A Different Kind of Tourist

Stormy weekends are becoming par for the course around here and with each one the island becomes progressively colder. There was a thin film of ice on the puddles this morning and snow is visible on the most distant peaks on the Turkish coast. The inhabitants of the island go about their business heavily muffled under a tepid grey sky. The long range forecast indicates more of the same to come, with snow and sleet expected on high ground on Crete and many of the other islands as well as the mainland. Temperatures on Symi are likely to remain in single figures this week.

Yialos is quite busy this chilly February morning. A Greek battleship has been in Symi since Friday, bringing a different kind of tourist to the island - sailors in navy uniforms taking glove-fingered snapshots of each other at the war memorial and munching gyros on the bridge. A big blue boat, the Captain Comminos, is lying alongside below the office balcony, off loading pallets of bricks, bales of fish meal and random heaps of polystyrene fish packing boxes with a rhythmic creak of crane and rattle of fork lift. Crisp sounds sharp in the cold air.

The water ship is rumbling away by the clock tower, her load almost fully discharged. This week it is the Olympic, sadly in need of a repaint judging by the amount of rust revealed as she rises slowly out of the harbour. The Symi remains alongside, blocking the view from Stella to Elpida.

Up in Chorio cement mixers grind on as the seasonal building work continues. As Friday’s rain caused many building projects to lose a day, labourers worked through Sunday to catch up. One project which is not showing much sign of progress is the Big Hole – this has filled up with rain water yet again, the edges of the excavations becoming increasingly blurred with each mud slide. Local residents are apprehensive that work on the new sports stadium will only resume in the summer, disrupting tourism in Chorio the same way as the road works did back in 2004. We hope that their fears are unfounded but their skepticism is not inexplicable, given that most major projects seem to take place in the summer season on Symi, whether they be widening the harbour, laying pipes or tarring the road.

Have a good week.


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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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