It's All Happening on Symi

The view from the Symi Visitor Accommodation balcony this morning. The Blue Star was very late - it is supposed to come through at 7.30 a.m. on a Friday and this photograph was taken at 9.25 a.m.  The knock on effect is that she will be late doing the Kastellorizon trip today and so will be similarly 2 hours late leaving Rhodes this evening.  

Symi is very steep and rocky so there isn't much earth for gardens in the conventional sense.  Instead locals create gardens wherever they can with assorted pots and containers which also have the advantage of being portable so they can be moved into shadier locations as the summer heats up.

One of the two butchers in the harbour.  You will note that this is the second bicycle you have seen in recent posts.  Symi is too steep for bicycles in the usual run of things and it would take a determined mountain biker to commute from Chorio to Yialos and back again on a daily basis but they are quite popular for getting around the harbour.

Wednesday morning and a burst water main on the Kali Strata.  Visitors to Symi will notice a maze of black plastic pipes leading up and down steps and lanes.  They are quite vulnerable as they are above the ground but it is not permitted to dig up Symi's historic Kali Strata so above ground they remain. This is the system for transferring water from the various tanks and reservoirs to the households of Symi.  Each house has a cistern or tank of some sort for the domestic water supply as the mains is not on continuously.   Symi is a famously dry island with no natural water beyond the winter rains so what water there is comes either from a rather erratic desalination plant on the Pedi road or by water ship from Rhodes.

The big excitement of the week was the fire at the Customs House in Yialos late on Wednesday night which gutted the buildiing.  Those of you who follow us on Facebook will have seen the dramatic photographs of the flames.  Symi does not have a fire brigade and in the absence of pressurised mains, we also don't have sprinkler systems that kick in automatically when there is a fire. By the time the fire was spotted it was well out of control, despite the efforts of municipal workers and the coastguard.  There is, however, a lot of talk about how a building that is surrounded by the sea on three sides could be destroyed in this way.

The steel shutters survived and would have contained the fire to some extent and the 60 cm thick stone walls appear undamaged, as is the sign! The flags are also in good shape, just a little sooty.

It seems that the fire started with this Smart car, parked in the courtyard of the Customs House.  The fire spread to the motorbike next to it and then through the adjoining window.  Unfortunately that room is the duty free store, full of bottles of duty free alcohol and perfume so there was plenty to feed the flames and the roof caught very quickly. That is the fish market on the left.  The wood of the market is charred but the copper sheathing on the roof has held and protected the fish market to some extent and the local fishermen were selling their catch as usual this morning. That looks like a coffee pot of some sort tucked in the corner on the right.  One of those Symi enigmas. 
It is a gusty day on Symi and we have had occasional sprinklings of red rain.  This is the last remnants of the wet weather system that was over Iberia earlier in the week and it is likely to remain unsettled and showery on Symi for the weekend.  Temperatures are in the mid to high twenties so it certainly isn't cold.

There is a lot of activity on the island now and just about everyone who is going to open this year has done so. Regular visitors may miss Mylopetra as apparently that has closed for good and the owners have retired. Some shops have closed, some have reinvented themselves, others are completely new ventures but generally speaking everyone I have spoken to is quite optimistic that although we have had a late start once again, it should be a good year.  Greece is a very safe country and islands like Symi are far from the political protests in the capital.  Even the recent 4 day general strike had little impact on Symi.  If you are looking for a peaceful holiday destination where you can just relax and do nothing much in particular, soaking up sunshine and Greek island life, Symi is the perfect destination.  One of the joys of not having an airport is that mass tourism has passed Symi by and as the architecture is protected the beauty of the island remains unspoiled.  Symi demands a little effort from those who visit her. She isn't that easy to get to and you may have to climb more stairs than you are used to, but Symi's regular visitors will tell you that it is always worth the effort!

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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