My SymiChristosJuly in April 27/04/2009, 20:06

July in April 27 April 2009
Is it really April or did July decide to come early and unexpectedly to Symi?

The weather is very warm (almost swimming-like!), the harbour is packed full of boats, yachts, gulets and cruise-ships, everywhere you look you see tourists (day-trippers but also many who stay overnight), cafes, restaurants and tourist shops are busy and open all day even on Sundays. The global economic downturn is certainly in people's minds, but if these early indications are anything to go by (backed up by advanced accommodation bookings which are at least comparable to last year's according to the major hoteliers on the island), this season may well turn out to be a good one indeed for Symi. The "current economic climate" (whatever that means!) may have resulted in most Symi businesses opening earlier than usual and staying open all day, every day (including weekends). The very few ones that choose to stay shut in the middle of the day and on Sundays are either doing really well (and can afford such luxury breaks) or are being foolish (some may call it laziness) and if things go wrong they can always blame the "current economic climate" for their business mismanagement.
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Will and myself had to go away for about a week around Easter and we missed the Symi Easter celebrations this year. There will be a blog from Will about the very important mission that we have had to undertake in the past few days!
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I have had a couple of teaching jobs in the UK and once again I took the overnight flight-option from London (21:00) to Symi, via Athens (2:30) and Rhodes (5:15) before catching the 8:30 Dodekanisos Express to Symi.

This time I had my camera with me and attempted a few shots while sitting on the morning Aegean flight from Athens to Rhodes. The light was quite poor at that time of day, but I decided (please don't tell anyone as I wasn't supposed to have a camera on during landing!) to record what I could see as we were landing at Rhodes airport.

Click PLAY on the video on the left... and welcome to Rhodes! (once you click PLAY make sure the HQ button at the bottom of the video is in RED - if not, please click on it to watch the video in High Quality!)

What's new on SymiGreece then?

Well... SymiGreece is about to welcome its 4,000,000th visitor in less than 3 years, we are starting to design the May edition of The News of Symi newspaper, there will be a number of brand-new applications appearing on shortly, we are preparing the First Symi Art Exhibition for FAROS which will take place during the next month and we are also finalising the details of the next FAROS vet clinic (announcements will be made soon!).

Other than that, it's May Day this Friday, and there is also Koukoumas and the 8th May celebrations that SymiGreece will be covering. Stay tuned!

Good News, Bad News, and Another Party! 23 March 2009
I haven't updated this blog for a while and there is so much to write about.

The biggest news for me and SymiGreece is the brand-new (and, it seems, the only) English-language newspaper on Symi, The News of Symi, that SymiGreece designs, writes, edits and produces. As Dimithris Chrysochoos writes in his editorial inside the Greek language section of the newspaper, the idea began a few months ago when, on a visit to the US, Ilias Haskas, the vice-Mayor, was told by Symi ex-patriots that many Symiots were not comfortable reading Greek and would welcome an English language newspaper for Symi. This is how the idea for a Symi newspaper in English was born, a newspaper that would be for Greeks all over the World (who may or may not read in Greek) as well as non-Greek visitors and Symi residents alike. About a month later and after several wines and sumas, the Municipality and SymiGreece came to an agreement and SymiGreece will be producing (without getting paid of course!) The News of Symi each month. The newspaper is independent and its content and appearance are decided by Will and myself (as editors) without any influence from the Municipal authorities. As stated in our editorial, we aim to "tell you about the island and country we love" with "a professional, informative and non-patronising style of journalism that, in the English language, Symi has been waiting for".

The paper is complete with photos, quizzes and the one and only ExPatCat cartoon which will be developed and be given a particular direction in issues-to-come! There will also be letters, articles, book-reviews etc. that will be published on a regular basis.

While being busy with the paper (and trying to keep it a secret at the same time!) we also had FAROS work that needed our attention. The first birthday party for FAROS took place on Friday... and it was a great success too! It wasn't just the fact that FAROS made 639 Euros after paying the restaurant fees, it was the whole experience and pride of being involved with an initiative that attracts so many people on Symi, from the Mayor, his wife and children, to a number of counsellors and their families, to individual people who chose to come and support FAROS. For a year now, Symi has had an Animal Welfare organisation that choses to work with the people of the island towards a better future, and which has received overwhelming support. I hope that those non-Greeks on Symi who rejected the idea of asking Greek vets to come to Symi as something not worth pursuing, will accept that this was a mistake and decide to bring animals to the FAROS surgery later this week.

