Symi Dream

Living on a Greek island

A Greek island blog from Symi in the Dodecanese islands of Greece. "James’s great talent lies in his careful observation of the absurd and the amusing, the dramas and the difficulties..." Anne Zouroudi.

Symi Dream - Living on a Greek island

Carry on regardless

What’s news today? What happened on Symi on Monday? Well, the boats came in as per usual, and things carried on, as per usual. We had our front garden invaded by three sheep at six thirty in the morning by which time I was at the desk, having been up to the kantina and back by six. Actually, it’s not our front garden, but it is the front of the other part of the house that’s under us.

Images from Symi Greece by Neil Gosling and James Collins

Morning visitors

The photos today are a mix of shots that might interest you. And other than that, there’s no great news really. You will have seen all the news items about banks and money and so on, and €60.00 a day is fine for me, more than enough, though it will take planning in advance to get the money out for the rent. Our electricity and phone I pay online via Alpha bank so that should also be fine. Day to day, well, we have Neil’s wages form the bar for that. (No need to worry, mother!) And, at the moment, withdrawals on foreign (non-Greek) cards/accounts are only limited to the card’s allowance. So, if you have a UK Visa, or bank account ATM card, you can draw out as much as you want – as long as there is physically cash in the machine – up to your daily limit.

Images from Symi Greece by Neil Gosling and James Collins

Extensive queues at the bank on Sunday

So, Sunday was a warm day as we took a brief walk down to Yialos to stretch legs after a morning at home. Monday started slightly cloudy and there was even a cool breeze up here. The sea was calm, like the rest of the island, and day trip boats and the pleasure boats were out and about. There are lights being put up in the village square for a festival that is apparently happening next Sunday.

Images from Symi Greece by Neil Gosling and James Collins

Strings of lights up in the square (hard to see in daylight)

This festival (details to follow when I hear them, so far it’s just word of mouth) was arranged before the referendum, so it could end up being some kind of joint festival – depending on which way things go and what your views are. I’ve been told it’s because there is no Symi festival this year and it has been arranged due to a petition from village business owners. That petition, led by the new Herb and Spice shop, has obviously had an effect and the aim is to get more people up to the village to use the services and shops up here. So, Bravo Niko and Co.

Images from Symi Greece by Neil Gosling and James Collins

Busy business for the taxi boats

Tomorrow I aim to have a blog post about a new novel written by Rebecca Hall titled, ‘Girl Gone Greek.’ I’ll give you more info about that tomorrow, but if you want a look then simply follow that link.

Images from Symi Greece by Neil Gosling and James Collins

Monday morning, pre-dawn

Am off for lunch now – and that reminds me. A couple of folk have said recently that they thought I’d missed a day in the blog posts. Don’t be confused. I often write them the day before so if I talk about Monday when it is in fact Tuesday, that’s why. Check the date at the bottom of the posts if you’re not sure.

Greek crisis and Symi thoughts

Today’s post was going to be my take on what’s going on with Greek the Euro and all that malarkey. I even wrote it out and scheduled it for going live. But then I thought, some people are going to want to phone me up and discuss what I’ve written and I really can’t be done with that (hate using the phone) (hate discussing politics) so I decided to change it. I censored myself. So instead, I’ve given you a few choice quotes from the ‘article’, some photos from the weekend and a story about a bunch of flowers.

“I expect you are wondering how Symi is doing in the light of the economic debacle that’s been taking place. Well, this photo might be food for thought: a ‘super yacht’ parked outside the Alpha Bank, a bank with no queues for the ATM – the usual security delivery had been made.”

Images from Symi Greece by Neil Gosling and James Collins

All as per usual in Yialos, Saturday

I, for one, am all rather confused by parts of what I’ve been seeing and hearing. The government have voted to hold a referendum on the latest deal offered by the Eurogroup. But that deal has been withdrawn. So…?

Images from Symi Greece by Neil Gosling and James Collins

Blue Star coming in, Friday night

There was a good bit here but I deleted it by accident.

