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ISSUE 132 | Spring 2009

INSIDE ISSUE 132 Editorial. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . page 4 Puzzle. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . page 28 Real Estate. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . page 31

Anti-Smokers being Anti-Social page 15

Symians in Tarpon Springs are Symi’s Extended Family

The people of Symi were instrumental in building the sponge industry and contributing to the creation of businesses and the civic community in Tarpon Springs. Now the joining of Tarpon Springs and Symi on November 8, 2008 reunites families and a desire for reconnecting with their families.

St. Michael’s Shrine page 2

Tarpon Springs Artist Chris Still Dives Deep page 9

Winter in Symi James Colins • page 21

Out & About page 24

“This article in The Symi Visitor is about my grandfather” said Tarpon Springs lawyer Charles Samarkos as he looked through an October 2008 edition of the newspaper, “he built the boat the “Symi” that this article is about.” His mother in law is Symian from the Balaskas family. Throughout the weekend of November 8th and 9th, 2008, Symians in Tarpon Springs sought out the visitors from Symi. They approached Symi’s Vice Mayor Ilias Haskas and his wife Emily, and Symi Visitor’s Nikos Halkitis asking if they knew of their relatives and friends still living in Symi. “He has the supermarket.” “He’s just started the electronic shop.” “He lives in Nimborio.”“Do you know my cousin?”“We were in the army together”…were just a few of the descriptions heard over the two days of celebrations, there were many more.

“I want Symians in Symi to know that Tarpon Springs is their extended family, and I want you to send a message through your newspaper that they are welcome here anytime. We will treat them as family.” said an enthusiastic first generation Symian. There is tremendous excitement about the Sister City link between Tarpon Springs and Symi. It was a historic occasion. In part because the

Mayor Michael Eaccarino with his wife

signing of the Sister City agreement also took place on November 8th; the Feast Day of Archangel Michael of Panormitis and the historic 75th anniversary of Tarpon Springs’ Taxiarchis Symian Society. Nearly 500 people attended the signing and dinner dance at the Spanos/ Pappas Community Centre, a state of the art community and recreation centre. Maria Angeliadis used her technology acumen to set up the computer-projection system to show the film about Symi produced by Symi Island’s council, which made some guests nostalgic and longing for return to the island in 2009. Vasile Faklis served as Master of Ceremonies,

and his mother Katie Faklis and Maria Pantellis (featured in the March 2008 issue of Symi Visitor) led the audience in singing the national anthems of the US and Greece. City officials in attendance from Tarpon Springs included Mayor Beverley Billiris who presided over the official signing of the Sister City agreement, and city commissioners Peter Dalacos and Chris Alahouzos. Also present was U.S. Congressman Gus Bilirakis, who holds an elected position in the U.S. Congress in Washington, the nation’s capital. Dignitaries from the Church included, Reverend, Father Michael Eaccarino (who hopes to visit Panormitis Monastery as part of the Sister City pro-

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Feature Story

the Symi Visitor | Spring 2009

The History of the Erection of the Shrine of Saint Michael Taxiarchis And the Miracles of the Miraculous Icon of Saint Michael Taxiarchis she delivered the offering that her husband had promised to give.

Maria's Son Michael Tsalickis with the Icon

The Shrine of Saint Michael Taxiarchis in Tarpon Springs was erected by Marie Dim Tsalichis. The home of her daughter Goldie for whom the land was originally bought stands next to the Shrine. Marie is no longer living, but her family remain as protective caretakers of the Shrine today. Goldie graciously invited Symi’s Vice Mayor Ilias, his wife Emily, and Nikos and Liz Halkitis of The Symi Visitor to her home after evening services to honour the name day of Saint Michael Taxiarchis. Maria’s story is a personal one and it is recounted from her own written account of the events.

