Winter is Never Dull

First of all, apologies for the lack of a blog on Friday. Like so many other Symiots I was stuck in Rhodes, waiting for the storm to abate. The Hermes Hotel in Mandraki was full, not just with people who had come over from Symi to do their Christmas shopping, but also similarly marooned orphans from Tilos and Nissyros. We had come over on the Proteus on Thursday afternoon, the ‘last boat out’ before all the harbours in Greece were closed. Several of our fellow passengers from Symi were people with planes to catch who had originally intended to leave on the Dodecanese Express on Friday evening. Children were plucked from school and suitcases hastily packed as it was unlikely that anything else would be able to leave Symi for Rhodes before Saturday morning at the earliest and rescheduling family flights in the festive season is a nightmare not worth contemplating.
Many of the other Symiots waiting to leave Rhodes had come over on the Aegli hydrofoil on Thursday morning, intending to go back on the Aegli at 14.00 on Thursday afternoon, but this trip was already cancelled and the foyer of the Hermes was a mountain of bags from Jumbo Bebe and other popular Christmas shopping venues when we checked in in the late afternoon.
When the Proteus arrived in Rhodes commercial harbour it was already half an hour late due to a large trailer which had problems embarking in Symi – and even more problems disembarking as the mechanical horse was late fetching it. Then there was a military vehicle which required a military police escort which took a while to sort out. Down in the bottom vehicle hold the last cars from Symi waited impatiently to emerge from what is quite literally the bowels of the boat. Meanwhile a fretful crowd was hopping up and down on the quay, anxious to board and get off to Kastellorizon before the storm hit. The ANES crew did a sterling job in crowd control and managed to please everyone eventually.
Within a matter of hours Rhodes harbour was cleared and shut down in anticipation of a strong easterly gale. The storm was originally expected to hit on Thursday night and ease by midday on Friday but, as is often the case, the storm lasted longer than expected and the swell in Mandraki and Rhodes commercial harbour remained high until late on Friday evening. As is often the case with shipping bans there was a lot of ‘we may know at x if it will leave at y’ and then when x comes the answer is still inconclusive and the deadline deferred again. Luckily in these days of the mobile phone one can call for ferry details from anywhere and there was no need to hang about at the hotel, waiting to find out if we were leaving in two hours or two days.

As Nicholas and I had taken our car with us we took the opportunity to fit in a spot of unscheduled sight-seeing. ANES had told us that the Proteus was sheltering down at Kamiros Skala so we decided to take a spin down the sheltered side of Rhodes and see if we could find her. We didn’t find the Proteus but we did find one of the Spanos catamarans, the Symi water boat and most of the usual ships based in Rhodes commercial harbour sheltering in the lee of the island, off Ialyssos beach. We turned off to have a look at Kritinia castle (built by the Knights of Rhodes) before heading inland through the forests to Embonas. By that time it was far too dark for photographs as heavy black cloud had descended over the high ground but we found a pleasant winery and bought our Christmas wine from a very friendly fellow who was doubtless only too happy to have visitors on a wet and windy winter’s afternoon. He filled the bottles himself from a barrel, corked, labeled and sealed them before our eyes. That is one of the nice things about shopping in this part of the world – the personal touch is still alive and well.

The Proteus eventually left Rhodes at 12.00 on Saturday, a whole 24 hours later than scheduled. The Aegli had already made an early morning foray and quickly made up for her lost time. The Proteus then did Saturday’s schedule on Sunday and is back to normal – until the next gale arrives which, looking at the long range forecast, may be as soon as Thursday!
Life on Symi in the winter is never dull as even the most mundane activities can become adventures – and Symi’s neo-classical architecture is even more attractive after a day or so of looking at Rhodian reinforced concrete!
Have a peaceful week.



The Mommy  – (Sunday, December 28, 2008)  

Winter is never dull, and your blog certainly isn't either. I hadn't checked in for a while, but it seems that the weather has you contemplating, and sight seeing, and taking beautiful pictures. I've read this blog for years, and it never fails to give me a brief, lovely vacation. Thank you, Adrianna.

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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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