A Bright and Sunny Day on Symi

The entrance to the courtyard of St John's Church in Yialos.
During the Second World War the church had a narrow escape.  A shell landed on the roof but luckily failed to explode.

Putting a new roof on a mansion on the Kali Strata.
The men have to start very early in the morning as the temperature rapidly climbs to close on 40 degrees centigrade.
 It is a bright and sunny day on the small island of Symi in the Greek archipelago of the Dodecanese.  Although it is half past eleven in the morning for many of the locals the working day is drawing to a close as it is rapidly becoming too hot for manual labour in the scorching midday sunshine.  Time to retreat into the shade with a cool iced coffee frappe or beer before heading for home for lunch and a siesta.  The working day resumes at about six in the evening and may well be a different job to the one done in the morning.  Small scale agriculture is booming and every evening the Pedi valley is busy with men tending flocks, watering vegetables and swapping notes on the best way to tackle problems from blossom end rot in tomatoes to how often one should water courgettes.

The island is not as busy as it usually is for the time of year but this brings its own benefits.  Beaches are quieter and there is no shortage of sunbeds and umbrellas.  Restaurateurs and shopkeepers have more time to talk to their clients and waiters are not as stressed.  There are seats on the bus and taxis at the rank.  In some ways Symi has slipped back into the Nineties but with quite a few improvements.  When I first came here in 1993 even in high season one seldom saw any fresh vegetables beyond tomatoes, cucumbers and aubergines for sale, most of the meat was frozen and was only suitable for mincing, milk was evaporated and came in tins, the telephone system was dependent on an undersea cable to Rhodes which crackled and in winter often gave up altogether, very few houses or even hotels had air conditioning, bathrooms were often still outside and sometimes not even in the same property, housewives produced amazing meals on two gas rings, the bus only had 12 seats and everyone lived for the weekly water day.  Now we have 3G and wifi and a satellite telephone station, we can buy all sorts of exotic goodies like pineapples and avocadoes most of the year (not necessarily on the day you want them, mind) and the general standard of living for Symiots and visitors alike has improved.  We have clinics and a choice of dentists, computer shops and satellite television channels.  Times may be hard now as fewer tourists means less cash flow on the island but many Symiots are no strangers to hardship and the island will pull through as it always has done over the centuries.

In today's photographs I have included some detail photographs of old wrought iron work on the Kali Strata. This was made before arc welding and all the pieces were beaten out by hand and then joined by means of either rivets or small beaten bands.  Hard work indeed.

Have a good weekend.


The balcony of the current temporary home of the Symi Gallery.
Note the holders for plant pots and the old  telephone connections.

Anonymous –   – (Friday, June 29, 2012)  

i.m glad to say we are back in our 2nd home end of july. can.t wait. just hope the greeks see sense with prices etc which will of course see more visitors to greek shores. brad and sue from lancashire.

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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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