An Interesting Week Ahead

Saturday morning in Yialos and the water ship was over from Rhodes, pumping water up to the reservoirs that serve Harani and Mavrovouni, the area at the back of Yialos. The crowd on the quay outside the police station are tourists that have just come across from Rhodes on the Panagia Skiadeni.

When I first came to Symi there were lots of hawkers and gypsy vans, selling everything from live poultry chicks, garden furniture and plants to clothes and shoes.  I spotted this one in Chorio on Saturday morning, selling practical clothes.

He also had a fine display of trainers and other cheap but serviceable footwear.

Down in the harbour on Monday morning it was very much business as usual, even if the banks are closed for a week.  Staff were setting tables for the lunchtime trade from Rhodes.

No shortage of fresh produce to choose from, even several hours before the Panagia Skiadeni was due in with fresh supplies.

The organic Greek speciality food shop has started selling postcards.  They are all quite old photographs of Symi and are quite fun to look at, to compare with how Symi looks today.  Some of the photographs of Harani in particular show an amazing difference in the number of buildings over the past 20 years, although at first glance you would not realise it as all new buildings on Symi have to blend in with the old ones.

9 a.m. and getting ready for the new day.

The schools are closed now for the summer holidays.  I spotted these two local lads playing backgammon in the shade of a vine at an ouzerie (a small traditional cafe bar that sells ouzo and mezzes) near our office.

Looking back up the same lane from the sea towards St John's church and the Albatros hotel.

Most of the buildings in the harbour area have been rebuilt in recent years but this roofless ruin just round the corner from our office has probably been in this condition since the Second World War. The owners are probably in Australia, or America or any one of a number of countries to which Symiots have emigrated over the past century or so.

Excursion boats and posh yachts in Yialos at 13.00 today.  The water taxis are out, taking people to the beaches.  A typical bright sunny summer's day on the small Greek island of Symi.
First of all, here is some news to reassure travellers to Greece this week:  Foreigners and tourists can make withdrawals and use their cards as usual. Most businesses, however, would prefer to be paid in cash as they may have difficulties in withdrawing funds from their business bank accounts to pay staff and tradesmen so cash is king to keep liquidity flowing.  We have heard that the ATMs on Symi have already reopened and while withdrawals for locals are limited to the new 60 euros cap, foreigners have no problem with making withdrawals as usual.

The anticipated ferry strike this week has been cancelled to enable Greeks to travel freely to vote in the referendum on Sunday 5 July.  This means that the Blue Star Diagoras should be leaving Akandia harbour in Rhodes as usual at 15.00 on Wednesday.

We have an interesting week ahead.  If you want to get a Greek perspective, http://www.ekathimerini.com/ekathi/news is a good place to go and their website is updated several times a day, as news breaks.

Have a good week.

Regards,
Adriana

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Postcards from Symi in June

The Salamis Filoxenia from Cyprus spent the morning in Yialos on Tuesday, bringing many visitors to the island, particularly pilgrims coming to visit Symi's famous monasteries at Panormitis and Roukonioutis.

The motor yachts are getting bigger - this one has a jacuzzi on the foredeck.

The same yacht, pulling out of Yialos an hour or so later.

Yachts and water taxis setting off with the Panagia Skiadeni ferry in the background. 

A Greek flag flying off a hilltop in Yialos.  

Shady benches beside the town square in Yialos.

One of the two access routes to the Kali Strata when approaching from the bottom.  

Symi is very steep and very few houses in the harbour area have vehicle access.  Most can only be reached through a network of steep steps with short narrow lanes running along the fronts of the houses.  As the houses were built without any mechanical assistance and all materials had to be transported by donkey - a situation that has changed very little which is why restoration is so expensive - the houses tend to be quite small and every inch of vertical space is used.  Sleeping lofts (moussandras) and wooden mezzanines make best use of space and the interiors are in many ways reminiscent of boats, with ladder staircases to save space.  You won't find lots of bedrooms in the old neo-classical town houses and the islanders are accustomed to living without much personal space.

Looking down the Kali Strata steps from the top, outside the Olive Tree cafe and Giorgio's taverna in Chorio.  That is a mule train lower down on the steps, taking building materials down to a house that is being restored and that does not have vehicle access.  Chorio is not quite as steep as Yialos so steps are shallower and there are more flat bits in between.

It was very windy yesterday and the anchorage in Pedi was quite full.  Large yachts and gulets often anchor there during the day, waiting for the ferries and excursion boats to depart from Yialos before going round to find a berth for the night.

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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 16 years. I also work part-time for Symi Visitor Accommodation, helping independent travellers discover and enjoy Symi's simple pleasures for themselves.

Adriana Shum

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