Spring on Symi and a Walk in Rhodes

Yialos at half past eight this morning.  The calm after yesterday's storm.  We had very strong winds on Sunday and there was a shipping ban.  The flags are up because Saturday was the investiture of the new Metropolitan (bishop).

The many priests and officials who came over for the investiture ceremony and celebrations on Saturday were unable to get off the island on Sunday because of the wind.  I spotted this group waiting for the Dodecanese Seaways catamaran this morning.  People came from all over the Dodecanese for the event.

Meanwhile, in the Pedi valley, Nature is staging her own celebrations.

Who would think that the barren dust of summer would hide such potential abundance?  Just add water for a wonderful wild garden.  This is along the roadside in Lieni, Chorio.

Mother and child, out for a morning stroll in the Pedi valley.

The olive trees are smothered in millions of tiny pale green flowers.

I had to go to Rhodes on Friday for various appointments.  Inevitably I had several hours to kill between finishing my business and taking the Blue Star back to Symi.  It seemed a waste to spend them reading in a corner of the Plaza Hotel so I took my camera for a walk.  If you chose to walk from Akandia, the commerical ferry port, into town, you will pass this attractive kiosk (periptero) near the old town walls.  An ideal pit stop for an ice cream.  

Rhodes is full of ruins spanning millenia of continuous occupation.  Invaders came and went and everyone left their mark. Somewhere along the line the end wall of a Byzantine church became the wall of a house, with windows overlooking what would once have been the nave.

This is the altar of the same church.  You can take a short cut through the open area into a park on the right of the photograph that takes you eventually to a gate in the old town walls that opens out over the moat, near the kiosk above.  There is a more direct  route out onto the waterfront on the left, through another gate.

Rhodes old town closes down during the winter months and all the tourist tat disappears, leaving the underlying architecture exposed to view.  A great opportunity to see the buildings as they really are.

Spring flowers are everywhere, even on the old town walls.

A gargoyle leaping from the roof of the old library.

There are many Ottoman drinking water fountains dotted around Rhodes. This one is near Kolonna.

The Rhodes municipality has provided an information system that enables you to download an app on your smartphone.

The old shopping area behind Mandraki.  Bits of it have been restored like this section. Others are still falling down.  Many of the old speciality shops have disappeared, replaced by trendy cafes, bars and eateries.
The spring equinox is only days away and the weather is very unsettled.  Calm hazy days alternate with strong winds and shipping bans.  The major weather fronts generally pass to the north of us in March and April after causing disruption in the Ionian and on the Greek mainland.  Saharan dust is a familiar sight, turning the sky pink and leaving a film of red on everything when it rains. Temperatures are in the low to mid twenties.  It is still chilly in the shade, particularly in places still damp from the winter rains.  Distant snow is visible on the Turkish mountains but it is disappearing fast.

The weather this week remains unsettled with gale force winds forecast for Thursday and the possibility of thunderstorms over the weekend.

Rhodes was still very quiet on Friday with little sign of activity yet for the forthcoming tourist season.  With the main focus these days on all inclusive package holidays in the resort areas, Rhodes town is a lot quieter than it used to be.  It was quite sad really, walking around, to see so many small hotels and businesses closed up, not just for the winter but probably for a year or more judging by the hoardings and piles of dusty post visible on empty shop floors.  When you book a package holiday with a big holiday company, very little of your money actually finds its way into the local community and eventually the community withers and dies.  When you travel independently, dealing with Greek businesses and eating in family tavernas, you are putting money directly into the local economy, keeping small businesses and communities alive and growing.  Food for thought.

Have a good week.



Spring Cleaning for Easter

The butterflies are back!

Eyes closed against the sun.

Down in the valley.

Free range feasting.

In the frame.  The water taxis and excursion boats are still out in the boatyard.  They won't be back until May.

Getting ready for the season.

The International at the back of Yialos is one of the very few tavernas that still stays open all year round.  

Nature adds her own embellishments.
March is galloping past and Easter will soon be upon us.  The skies are blue and bright.  There are few rain clouds looming on the long range forecast. Temperatures are creeping into the mid twenties and people who brought duvets in to the Sunflower for washing don't seem to be in much of a hurry to reclaim them.

Business owners are wrestling open doors swollen from winter rains and drawing up job lists.  There is the hum of electric sanders in the air and the hardware stores are busy.  Winter woollies are making way for paint-spattered overalls.  The tourist season proper does not start until the end of May these days but there is plenty to be done for Greek Easter.  People often come back to their families in the islands for the holidays as Greek Easter is traditionally celebrated as a family holiday.

The supermarkets are laying in supplies of flour, cheese, oil, yeast, sugar and dye for the traditional Easter baking marathon.  There's a bit of a price war going on in the flour department as Italian 00 flour has made an appearance on Symi at very reasonable prices.  The dye is, of course, for the hard-boiled eggs that are shared on Easter Sunday.  While Britain is awash with hot cross buns and chocolate bunnies - they were already appearing in the shops when I left in early January - here in Greece, particularly in the islands, everything is appropriate to its season. 

Elaborately decorated processional candles, traditional foods and the ingredients to prepare them only start to appear in the shops during Lent.  The air of anticipation is palpable because it really is something to look forward to.  The culture of treat yourself everyday hasn't filtered through here yet so there is always something joyful on the horizon.  If you are fed up with the commercialisation of Easter and other religious holidays, come and celebrate in Greece instead.  You will really feel that there is something special happening.

Have a good week.



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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