Sadly, since the FAROS birthday party last Friday, we've been searching for Barbie, a well-loved dog by many people on Symi and beyond. We are all hoping, beyond hope, that she turns up well and safe, but given her condition it would appear a fragile hope. There are those on Symi (the same mentioned a few sentences ago) who, too often, take it upon themselves to decide the fate of animals such as Barbie by using a lethal (and very illegal) needle and I do hope that this has not been the case this time.

The fourth FAROS vet clinic in our first year is now only a couple of days away and we are busy making sure everything is ready and in place when it opens this Thursday, 26 March, in Kyriaki Apartment in Horio (possibly the poshest clinic FAROS has had - look out for the photos!). Before that we have the Evaggelismos night celebrations on Tuesday (check out what happened last year!) and the Independence Day celebrations on Wednesday.

...and I forgot to say about the new ideas we (together with the Municipality) have for Symi in the very near future... oh you know me... there's always the "next thing" to tease for...!

A Good Party 3 March 2009
It was one long fun weekend!

Saturday night was enjoyed with good tunes beautifully sang by Nontas and Lefteris, good company and lots of wine and nibbles down at Kantirimi bar. I also took the opportunity to test some new camera settings in darker than usual conditions so that next time I can share a bit of Kantirimi's Saturday night magic with you!

Sunday was the last day of Carnival and this year's celebrations took place in the basketball court in Yialos, which I'm sure you 've already enjoyed via the extensive SymiGreece coverage.
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After the excesses of Carnival, Lent starts and Monday is its first day which is supposed to be a "Clean" one foodwise at least, where fasting is observed, meaning no meat, no fish (basically nothing with blood), no olive oil and no dairy products. But this can never stop a good party in the countryside (you are supposed to celebrate outdoors) with lots of yummy food: barbecued seafood (octopus, shrimps, kalamari, squid), special-made flat bread (lagana), beans, taramosalata, salads, and dry halva together with wine, good music and the traditional flying of the kite. As every year the Municipality organised a feast up in Mihaili (Roukouniotis Monastery) and as I found out today an estimated 800 people attended throughout the Day! Of course, SymiGreece could not miss a party and although the plan was to walk there, too many late nights recently made the car journey much more attractive.
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I've never been inside the Monastery before as it was always shut during past visits so took the opportunity this time with the camera in hand. Some people believe the Monastery is even older than the Panormitis Monastery in the south of Symi which may well be true, especially the old church right in the middle of the complex which is not open to the public.
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After the yummiest octopus I've had in ages, we joined everybody else in the art of kite-flying. Our kite made us proud reaching the full length of its string (all thanks to Will as I was busy taking photos and videos) - next year we are increasing the length of the string - Asia is only across the sea after all!
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For the return journey, we decided to not be lazy and walk home, trying a new route aiming to find (what we hoped to be) a shortcut path across the hill from the Agios Fanourios church a few minutes walk from Mihaili. The path is concrete around the church and up to the house directly below it. There is a water pipe that could be seen as the concrete path ended. It reminded us of the pipe that starts high up in Selahouri, the area behind the centre square in Yialos. If we were right, this should take us right to the centre of Yialos. And it did!
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And what an amazing walk it was! The path is comfortably walkable and in many respects it reminded us of the old path down to Nimborio before it was restored a few months ago. It could be really good to see it restored in the same way... or even be made into a small road as it is wide enough and not as steep. And it's not long either. It took as only 45 minutes to walk from the ancient big tree in Mihaili to our front door in Mavrovouni!

