SYMI – THE SECRET GEM

SYMI – THE SECRET GEM

Last, but surely not least (of our Greek experiences) – Symi.

This little gem of an island has no reputation as (or desire, for that matter, to become) a cosmopolitan island and does not compete with islands such as Mykonos and Santorini, known for their nightlife and expensive hotels.

It is said that Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones once stepped off their luxurious yacht on Symi island to stretch their sea-legs and  went to one of the many restaurants on the island – and were quite surprised to be able to walk freely there without masses of people and paparazzi tagging along.

Although the island offers several exclusive boutiques, also found  on the more popular, exciting, cosmopolitan islands, Symi comes without the decadence of many of the other ports. Summer is very hot and humid and well-dressed Europeans and other fashion conscious guests temporarily occupy Symi, but there is no jet setting. Visitors are chic but friendly and respectful towards the local environment. Lisandro from Muses once told a journalist, “Princess Caroline of Monaco was here and people thought to themselves: You might be a princess, but you’re not from Symi.”

The harbour welcomes you like a mother welcomes her long lost children – whether you are famous or not. Many famous actors, politicians, ship owners and models have visited the island – Symi is chosen by all who do not want to attract the attention of others and prefer an authentic Greek holiday experience. This is evidenced in the summer by the numerous yachts docking at the port of Symi.

The island oozes Mediterranean charm, as if a stylist has designed it that way and the harbour extends towards crystal clear water where blue chairs and tables are covered with white linen.

It may not be Mykonos or Santorini but it has been a top island for some time – fortunately too small to be noticed by too many people.

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IN RHODES HARBOUR WAITING TO DEPART TO SYMI.

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SYMI, HERE WE COME!

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ARRIVING IN SYMI HARBOUR.

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ARE WE BEING OBSERVED?

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SHUCKS! GROCERY SHOPPING MUST BE A NIGHTMARE (IF YOU ARE NOT FIT)!

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OLIVES

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DATES AND PRICKLY PEARS

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TRYING THE LOCAL CUISINE – SYMI-SHRIMPS (EATEN WITH SHELL AND ALL)

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RHODES – A COLOSSAL EXPERIENCE

RHODES – A COLOSSAL EXPERIENCE

Did you know that there are more than 3000 islands in the Greek archipelago? Three thousand! (Some people say 6000.)

Rhodes Island – affectionately known as the Island of Endless Sunshine –  is one of the larger ones. Rhodes (town), the principle city of the island, is divided into the old town and new town.

Historically, Rhodes was famous worldwide for the Colossus of Rhodes, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Two statues of deer on top of two columns mark the supposed location of this gigantic statue at the entrance to the Mandraki harbour that is guarded by the charming fort of Saint Nicholas that doubled as a lighthouse.

I absolutely lost myself meandering with my camera through the medieval stone-paved alleyways of the old town. Today, Rhodes old town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This time capsule exists within the imposing walls built in the 14th century by the Knights of St. John who used the island as their home.

The modern Rhodes, with stretches of white beaches, cobalt-blue sea and exquisite cuisine, was exactly how I had always imagined a Greek island to be.

Next year, if we still walk the earth, we will go back to Rhodes. This time for my daughter’s wedding!

Antio Rodos! Until next year …

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THE TWO COLUMNS MARK THE SPOT WHERE THE FEET OF THE COLOSSUS OF RHODES SUPPOSEDLY ONCE STOOD

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NEXT YEAR THIS TIME!

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WONDERFUL FRIENDS!

 

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I HAVE NEVER SEEN SO MANY CATS IN ONE PLACE!

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OUZO AND GREEK CUISINE

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THIS LITTLE GIRL JUST MADE MY DAY WITH HER HAPPY SALUTATION AND BRIGHT SMILE

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NOTE TO SELF: Never! NEVER! Never ever climb on top of a heap of building rubble, gravel and soil to take a picture of the magnificent view on the other side wearing FLIP-FLOPS! No scene is worth it, no matter how beautiful.

MEMORIES OF ATHENS

MEMORIES OF ATHENS

Athens, the fourth oldest continuously inhabited city in the world, is the capital of Greece. Hot (in August) and vibrant. Steep in history and probably more famous for the breathtakingly beautiful  Acropolis with the pièce de résistance, the Parthenon (which we will put aside for the time being). Let’s touch on a few memories I have of Athens …

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A SNEAK PEAK OF WHAT I WAS LOOKING FORWARD TO SEE

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SNACK TIME!

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WHO WOULD HAVE THOUGHT! A SOUTH AFRICAN RESTAURANT IN ATHENS!

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BOEREWORS!

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NEW FRIENDS

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WHITE OMELETTE (even Superman is looking for a bite).

 

ME AND OLD FAITHFUL IN LOURENҪO MARQUES

ME AND OLD FAITHFUL IN LOURENҪO MARQUES

In 1972, as a young boy, I went on a school trip to Lourenço Marques (LM – these days called Maputo) in Mozambique. Now, that was a big occasion – in my family, anyhow – because, except for my grandfather who fought in North Africa during the Second World War, I was probably the first member of my family, even extended, to travel beyond the borders of our country, South Africa. My dad even bought me a brand-new camera – an Olympus Trip 35. With a flash!

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One of the very first pictures that was taken with my new prized possession, was the one below, of me with a group of friends (me on the left, wearing very colourful swimming trunks and a souvenir around my neck) near the beach in LM.

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Since then, it is impossible to count the number of photo’s and colour slides that Old Faithful had given me as wonderful mementos of my life. Rugby tours, holidays, my military training and fighting during the Bush War in Namibia and Angola, our honeymoon, my children, first visits to Europe, etc. With modern technology, Old Faithful became obsolete and films (and development studios) harder to find.

The other day, while I was busy unpacking boxes in our new home, guess who popped up? Yes, Old Faithful – my Olympus Trip 35! I remembered seeing a shop where films were sold and I rushed there to buy one. Unfortunately they only had 200 ISO in stock and I still had to unpack my tripod. Like in the old days, I could barely wait to see the results of what I’ve captured on film. And then the big day …

To be honest, I was a bit disappointed, but hey, give Old Faithful a break – after almost 50 years! Have a look for yourself.

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