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

Did you email me about Symi 85600?

Did you email me about Symi 85600?
I had a bad start to Monday morning. Apart from a disturbed night due to strange dreams of traffic jams and ‘The Phantom of the Opera’ (the musical) I woke up to find an email in my Mailwasher. That’s fine as that’s where they start out. I usually check the first few lines if I am not sure who the emails are from and then download only the ones I want and trust. I started reading a very nice email from someone who had recently read ‘Symi 85600′ and who was now towards the end of’ Carry on up the Kali Strata.’ I glanced at it and thought, ‘I’ll download that and write a nice reply,’ caught sight of a reference to the sender living on Symi in the early 1980s and then hit ‘Wash mail.’ This is the part where the programme deletes anything marked for delete and sends me those emails I want to keep. Only this email didn’t arrive and I have no idea where it went. I purposely hadn’t ticked ‘delete’.

Symi Greece photos

Spit-roast at Manos/Aris

So, if that was you, and you will know who you are, then please would you accept my apologies for not replying straight away and resend the original mail if possible, so I can read it properly and reply properly? I think it mentioned that you read the blog and if so, this message should reach you. If not, then there will be a reader out there who took the trouble to write in and who won’t get a reply because the Mailwasher not only washed the email but then proceeded to eat it and never gave it back.

Symi Greece photos

That’s my kind of vehicle

Apart from that, Monday was fine, a little cloudy with some spots of rain around in the morning but nothing to write home about, and I was able to get on with some work, and do this blog, and look at my submission for my college course, before Neil went off to start work at the Rainbow at three.

Symi Greece photos

Roasting outside Aris

On Easter Sunday, after catching up on some work I had missed on Saturday, we went to Yialos to have a walk around. There were many spits out on the street with lambs roasting, visitors over from Rhodes, and Greek families enjoying the hot day, as it was very sunny. Later we wandered back via the bus stop at five to see that Thanasis was just turning up to drive up, so we took the bus to the windmills and walked down into the village where Yianni had opened up for the evening after being closed for the day. So, an Easter glass of wine was in order, followed by a night in and an early night. Followed by strange dreams of traffic jams and Phantoms (complete with crashing organ chords and orchestrations) and some other strange stuff I no longer remember, and the next thing you know, Monday has started and my emails are being eaten. Ah well, on with the rest of the day and let’s hope the right person reads this and sends the mail again.

Symi Greece photos

The flag at the war memorial

Symi Easter blog

Symi Easter blog
My weekend, my Symi Easter, can be put into two parts; Friday evening and Saturday generally. There was also Sunday and there will, I hope be Monday, but I’ll save that.

Symi Greece photos

An evening at To Spitiko

On Friday we went into Yialos to meet some friends for dinner at To Spitiko. The number of the party had been growing through the day but finally, and very appropriately, settled itself on thirteen. Thirteen for dinner – yes, not only an Agatha Christie book and film adaptation (Actually, it’s ‘Thirteen at dinner’) but also the subject of a famous Leonardo mural as I am sure you know, and a happy coincidence for us on Good Friday. So, we sat down and our waiter served us calmly and very politely and with humour and efficiency – and I’m not only saying that because he is my nephew, it also happens to be true. A lovely dinner and we even had some cabaret thrown in thanks to big boys and bombs.

Symi Greece photos

Flares at the Castro

Big boys and bombs? Well, not so ‘big’, but brash and stupid really. There we are, sitting among the remains of a large dinner party -some of the guests had left and the tables were being cleared- the bangers and dynamite were going off as the Easter procession was making its way along the other side of the harbour, carrying the bier from church to church, when suddenly some bloke on a boat decides that he doesn’t like these bangers and shouts out, very aggressively and with some threatening gesticulation, ‘Don’t throw them I don’t like them!’ The standard response to this from any self-respecting banger-thrower would be to light one and carry on throwing, that is, after all, the custom. It is, after all, your island and it is, after all, Easter Friday. That is, after all, what happened. This was too much for Mr Seven Stone-Macho (hyphenated) and he was straight off that boat, fists raised, and into the party of diners a little way up the quayside. He was a bit outnumbered and things were calmed down, Neil was in there sorting it out too and calm was restored; a little too much of the falling down water methinks. Clearly if you don’t like bangs, explosions and fire crackers, then you don’t come to Greece at Easter weekend. Such things (trying to start a fight) are uncommon sights on Symi, but a bit of cabaret for us after dinner. And no animals were harmed, nor any humans and the bar owner (whose fault it certainly was not) sent them over drinks as a gesture of hospitality, but they were rejected and the boat set off into the night to find a quieter country. Anyway, that was that and then…

Symi Greece photos

Fireworks over Harani

Then we spent a very quiet Saturday at home, after the mild rain on Friday night as we walked up the steps. I read, and watched television, we popped out for some shopping and then, around midnight, spent some time up on the roof watching the Easter fireworks and listening to the dynamite – more fireworks than previous years and less dynamite I thought. There were displays going on at Pedi, Ag Triatha, at the Castro, Lemonitisa, Evangalismos and elsewhere, and loads of red flares being sent up. The ones from the Castro were spiralling down right over our heads and looking like they were going to land on the house but they were out well before that. The scene was enriched (ha ha) by the massive super yacht that was in the bay, all lit up. This was, I am told, the floating palace of some Chelsea football club owner or something (I don’t follow and am not impressed by this kind of thing) but what was nice was that he had come over to Symi for his Easter, to attend church at Evangalismos and was then on his way just after midnight. Mr Abramovich his name is, or something. Seems like a nice man. Anyone who can spend over 1.5 Billion on a fleet of private yachts and chooses Symi for his Easter can’t be all bad in my book.

