A Timeless Peace

Despite what the foreign media would have one believe, Greece is not all strikes and disorder.  On the small island of Symi, a place that has withstood thousands of years of invaders, pirates, occupying forces and economic ups and downs, a timeless peace prevails.

Yialos, Symi's main harbour, at 8 in the morning.  The autumn sun is just creeping across Mavrovouni, warming Villa Iris, Spiti Grand Helene and Villa Gabrielle.  The road is wet because the municipality hoses it down with sea water every morning to wash away the dust.  That large stone building is an old sponge merchant's premises which now houses the Symi branch of the National Bank of Greece.  The peach and blue building to the left, behind the pedestrians, is Symi's customs' house.  In the days when the Poseidon and the Triton were still able to go to Datca on Saturdays they would depart from this quay.

Three little dandelions on the Kali Strata. The 10 mm or so of rain we had last week is responsible for their sudden appearance.  Plants don't have the luxury of a long life cycle in an environment where there is no knowing when the next rain will fall and nourishment is limited to whatever soil is trapped between the paving stones.

An unusual facade on the Kali Strata.  The person who built this house must have been very wealthy indeed. I wonder what stood in the niches on either side of the balcony doors.  Note the little ruffle of curtains above the doors and the two faces looking out to sea.

Another intriguing Kali Strata mansion. This large and rambling house is one of the oldest on the row, hence the Ottoman influence in the detail above the door, but at the same time emphatically Christian with its ornate crucifix.  There seems to be one solitary old lady living there now.  She sits on her doorstep in the mornings, talking to passers by as they go up and down the steps.

Most Symi houses have a grape vine over the courtyard for shade.  Some owners remove the bunches of flowers in the spring to avoid problems with squishy grapes and drunken wasps as the summer progresses but this one has been allowed to grow without intervention.  It is the electricity cable for support so it is going to be quite a challenge to pick the grapes. They are about 6 metres up.

This little sphinx is on the apex of the roof of the old kafeneion next to the Symi Visitor Accommodation office.  Dino, the chandler and Lukas, the greengrocer, have rigged awnings over the lane to keep the sun off their wares.

I believe that one of the reasons why Symi's neo-classical architecture is so pleasing to the eye is because it reminds us of the houses we used to draw as children, with a door in the middle, a window on either side and a pointed roof.  A comforting image of what a house should look like.  I wonder if modern children draw apartment blocks instead?

Have a good week.


Emanuela –   – (Tuesday, September 27, 2011)  

Bello! Giovedì sarò a Symi per 15 giorni. Penso proprio che starò benissimo. Ciao.

Anonymous –   – (Wednesday, September 28, 2011)  

Oh that is so beautiful.. Your photos are gorgeous

Anonymous –   – (Wednesday, September 28, 2011)  

Hi love reading the news and looking at the fantastic photos thanks. Quick question what is the name of the small taverna on the corner near the custums house and the slip way, enjoyed a wonderful relaxing lunch watching the world go by there.



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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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