that we were aiming for.
With a heavy pack on my back and a bag containing a tent in one hand, the next half hour of negotiating dangerous slopes was not the most enjoyable experience, but simply because we had no idea whether or not the path that we were taking down toward the sea with the fish farm on our left would lead to anywhere other than a dead end...and a return journey back the way we had come. I must admit that we were not at all sensible, and no doubt broke all manner of "rules" that experienced hikers follow for very good reasons. We finally, to our great relief, reached a small beachlet midway between Kokkinochoma and our prefered destination. There seemed no choice but to paddle our way through the shallows. In the end, however, all we needed to do was follow the goat dung! A trail of goat poo led behind a large rock and we followed it, surprised to find a hidden sandy-bottomed path that widened out and led us...
...to the beach!!
We dropped our bags and explored...well...I stripped off and jumped in the sea before anything else, actually...Christos was more modest. There are about ten different "houses" on the beach...two are far grander than the rest, and a third looks as though it is lived in a lot with a well-tended vine garden and a veranda complete with a cot-bed and a fat cat.
Behind this house we could see a slope that would be our way out from the beach in the morning.
The remainder of the houses are small and in varous states of disrepair.
At the northern end of the beach, the small house/hut has a large, flat concrete patio area, and we decided to trespass and pitch the tent there! If the owner of the house/hut reads this, we would like to thank them and apologise for not asking for permission. We did leave everything as we found it! Thank you also for the use of your cut-in-half-gas-cyclinder barbecue!
We unpacked the sausages, bread, veggies etc. that had taken up half the space in my back pack. Setting up the tent was an easy job, and soon we were swimming, and laying and watching the waves. As darkness fell, we lit the candles, sprayed ourselves with insect repellent, opened the wine, lit the two portable barbecues that we had brought with us, and settled down to a very enjoyable evening.
The sky was the clearest I have seen it for many a year, with the milky way glowing, and Jupiter shiny bright among the stars. The fat cat came and enjoyed sausages and chicken from the barbecue, the goats and sheep came down from hills and enjoyed eating our left-over bread...and we lay in the tent and watched "The Devil Wears Prada" on a portable video player! An enjoyable end to a great evening. I fell asleep with the sound of the waves in my ears and not a care in the World.
When the sun came up...the colours were gorgeous!
We cleaned up, packed and set off before the sun was high in the sky, taking the slope up behind the houses up from the beach and after half an hour's climb we reached the path from Agios Nikolaos to the fish farm. If I ever go back to the beach on foot again, I now know the easier path. We climbed down into Nimborio shortly before the first taxi boat arrived...tired, but knowing that we had had a special evening that we would never forget...on a beach, by ourselves, under the stars, in Symi.
I am hoping to be able to go camping like this again before I leave Symi this month. Claudia is coming out in two weeks and I know she'll be keen. I wonder where we'll go?