Three Sundays: Back in Time

On foot:
I’ve just walked back from the swimming pool – one at a nearby hotel. It’s been a quiet, unassuming weekend and it was the perfect way to spend a fading Sunday afternoon. A cold drink, a swim, time in the hot tub, a good read – all with a cheesy 80s soundtrack in the background. Added sport included beating SoundHound to naming that tune. I’ve known the town as visitor and resident for many years now, but it wasn’t until last May that I walked into this hotel to meet an old friend who was staying there before she headed to the airport. Since then, I’ve been back, summer and winter. I like it. The place itself has become a friend.

By car:
The previous Sunday saw me on a drive down to the deep south of the island to two places I’ve watched change a great deal over the years, yet which I never tire of revisiting. A friend (of tenacious longstanding) was celebrating her birthday at a beachside restaurant with a group of tourists and residents. The temperature rose, the mercifully-cooling wind blew, we ate, we drank, we chatted, we laughed and we had cake. The beach was full of happy holiday makers, the sea full of determined swimmers. A slow drive back took us to a fishing village in a small bay dominated by a ruined castle on the rocky outcrop above. The birthday cake digested, we stripped off and jumped in the water with the local ducks.

By boat:
Two weeks back now, and my Sunday was spent on as well as in the sea. The friend who’d introduced me to today’s hotel, invited me to meet her on another island at a favourite bay. One catamaran and a speedboat later, there I was and so was she. The crystal blues of the water were clearer and colder than usual – choppy, too, as the wind blew hard. On the boat and at the beach, I met two Dutch women, who talked of heartbreak, survival and fortitude with gusto and good humor. For a while, I walked alone along the shore, I had time for reflection before the return boat journey. I travelled through time at speed, remembering the first time I was there, the lasting value of the friendships made then, moving past all those made since, arriving happily, bumpily, covered in sea spray, back in the main harbour with those made that day.


The Agia Marina Blues

My favourite Agia Marina is still the small bay on Symi – there the blues are as blue as they could be. Over ten years ago, the land there was bought by an Italian woman and her husband and they set about developing it at great personal cost (in many ways). What they created, and now lease to others who have added their own touches, is a great place to relax, eat, and play sport – as well as swim, of course.

I visited several times last year and plan to do so again soon, in time for the name day of Agia Marina on 17 July, but the visit I remember most fondly is one in September on the weekend of the blue moon. I went with a friend and her son and it was such a perfect day I doubt anything could have been added to improve it. It’s possible to walk to the bay, but the boat trip is part of the whole experience and means you can arrive feeling fresh and having seen those blues up close already. So, we went by boat.

We took beds and a parasol under the trees at the far end of the beach. Then we swam – I like to swim to the small islet in the middle of the bay and go for a walk there. This time I swam there with my friend’s son. Almost at the islet, wordlessly, we both stopped to tread water and look around. We could smell the dry herbs from the bay behind us and see the small chapel on the islet, but what had stopped us were the blues.

Such blues. He had plans to study abroad and I was about to leave for California. However, right there, right then, those blues we agreed were unique and would stay with us – to join whatever colour palette we put together on our travels. He swam back to the beach and I carried on to the islet, had my walk and swam back around the yachts, through the sea clear as glass.

We then ate food I still can’t quite believe I had – it was so good. The way it looked on the plate, the tastes (expected and unexpected – all a joy) and the smells. Luckily, my friend took pictures or I’d still believe I’d dreamt it. Then it was off to dodge hornets while playing table tennis – personally, I think my game improved as a result (fear of being stung, maybe). All the time, there was a soundtrack of light jazz, people chatting and children playing. Eventually, I caught as late a boat back to the main harbour as I dared, leaving just enough time to catch the night boat back to Rhodes.

This was first posted on axrhodes on 17/07/2013