The views are spectacular too; shame it was a grey day, but I 've no doubt we'll be walking this path many times in the weeks, months and years to come!
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Listening to the Rain 25 February 2009
I so miss the summer!
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The day started grey and wet with only a few short rain-free periods, but by early afternoon the rain cloud stopped moving and it started to pour down almost nonstop until about 10pm. There is more rain and wind to come before the week is over, but the forecast is for a glorious sunny day on Clean Monday with a bit of wind to help fly the kite (which is what you do on Clean Monday while barbecueing octopus, shrimps and kalamari in the countryside!).
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Approaching the end of the month, the situation with the ferry timetables is again of interest. The Aegli has gone out of service for maintanence and the big boat that linked Symi with the mainland has suspended its twice-a-week service until further notice. GA Ferries who run the boat claims the Government has not paid the subsidy and are therefore unable to pay their staff or even buy fuel! In fact it has suspended all services to the Dodecanese islands! On the positive side, The Dodekanisos Express may make an additional stop to Symi (on both outgoing and return journeys from/to Rhodes) on Tuesdays and Saturdays in March. The currently available timetable on the Dodekanisos Seaways website does not mention this yet, but my sources tell me this is very likely to be confirmed very soon.

I spent most of the afternoon listening to the rain and working on another of my Symi-related projects; this one involving the website of the Symi Tours travel agency, a sister website of SymiGreece. I can't say any more yet, but watch this space for an important development when it comes to holidaying on Symi!

Given that I seem to update this blog a lot more often than I initially thought, I've allocated it a different section on the front-page of SymiGreece for now until I design something better. You can now reach the actual blog itself when you click on the relevant title link from the front page (rather than being directed to the latest one all the time). So, for example, if you want to read the Symi Dream blog, you can either scroll down to find it, or you can get there quicker by clicking the link. Magic, eh?

Can't get summer out of my head...
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Under the Starlit Symi Sky 24 February 2009
Today was one of those days where if someone had told me its tragic ending I'd never have believed them...

There is a lot of work going on at the moment on Symi in anticipation of the new tourist season that is only a month away. On the Mouragio side of the harbour, all shop-fronts should be paved in the same nice raised-crazy-paving style that has transformed Mouragio during the past year and a number of shop owners have the necessary work done at the moment. The latest ones are Stella Cafe and Takis Leather Fashion, as you can see in the photos below. Takis himself was busy carrying pieces of wood for the new awning for his shop. This will be going up in the next few days and he's on schedule to open in a month's time. He's also expanding his business and there will be a second Takis shop in Yialos opening at the same time. There will be a lot more to say about this in future blogs. It's wonderful to see Symi businesses expanding and not hiding behind the easy excuse of the "current economic climate"!
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Soon after sunset, the Dodekanisos Express made a late afternoon "unscheduled" stop in Symi "filling in" for the Aegli which has now stopped its service for about a month to receive its annual inspection and maintenance. Maybe there will be additional boats by Dodekanisos Seaways in March or maybe the Symi II will start the season earlier than usual. As the Dodekanisos Express was about to leave Symi for Rhodes, Will and I stopped at Kantirimi Bar on our way home for a drink, a game of tavli, rosted chestnuts (that have quickly become an almost daily ritual enjoyed by everyone that happens to be drinking in Kantirimi at the time) and a good chat, of course!
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After a while, Martina, the Bar's resident cat, followed her usual routine and came to inspect what was happening outside by the fire. She jumped up on Will's lap for the obligatory and much-loved head-scratch-and-bite-Will's-fingers game.

Martina (initially named Martini) adopted Agapitos and Kantirimi last autumn when she was a small kitten. She decided Kantirimi was a safe place to be and she simply walked inside one day and refused to leave. Customers have had the privilege of stroking her and when Agapitos has brought out cheese and sausages with your wine or ouzo, she has become your best friend for the evening! She quickly got spoiled by Agapitos with good food, a warm bed inside the bar and numerous treats by his customers. One customer, Michelle, quickly became Martina's best friend and has made frequent visits to Kantirimi, we suspect, for no other reason than a Martina-cuddle. In November, Alexandros (Agapitos's son) brought Martina to the FAROS clinic for her checkup and vaccinations. She was possibly the most well-behaved patient FAROS has had so far!
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Having Martina at Kantirimi has made the place even more special, but tonight this all changed.

After her cuddle with Will, Martina jumped down and went outside. A short while later, at about 8pm, she rushed back inside the bar. When she reached the steps behind the bar, she managed to climb a couple before her back legs gave way. Agapitos found her on the steps within seconds and seeing that she was in pain, he put her in a box and brought her out to us. Very soon, she began passing bloody urine and it seemed obvious that she had recieved a bad internal injury. I immediately called Tasoula, one of the FAROS vets that are available at any time for help and advice, and she confirmed that there was very little that could be done at that stage. After a few minutes of trying to stand, Martina passed a lot more blood and soon after she died with the five of us next to her (Alexandros and Giorgos, Agapitos's two sons, had joined us).