The Abbot Prior thanked her for the offering, and in return took a small silver Icon of the Taxiarchis Michael which was hanging in the Church. He presented it to Maria. In her writings Maria says that “As I held the Icon in my hands, chills of emotion and awe seized my body and soul immediately.” She stayed in Symi for six months and returned back to Tarpon Springs, Florida where she had been living since 1925. Upon her arrival, she put the Holy Icon of the Taxiarchis on a table under her Iconostasion together with a special sacred lamp. Maria recalls that a year later, on the 6th of November, 1938, at about nine O’clock in the morning, she and a few relatives were in a conversation when suddenly they heard the sound of a church bell, the same sound as that of the Holy Abbey of Taxiarchis of Panormitis, in Symi. This sound was coming from the very Icon of Taxiarchis that Maria had received from the Abbot Prior of the Monastery. The sound lasted until three in the morning the next day.

In June 1937 Marie Dim Tsalichis visited her birthplace of Symi. She visited the Holy Abbey of Taxiarchis Michael “Indescribable was the emotion which of Panormitis, with the purpose of ful- seized all of us.” Maria states. She filling an old promise for her husband. continues that “At seven O’clock in Specifically the visit was to give thanks the morning the same day, I visited to Taxiarchis for His protection of her our Reverend Priest, Father Theophihusband during a voyage, when as a los Karaphilis of the parochial Holy seaman he faced danger. During this Church of Saint Nicholas of Tarpon visit, she met Chrysanthos, who was Springs, and related to him what had at the time Abbot Prior of the Mon- occurred. According to Father Theastery. It was Chrysanthos to whom ophilos’ instructions; I brought the

Icon to Church where a holy ceremony of the breaking of the holy bread was performed, because of this strange incident. It is important to state at this point that the following day was the Holy Day of Saint Michael Taxiarchis.”

hand of the Blessed Virgin Mary”, and made him feel much better.”

Maria left the Icon at the church and eight days later took the Icon from the Church and brought it home. This event apparently repeated itself the following year and the next one. Each time, the same Church ceremony was repeated.

But the days passed without any improvement, and all the while Steve was losing weight. His body was gaunt and thin. Ultimately he didn’t eat, speak, or recognise anyone. After three months the doctors notified her one day that they saw no hope left. They asked that she notify her husband to return immediately from his travels so that they could both be with their son to the end.

Maria’s 11 year old Son, Steve is Very Sick

The Icon of the Taxiarchis Talks with Steve

In December 1939 Maria’s son Steve became sick. At first his high temperature did not concern her. She believed this was the usual light cold. But day by day, Steve’s temperature became higher, and each day she began to worry more.

While Steve was in a coma, he suddenly asks: “Mama, I want you to bring the Icon of the Taxiarchis to me.” At once she asks her koumpara, Sophia Kardoulia, to quickly go to her house and return with the Icon.

Mrs. Kardoulia had not yet entered She called the doctor who advised the hospital room when Steve says, her to immediately admit Steve to “Mama, the Taxiarchis came.” But the hospital. The hospital of Saint before he had a chance to continue Joseph in Tampa, Florida is some 30 Mrs. Kardoulia entered the room. As kilometres from Tarpon Springs. In soon as Steve saw the Icon he asked the hospital, Steve’s condition wors- that it be placed it on his chest. He ened, and baffled the more than 15 crossed his hands on the Icon and distinguished doctors and medi- started to ramble. cal professors who were caring for him. No one could render a medical According to Maria, she heard her opinion. Maria stood stoically by. She son say, “Yes, but her mother has no would frequently lay her hand on his money,” followed by, “Mama, Taxiarchis forehead, because Steve had told her wants you to build His Shrine.” And I that it made him feel as if “it was the answered, “Yes, Steve, I will.” Maria recalls that she really did not hear it; she just wanted to satisfy Steve, whom she considered to be in a state

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Symians in Tarpon Springs are Symi’s Extended Family  gramme). Reverend Father Eaccarino delivered the invocation together with Reverend, Father Kiramarios. Symian Reverend, Father John Kiramarios, was featured in the July 2008 issue of The Symi Visitor. Also attending were Reverend, Father John Bociu, and Nicholas Manias, Parish Council President of St. Nicholas Cathedral. As part of the signing ceremony, Beverly Billiris (Tarpon Springs Mayor) presented Ilias Haskas (Symi’s Vice Mayor) with a framed poster of Tarpon Springs, a wooden box engraved with the Tarpon Springs seal, and a “Key to the City” of Tarpon Springs. On the following day, Symi reciprocated, and at City

