Symi in November

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Symi in November

Postby Anthony » 13 Nov 2009, 18:34

For various reasons I had to forego my usual October visit to Symi, so I've come here in November instead, after an organised week looking at autumn bulbs in the Peloponnese. We saw plenty of these (including 8 different species of Crocus!) and I will no doubt some time be putting up some pictures on Flickr.

Symi of course is now in winter mode, with no charter flights to Rhodes, a reduced ferry service, and most of the tourist-oriented businesses closed. Just as on my March visits, all the bars in Chori are open and about 40% of the ones in the harbour, to continue serving their local clientele. Indeed, with the tourist season over, many of the locals - though by no means all, as Adriana has pointed out - have more time to sit around and enjoy life just as we do on our own visits. At the beginning of the week there were a few chairs outside The Rainbow and Lefteris', but these have now been taken in and down in the harbour the clientele of all the cafe/bars except Pachos and Coffee Corner are resolutely shut in behind the protection of transparent plastic sheets. I was in Aigial's a few evenings ago when almost every table was occupied with locals watching a Greek basketball match on TV. Most of them were smoking (whatever happened to the Greek smoking ban?) and the atmosphere was even worse than it used to be in our UK pubs.

So far as the tavernas/restaurants are concerned, Syllogos has closed (early than usual, I believe}, and Lefteris tells me he will not be re-opening until February. Apart possibly from Haritomeni, which usually opens at weekends throughout the winter (I shall try it tonight (it wasn't)), that leaves Giorgo + Maria's as the only eating-place up in Horio: down in the harbour Merakles, Dimitriis, Aris with his cheaper winter prices, the various Kebab/Souvlaki places, and the International are all open.

With the ferries, both Dodecanese boats have stopped running (again I think earlier than usual), but the Proteus and the Symi II between them are providing at least one service to and from Rhodes every day: though the first/only departure from Symi is at 07.00 (06.30 on Saturdays): doubtless designed to meet the needs of the locals going to Rhodes on business or to shop, but less welcome to late-rising holidaymakers like me! For my flight home on Tuesday 24th, the choice seems to be between leaving the island at 7.00 that same morning or (less risky) the previous day; or taking a boat on Sunday afternoon leaving me with a two-night stopover in Rhodes. I know which I am more likely to choose!

I'll write more about my experiences in a day or so, but this is enough to get started.
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Symi in November

Postby Anthony » 17 Nov 2009, 17:12

It's been a splendid November day on Symi. This morning I got out of bed briefly around 6.30 to go to the bathroom, and the sky above Pedi Bay was a brilliant pre-dawn red. Around 9.00 I was having breakfast on the balcony in hot sun - before going on to enjoy a slice of Jenine's chocolate cake. I then went up to the Kastro - so hot on the sunny side that I would have been more comforable in shorts: but the other (harbour) side was in shadow and exposed to the breeze, and for a while I was wishing I had come out with a coat!

Down in the harbour it was again hot and sunny, though the cafes still had their blinds down. Up in Horio, the chairs have re-appeared outside The Rainbow and Lefteris - but apart from the occasional mad Englishmen they don't seem to have many takers.

A few days ago they were putting up Christmas decorations around the harbour (if ships and stars do indeed represent Christmas): today they were up in the square in Horio, and I'll try to get some pictures.
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Symi in November

Postby snoopy2 » 18 Nov 2009, 09:40

:) Hope you do get some photos on this site Anthony. I would like the quiet you describe. Living in a small coastal village at this time of year all our tourists have gone and the town returns to the ownership of the inhabitants - great. :D
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Symi in November

Postby muppet » 18 Nov 2009, 13:47

Thanks Anthony. It is really nice to hear about Symi out of season. Keep posting please :)
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Symi in November

Postby maziemoo » 18 Nov 2009, 19:47

Thank you for your update Anthony, I hope you enjoy the rest of your stay on beautiful Symi :mrgreen: .

It sounds like 'red sky in the morning' means the opposite to what it would mean in the U.K. It must have been a beautiful sight.
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Symi in November

Postby D and E » 18 Nov 2009, 21:05

Sounds wonderful Anthony - it inspires us to try an "out of season" visit Look forward to the photos
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Symi in November

Postby Anthony » 19 Nov 2009, 18:00

We've had another couple of days of hot sunshine - with not a cloud in the sky - and the forecast is for the weather to stay much the same until Saturday night (remember that I'm leaving on Sunday?)

Our feline friend 'Lugless Douglas' has been missing from his usual haunts and I was starting to get worried, but last night I met him just below Giorgo + Maria's, looking every bit his usual self and full of cupboard love. I don't know whether his owner has moved house (she used to live in the first house at the top of the zig-zags before the Villa George complex): perhaps it's simply that, with the Kalodoukas properties being empty at this time of year, he has to go further in search of two-legged company.

Meanwhile, here's the promised picture of one of the Christmas decorations.

Image
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Symi in November

Postby Eleanor » 19 Nov 2009, 18:59

Thank you , brill as always
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Symi in November

Postby Anthony » 20 Nov 2009, 18:49

It's been hotter than ever today, and this morning I went down to the harbour in a short-sleeved shirt. The Greek men are of course all in their thick woollen winter shirts: how they can cope in this heat I really do not know! There was even a dog in a knitted wool body-warmer (unfortunately I didn't take a photo): but as he was an absurd sub-dachshund-size he is doubtless quite unable to keep himself warm naturally and if taken out without it on would probably die of hypothermia. At least several of the cafes on the harbour-front had rolled up some of their blinds, and their patrons enjoying the sunshine.

