Winter Magic

The Friday morning Blue Star departing. She was very late today and didn't come into Symi until 10.10 a.m. instead of the scheduled 7.30 a.m. so she'll be equally late coming back from Rhodes tonight as the round trip to Kastellorizon will depart around 1 p.m. instead of the scheduled 10 a.m.  One of the problems with the big boats is that any kind of delay has a knock-on effect to the entire schedule. For instance on Wednesday afternoon, the Blue Star had great difficulty in docking in Symi on the return run from Rhodes as it was extremely windy in the harbour. At the first attempt one of the mooring lines snapped and the boat had to go off into to Nimborio bay, sort out a new warp and then tackle the approach again, this time successfully, much to the relief of those on board who did not fancy and unscheduled trip to Kos.  This meant that she only left Symi at about 6 p.m. instead of the scheduled 5 p.m. so already running an hour late at the first port of call.

Looking across Yialos from the clock tower towards the Kastro and the Vigla.  In the summer one would not get this view as the intervening water is full of boats of all shapes and sizes.  The Vigla, the distant ridge, is Symi's highest point and all the beacons and antennae are located up there.  What one does not realise, looking from here, is that the major part of Chorio, the old town, is actually between the Kastro and the lower slopes of the Vigla. Day-trippers from Rhodes in the summer are often in happy ignorance that want they are seeing is only a tiny part of what was once a vast community of over 20 000 people.

The bridge that helps pedestrians get from one side of the harbour to the other without getting their feet wet during winter storm surges and when  flash floods roar down the Kataraktis and flood the town square.  Originally it was actually a temporary structure which could be dismantled in order to launch the boats that were built in the boatyards surrounding what is now the town square. Those boatyards are long gone, replaced by cafes, bars, shops and restaurants.

In the summer the lanes around Yialos and at the base of the Kali Strata are full of bright boutiques.  In February the only life they see are snoozing cats and flourishing weeds. 

The flower shop in Yialos is always a cheerful sight. 

Old windmills on the crest of the hill that divides Yialos from the Pedi valley.  The wheat that was milled here was not grown on Symi - it came from farms over on the surrounding coast of Asia Minor when Symi was still part of the Ottoman empire and Greek families lived in both places. Symi itself has very little arable land and limited water so the agricultural activities on the island tended to be vineyards (grape vines need surprisingly little water), olives and citrus orchards. When the Ottoman empire collapsed and Symi was handed over to the Italians, along with the rest of the Dodecanese islands.  The Dodecanese only became part of the modern Greek state on 7 March 1947, a holiday that will be celebrated next week with a parade and much dancing.

The further you walk into the old parts of Chorio the narrower the lanes and the greater the contrast between the random houses that have been restored and the many places that are still in ruins from the Second World War.

Steps, steps and more steps - it is hardly surprising that there are so many Symiots still fit and active in their nineties when they have climbed so many steps in their lifetime.  I was talking to someone on the bus the other day who I would have thought was a fit 75.  It turned out he was 91!  He still walks down into the harbour every day to meet his friends and walks over to Nimborio twice a week, where he keeps a small boat and goes fishing.  His only concession to his age is that he takes the bus back up the hill with his shopping which is usually in the form of bread and vegetables.

Winter magic - rock gardens appear all by themselves in the dry stone walls and ruins of Chorio.

Tiny wild ferns.

Have a good weekend.


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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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