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Hall Mr. Haskas presented Tarpon Springs with full colour books containing photographs of Symi. Ms. Billiris pointed out that a number of the of sponges shown in the photos shown at the Symi sponge shops were actually the unique Tarpon Springs sponge that had clearly been imported to Symi.

unanimously backed it. Tarpon Springs is already a Sister City with Kalymnos and like Symi, Halki is well on its way to formalising the Sister City relationship. The other two Dodecanese Islands also factor into Tarpon Springs’ history, since this is from where sponge divers arrived in Tarpon Springs.

The Sister City agreement between the two locales was spearheaded by Nikos Halkitis in Symi and Vasile Faklis in Tarpon Springs. The two kept in contact throughout the entire year and stayed focused on the primary objective of fostering the ties and ensuring that heritage links are strengthened. When it came to vote, council members in both places

The excitement of the Feast Day, the Sister City signing and the 75th anniversary celebration of the Symian Association culminated Saturday evening at the Greek dinner – dance. “All of this including the Sister City signing with Symi is so important to us” expressed one Symian enthusiastically. “In many ways when you live away from your homeland you

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Feature Story

the Symi Visitor | Spring 2009

3

become more Greek. You try to hold on to your family heritage and culture. This is wonderful. It’s good for everyone” Now the planning begins to make the Sister City opportunity a reality for Symians in both locales. Vasile Faklis and Maria Angeliadis have already discussed that they would like to see exchanges develop in culture, education, sports and business. According to Faklis, “The Greek dance troupes are a logical place to begin. In Tarpon Springs we have over 300 dancers. We can exchange costumes as a start.” There are several Greek dance groups in Tarpon Springs that have already performed dances in Greece, including the Lavendia Dance Group, managed by John Lulias, and the Asteria Dancers whose children performed at the dinner-dance on Saturday evening. A Tarpon Springs educator also expressed interest. “Teacher and student exchanges would also be ideal to foster ties, exchange ideas, share technology and learn from each other.” The Symi Visitor and Symi Council newspapers will serve as important links in supporting the Sister City initiative. The Symi Visitor plans to publish SymiTarpon Springs family stories, and already has over a dozen families to follow up with. A display table with copies of the Symi newspapers, icons from Panormitis and other Symi tokens was a major success with Symians attending the dinner dance. Founding Members of Tarpon Springs Taxiarchis Symian Society include:

Mr. Michael G. Cantonis holds his award for Symian of the Year, 2008 (See story on page 10: Symians Honoured in Tarpon Springs)

In 1930: The Symian Association Taxiarchis was formed. It was established initially to help Symians in the U.S. assimilate and associate with some familiar people, while they were away from their own families back in Symi.

George Cladakis . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . President Nikitas Papafaklis . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Vice President Michael Sarris . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Secretary John Apocotos . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Treasurer Kostas Gianeskis . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Trustee George Georgiadis . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Trustee Emmanuel Hazimanolis . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Trustee Anastasios Cotis . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Trustee Kostas Karagiannis . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Trustee Theodore Lambrianos . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Trustee Vasilios Papafaklis . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Trustee Minas Sarris . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Trustee

In 1944: The Symian Association was strengthened to help Symians in Symi during the Second World War. They purchased medical supplies, road building equipment and became more philanthropic beyond their own. They gave to the construction of St. Nicholas Cathedral in Tarpon Springs, Tarpon Springs Hospital and other projects as well.