We left Agapitos at the bar and Alexandros, Giorgos, Will and myself took Martina away and with the help of a torch and a spade we buried her outside Agapitos's house under the starlit Symi sky.

Symi Art 23 February 2009
After watching the Oscars on Nova until 7 in the morning (with the best quote of the night coming from Sean Penn addressing his standing audience as "you commie homo-loving sons of guns"), I dreamt for most of Monday morning (a Symi Dream of course, what else?) and I dragged myself out of bed just in time to catch the banks open.

By 4pm I was walking on the Pitini side of the harbour (stress on the second "i", please) halfway up the hill. In recent months, a large number of ruins have had a facelift and it's wonderful to watch this frenzy of construction work happening around Symi where houses are being restored to their former glory. As I was walking past one of these ruins where work on it had started, I noticed the ruin next door to it (which may well be about to be restored too) had it's front door wide open. I love nosing inside ruins especially the ones that were locked and abandonded a long time ago. The resident(s) in this one must have left about 20 years ago (according to calendars and papers lying around) and maybe in a hurry. I tried to take a few photos, though the light wasn't the best.
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I carried on walking towards the Kali Strata taking photos on the way and after a few minutes I reached "Fofo". Well, it's not called that anymore but for me and Will it will always be remembered as that. Our first three Symi summers were spent there and our life on Symi is partly because of that place. Fofo is not for rent any more and only the outside of the house resembles our old holiday home! This is to become a restaurant/bar opening this summer, run by Manos (of the well-known fish restaurant down in Yialos). Will and I have been monitoring the progress of the work closely for some time and it certainly has the potential to become a very special, even an exclusive, establishment (Manos and Mina are paying me for cleverly including product-placement ads!).
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The new restaurant/bar has a patio all around it, is on two floors and the front terrace enjoys possibly the best views on Symi (which is why we rented it all those years ago!). As I was taking photos, I saw Stelios who was busy creating the pebbled "votsaloto" at the front entrance. You can see this in the photos and he has already finished a couple more on the front terrace. There are artists and artists but when it comes to Symi Art, Stelios is the man (he also pays me, but not as much as Manos!).
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It's dark now and I'm sitting at my desk, drinking wine and listenining to Tsitsanis. It is raining quite heavily and there is scary thunder and lighning outside. That's the perfect excuse to plug the Symi video I took yesterday walking down to Nimborio. Click PLAY and join me for the next 7 minutes...
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Like A Symi Dream 22 February 2009
Today was the first day with not a spot of rain for ages!

I spent most of Friday morning in bed recovering from the Smokey Thursday night's excesses (Tsiknopempti sounds so much better!). The Tsiknopempti festivities up in Horio were cancelled due to the rainy weather (after pouring down every night for a fortnight, Zeus decided to have a dry evening on Thursday just to make a point, and then at 4 in the morning the thunder and rain started again... typical!) and Will, Claudia and I decided to have the traditional Tsiknopempti feast down at Aris restaurant

On Saturday, I went somewhere new to take the daily photos for SymiGreece. It was quite chilly and windy up there (winter has decided to have a brief come back to Symiland), but was worth the effort. The views and those ruins were just perfect (and they should all be MINE... one day!).
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After putting Claudia on the plane back to the UK, Will returned from Rhodes on the Aegli (which only managed one crossing out of five in the past few days due to the high winds) and we spent the evening in Kantirimi playing tavli, chatting with friends, stroking Martina (Gap’s new cat), and roasting chestnuts on Gap’s new woodburner. After Zeus-knows-how-many ouzos and wines, we climbed up the steps to the house for a quick bite before going down to the Greek music. Well, that had been the plan. A few unpleasant work emails (the joy of being self-employed 24/7!) changed that. It was chips-and-egg with Red Bull and work until the early hours for both of us instead. To make sure this doesn't happen again, we won't be checking our email on Saturday nights ever again. We have already booked a table (and good company!) for next Saturday's music night at Kantirimi!

