Music on the Air

Yialos, Symi's famous amphitheatre harbour.
The town square where concerts are held in the summer is visible at the head of the harbour.

A restored house in Chorio, at the top of the Kali Strata

The early morning rush hour in Yialos, as seen from my balcony at Symi Visitor Accommodation. The boats in the immediate foreground are the water taxis which take visitors out to the various beaches.

Kalo mina, everyone! The holiday month of August has begun. Last night we sat out under the stars, listening to traditional Greek music drifting across the valley from the Syllogos Square in Chorio as the Symi Women’s Association’s Annual Symi Shrimp Festival carried on until late in the night. For those of you who have never been to Symi before, Symi is famous for a particular kind of small shrimp that is only found in local waters and the Symi Women’s Association holds an evening of traditional dancing, singing and hospitality in honour of this tiny crustacean every summer. Simply prepared by frying quickly in a little hot olive oil until pink and served with a squeeze of lemon, the Symi shrimp is eaten head, tail and all.

The ‘premiere’ of the Symi festival took place on Saturday night, despite a sad lack of advance publicity which resulted in other music events on the island being scheduled for the same evening, thereby reducing the potential audience. Friends who spoke afterwards to Miltos Pascalides, the star performer, to compliment him on his performance said that he told them he was disappointed in the evening which was fairly low key in comparison to the last time he performed here about 10 years ago. Our friends had not noticed anything amiss as this is the first time they have been to Symi but it is understandable that stars who performed here in the glory days of the Symi Festival notice a difference. Symi’s natural amphitheatre harbour was always a highlight on the summer festival circuit for performers and audiences alike and it would be a pity to see Symi lose its status in this regard due to the budget cuts that are bedeviling Greece as a whole at the moment. It is always sad when education and culture fall victim to politics. We enjoyed the concert ourselves from the terrace of the Charitomeni restaurant at Pitini where we were having dinner with friends. One of the great things about an amphitheatre harbour is that one can enjoy the music from any point around the sides of the harbour and the pretty neo-classical houses that line the slopes become opera boxes for the event. Music on the air is as much a part of the sounds of Symi in the summer as the chirrup of cicadas in the olive trees and the happy peals of name day church bells.

Music and dancing aside, there are several privately funded art exhibitions and galleries open or opening on the island at the moment and it is also worth browsing through the offerings at the open air book shop that local historian, bookseller and musician, Kostas Kontas, holds by the bridge in the evenings in August.

The nationwide taxi strikes are continuing but on Symi the taxis are working most days and Rhodes Airport is running smoothly thanks to the very efficient bus service which has been extended to offer more trips during the taxi crisis. The terminus in Rhodes town is behind the New Market in Mandraki and tickets are sold at the kiosk at the point of departure.

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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