Carnival and Clean Monday

Friday morning and the crowds gathering at the clock tower, waiting for the Blue Star...

... which has just rounded Nimos island and is steaming across Nimborio bay.

As it is a bank holiday long weekend a lot of people are on the move today - those who are going to Rhodes for the day to shop or do business, those who are going over for the weekend to visit family and people from other places arriving on the island, either to visit or to start the annual spring clean for the season after a winter away.

A couple of hours later I noticed more activity from the Symi Visitor Accommodation office window, this time of a feline nature. For those of you who have not been to Symi before, that blue booth is the ticket office for some of the water taxis which operate from this part of the harbour in the summer.

That's my fish and I am not sharing, so there!

Keeping an eye open for an opportunity.  The fishermen sort their catch into crates, tossing whatever is not suitable for sale to the harbour cats.

The entrance to St John's churchyard in Yialos.  The columns are left over from the pagan temple that used to be on this site before Christianity came along. The Byzantine double-headed eagle is the symbol of the Greek Orthodox Church.  You will notice that the churchyard railings are quite useful for drying carpets!

The painting and decorating season has now commenced.  This line up of paint pots and thinner cans was on the steps opposite the carpenter's shop at the bottom of the Kali Strata.

It will be a while, though, before the municipality starts weeding the Kali Strata.  The donkeys and sheep get first pickings and much of this lush vegetation disappears of its own accord when the summer drought begins in earnest.

A breezy day in Pedi and one can see for miles across the other side to Asia Minor.

Spring colours.

Good fences make good neighbours.
It is a bright and shiny spring day on Symi.  Warm in the sun, cold in the shade and for once not too windy.  There is a buzz of activity in the harbour as it is the carnival weekend and with such fine weather it is an excuse to be out and about.  The children will show off their carnival finery in Yialos on Sunday. While in mainland towns like Patras carnival is starting to look like Mardi Gras, complete with samba dancers, here on Symi it is very much a celebration for the children to dress up and have some fun with their parents.

In theory the tourist season starts in April so it is time to get on with painting and decorating and sorting stock.  Even if we don't really see any significant numbers of visitors actually staying on the island until June, we start to get day trippers coming over from Rhodes once the charter flights start at the end of March so it is worth the sponge-sellers and tourist shops getting ready for some day-time trade in a few weeks.

Monday is Clean Monday, the first day of Lent on the Orthodox calendar.  It is equivalent to Shrove Tuesday but instead of pancakes, everyone eats various forms of seafood, taramasalata, pickles, spring salads, halva and a special sesame seed flat bread called lagana which is only available on Clean Monday and not at any other time of the year.  It is a holiday but some shops and the bakers are open briefly in the morning so that everyone can buy the foods specific to the day and then, if the weather is nice, pack picnics and head for the hills to fly kites.  At the moment the weather forecast for Monday is unsettled and it may well be the one day this month that we will get significant rain but that in itself will be cause for celebration as the island is desperately parched and we really do need it.

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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