The Community Centre hosted the almost 500 guests

George Cladakis . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . President Agapitos Megaloudis . . . . . . . . . . . . Vice President Savas Dragomanos . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Secretary John Apocotos . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Treasurer Demetrios Antonoglou . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Trustee Elias Pargianos . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Trustee Nikitas Papafaklis . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Trustee Demetrios Hatzivasilis . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Trustee Michael Giannaras . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Trustee John Katsaras . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Trustee John Palogianos . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Trustee Sotirios Makrinakis . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Trustee

More pictures on page 10

Significant planning went into the weekend’s celebrations

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Editorial

the Symi Visitor | Spring 2009

Letter from the Proprietor Dear Readers We hope you like this special issue to commemorate the historic Panormitis Name Day and the initial signing of Tarpon Springs, Florida and Symi as Sister Cities. When I met with key officials in Tarpon Springs in February last year, there was a common vision to bring Tarpon Springs together with the three Dodecanese islands; Symi, Halki and Kalymnos. It was from these islands that Greek sponge divers created in the 1930s, the largest industry in Florida and today make up the largest Greek settlement in America. After growing up in Sydney, Australia, of Symian parents, and returning to Symi 14 years ago, I know how important Symi Island is to one’s heritage, culture and family ties. On my visit to Tarpon Springs, it was easy for me to relate to Symi-Americans. They, like me, feel a strong connection to our Island. Even though they live abroad, they want to be accepted as part of our extended family (as they are) and not as unrelated tourists. But none of us would be celebrating the importance of this link if it weren’t for those who wanted to see the Sister City link become a reality. Firstly, I must thank Vasile Faklis, for his commitment, support and friendship. If it had not been for Vasile’s frequent urgings of the Symi Council to give approval, this initiation might well have not happened when it did! Tarpon Springs Mayor, Beverley Billiris is another person who played an important role. When Mayor Billiris was quoted in a local newspaper almost a year ago, as saying that she wanted to link with the third island –Symi—her article caught my attention. Throughout this process Mayor Billiris has always taken time to arrange meetings between the Symi Visitor and key Tarpon Springs officials; the President of the Tarpon Springs Symian Association, the Women’s Association, Council members and representatives from the Sister City organisation. On our visit in November, Mayor Billiris took time with our Vice Mayor Ilias Haskas and his wife Emily. Thank you again Mayor Billiris and Vasile Faklis! During my Tarpon Springs trip I received many kind invitations of hospitality from Symians. One invitation I accepted was to visit Mr. Michael Cantonis (Cantounias). We spent several hours at his home talking about Symi and Panormitis Monastery in particular. As a major benefactor of the Monastery over the years, one of Mr. Cantonis’ major concerns is the restoration of the Panormitis’ bell tower. He likens the bell tower to a famous piece of art by one of the great masters; requiring restoration only by the most highly skilled of restoration specialists. Restoration of the bell tower in his opinion requires the skill of restoring museum quality antiquities. He told me, “It’s so easy to spoil a great piece of art, much more difficult to restore. The bell tower is one of the most significant pieces of art in all of Christianity. Symi must appreciate its value to the world.”

Letters of Symi I noted with interest the letter from Phil Pratt (UK) in the October 2008 issue of The Symi Visitor. I visit Symi two/three times a year and have done so for several years now. Like Mr. Pratt, when I come into contact with the water and electricity man I feel that I am meeting an old friend. As for Symi’s mooring men in orange tee shirts, quite frankly I didn’t know they existed. Each time I visit Symi I choose a mooring spot and often, with the help of fellow yachtsmen moor without difficulty. My response to Mr. Pratt’s letter should be read with his letter firmly in mind, and I would like to comment on the specific points:

1. Customer Service

with Symi, after all we do come back year after year.

2. Seamanship and Port Management I am pleased to note that Mr. Pratt has found his, and incidentally my solution when confronted by someone waving and quoting every rule of law, of etiquette and EU directive at him. The question I pose is why does he not just tie up and enjoy Symi?

3. Mooring by type of yachts You only get one guess regarding on this past winter which side I moor? I recommend that our friendly men in orange tee shirts direct Mr. Pratt to the North Quay.