Images from Symi Greece by Neil Gosling and James Collins

Make your own pizza party at the Olive Tree, Saturday

I thought that the current administration made some pretty wild claims in its electioneering with regard the economy, along the lines of ‘we are going to end austerity.’ Promises that could clearly not be kept.

Images from Symi Greece by Neil Gosling and James Collins

Bless the brothers

I’m leaving in these photos for you so you have lots to look at.

Images from Symi Greece by Neil Gosling and James Collins

Chip delivery from Georgio’s

The Gov are turning to the people to say, ‘What do you think we should, do?’ My concern is that the gobbledegook that comes out of officialdom is pretty unintelligible to us lay people and many voters will have no idea what the detail is and therefore make an uninformed decision on a very important matter.

Images from Symi Greece by Neil Gosling and James Collins

Usual after dinner merriment

But, back to Symi and how this current debacle might affect the island. Well, so far so good, nothing seems to have changed much, the bars were in full swing over the weekend, there was live music at the taverna and The Secret Garden and, as you can see from some photos, we had a great time with the boys at The Olive Tree making our own pizzas. (And being taught how to ‘Vogue’.)

Images from Symi Greece by Neil Gosling and James Collins

Someone is happy with his new sofabed

And now for the story of the bunch of flowers:

I’m sitting at Rainbow with folk, chatting and waiting for guests to arrive when I notice a chap coming up the steps holding a white plastic vase with some flowers in it. At first I think they’ve come from someone’s grave, or are heading that way, because the slow bells have been ringing. He goes up the lane and up the steps to the square, and out of sight. A little later another man, smartly dressed, appears stage right and walks across the square and goes out of sight. A few seconds after this, first man reappears (stage left) with the white vase and no flowers. And a few seconds after this, the second man reappears and exits stage right, with the flowers.

Head to Olive Tree for our ‘make your own dinner’ party (see photos above) and think no more about it.

A little later and a wedding party appear, coming down the steps past the OT. There’s the smart man in his suit and a young lady in a wedding dress, and there’s the bunch of flowers. They must have come from the flower shop, in the original display vase, to start with. Off they go into the sunset.

Images from Symi Greece by Neil Gosling and James Collins

That’s where they ended up

There, I didn’t say it was going to be a good or interesting story. Just one of those things. Of more interest to you may be that we were in Yialos on Sunday and the ATM was giving out money, three day trip boats came in, and all was well with the island of Symi. So, that’s my update on the Greek crisis and my Symi thoughts for today.

Images from Symi Greece by Neil Gosling and James Collins

Off into the sunset and their new life together. All the best from Symi Dream!

Symi holiday bargains

Images from Symi Greece by Neil Gosling and James Collins

Light on the hills at sunset

Good morning, welcome to Saturday and a collection of photos from the file with a catch up and some ideas for some Symi holiday bargains. First: Thursday evening: down to Yialos to attend a meeting about the refugee situation. That was followed, slightly ironically, by a pizza at the Dolphin. There was a family on the next table making an awful lot of noise…

Images from Symi Greece by Neil Gosling and James Collins

No pizza for the wicked

Friday was spent doing very little. Neil was in Rhodes (reporting lots of police checks on people getting off the ferries, sniffer dogs and searches; I am assuming there’s been news of some smuggling from Turkey) so I covered the bar – not completely, just one chair and a couple of hours – and spent the rest of the day at home fiddling with ‘Straight Swap’ which is now only two major scenes from the end of draft one. But when I say major I mean – a variety show, a failed sabotage attempt, the denouement and the epilogue. I’m kind of standing back from it for a day or so to let the strands filter through the old imagination, and then will set about it.

Images from Symi Greece by Neil Gosling and James Collins

Proudly flying the flag

I think the weekend holds in store a little frivolity with the boys coming over on Saturday, I believe, and a calm day planned for Sunday before getting back into the working week on Monday. The wind has died down up here, after Thursday’s blowing about, and the sun is set to ‘warm and above’ for the next few weeks.

