Symi in March - again!

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Symi in March - again!

Postby Anthony » 22 Mar 2009, 22:34

I arrived here on Friday for what is fast becoming my usual March visit: this time after a 10-day stay on Cyprus on an organised wild flower holiday, looking particularly for orchids, which are at their best around now. Flight schedules meant that I had to spend Thursday night in Athens: the morning plane got to Rhodes on time, ensuring that I made it to the harbour for the Proteus ferry at 12.00. As Adriana has pointed out, at present only the Proteus and the Dodecanese Express are running: the Dodecanese schedule is inconvenient both for the local's shopping trips and for visitors with daytime flights, as it leaves Rhodes for Symi in the morning and makes the return trip at the end of the day. Doubtless things will improve soon.

I won't attempt to repeat all the details that I gave of out-of-season Symi this time last year: if anyone has any particular questions I will do my best to answer them. The photos that I put up last year of Symi in its winter garb are still posted on my Flickr pages, if anybody wants to see them: http://www.flickr.com/photos/21006318@N04/sets/

So far we've had a couple of days of fairly good weather, good enough for sitting outside during the day at least if you're wearing a jacket and find somewhere out of the wind: nearly all the cafes that are open down in the harbour, apart from Pacho's, are surrounded by plastic sheeting to keep the weather out and the heat in. Fine for the locals no doubt, but for this visitor at least it does rather spoil the view. Lots of the businesses on the north side of the harbour (including the former Pat's) now sport the smart white awnings with outward-leaning wooden supports which we were told was the traditional design.

A party was the official blessing and opening of Jenine and Tina's new cafe, The Olive Tree. This too was very well attended, almost entirely by the English. I'd taken my camera along and lots of other people were snapping away throughout the priest's invocations and prayers, so I did too. I've given priority to editing those and have posted a selection on my Flickr site (see above). There are several very familiar faces!

Finally a note on prices, which from my limited experience so far (and before any summer increase) don't look too unreasonable (at least if you think of them in Euros rather than the Sterling equivalent). My bill at Giorgo's last night a main course plus a half litre of wine came to 13 Euros, and a large Mythos at Pacho's was 2 Euros.

I'll keep you updated.
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Symi in March - again!

Postby Anthony » 23 Mar 2009, 18:20

Yesterday's main event which I had neither time nor space to cover in last night's posting was a planned power outage for essential maintenance, which we were told would last from 8.00 a.m. to around 3.00. Luckily I woke early and had finished breakfast when the power actually went off at 7.40: with Symi's reliance on water pumps no power means no water to fill a kettle, not simply no electricity to boil it.

Fortunately Jenine at The Olive Tree had a roof tank full of water and gas rings for cooking: I went round there later for a hot coffee and a slice of her excellent carrot cake. (Incidentally, she told me that the priest who carried out the blessing was particularly fond of carrot cake: unfortunately it being Lent he was fasting and had to do without it on Saturday but was apparently able to console himself with two large glasses of ouzo instead!).

The afternoon passed with no sign of the power returning: as the daylight faded I sat working at my laptop with the battery close to exhaustion, and around 7.00 decided that if I was to go down to the harbour for dinner (assuming someone had been able to cook it) I had better leave immediately while there was still some daylight on the Kalistrata. As I turned the corner by the Kalistrata Bar I could see a few isolated street lamps illuminated above the harbour presumably those activated by solar panels but everything else was in darkness. By now there was insufficient light to pick out the steps, and I had to use my torch to guide me all the way down. To my relief, as I turned the last corner I discovered that the lights down there were at last on. Both sides of the harbour were illuminated but strangely not the head of it: my usual selection of bars from Agial's to Eva were still dark. Turning to find another one, I lighted eventually on Fotini next to the Orange and Lemon bar. I'd never been there before but it turned out to be particularly cosy and welcoming inside, with a number of locals drinking and playing backgammon. I shall return!

When dinner time came, I went along to Dimitri's where food was no problem as most of his dishes of course are freshly cooked. I dined well there as usual, on octopus balls and kalamari.

Afterwards, back up to Taxiarchis where I picked up my freshly-recharged laptop (left plugged in, in anticipation of the power coming back on) and took it to Ringo's for their wireless internet including my postings last night on the Chat Page.

Today has been sunny and dry, but very cold. Down in the harbour this morning I was pleased to discover that Eva's now has the ubiquitous plastic screens but being new, they are still totally transparent so I could sit there with a coffee sheltered from the cold and still enjoy watching the world go by. It was colder than ever when I came out a couple of hours ago, and by the end of the evening I shall no doubt regret not having brought a woolly hat!
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Symi in March - again!

Postby Adriana » 27 Mar 2009, 14:18

I hate to depress you, Anthony, but there was another burbled announcement on the tannoy promising further power cuts on Sunday 29 March...
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Symi in March - again!

Postby Anthony » 27 Mar 2009, 18:52

It's been cold all week, though fortunately the rain has mostly fallen during the night. With a clear sky this morning, I was tempted into sitting in the sun outside The Rainbow for my pre-lunch beer this morning, but it really was far too cold. Those gloves will, I think, be needed again tonight!

The highlight of the week has of course been the usual 25 March parade to celebrate Independence Day. I've put some pictures up on Flickr, http://www.flickr.com/photos/21006318@N04/sets/72157615897984091/detail/ , concentrating particularly on the little ones in traditional costumes.
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Symi in March - again!

