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

Symi sunrises are back

Symi sunrises are back

I finally managed it. I changed the alarm from 5.30 to 6.00, as it’s slightly lighter then, and headed straight out for a walk up the road to Ag Triada and back down through the village. A short walk of about 40 minutes. I forgot my FitBit, so I am not sure how many steps that was or how long a distance, but not very far. From the Village Square to the cantina on the road above the village and back it’s three miles, so I expect what I walked was nearly two. As the days go on and the mornings get warmer I shall aim for more.

Symi sunrise

No trickery, this is how it came out

Talking of warmer… We were at the bar on Sunday for our Sunday afternoon tipple. I for one was wearing three layers, including a thermal vest. As other people arrived, we ended up with pashminas and scarves, jackets and mountaineering gear in the party. There was a cold breeze blowing even though it was a sunny day. The wind has dropped now, and it should feel a bit warmer. One thing’s for sure, it won’t be long now before people are greeting each other with the standard, ‘Hot, isn’t it?’

Symi sunrise

Symi sunrise

There was quite a gathering at the bars on Sunday. A funeral (or memorial) service had been held, and the men arrived for a drink afterwards; there was also a baptism elsewhere, proving how much ‘life goes on’, and others were gathering for the Sunday cinema club at Lefteris’ kafenion. From the looks of it, the event was well attended.

Symi sunrise

A bit of a traffic jam on the way home

Things are starting to busy up elsewhere too. The Nikolaos X came in on its first day trip of the season over the weekend, the Panagia Skiadeni is also making trips, the Blue Star came in on Sunday bringing back those who had traveled to Syros on a short break, and, as I write this, the catamaran has just come and gone. I can hear it from my desk as it rounds the headland, even though I can’t see it at that point, and I can more or less set my watch by it. Well, I would if I wore one.

Jack cat had the right idea

Jack cat had the right idea

In my ‘news from the writing desk’ department, we have one more chapter of The Saddling to set out, and then the final check through to do before I can put that up for sale. So, hopefully only a few more weeks. It should only be two weeks, but we are both waiting to hear about the London Greek Film Festival. We being myself and my editor who also works for a film production company. If the film (and I mean the film) is selected, then he will have some arranging to do over there in the yUK, and that might delay the book’s editing slightly. I also have a script entered and am waiting to hear if that got anywhere (unlikely, the length was not within their guidelines, and I knew this but sent it off anyway). The festival is only three weeks away, and we are expecting to hear any day now. We were expecting to hear a while ago, but it is the Greek film festival, and we have had Easter. Maybe we’ll hear avrio. Anyway, back to that writing desk department and some work no a new comedy novel…

Let’s all go down the steps, ‘ave-an-acado

Let’s all go down the steps, ‘ave-an-acado

Let’s start the week off with a little story. I was heading down the steps to Yialos on Friday when I saw a lady crossing from one side to the other. Nothing surprising there. Said lady, however, was in her night clothes, with an anorak over the top, and carrying a basket of herbs. This was around eleven, so I assume she is a late riser. It’s not uncommon to see local people popping to the shop in their slippers during the winter, I mean, why bother getting glammed up when you’re only around the corner? No one is going to judge. I thought to myself, ‘Ah, she’s setting up her herbs as the day boat had just arrived.’ Indeed, she was. I approached and wished her a kali-morning. In return, she asked me to carry a couple of baskets across the steps for her while she made herself comfortable outside the old Symi Gallery. Or as comfortable as one can be in a nightdress on a blustery, rather cloudy morning in April.

Let's all go down the steps, 'ave-an-acado

Let’s all go down the steps, ‘ave-an-acado

I did my duty, wondering if this would make me an accessory before some kind of fact (I assume she has a street licence for her little enterprise), and went on my way.

‘Mister!’

I must admit to having a mild sinking feeling as I was hailed. I’ve seen what happens to the unwary who engage in conversation here, but I turned and replied, trying to hide the mistrust in my voice. It didn’t help that she was rummaging in a blue plastic bag. I didn’t need €5.00 worth of wild oregano. If I did, I could have picked some from the lane up the road. But no, she offered me a biscuit for my trouble. I accepted and, duly paid, set off, munching on my way. I assume she dressed at some time during the day otherwise those heading up the steps might have been treated (or not) to something rather surprising.

