Sent packing


I’m not nor ever have been a fan of the Package Holiday though have found occasion to avail of the last minute offer. Twice, if my memory serves me well, we have flown to Rhodes on such a deal. The first was actually fine, the second a potential nightmare, potential because we didn’t have the staying power.

Emerging from Rhodes airport, with N.Ireland on holiday, we were shuttled to the various hotels. I think we got the short straw. The hotel was reminiscent of a 1960’s inner city tenement complete with swimming pool and sea views. The short straw, we didn’t get a sea view.

Our ‘apartment’ was immediately of the stairwell from the lobby. The balcony had a blank wall view, was most of the day in shade, and offered stunning views of the under carriage of incoming flights. By night the stairwell gave a live feed from the lobby, exhausted families with exhausted children adding loud vocal accompaniment to the hotel disco to a base line of jet engine.

After day two suffering from sleep deprivation, the sun starved balcony, and an ill temper I’d had as much Thomas Cook as I could handle. I may have been heard to say, in competition with flight LG72 buzzing the rooftop,

“Lets get to fuck out of here.”

“Where to?”


“Why Symi?”

“It comes recommended.”

“Oh, ok then.”

Bags packed and off to the port to catch the morning sailing on the Symi 2 to Symi. Sailing out of Mandraki watching Rhodes Town, an imposing medieval walled city, recede as the turquoise Aegean filled the frame. A gentle breeze and the heat of the morning sun the tonic required to raise the spirits, suffused with a sense of adventure. The real moment of joy was yet to come.

Symi 2 does a tourist stop en route at the Monastery of Ayios Mihalis at Panormitis on the southern tip of the island before setting sail along the coast, cliffs and coves, finally rounding the headland into Symi, a natural deep water haven. Neoclassical villas stack up the surrounding hillside of Horio over looking the port, Yialos. My heart rejoiced in a moment of homecoming, all residue of the nightmare swept overboard. Disembarking on to the quayside in the heat of the day we were met and greeted by locals offering rooms adding to my sense of escape. A small figure with a large bike, Manolis, emerged from the throng, loaded our bags on to the carrier of his bike and brought us to the rooming house, which was to become home on several return trips to the Island.