Images from Symi Greece by Neil Gosling and James Collins

Boys will be boys…

Meanwhile, on Symi: we continue to have day trippers and regular visitors visiting, though numbers are down. So, if you want a last minute quick and quiet break there are probably plenty of deals around. You’ll be okay, even if we do go a bit bankrupt next week, something which seems to have been a possibility for five years now, so no great change there. Check out the ‘Search Hotels’ link in the right column >> you can change the location from Symi to Rhodes if you need an overnight there, otherwise, there are some neat deals to be had. I checked out Olympic Holidays, on Symi for the last two weeks of August, and found under £500 per person including flights, and that was staying at the ever popular Anastasia in Horio. I was almost tempted to book it myself.

Images from Symi Greece by Neil Gosling and James Collins

…And so will some middle aged men.

Here’s another one: 8th July for two weeks, two people, from Gatwick, flights included, staying at Sevasti Studios in Horio (greats views of Pedi), self-catering, £388 including flights and transfers. If you want to stay in Yialos there’s one there for £408, or Anastasia’s in Horio for £424 which isn’t a bad price at all, considering you have the flights included. A self-transfer at Rhodes could cost you around €20.00 for the taxi to the harbour, and then €16.50 on the ferry times two, so that’s at least €73.00, not to mention the possibility of an overnight stay. I know that package holiday companies do strange things with people, like put them down beyond Lindos for a night which means two hours there, two hours back and three hours in a hotel room. Or else they put you in the foyer of a hotel in Rhodes town (all depends on when you land and so on), but it’s bearable – you could always check yourself in for a night somewhere, for those prices you can’t go wrong.

Images from Symi Greece by Neil Gosling and James Collins

Mopeds lined up, checked and ready for tomorrow’s rental – Tom is a popular name for mopeds it seems

Anyway, I didn’t set out to sell you an Olympic Holidays holiday, just thought I’d give it a mention. (And there are many other tour operators working here: Kalodoukas, Symi Visitor, Symi via Travel A la Carte…) I’ll let you ponder on it all though and let you get on with your day.

Keep calm and have another summit

Thursday morning, getting ahead of myself again. There’s all kinds of malarkey going on in Brussels or somewhere at the moment, and I’m getting updates in from my UK ‘stringer’ who is keeping his finger on the pulse firmer that a surgeon performing a heart transplant, so all kinds of things may have happened by the time you read this. We shall wait and see.

Images from Symi Greece by Neil Gosling and James Collins

Any moussaka in here?

Meanwhile, the sofa bed (very basic but hopefully will do the job) is in place and has its first fan. Luckily I put a white throw over it. Jack has found his morning sleeping spot now, after investigating the cupboard to check up on my old scripts and manuscripts, scores and other work that is kept in there.

Images from Symi Greece by Neil Gosling and James Collins

Quality control

I am typing on my new keyboard kindly sourced for my by Spacephone Symi. The keys are the same size as standard keys, which is why I tend to hit two at once, but it has a larger surround which somehow make me feel the keys are larger and this easier to strike. Which is probably also why I hit more than one at a time. Should have gone to typing lessons and learned to type properly rather than churning out 100 (incorrect) words a minute with three fingers on one hand, plus an occasional little finger, and two on the left hand. Still, five out of ten ain’t bad.

Images from Symi Greece by Neil Gosling and James Collins


Neil’s been to town again and today has organised boat tickets for Friday. He’s off to his allergy doctor person in Rhodes, so I shall be covering the bar on Friday afternoon. I’ve also been chasing up some medical matters. My national health insurance runs out at the end of this year so I need to fix up some private scheme. I’ve checked with Euromedica in Rhodes and found a list of insurance companies they deal with. I’ve emailed one (the Greek branch of ING) and they have had their local agent from Rhodes call me up this morning.

