August Postcards from Symi

Wild capers are among the very few plants that can withstand the searing heat  and drought  f a Symi summer.  

Sunrise over Asia Minor as seen from the top of the Pedi valley. Up until a century ago, those hills were farmed by Greek families and the produce brought across to Symi for milling and marketing.  Now those hills and mountains are Turkish but old abandoned Greek settlements can still be seen if you know where to look, particularly around Fethiye.

The view from the Symi Visitor Accommodation office earlier this week, the trusty Cypriot Salamis Filoxenia.

The Pedi valley was once the island's agricultural heartland.  Now native trees such as kermes oaks are reclaiming the land and slowly turning much of it back to woodland.

Hidden high up in one of the oldest neighbourhoods of Chorio you will find theSymi Archaeological Museum.  Recently refurbished, the main part of the museum is now open every day except Mondays, from 10-2.  Apparently the adjoining Hellenistic Antiquities Museum and Hatziagapitos House will be open to the public from the end of August.  Admittance is free.

The view from the terrace of the museum, looking across to the Kastro (Acropolis).  Originally the most densely populated part of Chorio, much of this neighbourhood was destroyed when the castle was blown up by the retreating Germans during the Second World War.  You can see parts of the old fortifications in the photograph.

Grapes ripening in the museum grounds.  As it is the old Farmakides mansion there are grape vines and citrus trees in the walled garden.

The lanes of Chorio old town are narrow, designed to confuse pirates and slow down any marauders.  Symi has no tradition of wheeled traffic - the terrain is too steep for that - so the only alternative to walking was donkeys.

Brilliant bougainvillea and plumbago light up an old stone wall near the museum.

Grapes don't need much attention.  This house has been deserted ever since I can remember but look at those trusses of sweet fruit!  In the days before sponges, Symi, like Samos, used to produce a sweet muscadel-type wine.

Every so often the lanes open out into a wider space, letting air into the labyrinth and providing an area for people to sit out with their friends and family from adjoining houses on hot summer evenings.

Snapped on my walk to work this morning, this truckload of hay rattled past me just after the Blue Star docked.

Donkeys, mules and ponies are still an essential part of life on Symi, particularly for the building industry as very few properties on the island have close vehicle access.  You can see a couple of foals in this photograph. They accompany the older animals, learning the routes up and down the Kali Strata and around the lanes and alleys of Chorio.  They aren't given anything to carry until they are much older and stronger.

Steps, balconies and stones polished by centuries of feet.

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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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