During the summer, most Sundays involved a walk down to Nimborio for a swim, so we pretended it was summer (though we wrapped-up warm.... still COLD here!) and left the house. By the time you read this, today's photos should be up so you can see what we saw, but here's a preview anyway. There will also be a new video going up later tonight or tomorrow.

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I haven’t written a blog for some time but from now on I will try and have a regularly-updated blog as there are so many things that are happening at the moment. The biggest one for us is a tightly-kept secret that will be revealed once March hits the Symi calendar. It’s very hard work for everyone involved high up in SymiGreece Towers (even the cats are working hard) but we hope it will all be worth it at the end. It‘s the third Big Launch for SymiGreece after the re-design of the SG website two years ago and the launch of the Greek-language SymiGreece last summer. However, this launch in March has a particular twist and is on a much bigger scale. I will have more to say in future blogs, so…watch this space!

Lots of other stuff is also happening at the moment. The fourth FAROS vet clinic is only a month away and the preparations have already started. The location of the clinic will be announced in the next few days and soon afterwards the new FAROS poster will be put up around Symi advertising the clinic. Next week I will be ordering a long list of consumables, vaccinations and drugs to make sure everything is here when the FAROS clinic opens on the 26th of March. The Symi Art Competition that FAROS has organised is well under way and we are already thinking ahead for the best way to organise the Symi Art Exhibition once the competition has ended in April.

The next edition of The Symi Podcast is currently in production and should be ready in the next few days. Unfortunately SymiGreece has had to resort to law to protect our copyrighted material being stolen and re-branded by an individual who used to be paid thousands of Euros while working for SymiGreece. Even though the legal dispute has been upheld in SymiGreece’s favour by Apple Inc.’s legal team, the individual who breached copyright law is still using SymiGreece copyrighted material on his and several other websites. I do hope he will stop very soon without the need for legal proceedings to continue on a different level.

But enough of thieves and (straight) blackmailers (in case anyone thought anyone is unfortunate enough to be gay or in the closet – Zeus forbid!). I will finish this blog with some gossip from ExPatLand, the ex-pat ghetto that has nothing to do with the Greekness of Symi, of course...

...the Fat Cat abandoned for 7 weeks while her humans were scrounging for cash in Britland (I do apologise for using such racist terms for the MotherLand!) was not really abandoned after all, oh no, she was just left “in good hands” (and was a naughty girl to escape such good hands within minutes and mix with a mean Symi bin Cat who dared to suggest her humans should cut their holidays short by even a single day to come and find her… she’s only a cat after all!). Tubby Goozling has finished writing his thesis about “Snooty Thursday” (oh dear!) and is now finalising his new rape-fantasy novel “My First Big Podcast was like a Symi Dream”; the tax-dodging British ex-pats are forming the “Whinge-Whinge” group campaigning for being allowed to dodge tax legally as a reward for leaving Britland for a small Greek island “at such difficult times”; Wanda is hunting rich men on islands somewhere in the Indian Ocean; and Areola Scum is sitting on her blog missing the good old free-monthly days...

It's Oscars tonight and food is ready at 2am!


(8) Comments

  1. Simon said on 23/02/2009, 19:32

    Great pic's C,as ever!...not much left of the beach on the road to nimborio is there.
    You keep teasing us about the change, look forwrard to seeing whats instore!

  2. Christos said on 24/02/2009, 01:09

    I never tease! but this one IS different!

  3. lizzykitch said on 24/02/2009, 18:30

    What a bloody excellent blog dear Christos. Superb on sooooo many levels but my favourite bit is when you quote Sean Penn's wonderful outburst "you commie homo-loving sons of guns" Top Class!!!! xx

  4. Joanie said on 24/02/2009, 18:45

    Great Christos,enjoyed it, did'nt want the video to end though

  5. John Pritty said on 24/02/2009, 22:49

    Thank you Christos, great footage of one of my favourite places.

  6. Lorna said on 25/02/2009, 14:25

    so sad , poor kitty,

  7. frede13 said on 26/02/2009, 01:54

    Thank's for this nice pics.
    I hope I coming soon.

  8. Pekka said on 23/03/2009, 11:08

    Just a terrible big thank you guys for the News! It is time Symi has a news(paper) of its own that is worth waiting and reading. I specially like your editorial statement.

    Well Done and paljon onnea (finnish congratulations)!

    a very happy Pekka

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