Walking in the Valley

A privately owned solar farm in the Pedi valley.  The main use of solar power on Symi, as in many countries in the region, is in the form of solar water heaters but there are quite a lot of solar panels around once one starts looking out for them. The combination of ever increasing electricity prices and a steady reduction in the cost of solar power systems makes this an attractive proposition for rural dwellings.  Some years ago Symi municipality installed solar panels on the roofs of some of the island's reservoirs to provide power for streetlights.

Looking across the Pedi valley towards the Kastro, the oldest part of Chorio, from the path to Drakos, an early settlement on Symi that has had little archaeological attention, despite being about 2000 years old. One can see why that hill would have been an appealing site for the knights to build their castle. All that is left now are fragments of the castle walls and there is now a cluster of churches at the apex.

The path to old Drakos in the Pedi Valley - overgrown with thistles but reasonably easy to find as one follows the wall.

We were last here 10 years ago, when the wall was capped and the sign put up.  It doesn't look as though anyone has done anything to maintain it since then.  That is a small goat perched on the wall on the left, beyond the squill.

Symi has no shortage of mysterious old walls and terraces and in many cases little is known about who built them or why.  As you can see, this is an incredibly arid landscape with little soil to sustain agricultural activities.

This length of dry stone walling has collapsed along the path and the vegetation is taking over.

If you are on Symi now and are wondering why your eyes are itching and you are sneezing you may be allergic to tamarisk pollen.  Tamarisk trees have very fine wispy flowers and produce clouds of very fine pollen.

The Symi Flower shop is in autumn mode now - lettuce and brassica seedlings, onion and garlic sets and broad bean seeds have taken over from flowers and pot plants.  The rainy season can't be far away now and it is important to make the most of the crucial combination of warm days and water to get the vegetables started before the cold dark days of winter take over.  The rainy season runs roughly from October to March and is the main growing period in the Mediterranean basin.

The water taxis are busy, taking visitors and locals to the beaches.  With temperatures in the mid to high twenties and the sea still pleasantly warm, a day with friends on one of Symi's picturesque beaches is an important part of any Symi holiday.

Yialos in the early morning light.
Autumn is taking over from summer and the season is drawing to a close.  Temperatures are pleasantly mild - between 25 and 28 degrees during the day, falling to around 18 degrees in the evenings. The breeze has turned cooler and the humidity is gone.  The harvest moon has been replaced by clear star-spangled skies and visibility is infinite.

Many of the boutiques in the harbour have clearance sales now as they will be closing in a week or two.  If you want to buy designer beachwear with 50% discounts, now is the time.

The ferry schedule for October comes into effect at the end of the week. If you are planning on coming to Symi in October, it is a good idea to check Dodecanese Seaways and Blue Star Ferries when making your plans as overnight ferries from Rhodes to Symi come to an end after 1 October.

Have a good week.



Playing Tourist on Rhodes

First rains - we woke up to a showery Tuesday with lots of thunderstorms hovering around but no serious downpours.  

On Wednesday I went to Rhodes for the day and played tourist in the Old Town.  This is the big mosque at the top of Socrates street, at the top end of the Old Town.

Looking down Socrates street towards the harbour. This is the main shopping street in the Old Town.  Rhodes Old Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and behind the tourist tat there are some amazing old buildings.

Like this one, for example.

And this old Ottoman coffee shop with its pebbled floors and bric a brac. This style of coffee shop with its high vaulted roof, straight-backed chairs and walls lined with memorabilia is found throughout the old Ottoman empire and could be anywhere from Cairo and Jerusalem to Damascus and Istanbul. The uniquely Rhodian feature is the pebble floor.

At the bottom, looking through a ruined church and an Old Town gate at a glimpse of the sea.

Some of the ruins in Rhodes Old Town are of archaeological interest.  Others are ancient ramshackle buildings in which people are eking out a living.  The side streets beyond the cruise ship visitors and tourist crowds reveal the realities of a frugal life with no funds to indulge in authentic restorations or gentrification.

Here is an example of what I mentioned above.  In the foreground is an archaeological excavation of a Byzantine church.  In the background is a lovingly restored 19th century town house.  In between there is someone, probably an elderly woman judging by the washing line, living in a partially ruined building.

The view from the balcony of room 303 at the Hermes hotel in Mandraki.

The Italian Art Deco fish market in the Nea Agora, Mandraki.

Guardians of the gold - spotted inside the Nea Agora, Mandraki
Tuesday's rainy day marked the start of autumn and although it was still hot walking around Rhodes on Wednesday, there is now a brisk north wind blowing and temperatures are firmly in the twenties.  Rhodes is busy, mainly with Russian package holiday tourists and cruise ship passengers.  Mandraki harbour, however, which used to be popular with the yachting fraternity, is empty with only a few locally owned motor boats in evidence and there were no megayachts berthed in Kolonna.

September on Symi is always the month for the island's many regular British, Scandinavian and German visitors and there are a lot of familiar faces around.  It is a good month for those who aren't tied to school holidays and want to avoid the heat of high summer.  We are still taking last minute bookings for late September and October so it looks as though this year Symi will be busier in October than it was in April and May. We have now also opened booking for 2017.

Have a good weekend.



About this Blog

I sailed into Panormitis Bay, Symi, by chance one windy July day in 1993 and have been here ever since. The locals tell me that this is one of the miracles of St Michael of Panormitis. A BA graduate with majors in English, Philosophy and Classical Civilisation, the idea of living in what is to all intents and purposes an archaeological site appeals to me. Not as small as Kastellorizo, not as touristy as Rhodes, Symi is just the right size. I live on a small holding which my husband and I have reclaimed from a ruin of over-grazing and neglect and turned into a small oasis over the course of the past 22 years. I also work part-time for Symi Visitor Accommodation, helping independent travellers discover and enjoy Symi's simple pleasures for themselves.

This page is kindly sponsored by Wendy Wilcox, Symi Visitor Accommodation.

Adriana Shum

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