Back on Symi. Been here two weeks now.
A bit trepidatious about the travel chaos expected at Manchester Airport so turned up 4 hours ahead of flight departure. No queue at all at check-in, shortest queue at security ever. Waiting in departure lounge three and a half hours – better than queuing outside and missing the flight. Heartfelt ‘thanks’ to Jet2.
Arrived Symi the following morning. Weather cooler than usual but still warmer than the UK. Locals going around in the evening in padded jackets. Then suddenly ramped up to usual summer heat.
A pleasant surprise was that though the fields swathed in Crown Daises (Glebionis coronaria) swaying in the breeze had finished flowering, there were still many smaller spots of colour in the rapidly crisping vegetation, juices sucked out by the sun and the wind. Each plant driven by its own solution to the battle for survival, seeds swelling and dropped or wafted away, ready for the autumn rains and the next progeny.
Most dramatic are the poppies. A fresh flowering every morning, petals dropped by evening as temperatures rise and their flowering comes to an end.
Less eye catching are the blues, pinks and purples, yellows and whites.
Predominant is the white of the oregano, tens of thousands of bees from hives both local and shipped in garnering the pollen. They make traversing many of the footpaths a bit nerve racking, hoping they don’t regard you as a threat. Key is to stay away from the hives. Topping the steep climb up to the monastery of Panagia Hamon, the path leads straight through about 20 hives. Suspecting they were there, I went off to the right before reaching the threshing circle where they are clustered but was still buzzed many times, bees colliding with my head to make the point. I took my time over the climb, partly to not overdo things in the heat, partly to repair some of the directional stone markers on the confused path.
Always a pleasure to see wildlife: tortoises more evident at this time of year than in the heat of summer; billy goats tethered in the shade to keep them out of trouble; even the odd feral chicken with her brood skulking under bushes.
Trying to acclimatise to the intensifying heat, it has been great to visit many of the iconic places from previous visits, the Viewpoint above Horio (Walk 1 on the Greek Island Walks page), the walled garden at the monastery of Zoodohou, the rock slab at Lappotoniou Castle, and the monastery of Nikitas Kotikas with its sundial.
One of the ambitions for the trip was for a friend and I to explore a cave found a couple of years ago. The friend is a caver who has done some climbing, I’m a climber who has done some caving. Between us we fetched out enough ropes and other kit to make the vertical descent and prusik back up (heaviest bag I‘ve ever brought to Greece). The plan was to do the reconnaissance and set up, then return a few days later for the descent. We found the cave and with a borrowed cordless hammer drill fixed an eye-bolt at the top in the most convenient place for the job. Sadly, my friend twisted his ankle badly on the way back to the car – so the exploration will have to wait for another visit.