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 Is Waiting For You

Symi Is Waiting For You

As you can see from the chairs, there’s plenty of space for you at the moment, but don’t delay, these will soon be full. They were actually, a couple of hours later. I took these photos during the siesta shift at the bar, that time of day when everyone has gone home for lunch or a sleep. That time of day is busier later in the season, a season which hasn’t really started yet, it just feels like it has because Easter was a while ago now.

Symi Greece Symi Dream photos

Having said that, there are visitors here enjoying the warm but not too hot weather, there are some yachts in and walking groups. Not long now until the chairs will be occupied by people relaxing after a hard day on the beach, or a long, peaceful trek through the hills and the forest. Of course, on some nights things might get a bit wild, and you may have to sit on the steps, which you can do at both kafeneion in the village square if there are no vacant seats.

Symi Greece Symi Dream photos

We were invited to dinner on Monday evening (thank you R and L – the time went so quickly, but we did make the bus), and I was able to take a couple of snaps of the Blue Star coming in. I’m planning to be on it on Friday for a day in Rhodes. Not as exciting as it sounds, but I am still looking forward to it. I always like travelling on the Patmos, well, I always like traveling. I’ll be back in the evening having seen to my appointments and maybe had the wedding rings engraved at last, and after a wander about the Old Town, the New Town, the beach and my usual route when killing time after the duties have been seen to. I shall wear my Fitbit which, for a reason known only to itself, started working again last week after taking 11 months off. Can’t explain it, but there you go.

Symi Greece Symi Dream photos

And here I go, off into another glorious day on Symi with the sun shining and the sea calm, the air is clear and… Well, you know the routine.

Symi Greece Symi Dream photos

Morning Sights of Symi

Morning Sights of Symi

Yesterday we had sounds, today we’re having sights – or not, as it happens. These are only what I see, of course, but here’s a rough guide to what I tend to see first thing in the morning.

Morning Sights of Symi

A quick morning check of the plants

I won’t take you through the details of absolutely first thing, but let’s assume I’m up, dressed and abluted and so on. Yesterday, for example, I dragged myself from bed knowing that I’d promised myself a bit of exercise so, having dressed in the kitchen so as not to disturb Snoring Beauty, I headed out just before the dawn. There’s a strange thing at our house; every time I leave the front gate, someone is passing on a motorbike, or on foot. Yesterday, though, was an exception and not even our landlord opposite was up and about.

Morning Sights of Symi

The square was empty, as you might expect at 6.00 am, but as mentioned previously, Lefteris was at work preparing his kafeneion. The light was on, and he was inside. There was no-one else around, it’s not yet summer when I often pass people heading home from a night out, but there was no-one on the road either. No cars or soldiers passed me as I walked up the hill. The sky was pinking over Pedi way as I passed the sports centre, which also had some lights burning, and the only other person I saw was Tassos the donkey man’s mother and that wasn’t until I was in Leoni and beyond Lavinia, on the stretch towards Periotisa and Ag Triatha. I wondered if she was walking up to her son’s farm/area/compound on the main road towards Roukouniotis, but I didn’t ask. She was walking slower than me, and I didn’t want to break my tempo. We had a brief, passing chat about what I was up to, and she did volunteer that she was out for a walk as well.

Morning Sights of Symi

Reaching the top of the village, the sun was just starting to peek above the Turkish mountains, throwing soft light onto the upper village and the Castro. I heard goats but didn’t see any (the sound of cockerels in the Pedi valley was manic), and again, passed no-one else. It was like everyone was still in bed, which is unusual. As there’s usually someone on the road at that time of day. Still, down again, past the museum and across to come out at Ag Athanasios, and then across the village to our side of the hill and… Still no-one around.

Morning Sights of Symi

You must think the walk is very boring at that time old day, but you still get to see the wildlife waking up. Sparrows chatting about their dreams, a cat or two having a morning wash of all those intimate places, looking like they are playing the double bass, and I was surprised by two chickens and a cockerel halfway up the road. Other than that, Monday morning was very quiet. Later, sitting at the desk, I saw the ‘Spanos’ coming it as it does promptly at 9.20, and later the patrol tanker boat dropped anchor and rumbled into port. The sun, fully up, lit the harbour and the calm sea, and a few swallows came past to see what the sea air was driving up the hill, mosquitoes and bugs mainly.

Hm, not actually a lot going on, but then that’s what you want at six in the morning, isn’t it? I’m sure there will be other mornings when something happens, and this page becomes a little more interesting.

Symi Mornings

Symi Mornings

On waking up, the first sound I usually hear will be one of the following: Cockerels, bells, collard doves, sparrows, or a barking dog. It’s usually something rural, occasionally a complaining cat near the window, on Sundays if I am late waking up, people passing on their way to church, and very occasionally the alarm clock. It’s one of those that is supposed to play a different tune each day from a playlist on a memory card, but it’s stuck on the same song and won’t budge no matter how I treat it, but most days, I am awake before it kicks in.

Symi Greece Symi Dream photos

The routine from then on rarely changes: Kettle, bathroom, cup of tea/coffee/lemon in hot water, depending on mood. Some days (and not enough – must try harder) the tea waits until I’m back from a stroll through the village. On these mornings, the routine is always pretty similar. Across the square, wave to Lefteris at the kafeneion – I’ve been out at 5.15 before and he’s already there setting up. In the summer, a quick nod to folks leaving the Jean & Tonic bar, startled by the realisation that it’s daylight and they only popped in for one at eleven last night. I remember those days… somehow. On through the lanes, maybe up the road waving to Sotiris on his way to or from the farm, and at others, strange looks from the army guys heading to work, the occasional toot of a car horn, and later, if I’m on time, a sunrise.

Symi Greece Symi Dream photos

Sunrise from Taverna Zoi

Back to the house, tea etc. done and to the desk. I also slip into the routine, turning on the computers and then coming back to them to open the programmes I will need so when I’m ready, it’s ready, and away we go. The sounds from then on, apart from the tapping of keys and the swearing at my appalling typing skills, are mainly to do with the harbour, as that’s the way the window faces. Anchors, boats coming and going, sometimes the motorbikes on the road straining their way up the hill, more bells, the ping-pongs from the town hall announcement system and the distorted words thereafter, repeated as echoes from other speakers at Lemonitisa, Harani, even from Pedi if the wind is in the right direction. And so on into the day.

Symi Greece Symi Dream photos

Early morning boat

I mention this because a thought came back to me this morning. We’ve heard people here on holiday (usually for the first time) complaining about being woken by chickens, or donkeys, or cockerels and my answer is, don’t let them in your apartment. What they mean is, the sounds wake them. When I lived in East London, I’d be woken by fire engines, police cars, the rumble of buses and the rumble of rumbles between warring factions at the local community centre after a late night. I’d rather have the sound of wildlife and rural living, but it can take a while to get used to. So, if you’re heading this way for a holiday, expect to be a little bit rural and enjoy the sounds of island life – expect and accept, I guess is the advice.