Symi Gold - Chronia Polla!

A sumptuous gold and crimson angel peeps through a window in Chorio.  In the Greek Orthodox church, the 12 days of Christmas come to an end with the Epiphany celebrations on 6 January so decorations stay up until then.  We have many name days as well as Independence Day, Carnival and Clean Monday and the whole of Lent before the first Easter egg appears in the shops here. Everything is appropriate to its season in Greece and looked forward to with enjoyment. 

A lovingly painted close of houses on the narrow one way street that passes close to the heart of Chorio.

The gleaming white wash of summer is washing away on the Kali Strata, replaced by a mossy garden between the old paving stones.

The dividing line between town and country is very blurred on Symi and at this time of the year I never know what I will see on my walk down the Kali Strata. These two seem quite happy.  It is not very clear in the photograph but there is a small Christmas tree, complete with baubles, at the bottom of the steps on the left of the picture.

The buildings on the right have been painted the traditional way, with ochre pigment mixed with asvesti (whitewash). The ones on the left have been painted with acrylic paint. Both are  now deteriorating but I find the ones on the right with their diverse damp patterns as the moisture seeps through the pigment much more interesting than the ones on the left where the damp simply builds up behind the paint which then drops off the wall.

A small freighter sheltering in Yialos. The original name is still visible on the stern - The River Dart of London.  She's a long way from home.

The ochre and brown colour scheme is a legacy of the Italian occupation.  Before that, Symi's houses were painted loulaki, a wonderful warm blue made by mixing azure and indigo pigments with whitewash.  Fragments of this can sometimes still be seen on old ruins up in Chorio, around the Kastro.

The vines are turning russet in the cold.

Oranges ripen in an abandoned garden on the Kali Strata.

The Virginia creepers have shed their leaves, revealing a crumbling balcony beneath.

Happy New Year and Chronia Polla to all my readers and fans around the world.  It is hard to believe that I first started writing this blog in March, 2001, long before broadband, digital cameras and blogging services.  I used to write up my two or three paragraphs - no pictures in those days - and email them by dial up to Mike Gadd,  our webmaster in the UK, who used to paste them onto a webpage for me.  When the page got too full, he would archive it and start another. Blogging has become a lot easier since then and I am also on my fourth camera but I still find things that catch my eye that I want to share with you. Symi is that sort of place. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Symi is experiencing a proper winter this year.  Rainy and stormy days have outnumbered dry ones and temperatures are low.  Those of you who follow Symi Visitor Accommodation on Facebook will know that it snowed on the mountain on Friday. The long range forecast is rain for the next few days with gale force winds on Thursday and Friday followed by very low temperatures over the weekend and early next week so we may well see more of the white stuff on the mountains. Today is a high of 11 and a low of 8 but by Saturday it is likely to be 9 and 4 and on Sunday a decidedly chilly high of 6 and low of 2.  Symi's glorious neo-classical architecture with its high ceilings and inward opening windows does not lend itself well to heating and the 'Symi layered look' owes more to practicality than sartorial style.  Hats, scarves and gloves are often worn indoors and are considerably cheaper than turning the air conditioner on to 'heat' and watching the electricity meter whiz round.  Many people have wood burning stoves these days - even the Stani patisserie next to our office has one glowing away in the corner of the shop, the chimney routed out of the top window and up onto the roof.

Friday is the Epiphany and a serious holiday in Greece. In Yialos, Harani and Pedi booths decorated with oranges are set up for the service and the priests cast crucifixes into the freezing waters for young men to recover.  With a gale warning and torrential rain expected, they will be brave young men indeed.

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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