Symi Snapshots

Life on Symi in the middle of October 2020.

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Today is 15 October, the date traditionally regarded as the end of the tourist season on Symi. Seasonal businesses sign off the last of their staff, if they have not already done so. The water taxis are already out on the hard in Harani. Businesses that depend primarily on tourism for their purpose in life are wrapping up. Some may stay open for a few hours a day if there is an excursion boat from Rhodes but these are thinning out now, as Rhodes also empties.

This doesn’t mean that the whole island shuts down. With around 3000 permanent inhabitants, supermarkets, shoe shops, pharmacies, banks, the post office, the butchers and various other businesses stay open all year. Traditional cafes, bars, the gyros grills and other eateries that are supported by local residents stay open for as long as they have customers and tend to adapt their hours and their offerings from year to year, depending on demand.

Taverna Dafnes at Toli Bay has just announced on Facebook that they will be staying open until the end of November, weather permitting. This is popular with locals, particularly those who live in the garden village of Xisos, as it is accessible by road. The Panorama Cantina at Agia Marina is finishing this weekend but Constantinos View, the upper Cantina on the road to Panormitis, will stay open for as long as they can. Down in Pedi, although the sunbeds are disappearing fast, it is still possible to have a meal at either of the two tavernas.

The Poseidon excursion boat is doing a final round-the-island boat trip tomorrow, Friday 16 October. Apparently the caique ‘Maria’ will keep running until the end of October as long as there are sufficient people, weather permitting. They need a minimum of 8 people so if you are on Symi and hankering after a boat trip, why not round up a few friends?

Information about the Panormitis Festival is still vague – in theory large gatherings involving thousands of people are not permitted – but Dodecanese Seaways has just announced their ferry schedule to bring pilgrims to the monstery from 30 October to 9 November so we shall see.

The chicken seller is back, hawking Rhode Island Red pullets and young turkeys from the back of his lorry (see photograph). We have already seen the first carpet seller, hawking his wares up at Kampos in Chorio.

Anyone visiting Symi from now on won’t be having a tourist experience. They will be living like a local – and that was always Symi’s unique selling point.

October Postcards from Symi

Carefully tethered with a bit of fishing line, this toy boat shelters among its big brothers in the ‘marina’ in Pedi.
Invisible cat. This old bruiser with his battered cauliflower ears has sired countless ginger kittens and has a territory that extends far up the Pedi valley. He appeared in this blog some months ago, snoozing on a plastic chair in a garden of prickly pears below the Alethini.
Everyone else’s smartphone moonrise photos look like moonrise photos. I never seem to get more than a dot in the night sky but you get the general idea. This was the last full moon, rising over St George’s church in Pedi. Yes, that yellow blur is the Symi bus and no, it wasn’t breaking speed records. This was a slow exposure supposedly better for photographing moons.
The tamarisk trees are flowering and the bees are loving it.
St Nicholas beach on Wednesday this week. They are systematically packing away umbrellas and sunbeds. This photograph was taken at 5 in the afternoon and much of the beach was already in shadow. Many of Symi’s beaches are east-facing and surrounded by high hills and cliffs. Even if there are still tourists around, they still close up in October as they are too shady to attract sun-loving tourists. Locals, on the other hand, appreciate the fact that the sea stays warm until Christmas and enjoy a dip after a long walk.
George’s water taxi heading back to the jetty in Pedi.
The fuel ship for the power station coming into Pedi this morning. There was an inconveniently anchored yacht in the bay so much tooting while the anxious yachtsman hastened to move his yacht out of the way.
Someone is enjoying a late break.
Others are firmly closed. Those storm shutters are unlikely to shift before May 2021.

The winter growing season has begun.

Feels Like Autumn

It is the first of October and the edge has gone off the heat. Overnight temperatures have dropped to the pleasant low twenties and the breeze is refreshingly cool rather than akin to the blast from an open oven door. The air has cleared and visibility is infinite. Walking to St Nicholas, some of the thyme bushes have started to flower again and the sage bushes are greening over. The stones on the quay are wet in the morning, slick with the mist that settles on them overnight. The second spring is on its way.

In the fields the new agricultural year has begun. Potatoes, cauliflowers and lettuces are being planted in anticipation of the first rains. The pomegranates are ripening and the first quinces have already appeared in the shops – an ephemeral and delicious fruit if you know what to do with it.

There are a few cruising yachts swinging to anchor in Pedi – all with EU flags as the border with Turkey is still closed to yachtsmen. German, French, Dutch and British flags are the dominant ones at the moment, driven eastwards by the storms over the Ionian and in the Cyclades in recent weeks. The Dodecanese is the turning point, the end of the line unless one is over-wintering in Cyprus. Wintering in cheap marinas in Turkey is not an option these days so decisions are no doubt being made as to whether to head north to Kos or south to Rhodes.

It is very dark in the mornings now. This was the scene at 5 a.m. yesterday morning, 30 September, as people waited to board the Blue Star to Rhodes.

By now you may have heard of the appeal to raise funds for Symi’s music school which is struggling to survive in the present economic climate. If you haven’t, I could not put it better than James Collins does in his Symi Dream blog. Just because children live on a small Greek island on the edge of Europe does not mean that they should be deprived of the opportunities to develop their talents. A team of dedicated music teachers comes over from Rhodes every Saturday to teach guitar, piano, violin and other instruments as this is not provided for in the school system but this needs funding. Usually parents are able to contribute to support this but with many of them out of work or struggling due to the virus and limited tourist season this year, these lessons are in jeopardy. Please go to the two links above to find out more about this worthwhile project and how you can help.