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

Winter shopping

Winter shopping

I’ve had a few people over the summer ask me the traditional questions, ‘What’s Symi like in the winter?’ ‘Are the shops open?’ and so on, so today I turned my mind temporarily to winter shopping on Symi. By ‘winter shopping’ I mean day-to-day rather than souvenirs and the like. The simple answer to ‘Are the shops open?’ (apart from replying, No, we starve), is, Yes, the ones you need are, at any rate. Supermarkets, pharmacies, household gods building supplies, shoe shops, clothes, butchers, bakers, just as you would expect.

august 16_08

Up in Horio, only a couple of tavernas/cafes close for the winter, everything else is open, thus we have three supermarkets, two bakers, two cake/sweets shops, a kiosk, the corner shop with its iconic sign, ‘Cigarettes, Beers, Painkillers’, butcher, herbs, flowers/garden, building supplies, clothes shops x 2, hairdressers and household goods – and anything else I’ve forgotten. If there’s anything else you need, like boat tickets, post office, bank, pharmacy, etc., then it’s a trip ‘down town’ by foot or bus. But overall, we’re well covered.

august 9th_13

You do have to watch out for fresh supplies during times of bad weather when the supply boats may not get here, but generally, you can find most of what you need. That is, as long as you’re not on an ackee, rambutan and mangosteen diet or anything equally as pretentious. As for the cost of living, well, I’m the world’s worst shopper as I’ll go into the supermarket psyched up to spend muchly on what I need for the week and come out with what I can get away with for that day. I do sometimes shop in advance, usually when the husband is supervising me. For example, the other day, we went to the butchers and bought eight large chicken breasts and a kilo of beef mince, and that came to €20.00. Half a kilo of mince has done us four meals so far, with the inclusion of a few veg, the other half will do four more, and the chicken will do at least another eight (12 if made in a casserole/stew). So, around 14 to 16 meals for €20.00, plus the minimal cost of the veg and additions. So, yes, you can shop, and it doesn’t have to cost you a lot.

July mix_14

Obviously, some things are expensive, and more so here than in other parts of the world, which is probably true for anywhere that imports goods from abroad. So, you cant buy Tesco’s own brand baked beans for tuppence a can (yippee!), but you can buy the Greek-company version for much less than the Heinz. You end up eating more fresh food and preparing it thanks to a lack of ready-meals and processed rubbish, though the pot noodles are an occasional treat and much appreciated by workers on building sites and in the hills during the winter. Another thing you can’t easily do during winter is plan dinner parties. ‘Sandra! Do come for duck and asparagus terrine with lashings of d’espinola sauce, and we will have a Vienetta with our ’76 Cognac reserve before the Serbian Pule…’ Yeah, well, forget that, even if there was such a thing as d’espinola sauce. You say, ‘Come for dinner, and we’ll have whatever we can find on the day.’ At least, that’s how we do it.

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Anyway, I should get on and let you get on too. Btw, the photos today have nothing to do with the subject matter, it’s all I could find.


A Vienetta as a 70s/80s blast, “The original Viennetta was an Italian product comprising layers of vanilla ice cream with sprayed-on layers of compound chocolate. The layers of ice cream were extruded, one after another, onto trays sitting on a moving belt.” Sounds delightful.

Pule is the world’s most expensive cheese. Hailing from Serbia, it costs roughly $575 per pound. It’s made from donkey’s milk.