The Panormitis Festival is now a week-long affair of stalls and fast-food outlets. Thousands of visitors came from Rhodes and further afield and apart from the Blue Star which is too big, all the other ferries serving Symi operated in and out of Panormitis for the duration. The actual religious event was Thursday evening and Friday morning but the quest for 1 euro squeezy dinosaurs and gold plastic tablecloths knows no such boundaries. Amidst the designer-rip-off handbags and the global Chinese tat there were also monks from Mount Athos selling blessed crucifixes on bits of cord, a stall selling some wonderful artisanal cooking tools including big terracotta casserole dishes and another selling some charming wooden gifts, handmade by a local carpenter and his wife. It would be lovely to see more of the latter and rather less of the former. In the interests of commerce part of the monastery garden has been concreted over to provide extra space for the food vendors and a large formal car park has been built at the head of the bay, before the entrance. A security firm directs the traffic into the car park. If you are catching a ferry and have to off-load luggage, you hand your driver’s license to the guard at the gate and he only gives it back to you when you leave. The carpet sellers and basket makers who used to be a feature of the entrance road have all disappeared – presumably no longer allowed as they would not have been paying ground rent being outside the gates. Apart from the Panorama cantina and the souvlaki stall manned by the Symi high school pupils, all the other food outlets were from Rhodes, including the Diva pancake, doughnut and ice cream bar.
The last boat leaves Panormitis today 12 November and from here on we are on the winter ferry time table for both the Blue Star and Dodecanese Seaways. I am leaving myself on the Dodecanese Pride this afternoon for a short trip to the UK. The Panagia Skiadeni has been moth-balled for the winter
After some glorious autumn weather more rain is on the cards, starting on Wednesday this week with a cycle of thunderstorms, showers, rainy days and occasional downpours. Let us not forget that it was on 13 November 2017 that Symi was hit by a cataclysmic weather event that changed the landscape in many places and caused hundreds of thousands of euros worth of damage. These days everyone is a bit twitchy when the long range forecast shows stormy weather ahead.
Down in Pedi both tavernas are now closed for the winter. Costas Mavroukos has closed his mini-market on the seafront and has moved around the corner into his old kiosk for the duration. The Katsaras mini-market stays open through the winter and sells hot coffee to the odd walker and fisherman. The bus service has scaled down considerably too. We won’t see much life down here again until April at the earliest. Time to hibernate!
Some Symi snapshots for you to enjoy.
The photograph at the top of the page shows fragments of heart-shaped confetti on the sand the morning after a big wedding at the Pedi Beach Hotel recently. A few hours later it was all gone, washed away by the wake of passing water taxis and ferry boats.
On one of my daily walks around Pedi bay I noticed how many tables there are by the sea. Not formal taverna and restaurant tables but informal, quirky ones, put out by people who enjoy simple pleasures. These photographs share some of them with you. The one of the breaking waves gives you an idea of what the wash looks like when the Blue Star 2 ploughs past the entrance to Pedi on a calm day and there’s no wind to break up the wake.
Time moves in strange ways on Symi, possibly because we don’t work 9 to 5, Monday to Friday, with weekends to mark off the passage of time. In the summer months most of us work 7 days a week and often evenings too, depending on what we are doing, and the weeks flash past. There is plenty of time for days off in the winter, when the tourists have gone home and there is no work to be found.
The worst of the heat is probably behind us, as July draws to a close. The humidity is rising as the evenings grow longer and pockets of sea mist linger in the early mornings. Temperatures are around 38 degrees centigrade at midday and around 28 degrees at midnight.
Symi found itself rocking to Sunday visits from a crowdfunded yacht flotilla company called the Bucketlust. As they held a weekly fancy dress party at the Harani Club in Yialos the locals were agog to see what the young crowd were – or were not – wearing as costumes. Whether this will bring a new generation of Symi fans remains to be seen.
An alternative kind of aquatic Symi holiday is offered by Strel Swimming Adventures . They specialise in swimming long distances in beautiful locations and have recently added Symi to their portfolio, with the Pedi Beach Hotel as their base.
The Rodos Cup Regatta passed through Symi last week, bringing 537 sailors from 13 countries to Symi. We were also visited by the highly distinctive super sailing yacht, Maltese Falcon,pictured below.
A fabulous new portfolio of rental properties, Select Symi, has now been launched, featuring some seriously high end properties. If you want a waterfront villa with 5 bedrooms with en suite bathrooms and a jacuzzi, this is the place to look. Drool here!
The Symi Festival 2019 has been launched. The program is available on Facebook and there are also random posters around the town, advertising events. This is all in addition to the usual name days, weddings and baptisms that fill the July calendar.
The first fortnight of August are traditionally the busiest weeks of the year in the Mediterranean countries and Symi is no exception. Athens is emptying out and the islands are filling up.
Symi has turned into a garden this year. Those long soaking rains for months on end during the winter gave us a spectacular spring and the mountain herbs are putting on a show for far longer this year. Even people who usually come in June are commenting on how bright the thyme flowers are this year. While other countries may be worrying about their bee populations, Symi’s bees are absolutely wallowing in thyme pollen at the moment and the hills are humming.
Recycling has been a big topic for all parties involved in the recent elections. In reality, the bins have obviously been in the pipeline for a while regardless. Rhodes has had them for some time and this is not the first time we have seen bins for collecting aluminium cans on Symi – we covered the same story in the days of the Symi Visitor newspaper, more than a decade ago. The crucial thing is not so much encouraging the locals and tourists to use them but that the contents are then actually taken away and recycled in a sustainable way. Greece has very few recycling facilities and they are all on the mainland, a 17 hour ferry journey away. Rubbish, whatever it is, tends to be high volume, so a cost effective way of transporting paper, bottles, cans, plastic and so on has to be provided to form the next link in the chain. Otherwise we will see yet another recycling initiative fall by the wayside as the contents wind up in a landfill somewhere. In the long term the real solution lies with the packaging industry finding better alternatives that are still effective for their purpose but without the negative environmental implications.
As many of you probably know, I look after holiday homes for various people and provide the services they need to keep them running smoothly. Recently I received a consignment of all the sheets and towels necessary for one particular house. Three sets of everything. They were ordered from an on line source by the owner of the property and arrived in big boxes by courier. Every single individual item, whether it be a sheet or a pillow case or a towel, was folded around a piece of cardboard to give it a neat shape. It was then encased in a printed paper sleeve, giving details of the item. Each of these was then in a separate resealable plastic envelope. That means that for each item of bedding or towels there were 3 items of packaging. What kind of madness is this? Even if those separate pieces of packaging are recyclable, in a place where those particular materials can be recycled, bearing in mind that facilities are not universally available, is it really necessary to fold a pillowcase round a piece of cardboard, wrap it in a piece of printed paper and then put it in a plastic bag? Many of us are old enough to remember when someone would have counted out the appropriate number of items. Laid them on a sheet of brown paper, wrapped it up into a parcel with tape or string and that would have been that.
Simples, as the meerkat says on the BBC!