Life on Symi in the Winter

The carpet sellers arrive on the big boat from Piraeus, hawking their wares on street corners.  Houses on Symi traditionally have stone or tiled floors, or, in the case of some of the very old ones, wooden boards.  In the winter these are very chilly under foot so rugs and carpets are a seasonal purchase to make frequently unheated houses cosier.

Giorgio's taverna is hunkered down behind weather proof drop cloths.  Cold drink and ice cream fridges are not used in the winter and are often taken away for storage.  The beer crates represent the three most popular makes of beer on the island - Fix, which is the oldest branded beer in Greece, Mythos which is another popular Greek make and then the ubiquitious Amstel which is the most common 'foreign' beer all year round.

A neglected house below the Kastro.

The Kataraktis and the oldest part of Chorio, a mixture of ruins, old farms and restored houses.  The network of steps and lanes eventually joins with the ancient Kataraktis footpath, the concealed pedestrian and donkey route from Chorio to Yialos that made it harder for pirates to find their way up to the main settlement.  It was only in the late nineteenth century that the ostentatious mansion-lined Kali Strata was built.

One of the many churches on the island dedicated to St Nicholas.

The wild fig trees are taking over this little house on the Kastro mound.

A natural rock garden growing from a dry stone wall.  Ferns, moss, stone crops and other tiny plants appear as though by magic when the first rains come and turn the dusty dry stones into dainty gardens that linger until April.

A good day for drying washing in the labyrinth of Chorio.

Temperatures are falling and winter is knocking at the door. It is only about 15 degrees today and there is a distinct chill in the office that the small patches of sun coming through the side windows are doing little to dispel. The aromas of celery and chicken soup waft through the lanes of Chorio and Yialos.  Voices echo in the empty streets.  There are no tourists around and any foreign face is immediately obvious in the supermarkets and tavernas.  There is very little vehicle traffic on the roads and cars wrapped up like parcels against the elements are a common sight in the Chorio car parks.  We have had many small earth tremors in recent days as there is mild seismic activity going on between Symi and the opposite Turkish coast.  The sudden rattling of windows and clattering of kitchenware is becoming an everyday occurrence.

Social activities such as Saturday night's opera recital  by Michael Powell and James Collins at the Mandeio Bar in Chorio are well attended and the new exhibition at the Symi Gallery's new Kali Strata premises opens on 1 December.  There is also a poetry reading on 2 December.  Tap dancing, ballet, art and aerobic lessons, weddings, christenings and name day celebrations - the people of Symi, locals and expats alike, are adept at keeping themselves occupied during the long winter months.

The ferry service is still limited to Dodecanese Seaways at weekends and the Blue Star Diagoras twice a week, on Wednesday and Friday.  ANES have not yet released their schedule for the winter as it is still subject to approval by the relevant ministry.

This is my last blog until February as I am leaving Symi on Wednesday to visit my family in South Africa.  In my absence you can read James Collins' daily blog on Symi Dream for an idea of what life is currently like on the island and the Symi Visitor Accommodation webcam provides a window on the weather in Yialos.  You can also find us all on Facebook.

Kalo Chimona (good winter!)


Jackie Smith  – (Monday, November 26, 2012)  

Save travels! I'll miss your photos and reminders of life on Symi. Enjoy your holiday; I'll look forward to your return.

jon ryan  – (Wednesday, November 28, 2012)  

Great shot of the Kataraktis there Adriana!

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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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