Only a day and a half left, and I mean to make the most of it!
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Symi in November

Postby Eleanor » 20 Nov 2009, 19:15

Anthony, enjoy your last and half :geek: :geek:
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Symi in November

Postby Anthony » 22 Nov 2009, 19:40

I've now left Symi and am installed for a couple of nights in the Plaza. The weather has continued to be glorious: yesterday I took a picnic lunch and walked over the top from the Windmills via 'Mouse Castle' (Pontikastro) to Agia Marina beach and then back to Pedi. I would have liked to have continued up the field path to Chorio, but my old bones were feeling too exhausted and I took the bus instead.

Today, although the ferry was not until 3.00 Frank wanted to take my luggage down at 12.00 (no doubt he had a lunch engagement), so I went back to Taxiarchis after a final beer at The Rainbow. Even though I'd eaten at Meraklis last night, I decided that I would lunch there today too - taking advantage of his outside tables, though at this time of year they are in the shade. Last night, together with a couple of Greek families, I ate inside: there was one other group eating outside though they finished their meal shortly after I arrived.

Bearing in mind the comments that have been made about the cost of eating out on Symi, it is worth noting that my simple meal last night cost me only 8 euros (as I've been coming to Symi only since 1999, probably the cheapest taverna meal I've ever eaten on the island). Not being particularly hungry I contented myself with Soutsoukakia (rissoles) served with chips and rice, plus a generous glass of rough but very tasty retsina straight from the barrel. I also had 'on the house' a welcoming glass of ouzo - my second, I'd come straight from a pre-dinner ouzo at Agials, hence my relative abstemiousness on the retsina - and an apple at the end of the meal. Lunch today in contrast came to 22 euro: whitebait and a dish of octapus, plus a half litre of the retsina. It all goes to show that the cost of eating out depends on what, as well as where, you eat.

When I got to Meraklis this morning, I was astonished to find that Sotiris had put out his full summer complement of outside tables, all laid ready for business (more in fact than in summer, because he was able to use the space outside tourist shops which are closed). I then realised that it was a Sunday, and the Symi II was due in from Rhodes at 1.00. It would be hardly surprising if it arrived full of day-trippers: not the usual package tour groups, but real Greeks from Rhodes taking advantage of the fine weekend weather to enjoy a day out. And indeed, though I was still his only customer when the Symi II came into the harbour, not much more than 5 minutes later almost all the tables were occupied. No nonsense about visits to the sponge shops (which are closed for the winter anyway), but straight to the restaurants. Particularly important as the Symi II was leaving again at 3.00: barely time for a leisurely Greek-style mezedes lunch. And whereas last night Sotiris was doing all the cooking and the waiting himself, today he had two helpers in the kitchen plus two young waiters dashing between kitchen and tables at high speed just as he used to. And when I got on the Symi II myself, the boat was indeed practically full: just as well I'd bought my ticket during the week.

Time now to go out to dinner: I'll aim to add a few photos to this thread when I can find the time, but I'll probably put most of them up as a set on Flickr (two sets in fact, one for general picture of Symi and the other for the flowers - which seem to attract visitors who don't know Symi itself). The flowers this year have in fact been relatively sparse, though I've seen many that are either entirely new to me or which I've not seen previously on Symi. As Adriana points out, once again this year rain in September encouraged things to sprout early - which last year led to a magnificent early display during my October visit: but this time the rain was followed by another hot spell, which killed off many of the plants.
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Symi in November

Postby maziemoo » 23 Nov 2009, 12:34

As always Anthony, interesting , well written and guaranteed to give us the Symi blues .....safe journey home and look forward to seeing your photos .

Take care x
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Symi in November

Postby Buzzy » 23 Nov 2009, 14:24

Thanks for all your updates. I ended up spending nearly every night in Meraklis when I was there in October. As I was staying at the Nireus on my first night I was enticed into Aris Taverna on my trek around the harbour. The food was excellent but the prices too high to do that every night. I loved Meraklis. There was a lot of choice on the menu, the welcome was fantastic and it was good simple food, well cooked and served in a relaxing atmosphere and at good value prices that make you want to return again and again. . I think it's the best restaurant on Symi. The ones on the harbour do have a wonderful location but Meraklis seems more authentic to me. Every time I think of the place it give me a warm glow. Ohh I've got Symi-itis again just thinking about it.
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Symi in November

Postby Kojak » 23 Nov 2009, 16:48

Well done as usual. Anthony! A wonderful update on life after the tourists have all departed. I love Meraklis Taverna too. Getting a table there in the season can be difficult as others obviously think the same.
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Symi in November

Postby Gemma1 » 23 Nov 2009, 18:51

What a great read! Really enjoyed reading about your out of season trip to Symi.
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Symi in November

Postby Jan » 23 Nov 2009, 22:26

Thanks, Anthony. I've always fancied an off-season visit (yes, I know November isn't February, but it's more 'off' then I can currently manage, working as I do in academia). Maybe when I retire...
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Symi in November

Postby Ange » 23 Nov 2009, 23:33

Thanks Anthony,
Really enjoyed reading your postings. It sounds very nice in Symi in November, look forward to seeing your photos. Meraklis is our favourite place to eat too, authentic Greek food and very reasonably priced too. Love the Tavernas you can see into the kitchens!
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