Midsummer Musings

We heard yesterday that the Cote d'Azur is down 40% this August so perhaps we shouldn't feel bad that Symi is similarly empty.

This discreet close of matching mansions at the back of Yialos was once the acme of elegant town living in Symi in the late 19th century.  Symi's neo-classical answer to the concept of the gated community.

A view of the Vigla mountain and one of the remoter parts of Chorio, as seen from the back of the square in Yialos.  The houses you can see on the hillside were once part of the main connurbation of Chorio and would have been accessed via the Kataraktis, the old donkey path that winds up the side of the kastro with a sheer drop to a water course on the other side, hence the name.  With the advent first of the Kali Strata and subsequently of the motor road the popularity of the Kataraktis as a road diminished and when the houses were damaged during the Second World War or fell into disrepair with successive waves of emigration, the focus of the community shifted to more easily accessible areas.

Mother and kittens playing in a ruin at the base of the Kali Strata.

A dream catcher in the window of a holiday let on the Kali Strata.  Instead of the usual swirls of wrought iron to latch the shutters open the carpenter who did this house supplied pieces of wood to wedge them open.  Simple but effective.

An old house is being cleared out on the short cut in Chorio and these old trunks caught my eye. What stories they could tell!  The top one was originally covered with some sort of striped fabric of which only a few scraps remain. These trunks are probably a century or more old.  A modern wheelie suitcase seldom lasts more than a few trips before bits fall off, zips fail and they have to be replaced. Who would ever fantasize about the life of a wheelie suitcase?

Spackling the street door probably wouldn't be my number one priority in restoring a mansion like this one but perhaps whoever is doing it thought they would start with the easy bits!

The haze is back and the opposite coast has vanished completely.  Quite a nice 3 master in the bay though, a reminder of the days when all the boats that anchored in Pedi looked like that!


August Postcards from Symi

The meltemi has blown the haze away and the horizon is back, for a while at least.

This is a photograph of a venerable old blue Mercedes which came off the Blue Star this morning, as seen from the balcony of the Symi Visitor Accommodation office

Pedi looking remarkably empty for August.  One can must make out the distant hills of Turkey across the water.

Once upon a time all those doors were shops and the Kali Strata was a bustling main road.  The Symiots were certainly a fit lot in those days when there was no alternative to climbing all those steps except possibly riding a donkey. Imagine living near the top and having to walk down to the shops on  the steps and then carry the shopping back up in the days when there were no cars, bikes, taxis or buses.

A 'deka-okto' looking for breakfast among the paving stones.

An unusual art deco balcony support.  Most of the houses on the Kali Strata are 19th century so this was evidently a much more recent addition.

About half way down the steps widen out into a square. The large white house is actually much older than most of the other houses on the Kali Strata and has some Ottoman ornamentation above the balcony door where the sheets are drying.

Meanwhile, up in Chorio the cats and chickens are enjoying peaceful co-existence at the bend in the road.

The prickly pears continue to flourish.

And the church on the corner has a new custodian.
There aren't as many tourists around as usual for August and there's no money in the municipal coffers for big name attractions at the Symi Festival but the Symiots are adept at creating their own entertainment and it seems as though virtually every night the hills echo to the sounds of traditional Greek music, dancing and laughter.  Events start late as many people are working until 9 or even later at this time of the year.  Just follow the music!  The days of Nana Mouskouri, Mario Frangoulis, Glykeria and Alkestis Protosaltis may be long gone but home grown is just as much fun and everyone joins in the dancing.

The heat and humidity are starting to ease off now.  Midday temperatures are in the mid-thirties, falling to around 26 degrees at midnight so there is still no need for a shawl or jacket in the evenings. The quality of the light is changing and the shadows lengthening - a reminder that we are only a month away from the equinox.

Have a good weekend.



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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