Arriving at Gialos, the main port of Symi, imprints itself into your memory like a photograph. But you’ll have no idea which era the photo was taken in.
There’s an old world grandness to the multicoloured mansion houses in and above the port. So much so that you’re instantly transported to the days when this remote Greek island was awash with the fortunes earned from shipping. Except that back then (at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries) some 25,000 people lived here and the island’s famous boatyards produced around 500 new ships a year.
These days, the fishing and sailing boats along the Symi waterfront bob to a different, more relaxed tune. But that hasn’t stopped Symi retaining all its traditions. So taking a boat trip from Rhodes (Symi’s cosmopolitan neighbour) allows you to instantly step into another kind of island charm.
Take a look around you once you arrive at Gialos … at the generously-laid out tavernas and those houses rising theatrically up the hillside towards the upper town. You’ll be gripped by the urge to explore this small Greek island with a big heart.