January Postcards from Symi

An empty sea.  A surprisingly clear and unobstructed view from the bus stop in Yialos.

What is not so obvious in the previous picture and is only just visible in this one, although it was blindingly clear in reality, is the snow on the far mountain peak in the middle of the photograph.  If you can zoom your screen you should be able to see it.  It is not often that one can see snow from the bus stop in Yialos, Symi, even in January!

All the rain has perked up the wild oregano bushes and they are rapidly transforming from clumps of dry twigs to sprouts of perky aromatic green leaves. The leaves are actually too pungent to use fresh except in very small quantities. Traditional Greek rigani is actually the dried flower buds, gathered fresh in late spring and then dried in the shade and rubbed off their stalks.

Feral Fred, posing with his best side to the camera on the road through Lieni.

The view from the Symi Visitor Accommodation office on Tuesday.  It was pouring with rain on Monday, the road around the harbour was closed for work outside the coastguard office and in any case there was no bus - it is away for its annual maintenance - so I came down on Tuesday instead.  Unfortunately Tuesday was just as wet, with the excitement of a severe hailstorm in the early evening.  This was the scene from the window around midday. The floating crane was taking core samples in the middle of the harbour.

You know there is nothing much happening on the island when the floating crane warrants two photographs!

Friday morning and a dry day at last.  Quite a windy sky though and temperatures are falling again as the wind is from the north.  It is expected to stay dry at least until Sunday evening but as we have had so many showers that have appeared from nowhere, despite any forecast, anything is possible.

A bit of old Hellenistic dry stone walling that has been quietly minding its own business for a couple of thousand years.  Symi doesn't have big ticket 'must see' tourist attractions like Rhodes or Athens, but wherever you look you are surrounded by history.  The island has been continuously inhabited for at least 3000 years and that makes for a lot of recycling of stones and artifacts.  In a turbulent world, it gives a pleasing sense of continuity to know that people have been building stone walls, planting olives and tilling terraces for all those centuries and will continue to do so.

The recent extreme cold finally persuaded the deciduous trees to take a break and have a winter nap.  This is the big Valonia oak in Lieni, Chorio.

A Symi Romeo and Juliet.  I spied these two, exchanging amorous yowls, on my walk to work this morning.  I wonder if he finally plucked up the courage to leap across the divide and consummate the relationship.

One of the lanes in Yialos.  This one is home to a hardware store, a butchery, a bakery, a supermarket, the Symi Flower shop, a kiosk which also sells newspapers and is the Speedex agency and a shoe shop.  The tourist shops and boutiques are closed but the essentials that the Symiots need all year round are still open.

The view from Symi Visitor Accommodation today.  A much more inspiring sight than Tuesday's view and the sunny side of the harbour looks quite promising, even if the tourist shops are all closed.

The two big anchors on the quay in front of the Symi Visitor Accommodation office have had a fresh coat of paint.  This is the stretch where the water taxis and excursion boats line up in the summer.  The hill in the background is Mavrovouni, a most desirable neighbourhood at this time of the year as it gets the most hours of sunshine.  We have two rental properties there, Spiti Grand Helene and Villa Iris.  

Looking along the shady side of the harbour.  Yes, just to the right of the anchor you can see a BBQ, handy for spontaneous fish grilling should the opportunity arise.  Greeks don't need fancy equipment to produce delicious food.  Just good fresh ingredients and a love of the simple things in life.

Now that the Twelve Days of Christmas are behind us, the 'comfy chairs' is doing a spot of spring-cleaning.  If you are familiar with the traditional Greek wooden cafeneion chair, you will understand why this particular Symi coffee shop quickly became known as the 'comfy chairs'!  

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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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