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

Lazy? Not around here.

Lazy? Not around here.

I was out for a walk yesterday at 6.30, and on my travels I saw something that, at first, I thought was unusual. Yiannis from Lefteris kafeneion was coming down the hill towards me in a bobcat. Not seen that before. A wave, a kalimera, and onwards and upwards. It did make me think about how hard people work around here. Take, for example, his kafeneion. The patriarch of the family is always there setting up when I cross the square in the morning even when I go out at 5.00, as I do in the height of summer. His son works for the council, I believe, hence the bobcat because he was working to clear a section of beach by what used to be Kamaris in Pedi later in the morning, and that’s also why you see him driving the fire truck. His daughter-in-law works in a shop in Yialos, and with the grandmother, looks after the house and family. His eldest grandson comes to the café later to take over and run it through the day, afternoon and evening, until his father puts aside the bobcat after work and comes up to the village to take over running the café to give his son a break. His (the patriarch’s) middle and youngest grandsons work in restaurants on double shifts that may not finish until well after midnight and also come to the café to cover certain hours when they can. Remember that this kafeneion is also often open until well past midnight, and very often you’ll find the family outside their café, around the family table together or with friends, and the grandsons, strapping late-teens/early 20s lads, with their grandmother, shelling beans, or helping with the fishing lines, catching up with the family between shifts.

I just thought I’d mention that so when you hear people say the Greeks are lazy, you can point them this way and tell them to get a grip. And talking of hard work, here are a few images from that walk, with a couple showing you how the civil engineering project is going.

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Thoughts from the balcony

Thoughts from the balcony

Another early start for me today thanks again to another early night (20.30 to 03.30, if you’re interested). I did spend a little time in this square after finishing work yesterday late afternoon, and it was good to meet a few couples who were visiting Symi for the first time, and loving it, I am pleased to say. The square tends to become busier later in the evening, but now the weather is cooling off a little, more people come up in the late afternoon, or stop off on the way back from the beach. During July and August when the temperature was up to and over 36 or 38 degrees, many people prefer to wait until the evening. Mind you, this year it wasn’t that much cooler then.

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When I’m up early in the summer, I tend to sit on the balcony and have a cup of tea before firing up the computer and getting to work, and of late, I’ve had to wear a t-shirt out there.  I like the peace and quiet of that time of day. Well, I say ‘quiet’, some mornings there are still parties going on at some bars, as there was this morning. The sound doesn’t affect us, and I can only hear it faintly, bouncing off the wall of the property next door, depending on where it’s coming from. There is a club/bar/restaurant opposite us, and when the doors open the sound pours out, but again, that’s mainly during August. Other times, I guess the noise is coming from further into the harbour where we can’t see from our house; cheering, music and laughter ringing through the night.

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I also get to hear more natural sounds and see some sights. The owls are regular background noise and last night while sitting outside we saw a barn owl flying overhead. I know it was a barn owl (there is a pair nesting somewhere in the village) because, well, I was once a young ornithologist and a barn owl is a barn owl. We also occasionally see the bats and little owls flying around the house, the occasional rat on the ruin wall, cats of course, and sometimes young people trying to get home in a straight line, taking a shortcut past the front of the house, following the torch of their mobile phones with varying degrees of success. And then there are the lights from boats and buildings, and the mysterious rising light over Turkey (must be some kind of weather balloon as it goes up in a straight line, waits, and then come down, fading as it descends). There’s plenty to see and hear on Symi even during the wee small hours.

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A new cantina

A new cantina

After posting yesterday, I went for a walk up to ‘picture corner’ as we call it. That’s up the main road, past the cantina and around the bend. (No silly comments, please!) After the first bridge, you keep going a few more yards, and at the next big corner you can stop and look down over the harbour one way and over Pedi the other. What I’ve been calling the ‘old cantina’ is now the new cantina, with tables and chair, a new van but still the same glorious view. I don’t know what time it is open, but now you have a choice of two on the main road, one lower down looking over to Pedi, and this one facing towards the harbour. Here are some photos.

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