Symi Greece photos

Flares and fireworks, Easter Saturday

Anyway, enough ramblings, off into Monday and back to the grindstone. Have a good week and I’ll be back tomorrow with more nonsense or some such. Happy bank holiday and May Day and kalo mina for yesterday and have a good month.

Symi Greece photos

There’s a big yacht out there somewhere

Easter weekend on Symi

Easter weekend on Symi
The dynamite and bangers have started as Easter weekend arrives on Symi. It’s Great Friday today, as I write (yesterday) and the church bells have been tolling for the services, some bangs have happened but the majority of large ones will be reserved for Friday and Saturday night. A couple of day boats have been in, the Blue Star has come and gone, a little late and should be back tonight, and we’re planning a meal out with various friends this evening, giving George at To Spitiko a table of 12 to deal with, plus their other customers. So, lots to look forward to there.

Symi Greece photos

Good or Great Friday

Today’s photos were taken from the house as I’ve not been out and about much; living here isn’t like being on holiday, especially when you work from home. We’re very protective of our working at home ours and routine. It usually runs from around 6.45 in the morning until one in the afternoon, rarely goes on into the afternoon, though I do get some writing done then, I am more of a morning person. But the photos; you can see the boat in and not many other yachts around, that’s because it is still early season, not yet quite May but already it feels like the season has been running for a while. More and more visitors are arriving and some have already come had their holiday and gone, which is a bit unnerving. But again, plenty more to look forward to as the summer starts proper in a week or so.

Symi Greece photos

Fig tree

The fig tree in the photo is in front of our house. We cut it back slightly earlier in the year and already its taking over again. We’re trying to groom it so it grows to the right and gives our neighbours their shade and privacy, but so that it doesn’t go too far to the left and block our view. We’re keeping an eye on it. Last year, when we moved in, it was a set of stumps and, by June, it was nearly blocking our view of Katrianettes. These things grow wild and though they provide folk with fruit, they can take over and dig their roots into sternas and cellars. This one is too far away from our sterna to worry about that. Luckily.

Symi Greece photos

That black bump on the corner is a pair of lizards

Another photo today shows the side of the next door house. Why? Well, because there are a couple of lizards living on the roof there, or at least, they come up to sunbathe on the roof regularly. I’m not sure what type they are (the mating type for sure as that’s what they were doing yesterday, quite unashamedly) but they walk up and down, stopping now and then to check on is if we are on the balcony, and then sitting with their heads up like they are looking down their noses at us. They are quiet neighbours though and haven’t yet had any wild and noisy parties.

Symi Greece photos

Blue Star Diagoras coming in

I’m off now to open the windows and close the shutters so no glass breaks in the explosions to come (some have already been pretty loud) and then I’m off for the weekend. Here’s wishing you a happy Greek Easter and a pleasant weekend.

Your Symi Dream tour rep is happy to help

Your Symi Dream tour rep is happy to help
Coming back from Rhodes was a bit of a blast on Wednesday, for various reasons. After I’d dropped the boys off with their dad at the airport, seen their hotel and been given a lift back to Akandia, I gate crashed a lunch party where some friends were meeting up. They were on their way from airport to Symi via the Blue Star, same as me. There’s a very handy taverna, Neo Mouragio, opposite the commercial harbour entrance, only a five-minute walk to the boat. It’s a traditional Greek place and, if you’ve only got a couple of hours to wait for the boat, it’s handy as you don’t feel like you have to rush. You can see the boat from your table, so there are no worries there.

Symi Greece photos

Blue Star Diagoras in Symi

After a chat and chips with the chaps, it was a short walk to the boat. If you’ve ordered tickets online you can pick them up at the Blue Star kiosk (or Dodecanese Seaways one if you’re on the Panagia Skiedani) and wander onto the boat. Here the staff are really helpful and friendly. There is a line-up of people to meet and greet you, they assist with wheelchairs if needed, and help elderly passengers on and off, and you can store your bags inside on the left ready for taking off when you reach Symi. I sat with a friend up on the sun deck until the wind started to blow spray and smoke our way, and then went and use the basic upper café, the outside one. Inside you’ve got plush seating in two bars, comfy seats and television, and waiter service in the cafes.

