Signs of Spring

Spotted outside the butcher in Chorio this week - a shepherd's crook.  Perhaps Easter lamb negotiations are taking place inside.

Kiosks are not always kiosks.  Sometimes they are small shops.  The entrance to the square in Chorio.

An extraordinarily detailed restoration on the square in Chorio. This house must have belonged to someone quite rich and prosperous as it is a lot bigger than it looks as it is deeper than it is wide and actually has an internal staircase of quite grand proportions.  Most traditional Symi houses have external stairs to connect the floors and then open tread ladders or open spirals inside to save space.

The top of the Kali Strata, the 19th century staircase that connects the upper village, Chorio, with the harbour, Yialos.

The site has been cleared and the spa bath has arrived. What more do you want?

Valentine's Day, Symi style.

Modest but putting a brave face on it, the first daisies open in the chilly winter sunshine.

The first asphodels are also opening up.  

A wild cyclamen in Chorio.

The buds are swelling on the valonia oaks.

The bougainvilleas may be bald but the birds are back.

A little patch of sun.
Cold, clear and dry, Symi is starting to dry out.  Yesterday was 'Smokey Thursday', the start of carnival which is celebrated with lots of grilled meat.  In these times of austerity that is mostly pork souvlaki but meat never the less.  In the big cities carnival is for all ages but here in the islands it is mainly the children who have fancy dress parties and enjoy showing off their costumes.  It looks as though the dry weather will continue until Clean Monday on 27 February so no one risks turning from Sleeping Beauty to Drowned Rat and mothers don't have to worry about crepe paper leaking dye everywhere.

One sad piece of news to report is the passing this week of Captain Gabriel from the Diagoras excursion boat.  He contributed greatly to the sum of human happiness over the decades as he introduced many of Symi's visitors to the island's picturesque beaches and rugged coastline.  This summer will be very odd without him.

Have a good weekend.

Regards,
Adriana

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Fair Weather February

Two unusual things about the view from the Symi Visitor Accommodation office this morning. The first is the water boat which seldom comes in during the winter as in theory the town's reservoirs should be full of free rainwater.  The second is the Dodecanese Seaways catamaran heading for the 'wrong' side of the harbour.  The road around the harbour, from the bridge to the clock tower, has been closed since Saturday while the roadworks and paving project proceed.  As vehicles can't get round and the catamaran brings in fresh produce for the island, she is coming in by the bus stop for the moment.

Another view of the water ship.  Symi has no natural fresh water supply.  What we don't harvest from our roofs into cisterns during the winter rains has to be produced by a small desalination plant on the Pedi road or shipped in by boats such as this one.  This is why Symi is one of the few Greek islands where you won't find 'villas with pools' on the accommodation listings.  Fortunately Symi's pretty beaches are sheltered and calm for summer-time swimming.

Lemonitissa church peering down at Yialos from the Kastro, the old castle mound.

Oranges and cabbages, ladders and ropes.  One can buy most necessities on Symi - as long as you are realistic about your definition of 'necessity' and can adapt your plans according to what is available. There is no point in pining for peaches in February when oranges are in abundance!

The paving project between the town square and the bridge.

Roadworks outside the National Bank.

Artisanal cheeses and an interested feline audience.  Foodies look out for the cheese man who comes round about twice a month on the Blue Star.

The oranges that grow on Symi are usually very bitter, like Seville oranges, hence the hawker with his truck of oranges.  It is a curious thing that when growing citrus in drought conditions, oranges become bitter whereas the Symi lemons are surprisingly mild and sweet, regardless of the variety.

The Kali Strata is fast becoming a mossy landscape with weeds and grass popping up wherever there is soil.  Regulars to this page will know that at some point in April, May or some years even as late as June, some brave soul from the municipality weeds the whole flight of 360 or so steps and then whitewashes the step fronts for the summer.

Off street parking on the Kali Strata.

Free range Fred playing chicken on the road out of town this morning.

A rare glimpse of Profiti Ilias monastery through the trees.  In the summer the oak tree has leaves and the monastery disappears from view.  Profiti Ilias is one of the many ancient sites on Symi and fragments of  pre-Christian masonry hint at the possibility of a temple to Apollo on the site.

Wild cyclamens.  One of Symi's seasonal secrets.

The work on the new commercial harbour continues at a steady pace. They have laid out the harbour front with concrete blocks and are now back-filling while at the same time cutting away the hillside to create a large level area for trucks and vehicles coming off the car ferry to turn and park.  It is not much fun for the houses in the immediate vicinity of the construction work but once the project is completed, they will probably get a new lease of life as commercial properties close to the port.  
After a fairly wet and humid week the wind is once again blowing from the north, bringing clear skies and low temperatures.  Midday highs will be around 13 degrees or so this week, dropping to around 6 degrees at night.  The two main projects on the island, the paving around the town square and the construction of the new commercial harbour, are proceeding well. So far this February has been very mild with none of the storms and floods usually characteristic of February in the Aegean so if the rest of the month continues like this, with no extreme weather, they should all be on schedule. Fingers crossed!

Have a good week.

Regards,
Adriana






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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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