Weathered Whitewash

The luxury yacht 'South' in Yialos, Symi's main harbour this morning.  During the peak weeks of the summer season Yialos becomes a mini Monaco, full of glamorous boats and equally glamorous people.  This is only a thin veneer though as one does not have to climb far out of the town to be among normal people and it is rare for celebrities to make it as far as Chorio.

The Star of Macedonia on an old pediment in Chorio.  The Symiots are not afraid of vibrant colour in their houses and in the old days whitewash (asvesti) was mixed with ground mineral pigments to produce some stunning shades.  These days convenient synthetic paints such as Vitex have taken over, which are more durable but lack the magic of weathered whitewash.

Sunshine yellow and some interesting pipework for the bathroom downstairs.  This terrace is far too hot to sit out on in the heat of the day but at 10 o'clock in the evening, when the working day is finally over, it is a cool living space under the stars.

The last lap of the Kali Strata and the end is in view. Climbing up from Yialos, this is the sight that greets one as one turns the corner by the Kali Strata bar, the spot from which I take so many photos of Harani and the clock tower area on the way down to work in the morning.  The fronts of the steps are whitewashed every year but by September they start to look a bit shabby, there being no water to hose them down until the first rains come in late October, at which point these same steps become a raging torrent. The Symi Dream shop, Constantinos' computer shop, a flower shop and various bars and cafes line the way to Syllogos Square (Chorio Square). This is also the route to the Hotel Fiona if one wants to go up to the hotel on foot.

St John's Church in Yialos - now Symi's cathedral.  This is in a small close two blocks back from the sea.  The lanes on either side of the close house a chandler, boutiques, a plant shop and Symi's only book shop.

Daedalus tumbles on a lantern in Chorio.  See if you can spot this the next time you are exploring the lanes of the old town.

Simple markings in the plaster on this ruined house in Chorio.  Fig trees rapidly colonise abandoned properties, sustained by trapped rain water in the cisterns beneath these houses.  It is common practice to stack stones across the door and window apertures to prevent dumping.  As there is no door-to-door household refuse collection system and everyone has to take their rubbish to one of the skips placed at the nearest vehicle access point, it is sometimes tempting to dump items in the nearest abandoned ruin instead.  This is the story behind old Vespas and 1960s domestic items spotted in unlikely locations.

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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