Postby SueO » 27 Mar 2009, 19:06

Brilliant photos Anthony. Please keep up with the 'blog'. It's great to hear from someone actually on the island at the moment. I can never get enough of Adriana's diaries and your words and pictures make a welcome addition.

Enjoy the rest of your stay and keep us posted.
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Symi in March - again!

Postby Anthony » 29 Mar 2009, 18:20

Today the cold wind has gone,and there's plenty of heat in the sun. By lunch-time even the locals were drinking outside at The Rainbow and Bulmas'.

We did have our threatened power cut today, but it didn't start until 8.45 (obviously I wasn't the only one wanting a lie-in after putting the clocks forward) and the power was back on by 11.30. Meanwhile Jenine was doing good business, and I can now strongly recommend her chocolate cake.

Having seen Adriana's pictures of mother goat and kid, I was slightly worried when Giorgo had roast goat on the menu last night (and very tasty it was too!). But I'm pleased to report that both were still alive and well when I passed by this afternoon.
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Symi in March - again!

Postby Anthony » 01 Apr 2009, 18:03

The promise shown by Sunday's weather has continued. Monday was definitely warm and spring-like: yesterday and today have been positively hot! As well as bringing the local drinkers at The Rainbow and Bulmas' outside into the sunshine, the hot weather (plus perhaps the realisation the the start of the official tourist season was almost upon them) has prompted a sudden spurt of activity down in the harbour. Building waste has been cleared away, shops and restaurants repainted, and this morning the sponge shops and other tourist businesses were setting out their wares. I don't know whether any excursion boats actually came in, as I wasn't down in the harbour this afternoon. but the shopkeepers were certainly acting as though they expected it. Postcards too were at long last on display, so I no longer have any excuse for inactivity on that front.

It was so hot last night that Aris had put some tables outside, and several of these were occupied, though I preferred myself to sit just inside under the shelter of the awning. Meraklis has, I think, opened today and I hope to eat there tonight, and the Trata should be opening any day now.

A few other random things to report:

- down in Pedi, Michael and Lucy have sold Kamares (I shall miss them!) and it is currently being refurbished inside and out presumably for a new owner.

- our mutual friend Lugless Douglas is also alive and well. Here's a picture of him that I took yesterday:

Image

Afterwards he wrapped himself lovingly round my legs: I suspect hopeful cupboard love rather than that he was simply pleased to see me.
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Symi in March - again!

Postby Ange » 01 Apr 2009, 22:18

Thanks for your blog Anthony, the photos you've taken are lovely as usual, I've enjoyed looking at them.

Its great to see Douglas looking very healthy with his fluffy winter coat on!
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Symi in March - again!

Postby Anthony » 04 Apr 2009, 18:07

The weather has continued very hot (in fact it's got even hotter) so even the Greeks have abandoned their fluffy winter coats, though most of them are still in thick winter shirts and/or heavy jackets. Today for the first time I went out in shorts, and was glad I did.

There's still no sign of any excursion boats, and in the evenings the restaurants have been very quiet - hardly even any locals are eating out, perhaps too busy preparing for Easter and/or the summer season. Meraklis opened on Wednesday, but when I went there in the evening I was his only customer. Trata (despite what the owner told me earlier in the week) still shows no sign of opening. Last night was also Alex and Astrid's opening night, and they had a good crowd. I was rather tired after a longish walk in the Nimborio area (the path down from Agios Giorgios has been reinstated as a proper mule track during the winter, and is now much easier to use) and left around midnight, but I understand that the merriment continued well into the small hours. I'll be back there tonight and hope to last longer!

My flight home is on Tuesday, but since there are no boats on Monday I have to leave the island tomorrow evening. But at least I have my May visit to look forward to - and hope that the weather then is as good as it's been this week.
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Symi in March - again!

Postby Anthony » 08 Apr 2009, 20:27

Once again, as you may have gathered from Adriana, another weekend on Symi brought yet another change in the weather. On Saturday evening I went down to eat at Meraklis, where I and several other parties of Greeks found it warm enough to sit outside. (Trata was still not open). But I woke up in the middle of the night and thought that I heard rain: when I drew the curtains in the morning it was raining heavily. 'No problem', I thought: I had to stay in and pack, and hopefully by the time I had finished the rain would have stopped and - though things would probably be too damp for sitting outside in the square - an hour or so at Jenine's would make a pleasant end to the holiday.

In fact it was still raining, though it did ease down a bit, so I put on my waterproofs and set off. I had the last piece of Jenine's delicious chocolate cake (she told me to tell Kojak that I'd had the last piece) and a couple of cups of her excellent coffee (she offers an enormous range, worthy of Starbuck's and probably of much better quality!). After this there was a slight easing of the rain again, so I headed back to Taxiarchis for a final snack lunch in my room. The ferry being at 5.50, this was the one afternoon when I couldn't take the risk of a prolonged afternoon nap, so I resisted the temptation to drink everything that was left in my various bottles, and sat at my laptop editing photos instead. Eventually the rain did cease, leaving me time for a final trip round to the square. Lefteris' was still open, though Jianni had very sensibly taken the afternoon off.

I'm now back home and looking at a mountain of post that I haven't yet brought myself to touch, though I have put on the first load of washing. Back to Symi on 13 May.
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