Symi Greece photos

Just about to ‘land’

It was a sedate trip back. We went down for disembarkation just as the ship was turning around to back in and, by the time got down, the ramp was being lowered, so I could walk calmly off. To be met by Angelina Jolie and a cast of Sherpas ferrying boxes at race speed from the old post office to the boat. It wasn’t Angelina, just someone who looked rather the same, and I joined in with carrying boxes for Solidarity Symi, as did nephew George who had come to meet me, so that they were all loaded in time for the boat to leave. These were donations going to where they are currently needed for refugees (as Symi has been quiet on that front of late) and in this case they were off to Piraeus.

Symi Greece photos

Harry contemplating the sea

That little mayhem over with, I then guided some visitors to their accommodation as they had booked privately and were not sure where to go, and then assisted another friend to the bus and to her accommodation in Horio. Tour rep duties done (again with George helping) we met up with Neil and others for a relax at the Rainbow. Neil starts work there again on Monday afternoon. Wednesday afternoon slipped into evening and we ended up with a moussaka at Georgio’s before heading home, while George went off to work.

Symi Greece photos

Symi

I may well have to return to Rhodes again next week as we’re now arranging for the dreaded but necessary health checks and book for Nephew. This involves going to Euromedica for the tests (you can also do them via the hospital and other places, but we know Euromedica), returning after a couple of days to collect them and then having a pathologos stamp the book. So, two days in Rhodes should do it. Finally. Actually, I was a bit cheeky and asked my private health insurance lady for advice and she called me when I was in Rhodes dealing with one of those chatty, cheery, taxi drivers, and offered to make appointments for us when needed. Extremely kind as it’s not part of her remit, and I feel confident now that the process will go smoothly once we get Nephew to the right place at the right time. Only downer is, it means taking two days off work and racing around in taxis.

Symi Greece photos

Quiet lanes

Anyway, that’s for next week. It’s Great Week here in Greece and today is Great Friday, Good Friday. A solemn day, no work is allowed (if you are a builder or carpenter, obviously, or do a job where you make a banging noise; something like that – and that’s not a ‘rule’ that’s always kept to) and the churches celebrate the sad say with funereal services, black and purple drapes and the carrying of the biers. And so, off into Easter weekend we go, the sun is out, the wind has dropped, it’s warming up again and soon the season will start proper.

Symi time slip thanks to boats

Symi time slip thanks to boats
Once again a late start (for me) so a short blog post. I popped over to Rhodes yesterday with the godsons; we had a great adventure on the Blue Star and I finally got around to asking for my ‘Sea Smiles’ card.

Symi Greece photos

Waiting for a busy boat

Just so you know: this is a loyalty card and each time you buy a ticket or a drink, meal etc., you show your card and build up points that will eventually lead to discounts on tickets. I nipped down to the reception desk on the boat and asked for a form, filled it out and handed it over and the helpful lady there gave me the temporary card straight away. So easy – and the form was available in Greek and in English.

Symi Greece photos

Boys at sea

I had a bit of a shock this morning. I didn’t hear the alarm as I’d left it in another room (it’s the alarm on my tablet, in case you thought I was in the habit of leaving alarm clocks sitting around the house like some character best suited to a Lewis Carrol story). I didn’t even hear the cat going off and so woke up half an hour behind schedule. That wasn’t a shock but when I went to my office and opened the shutters, there’s the Dodekanisos catamaran pulling away and heading towards Nimos and beyond like an early morning Buzz Lightyear. Strange; that doesn’t usually happen until half nine. I checked the alarm clock and realised that, as it was till only seven, this must be an extra boat put on for Easter as we are now, almost at the great festival.

Symi time slip thanks to boats

Panagia Skiedani on its was across to Symi

And on that note, I’ll be off to get on and should be back with something less hurried tomorrow.

Quick post as I’m not here

Quick post as I’m not here
I’m not here today. Neil is at home and I am in Rhodes with the godsons who are going to meet their dad from the plane. I should be back on Thursday though and will aim to get a decent post done then.

Symi Greece photos

Day visitors

Meanwhile, I’ve been asking around about these health books that workers (in certain jobs) need to get done before legally being able to work. I might have mentioned it yesterday but one of the things you have to do is have a ‘health book’ stamped and test results authorised by a doctor in order to get your papers finalised. This was never a problem on Symi, not recently anyway, but now the doctor who was able to stamp the books is no longer here and so it means another trip to Rhodes. Not only that but it could mean a trip one day for tests, and another on another day for results and book-stamping; all to be done during the hours the Blue Star is in Rhodes, between 9.30 and 15:00 or between 9.30 (ish) and 19:00. I’ve been making enquiries and if anyone has any ideas of a quick way of doing it all in one day, I’d love to hear about it. (I know about the general hospital though that system comes with no guarantees of a one-day turn around) and I’ve been in touch with Euromedica and await their reply.

Symi Greece photos

Symi harbour

Meanwhile, I’ve just been pottering around at home, dusting the red dust from the balcony and courtyard. This was brought down by some rain overnight on Monday which followed a pretty dramatic sky and sunset. The rain is now due to clear and the temperature should start to rise again with a forecast of sunshine and warming winds over the next couple of weeks.

Symi Greece photos

Symi fish market

I have to go now, sorry to be brief, but there are things to do before finding out where the boat is and heading back to Rhodes, again. I must go down to the sea again…