Adriana's Symi

Latest news from the Greek island of Symi

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Delightful in the Sun

It is a breezy spring day on Symi, chilly in the shade but delightful in the sun. Midday temperatures are in the twenties and evenings are still cool. In the Pedi valley the lizards and snakes are waking up, sunning themselves on the warm stones but never far from the safety of hiding places in the old dry stone walls and terraces. In Yialos and Chorio feral cats are snoozing on sunny dust bin lids, delicately alert to the next interesting deposit to come their way. Looking out of my office window, a local fisherman is busy whacking an octopus against the quay to tenderize it. The Proteus is due in from Rhodes shortly so trucks are gathering on the dock. It is always a scramble on a Friday as the boat continues northwards and there is only a short interval in which to get passengers, goods and vehicles off the boat before it leaves again.

Other parts of Greece are still experiencing quite blustery weather and there is the possibility of showers and thunderstorms throughout Greece over the next few days with winds touching Force 8 in the Aegean. It might be sunny on Symi but the weather in the Mediterranean does not really stabilize until June so if you are visiting our part of the world in the next few weeks do remember to bring some warm clothes as well as summery things.

If you are on Symi at the moment, the local dancing school is giving a free concert at the convention centre at the Opera House Hotel at 18.00 tonight.

In answer to those of you who have emailed, asking if Symi is being affected by current economic crisis and strikes, life is still very quiet and undisturbed on our little island on the far side of Greece but if you are travelling via Athens you may see picket lines in central Athens if it is a protest day. The only strikes likely to affect visitors are those of air traffic controllers and taxis and these have been happening for years!

Have a good weekend,



Burnished and Rosy

Symi basked in exceptionally fine and sunny weather over the Easter long weekend this year and everyone who took a gamble on the weather to come to Symi for the Easter break was happy that they did so. The clouds are rallying and we may well be in for some stormy weather across Greece in the days to come but by that time the Easter visitors will be heading home, burnished and rosy. Mike Gadd and Wendy Wilcox are sorting through the hundreds of Easter photos taken over the festivities so you can expect to see some on Out and About soon.

After the early Easter flurry Symi will go quiet again for a few weeks until the tourist season officially starts in May. The excursion boats and water taxis are still in the boatyard in Harani or on the beach in Pedi. The Nireus Hotel opened its doors and put up its nice new umbrellas for the Easter holiday but there is still a lot of painting and decorating going on in that part of the harbour and many businesses that opened for Easter will be continuing with their annual maintenance and refurbishments in the lull before the season proper begins.

Have a good week.



Ceremonies and Festivities

It is a breezy spring day on Symi. Birds are chirruping in the lane and gulls are wheeling over the harbour, chasing bits of bread tossed on the waves by passing visitors. The island has been steadily filling up as Symiots from all over Greece return to Symi for the Easter celebrations and every ferry arrival brings happy reunions. There are lots of young people around as the universities and colleges are closed for the holidays and Symi’s youthful population has returned to help with the ceremonies and festivities.

Visitors who have never been to Greece at Easter may be surprised at the seriousness with which Easter is celebrated here in comparison to the commercial chocolate fest that it has become in many Western countries. Indeed for many Symiots nothing more substantial than halva is consumed this week as even those who don’t fast for the whole of Lent do so for Big Week. In the Greek islands Easter is definitely a religious event rather than an excuse for a four day bank holiday and being able to share all aspects of the festival with close family members is important. Tomorrow evening, Good Friday, the bells will toll as each parish has its candlelit procession with icons and funerary biers. It is taboo for carpentry work to be done on Good Friday and Easter Saturday. On Saturday evening everyone goes to church to celebrate the Resurrection at midnight with the customary fireworks and dynamite, followed by the traditional breaking of the fast with mayeritsa soup. Early on Sunday, fires are lit for the roasting of lambs and the day is spent in convivial celebration, culminating with the burning of the effigy of Judas in the harbour.

Have a good weekend, and Kalo Pasca everyone!



Very Greek

It is a cloudy day and we woke up to growling thunder and distant lightning. So far the showers have skirted Symi and are hanging about over the Turkish coast. At the moment it looks as though Symi will be set fair for the Greek Easter long weekend. The bells have been tolling intermittently since last night as the solemn order of service for Big Week has commenced. Many of the island women wear black for the week before Easter, even if they are not widows, and this is a period of great solemnity. It is also a period of great activity as there is so much to be done in preparation for the Easter Sunday feast while at the same time attending all the appropriate church services. Many of the Symiot men are busy with the slaughtering of the hundreds of lambs and kids that make up the mainstay of the feast and the sound of bleating as sheep are transported by the truckload, combined with the tolling of the bells, is very much a soundtrack for the island at this time of the year. On a more cheerful note, the Easter chocolate has finally arrived and chocolate praline eggs, big chocolate eggs wrapped in foil printed with all the popular Greek football clubs and chocolate hens decorated with sugar flowers are all available at the supermarkets in Chorio. For those wishing to make a statement, chocolate Father Christmases are also for sale at selected outlets in Chorio. Not a Hot Cross Bun to be seen but there are plenty of traditional Greek Easter cookies to be found in the bakeries. The lanes of Chorio are wonderfully fragrant with mastic, vanilla and aniseed.

Down in the harbour preparations for the first tourists continue. Pickup trucks laden with tottering piles of café chairs and pot plants trundle round the harbour and the dress code at Pachos is definitely paint-spattered work clothes. It will be several weeks yet before the water taxis, beach tavernas and excursion boats come into operation as these don’t start until May but the harbour cafes and tavernas are opening up for Easter trade.

Today’s photographs were taken while waiting for the Symi II to come in on Saturday afternoon and show octopi hanging out to dry in a safe outside Mr Tasty’s taverna. A very Greek usage of a road sign.

Have a good week.



Adriana Shum

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