Let's all go down the steps, 'ave-an-acado

Hanging out in Yialos

If you’re still wondering about the title of today’s post, I had a song in my head as I carried on down the Kali Strata, ‘Let’s all go down the Strand,’ that wonderfully pointless number sung by Stanley Holloway, and others. Apparently, you don’t have to have a banana as you do so as that was never part of the original lyric. So, I often throw in another random foodstuff as I go. ‘Let’s all go down the Strand, have a moussaka!’ is probably the most appropriate. On this day it was an avocado, for no discernible reason, and so it became, ‘Let’s all go down the Strand, ‘ave-an-acado!’

You’re going not have that song stuck in your head all day now, aren’t you? Sorry about that. If you’re not, then click here and hear a recording of it. You can add your own fruit.

Let's all go down the steps, 'ave-an-acado

Other fruit is available

I only mention that as that was about the most unusual thing I did over the weekend. Oh, I did arrange a mock O-level exam for Neil, read and advise on a short story for a young man from India, and start on a new book, but otherwise, it was a quiet weekend with dinner at the taverna in the evening on Saturday. It is now Sunday as I prepare this post for tomorrow, write a short report on the short story for said young man in India, reply to a couple of emails and then ‘mark’ the mock exam. After that and some vague attempt at housework, it’s going to be back to the new book idea, a farce this time, a kind of ‘Remotely’ follow on, but not. It’s going to be another Miss P story and anyone who had read ‘Remotely‘ will know who I am talking about. Anyone who hasn’t read it yet (shame on you) can find a copy on Amazon, in print and in Kindle format.

Let's all go down the steps, 'ave-an-acado

They’re back!

And now I am off to attend to my other duties and will wish you a good week to come. I may even have a banana.

Next Stop Symi: From Suffolk to Symi

Next Stop Symi: From Suffolk to Symi

By Peter Vidal, of Next Stop Symi

Following successful trial runs in a van from the small village of Hoxne in Suffolk during January 2016 the UK registered charity Next Stop Symi was formed. A further run in April 2016 was undertaken with Charlemagne the bear as a mascot.

Charlemagne hoping to get a lift back to Symi

Charlemagne hoping to get a lift back to Symi

During the first few weeks of this year, we obtained a list of items that would be useful for refugees stranded in Kos and Rhodes. Our helpers in the UK rallied around, and we were given plenty of stock to transport. These items were checked for suitability, making sure they were complete and clean. Everything was sorted and boxed up (and a few bags) ready for the run.

Loading the van took some time ensuring there was no wasted space and we could easily get at the boxes needed at each stop.

Helpers from Lichfield with some of their collections

Helpers from Lichfield with some of their collections

 

 

The back of the full van

The back of the full van

Leaving Hoxne

Leaving Hoxne

28 March – 444 miles

Left Hoxne at about 8.30am.Trouble free run down to the Channel Tunnel. Arrived a bit earlier than expected, so they let me on an earlier than planned train. The van was one of the last on, parked up behind a British registered Aston Martin on a French Trailer!

There were some heavy showers on the way to Luxembourg through the Ardennes, otherwise, a very uneventful drive arriving at the hotel at about 6pm.

Trauma Bears from North Wales

Trauma Bears from North Wales

 

 

Full Van

Full Van

29 March – 356 miles

A need for fuel meant upsetting the satnav while finding a petrol station in Luxembourg (diesel less than €1 per litre). Once full with fuel the drive was a pleasant combination of motorway and some other main roads to Karlsruhe. Around Karlsruhe, the traffic was at a standstill at times, just because of the amount of vehicles on the road.

 Hotel Car Park in Germany

Hotel Car Park in Germany

Once past Karlsruhe and then Stuttgart the roads were virtually empty. There was hardly any delay as I passed one accident site with the police present and the Autobahn down to one lane. Even with a couple of stops it only took 6 hours to make it to a small town near the German/Austrian border.

The evening was spent in the town enjoying a beer and a meal. The town was just like Symi after the end of the season as most places were closed because the skiing season had finished.

