Some Final August Postcards from Symi

Zooming down on Pedi from Lieni.  I suppose one day I will have to buy a drone camera for astonishing view photographs but for the moment we will all have to be happy with my Nikon bridge camera.  That boat out in the bay is a grand old two masted gentleman's motor yacht, resplendent with a yellow funnel.  We used to see quite a few of these elegant craft in Symi and Rhodes but as they are high maintenance wood with lots of brass and varnishwork there are ever fewer owners interested in maintaining these beautiful boats.

Monday morning from the bend at the top of the Kali Strata.  

Greek flags flying brightly on the bridge in front of the town square in Yialos.  The hillside behind is called Mavrovouni which literally means Black Mountain.  The buildings at street level are cafes, shops, a pizzeria and so on.  The residential properties are on the higher tiers, connected by a maze of steps, narrow paths and ramps.  There is, however, vehicle access from above as the road from the back of the harbour that goes up to the helipad passes along the top.  Spiti Grand Helene and Villa Iris are on this hill.

The National Bank of Greece, the Ethniki for short, is in the large stone building on the left of the photograph. The ATM is just inside the door from which the man has emerged.  Further along the quay, about half way to the clock tower, there is the Alpha Bank which also has an ATM.  

Another few of Mavrovouni, showing part of the square and the cafe bars in the foreground.

One thing Symi has in abundance, apart from beautiful old buildings, is steps.  As each house was built the owners built their own access steps. Sometimes these converge to form a thoroughfare up to another level but in this part of the amphitheatre harbour they are often a piecemeal collection of narrow domestic steps where two flights may even run parallel but not on the same pattern of treads and risers.

The area outside the nautical museum at the back of the town square in Yialos has become something of an open air market. By the way, the building that now houses the nautical museum was the first building on Symi to have electricity as the owner installed a private generator. This was some time in the 1920s I believe.  The rest of the island did not have a 24 hour electricity system until the late 1970s and even when I came here in 1993 power cuts were frequent and often of long duration, particularly in the winter.  People cooked on gas rings and used blocks of ice from the ice factory at the back of the harbour to keep perishables fresh. The ice factory was still producing large oblong slabs of ice in the late 1990s, mainly for the beach tavernas as they did not have electricity.

Monday morning 7.30 a.m. rush hour on Symi.

After gorging himself on my garden all summer, a locust outgrew his suit and left this ghostly carapace on my steps.  

The grass is golden and the leaves are falling after months of high temperatures and drought.  The first rains should arrive some time in October and we hope that this winter the seasonal rains will be more reliable than the last.

Returning to the back of the harbour, this lush vegetation gives a clue to the presence of ground water in the area.  There used to be a seasonal spring at the back of the town square which fell into disuse as the water became increasingly salty. You can still see part of it embedded in the wall at the road junction where the cars park.  The local housewives used to go there every day to fill cans and jugs of water for domestic use. This is why so few houses at street level in Yialos actually have rain water cisterns.  As all the surrounding cliffs and hillsides drain into this area in the winter the water table is quite high in this part of the harbour.

The Krystallo cat waiting for the shop to open.

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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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