Symi, Greece:  Looking back and looking forward

In early April in recent years I have headed to Greece for the summer.  Not possible this year because of various ongoing issues.  There is still a degree of uncertainty about when I’ll get back to the islands but, trying to think positively, I’m aiming for end of April/early May.

Therefore this is just a brief look at what Symi is like at that time of year and a reflection on how I plan to spend the summer over there this year.

May is the end of spring in the Greek islands.  Flowering plants hasten to complete their cycle by setting seed before they and the landscape are scorched by the blistering summer heat. Nowhere is this more so than on the Dodecanese island of Symi, reputedly the hottest and driest of the Greek islands.

During May 2016 I was in the throes of my Annus Horribilis with walking severely restricted and a stint in hospital on Rhodes, so there are very few photos.  Those below are some of the many taken in the first week of May 2015.


Much of the landscape on Symi is limestone, this a small artistic cairn marking a path through it


In places early May is the time to see orchids, including Orchis Sancta, the Holy Orchid


Taking a closer look at the delicate flowers on each stem


Many times taller than the orchids are the wild hollyhocks


Colourful in early May, in just a couple of week’s time this will be crisped and brown


Scarce Swallowtail  (Iphiclides podalirius) draws nectar from a lone cornflower swaying on a long stem


Hidden among twigs, a mantis is generally only spotted if it moves.


Oertzeni lizards (Lacerta oeertzeni) locked in a passionate embrace


Dramatic seed-heads 3-4 inches in diameter.

I can’t sit around soaking up the sun and holding down chairs in a taverna, I need to have a goal, a project on the go. Ants in my pants as well as in the kitchen if everything isn’t cleaned meticulously and screwed down tight.  And sometimes even if it is …..

I spend much of the time on the islands writing when I’m not trekking in the mountains.  I finished my first book ‘Greece by bus’ in the summer of 2015 and had a limited print run at the end of the year.  My second book ‘Greece Unpackaged’ was printed in a limited run at the end of 2016 and one goal for summer 2016 is to publish it on Kindle.

The main aim for the spring and early summer this year is to further explore Symi and look at a couple of issues in particular.  One is to visit and examine more closely ancient settlements on the island.  Linked to this is to plot the location of natural springs and water sources ….. which some think don’t exist. The ambitious outcome of that I hope will be a third book – ‘Symi off-piste’.


Initially identified from satellite imagery and then located on the ground, one of the fortified structures way off the beaten path. I hope to map this and other similar fortifications.


Dressed marble in the middle of it shows a degree of sophistication prior to its construction


In October 2016, my last day on Symi, I visited the ‘permanent’ pond at the deserted village of Gria …. only to find for the first time since I went there originally in the year 2000 that it was completely dry.

A lot of questions.  A lot to explore.

This entry was posted in Greece, Landscape, Mountains, Nature, Photography, Spring, Wildlife and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Symi, Greece:  Looking back and looking forward

  1. samahab2000 says:

    Hope it all pans out for you. Enjoyed this article. Keep well.

  2. phillippa lee says:

    Hi, glad to see you are going back to Symi again. I think I am giving it a miss this year – I am going to Crete in the last week of April for a week, so should still be flowers around. I would love to buy your book on Kindle.

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