Images from Symi Greece by Neil Gosling and James Collins

Visitors exploring the back streets

We had a funny chat. ‘How tall are you?’ Told him. ‘How much do you weigh?’ Told him. ‘You are too short,’ he said, ‘but I am shorter.’ ‘O-kay… And?’ ‘Ha!’ He laughed. ‘When I say I am too short I mean I am too fat because we are not fat we are just under-tall, but I am fatter than you and they still insure me.’ Well, charmed I am sure. I shall post him some photos of the sunrise and sweat I see every morning. Anyway, they should be sending me a quote through the email post at some point. And, when I have seen that and recovered from my heart attack, I’ll start to work out a way to afford to pay it. Nice thing is, he said, the insurance company might want to have me checked by Euromedica before finalising, and they will pay for it all. Another medical holiday in Rhodes looks to be in the offing.

Images from Symi Greece by Neil Gosling and James Collins

Ferries seen from the taxi window

That’s that. What’s next? Nothing really. No more news since yesterday. A bit windy, still warm, quite pleasant actually, and a few pics form the harbour on the blog. We may or may not be in the Euro by the time you read this, but, as the sign said, “Keep calm and have another summit.”

A day of deliveries

Thank you for the wonderful comments on yesterday’s blog, sent in by email. A piece of fun. Today we’re back to the usual old ‘what I did on my holidays’ stuff. Though yesterday was far from a holiday.

Images from Symi Greece by Neil Gosling and James Collins

Day trippers in Yialos

In fact, there was so much going on that I didn’t have time to prepare a blog in advance, as was my intention. The day started with work, as per usual, and then we had to head to Yialos to get some bits and pieces done and it turned out to be a day of deliveries. First of all I went to get my tax form, delivered to the accountant, but he was in Rhodes. And then I went to deliver a message but the person I needed was also in Rhodes, so we went and bought salad things instead.

Images from Symi Greece by Neil Gosling and James Collins

Enjoying a talk on Symi

That done there was time for a drink at Pacho’s (Coke Lite before you ask) and time for some people watching. The boat had come in and the groups of tourists were slowly making their way around the harbour, quite happy and no need to be airlifted out. We saw the ice delivery van go by – look closely; it’s a freezer on the back of a truck. What more do you need?

Images from Symi Greece by Neil Gosling and James Collins

Ice delivery

And then we headed for a light lunch at Meriklis. White sitting there with a chicken souvlaki the phone buzzed and a message came in from village HQ, “Ikea is at Olive.” That translates as, our delivery from Ikea (the sofa bed) is waiting for us at The Olive Tree. Luckily Justine, who now works there, came past and was able to deliver the message up that we would get it after lunch – our phones were out of credit at that point.

Images from Symi Greece by Neil Gosling and James Collins

Konstantinos! Taxi Boats

So, after putting credit on the phones and getting back to the souvlaki, suddenly the man from ACS Deliveries rode up on his moped, dropped off a package for me at the table and whizzed off again. Thank you very much! That’s my router-booster that might help expand our wireless coverage through the house to the kitchen where, incidentally, the light fitting is flashing like a sound to light unit at a mobile disco. (Must deliver message to electrician…)

Images from Symi Greece by Neil Gosling and James Collins

Enjoying an alternative harbour view

So then, after lunch, with bags heavy with salad things and random pieces of electronic equipment delivered fresh to your table, we taxied back up and set about the Ikea order. There was also a table and cabinet for the bathroom, so we took them home, changed clothes and came back for the sofa bed. While Neil was at work later, I managed to wrestle the thing into shape, sweep the courtyard, clear out the cat’s personal though not so private garderobe, tidy the house, put the bathroom table together, hang out the washing, have a shower and get down to the bar to meet our evening guest by five.

Images from Symi Greece by Neil Gosling and James Collins

Having lunch at Pantelis

The rest of the evening was spent in great company overlooking the harbour and watching the cruise boat leave and the Skiadeni come in. Later, we saw a quick video of Neil’s grandson opening his birthday present delivery we’d sent via Amazon. Then an early night, awake by 5.00, up at the top of the village by 5.30, quick walk to the kantina, back to the desk by six and here’s the blog. Getting on with Thursday now.

Outrageous incident in Rhodes

News coming in from Rhodes of a major incident concerning some British tourists. The UK Government are currently seeking ways to extract them from the danger zone and make sure all those affected get back to Middle Britain safely. They are calling in the Royal Navy and there have been rumours that the R.A.F. may be airlifting out those worst affected.

