The Weekend Australian - Travel - - TRAVEL & INDULGENCE -

English break­fasts, scrump­tious home­made desserts (plum and nec­tarine crum­ble in­cluded) and jugs of home­made lemon­ade. More: symivis­i­

A AL­MOST ITALY: Between 1912 and 1943, the is­land was ruled from Rome and a short walk from the port past the Vene­tian tower is Harani Bay, known as Lit­tle Italy be­cause of its fine neo­clas­si­cal build­ings and wa­ter­side cafes, es­pe­cially the one at the Aliki Ho­tel, where, thanks to an Ital­ian espresso ma­chine, it serves some of the best cof­fee on the is­land. Note the Ves­pas parked nearby and the lo­cals who feed the fish that rise from the lu­mi­nous depths of the har­bour just be­yond their ta­bles. It could be a scene from La Dolce Vita, Fellini’s 1960 paean to Rome. More: symi-ho­

S SEAFOOD UN­DER THE STARS: At the end of Harani Bay past the lit­tle boat­build­ing yard on an el­bow of land with 270-de­gree wa­ter views is Restau­rant Tho­los, a tav­erna that spe­cialises in seafood. If you hap­pen to pass the place in the early morn­ing, you’ll find the owner un­load­ing the day’s catch straight off his boat, across the cob­bled quay into his kitchen. Lo­cals of­ten gather around to pick their fish for din­ner. On hot evenings, Tho­los is cooled by gen­tle breezes, thanks to the shape of the bay, and as dusk falls it’s the per­fect spot to watch the lights of the town rise up the moun­tain and meet the stars. On the west bank of the main har­bour, the ever-pop­u­lar Mythos serves “Mod­ern Greek” dishes such as cala­mari with cap­puc­cino foam and sea bream with ouzo and fen­nel. More: symivis­i­

V VIL­LAGE PEO­PLE: On a rugged cove at the re­mote south­ern tip of the is­land is the im­pos­ing Panor­mi­tis Monastery, ded­i­cated to the Ar­changel Michael, al­legedly built on the ru­ins of an an­cient tem­ple in the 15th cen­tury. The monks are wel­com­ing, as are the lo­cals who live in the tiny vil­lage nearby. In­side the monastery grounds are white colon­naded court­yards, Byzan­tine mo­saics and fres­coes, flick­er­ing beeswax can­dles, sway­ing sil­ver lanterns, in­cense and chant­ing monks. It makes a great day trip on a boat from the port.

IN THE SWIM: Symi’s beaches are short on sand butb big on drama and all of them are ac­ces­si­ble byb boat. Agios Ge­or­gios, a smooth-peb­bled bay backed by a sheer 300m cliff, served as a film lo­ca­tion for the war film The Guns of Navarone. Take your own pro­vi­sions as there’s no tav­erna. Closer to the har­bour is Agia Ma­rina, a small cres­cent of sand with sunbeds, um­brel­las and a white­washed tav­erna and bar op­po­site a small blue-and-white church on an islet, an easy swim across the la­goon. Then there are the cast­away coves fur­ther along the coast, Nanou and Marathounta, where the smooth peb­bled beaches back on to aro­matic pine-clad val­leys from which stealthy goats ar­rive to raid the pic­nics of swim­mers fool­ish enough to leave them unat­tended. Not all is lost if you lose your lunch as both beaches have tav­er­nas, where you could take bit­ter­sweet re­venge by or­der­ing goat casse­role.

TURKISHT DE­LIGHTS: Search for bar­gains ga­lore and sharpen your bar­gain­ing skills in the Grand Bazaar of Mar­maris, a Turk­ish port less than 15 nau­ti­cal miles east of Symi. Mar­maris is an easy day trip dur­ing peak sum­mer months (stroll down to Pavlou Quay to ask when the next boat goes), other­wise it’s a twice-hourly sched­uled ferry jour­ney via Rhodes. No visa is re­quired for vis­its of less than 72 hours but don’t for­get your pass­port (and check to see if visa ac­cess has changed be­fore you de­part). Fam­i­lies should make a post-bazaar visit to the Mar­maris Aqua Dream Wa­ter Park, where dozens of im­pres­sive wa­ter slides, rides and pools make it the per­fect place to cool down after a morn­ing of heated bar­gain­ing. More: mar­mar­is­; aquadream­mar­ ROOMS WITH A VIEW: On Harani Bay is the charm­ing 15-room Aliki Ho­tel, a three-storey Ital­ianate man­sion awash with glam­our, where guests are lulled to sleep by the sound of lap­ping waves me­tres be­low their gue­stroom win­dows. In­side this for­mer sea cap­tain’s house is a pale green lobby with pol­ished tim­ber floors, an­tiques, vin­tage padded leather arm­chairs and his­toric prints of Symi Har­bour. The ho­tel restau­rant and ter­race is next door and the three har­bour-fac­ing suites on the sec­ond floor have bal­conies. On the heights of Cho­rio is Ho­tel Fiona (pic­tured), an el­e­gant es­tab­lish­ment owned by Fiona and Michaelis Halkri­tis, where the 14 gue­strooms, dec­o­rated in blues and greens, have sen­sa­tional views of the har­bour and over the Aegean all the way to Turkey. More: symi-ho­; fion­a­ho­

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