Some of the Reasons Why I Live on Symi

The old part of Chorio, at the top of the Kataraktis. 
More and more of these old ruins are being restored, many with foreign money. The owners put aesthetics over modern conveniences and don't mind not having vehicle access.

It is a bright sunny day on Symi and we are all very relieved that the satellite telephone station at the top of the Vigla is up and running again. When I first came to Symi there was an undersea cable which was wobbly at best but as the island did not have ATMs, credit card machines, on line ferry booking systems or the internet it wasn’t the end of the world on the (frequent) occasions when the line failed. As this was in the dark ages before mobile phones it was not unusual for Symi to be really cut off for days. Nowadays we expect everything to work all of the time and the failure of some small part brings the whole lot to a crashing standstill. Visitors to Symi also have higher expectations. After all, if something looks modern and appears to have all the same facilities as home, surely it ought to at a functional level. The reality is that on a small island if something breaks or there is a failure in the system, it is not that easy to fix and there aren’t easy back ups. Visitors expect to have air conditioning and electrical appliances but grumble about Symi’s valiantly hard working power station that rumbles away 24 hours a day on the Pedi road. While an undersea cable to Rhodes might be considerably quieter, those islands who have this kind of power supply often find themselves without power for days either due to cable damage or because the air conditioners of cities and towns take precedence over the needs of smaller communities. No one can ever divert power from Symi’s trusty powerhouse and if it is ever replaced by a wind farm we hope that the island’s electrical autonomy will remain intact. We have also made it through this summer with remarkably few water shortages in comparison to recent years.

Chorio laundry fluttering in the breeze. 

A quiet lane on the slopes of the Kastro.
 The washing line in the photo above is just round the corner, where the sacks of cement are stacked.

This bougainvillea has patches of orange instead of the usual Symi hot pink and white.

The older visitors to Symi who have been coming here for decades compliment Symi on the improvements. First time visitors, however, often forget that it is unrealistic to expect a small island to have the same amenities as a big city and lose sight of why one visits a place like Symi in the first place. As someone said to me in my office last week, if I wanted to stay in a 5 star hotel where all the rooms are identical no matter which city I went to world wide I would take my holiday in New York or London, not on Symi. Now that the weather is milder and walking is a more attractive activity this is a good time to explore Symi’s lanes and areas that are further off the beaten track. Symi’s main attraction is its beautiful architecture. The houses may be quirky but they are delightful and full of surprises. Here are some photographs I took on a bit of a bummel around the Kastro at the weekend. They give an idea of some of the reasons why I live on Symi.

Grumpy on the pediment, circa 1900

His modern equivalent.  Spot the dwarf!

Have a good week.



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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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