The Symi Bubble

Greece went into its second lockdown on 7 November 2020, initially until the 30th of that month. The figures continued to rise and the lockdown was extended – and extended – and extended again. Since that date no one has been allowed to travel to or from Symi unless they have very specific reasons to do so and can produce documentary evidence of that reason. Effectively we are living in a very efficient quarantine bubble with nary a winter cold or sniffle to be seen. What keeps coronavirus out also keeps colds, flu and other contagious diseases out too. This could be the island’s healthiest winter ever – even if also the most boring!

Retail restrictions were partially lifted in Greece a couple of weeks ago but on Symi that has made little difference – it is in Athens and Thessaloniki that shoppers starved of retail therapy have thronged Hermes Street and in Rhodes that people from outlying villages have queued to get into Jumbo and Zara.

Meanwhile, on Symi where retail excitements tend to focus rather on who currently has the freshest root ginger and whether the Chinese shop in Chorio has cheap fleeces in the right size, there is no sign of a shopping frenzy. Instead, as there is no limit on the number of times one can send SMS code 6 or how long one can stay out for personal exercise, as long as the regulations are obeyed, Symi people are rediscovering their island in a big way.

Remote mountain chapels, abandoned farmsteads, long forgotten archaeological sites and indigenous forests are seeing more activity than they have in decades as locals and expat residents alike go hiking every sunny day. A spin off of this is that Symi’s vast natural resources are finally getting the attention that they deserve and the rationale behind walking trails and attracting walkers back to the island is being understood. One can only hope that this does not precipitate another rush of hastily laid concrete paths but leads to a controlled project to restore the old kalderimis and to reinstate the access points that were destroyed when the road to Panormitis was tarred. Symi is not just a beach destination and there is more to the island than the neo-classical harbour.

As I write this we are once again waiting to find out if the lockdown regulations are changing. Will the high schools reopen on Monday as intended or will the increase in cases in Attica roll this back? Will the shops be closed again because people in Athens cannot be trusted to behave responsibly when given the opportunity to buy Marks and Spencers knickers in person rather than on line? Who knows. The only certainty is that every sunny winter’s day there will be people walking up and down Symi, from end to end, enjoying the views from mountain tops and counting how many islands they can spot on a clear day.

Author: adrianashum1960

Writer, foodie and self-sufficiency enthusiast.

4 thoughts on “The Symi Bubble”

  1. Good to see your Simi bubble post. Life for you on the Island is similar to our life in the suburbs of Manchester, although we are unable to count Islands. However despite the large death rate from the Virus we can still visit essential shops, but more vans are seen on the roads as people order online for home delivery. Our daily life is much the same, walks have become more popular and sales of food for the wild birds has increased. At the bird feeders in the garden, I have just seen Robins, Blue Tits, Chaffinch, Blackbird and sparrows. We look at holiday brochures thinking of when we will be able to travel and fully interact again We all want the same, peace, health, love and the freedom to see our families again

    Sent from my iPhone


  2. Dear Adriana,
    So lovely to hear from you and being able to mentally escape to beautiful Symi.. being able to retain all of the lovely memories we have had over the years in our visits, and so look forward to being able to return when all is back to normal again.
    Thank you so much for all you do to keep us all informed.
    Alan and Sandra Pryer

  3. Thank for the update Adriana. Good to hear that people are out enjoying the coutryside. It would be excellent if the dots indicating the old trails could be subtly repainted (no huge paint slashes, please), specially in wooded areas where trees fall and undergrowth takes over. Only last September we had real difficulty finding paths we’ve used for decades on an annual basis and on a couple of occasions gave up and returned to the road.

  4. Thank you Adriana. Always a welcome reminder of Symi’s many charms, and at the moment a real breath of fresh air for those of us confined to barracks. Good health!

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