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

Preparing for winter

Preparing for winter

Having mentioned the weather on Tuesday and commented that October, so far, hadn’t been its usual changeable self… Of course, it immediately became changeable. We had some rain, followed by a warm but cloudy afternoon and more rain overnight. It had just ended when I got up hideously early and started on some editing, the there are still some clouds hanging about as I write at 7.30 on Wednesday. The Blue Star has been in and gone on its down route from Piraeus, some of the gulets have left, but there are still many boats moored in the harbour, and the streetlights have just gone off. I took some photos of the Tuesday sky, and that’s what you’re seeing today.

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A few of the tavernas have closed for the season, I am told, though the village restaurants are still open. People often ask what’s available during the winter months up here in the village, and the answer is Georgio’s taverna, and the bars, the supermarkets and other local shops, so that’s easy. The local shops in Yialos also stay open, supermarkets and so on, as do a couple of tavernas and certain bars, so there are plenty of distractions when it comes to shopping, eating and having a drink.

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Neil will continue at the Rainbow Bar for a while longer. The end of his season depends on the weather and number of visitors and is, like the weather, changeable, but the bar usually closes for the afternoon hours from November onwards. So, you can tell from the skies and the smell of the air, the closing of summer businesses and the fact that the fans are going away and the covers are back on the bed, that the summer is nearly over. There will be warm days ahead, but also cold evenings and, later, colder nights, which reminds me, I must remember where we stored the duvet, blankets, curtains and heaters…

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Tuesday morning and it’s a cooler and greyer day, not because of the clouds, which cleared in the early morning, but because it’s misty. My photo isn’t very good (in fact, it’s dreadful) as there wasn’t much light when I took it. The air smells different now, damp perhaps and fresher, and I’m starting to feel like summer is slipping into winter. It’s been an unusual October so far, in that the weather hasn’t been as variable as it can be, and I’m not sure if that’s a sign of a wet and warm winter to come or a dry and cold one. Time will tell.

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Apart from the excitement of seeing the inter-island ferry coming in (see below), my days are currently filled with a final edit of the next Clearwater and the first drafting of the next Saddling with two books on the go, and a deadline for the proofreader for Clearwater on the 29th, a deadline I should have no trouble reaching, I’m pleased to say. We can expect that one out in mid-November, all being well.



That’s about all my news for now on this misty Tuesday morning as I look out on a clam sea through a no-breeze day where everything looks silvery. And now, back to the editing…

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A treat for you today. Here’s a post by Kim Gould who has lived in Turkey for 30 years. She kindly sent me her description of a visit along with some photos. I’m not able to post all the images as there were so many, but here are some of my favourites. Thank you, Kim, and next time you’re here, drop by and say hello!



On the upper deck of the ever efficient and punctual Dodecanese Express our voyage to Symi was more of a delight than a trial. In the gold and amber light of early evening we spilled off the ferry into the pretty harbour’s embrace. Just over the hill lies Pedi Bay, the base for our short sojourn. 1 small hotel, a couple of apartments, 2 shops and 2 tavernas are all the tourism allowed. Original buildings, largely fishermen and sponge divers’ houses, each with their own boat slipway, still line the shore. When darkness falls so does the silence – the call of the owl, the lapping of the water and the barely audible Greek music from the taverna the only sounds to break it. The peace here is palpable under skies unsullied by light pollution.

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Modes of public transport amounted to the Symi bus, the taxi boat, and Poseidon for the grand tour around the island. We eagerly made use of all three. The Symi bus dropped us on the dizzying heights of the labyrinthine Chorio, overlooking the harbour, to weave our way through alleyways to the 500 wide stone steps of the Kali Strata. In Symi’s sponge rich heyday the wealthy merchant families built their spectacular villas and mansions along this main thoroughfare. We couldn’t help but wonder how the old and infirm, let alone more agile residents, negotiated these steps – and what made sponges such a valuable commodity? Was there great demand for bathroom sponges or did they have other uses?


The next time we leapt off the Symi bus half way up the hill was for dinner at the Secret Garden restaurant. There we discovered a sizable enclave of retired ex-pat Brits and some rather mature musicians in mid jam session. For all we knew they could have been ex session musicians from sixties or seventies bands. Certainly their repertoire of rock, blues and country music was very well executed and such an unexpected treat.


From Pedi the little taxi boat flits from bay to bay all day long. We alighted at St Nicholas where comfy sunbeds on a pristine pebbled beach awaited us under the dappled shade of tamarisk trees. One taverna and a cafe catered to our needs and a friendly sunbed monitor took away our empties. The water was clear and warm and the curious fish nibbled our toes – some had quite a nip!


Boarding the good ship Poseidon for our round the island trip we were more than a little disconcerted by the number of people piling up the gangplank. Still they kept coming as we, somewhat selfishly, contorted ourselves into all manner of odd positions in an effort to appear wider and hang on to some personal space. But ‘Tardis-like’ Poseidon absorbed them all leaving us with easy access to the endless supply of tea and coffee. What a slick operation Captain Yiannis and his crew run! Three beautiful swim stops before lunch on Sesklia island where picnic tables are set up. Bowls of salad, rice beans and pasta were carried off the boat along with plates, boxes of wine and water. Cables were unravelled and the rotisserie barbecue hooked up to a boat battery. Two bowls of every dish meant everyone was served quickly and helped themselves to unlimited wine. After a superb lunch all was cleared away in the blink of an eye and Captain Yiannis scoured the beach for fly away napkins – not one speck of rubbish remained.

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All too soon it was time to get back on the Dodecanese Express leaving behind an island suffused in rich, vibrant colour – serene, peaceful and fiercely protected from the seedier effects of tourism by a proud and hardworking people.

03 07Photos and Text by Kim Gould – all rights reserved.