Coffee break on the Fern Pass

Coffee break on the Fern Pass

30 March – 296 miles

The first part of the day’s drive was across the Fern Pass in Austria. I had a quick coffee break at one of the rest areas. The peaks of the Alps were still covered in snow. As I climbed up the Brenner Pass, there were still people on some of the ski runs (one of which goes under the motorway). The drive through Italy to Modena was simple and stress-free.

That evening while having a beer a group of French people who were on a course asked me about the signs on the van, proving there’s genuine interest and support for what we’re doing. They invited me to join them at the restaurant where they served excellent Pizzas.

31 March – 168 miles

After a moderately early breakfast, I was quickly on the way to catch the ferry across the Adriatic Sea. I had to pick up the tickets at the ferry terminal before making my way to the Ferry (Superfast XII) that leaves at 1.30. Loading was relatively painless. The van being slightly over 2m high had to be parked alongside the big trucks, and was dwarfed.

The ferry crossing was very smooth and uneventful.

 Dwarfed by the big trucks on the ferry

Dwarfed by the big trucks on the ferry

1 April – 108 Miles

The ferry docked a few minutes late. But after 24 hours on the ferry it was pleasant to be back on land. The new road from Patras to Corinth is not fully open yet with just a few places where there is still a lot of work to do. However much of the drive was on the new road and very much better than the old road it replaces.

2 April

This was a day of leisure because the ferry I had planned on catching from Ancona was full so I had to travel a day earlier. I spent the day in the village that has sprung up around the ruins of Ancient Corinth. The Archaeological site is beautiful and remarkably well preserved. The museum, although small is worth a visit.

3 April – 68 miles

The run to Piraeus was uneventful with the satnav guiding me to the right gate at the docks without any hiccups. The gates for the Dodecanese ferries are a long walk from the main area of Piraeus, but there is a free bus that goes around the port regularly.

I had to wait about two hours before managing to get on the ferry (Superfast XII again). I soon settled in. One of the stewards recognised me from the trip to Patras, and we had a bit of a laugh about this.

I had been allocated a berth in a shared cabin. Sleep was rather fitful, but somehow I managed to be up ready for arrival at Kos at 6.30am.

 Unloading in Kos

Unloading in Kos

4 April

After breakfast, I met up with representatives of Kos Kindness delivering about 65 boxes of clothing and other items that they needed. They also had some surplus items that they knew would be better used in Rhodes, so these were loaded on the van for delivery the next day. Five boxes out, one box in. Every inch put to good use.

In early April Kos Town was very quiet with very few of the usual tourist restaurants and bars open

5 April

The ferry I was booked on (Blue Star 2) was timetabled to arrive at 4.35, so I woke at about 4 am. After a quick check to make sure I had everything during a short walk to the van I was staggered to see the ferry was docking some 20 minutes earlier than expected. A quick dash through the deserted streets of Kos got me there in about 10 minutes. I had to wait for another 20 minutes before I was on the ferry!

After arriving at Rhodes at around 7.30, I had a little bit of time for shopping before arriving at the makeshift camp. Although the manager did not arrive until later we quickly unloaded the van of all the items (T-shirts, rolls of fabric, children’s and baby clothing, plastic crates for Storage and some small toys) for Rhodes.

When I caught up with the manager later, he was distributing everything. The staff and refugees were absolutely over the moon with everything as it was just what they needed.

Boarding the ferry (Patmos) for Symi was smooth, and I was so glad to get back home.

The next day I delivered some items to the Medical Centre on Symi who again were very grateful to the original donors in the UK. The last delivery followed with boxes of Educational materials to be distributed by Solidarity Symi.

So after nearly nine days on the road (and ferry), my journey was complete and my cargo of helpful and useful items delivered to the local organisations which would make sure they reached the people who needed them most. There was a great sense of job done.

So I checked my diary and started counting down the days to the Next Stop Symi delivery.

Some of the Trustees of NSS after loading the van

Some of the Trustees of NSS after loading the van

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Next Stop Symi would like to make special mention of the generous support given by the ferry companies- Anek, Superfast and Blue Star

Web page-  Next Stop Symi

Email- nextstopsymi@gmail.com

Donations can be made through My Donate

Blue Star Ferries

Blue Star Ferries

ANEK LINES

ANEK LINES

Superfast Ferries

Superfast Ferries