Images from Symi Greece by Neil Gosling and James Collins

Pre-dawn on a much calmer Symi, Tuesday

Apparently, and my source in not official, the incident started just after breakfast on Tuesday. Mrs Armitage-Shanks, having beaten the Germans and completely towelled the poolside area, then dispatched herself to, in her words, ‘The funny little man who sells the papers by the market.’ She spent a good ten minutes searching through the German, French, Dutch and even, god forbid, Greek newspapers in search of the only one she ever reads and believes, only to find there were NO copies of The Daily Mail to be had, not even for ready money.

Images from Symi Greece by Neil Gosling and James Collins

The village wakes up to another day

When news of this complete collapse of the British overseas newspaper service reached the rest of the group back at the hotel, a panic started. ‘We were not expecting such a rush of protests,’ Mr. Kiriadis, the hotel manager, said. ‘My staff did admirably but were no match for the horde of half-dressed chubby ladies (very nice, thank you) and under-dressed men with bigger bellies who marched on reception. We simply had no copies of the Daily Mail to give them.

I was disgusted,’ said a Mr Pyramid (54) from Barnsleydale. ‘I’ve been coming to Greece for nigh on two weeks now and every day I get my copy of the Mail delivered to me fresh by the wife along with my socks, sandals and Union Jack T-shirt, freshly ironed, mind. But today? Nothing! Who’s going to pay for the inconvenience? I might have missed something vital.’

Images from Symi Greece by Neil Gosling and James Collins

Sleepy lanes

A Mrs Ideal Standard (46) told our reporter that, ‘We have to read it to see what we should be doing! They said that the sky might fall on Greece today and that we might have to get shipped out to Sheerness because of the million immigrants coming into Britain tomorrow who are going to steal my son’s dole money and squat in my house and I’ve only got the three spare rooms that the council pay for, I have to keep one free for my back copies of the nation’s favourite newspaper.’

Images from Symi Greece by Neil Gosling and James Collins

Someone has been out feeding the cats

We are dealing with a major crisis,’ Mr Kiriadis told me by phone at lunchtime. ‘The police sent out scouts to every newsstand and peripteron we could think of and yet, no Daily Mail. These poor British have no idea what to do next. Some are in tears, some have refused to eat, saying they have no idea what to have for lunch until the paper tells them what they can and can’t eat. Some have offered their children  in return for a copy, but no one is admitting to stocking this particular newspaper. And I’ve not even had my coffee yet.’

Images from Symi Greece by Neil Gosling and James Collins

The village square, 6.15 (The Jean and Tonic was still going)

Police Lieutenant General Takis Papatakisopolous, called in from Athens, reassured the tourists that, ‘All was being done to make sure you get your daily dose.’ At a riotous meeting of tourists, tour operators, hotel staff, newsagents and some happy Dutch girls who had wandered in to see what the fuss was about, Papatakisopolous called for calm and offered that the Greek authorities should pay for copies of The Independent or The Guardian to be flown out before lunch. But this only led to more tears, and calls for his resignation. Mr W.C. Flush of Gaddleminge (65 and three quarters) said, ‘I’m going to sue over this. Someone is responsible, and we want compensation. This is the second day of our three day holiday and it’s been ruined. I’m writing to someone important this afternoon and demanding a four week stay in the five star Hilton as minimum compensation. No Daily Mail? It’s an outrage. What’s the little woman going to read on the khazi now?

Images from Symi Greece by Neil Gosling and James Collins

The Salamis Filoxenia calls in on her cruise

There was a happy outcome to this Greek tragedy. After several hours of tough negotiations and research, a copy of the Daily Mail was located in Nusaybin on the Turkish/Syria border. The Greek authorities gladly put all the disgruntled DM readers into a small fishing boat and paid the owner the rest of their holiday spending money to sail them across to Yeşilköy on the Turkish coast so they could make the rest of the pilgrimage on foot – knowing full well that when they got there the good people of Nusaybin would only send them back to where they came from.

 Crisis averted. For now.