As an Englishman I agree with Mr. Pratt. In submitting this letter to the Symi Visitor Everyone should learn to speak fluent it is my hope that everyone should do as English and be able to communicate with I do, enjoy Symi. all irate sailors in a calm way, and shouldn’t foreign persons including orange tee- John Chapman shirted mooring men also be taught to Thornaby, England smile at Englishmen? I know that you have visitors from many countries but it John, you’ll be pleased to know this summer would seem that only (some) Englishmen Symi has a new mooring man called Tao. SV complain. The rest of us are very happy team will feature an article in the next issue of the newspaper. Reminder: The Symi Visitor does not necessarily support or agree with the views of correspondents whose letters are published on this page. Only letters received with the full name, telephone number and or email address will be accepted for publication. Symi Visitor reserves the right to edit letter for space and clarity.

Be a Symi adviser! Share your views with us about your visit to Symi, and how we may better serve you. Send your comments to: SymiVisitor@hotmail.com If you prefer to write your letter or story in French, Greek, Italian, or Spanish, we would be pleased to translate it for you.

the Symi Visitor team Translations: Maria Kazakidou Secreterial Management: Kleanthi Nikoletou Guest Journalist: Liz Moench Halkitis

Now more than ever, in changing economic times, we need each other; to promote tourism, commerce, business leadership, growth and to benefit our kids and our schools. We can gain from the exchange of teachers, dancers, artists, athletes and more. Now is the time to make a plan to insure that this connection is beneficial for us all.

Nikos Halkitis

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Columnists: James Collins, Fotini Chloe Attiti, Eirini Semerzaki and Rachel SkerryPapacalodouca Thanks go to our monthly contributors: Symi Port Police, Symi Police, Water Board, Symi Council and EGIALIS Layout & Design: Philip Meissner

Printing: Rhodian Graphics

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Editorial

the Symi Visitor | Spring 2009

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Letter from Symi Visitor Staff November 2008 marked the start of the festival season, and it is usually when things start slow down. Yet while Symi in November and December appears quieter there was actually a lot happening this past winter. Our electrical black outs over the past weeks we planned! Major work was done to upgrade our electrical infrastructure, construction was begun in Pedi’s on its new marina, and construction will take time, new yellow OTE phone booths were erected; you can even find them in unlikely yet necessary places, such as along the road to Nimborio. Home construction and improvements abound with some excellent examples of Symi’s stonemasons, and major excavation work done in the Alemina area of Symi below the Castro. The much needed indoor gymnasium is visibly taking shape, and it will be an important addition in helping us to get into physi-

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cal shape too! And whilst we reported on changes with the Archeology this summer, representatives from the Rhodes office have been visiting Symi once a week; they are enforcing adherence to regulations, to the point that illegal construction work has been demolished. The Council has imposed changes that are important to Symi, both aesthetically and to manage our growth of tourists and traffic. New fines are being imposed by the council police and possible new metering for cars left in car parks is being considered. Changes and improvements are inevitable and essential. Bringing investment to the island has always been important to Symi, and even in a challenging economic climate, Greece is faring better than many other countries. Greece still ranks in the top 2 destination for holidays, Symi must compete for its share of tourists. As always, this past year November 8th not only marked the most important name day for Panomitis, but it also marked another historic day for Symi; the official signing of the Sister City agreement between Symi, Greece and Tarpon Springs, U.S. took place at the Symian Association dance in Tarpon Springs. Ilias Haskas, Symi’s Vice Mayor and his wife Emily were on hand to sign on behalf of Symi, and Tarpon Springs’ Mayor Beverly Billiris hosted several events aimed at fostering cooperation and collaboration between our two locales. We are pleased to bring this news to you. In this issue and in the future, we will focus on Symi families with family connections in both locations; we will exchange stories of artisans, restaurateurs, sponge divers and business people keeping heritage and culture in mind. It is an opportunity to learn new ideas and things from each other that can benefit Symi and Tarpon Springs alike. We have combined the winter issues of The Symi Visitor. This hiatus gave us a chance to reassess the newspaper, ways we can streamline, and overtime com-

www.SymiVisitor.com Accommodation, Real Estate, Webcams, Ferry Schedules, Latest News, Updates and More... From our webcams you can now see Symi harbour from two different locations

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pile some additional follow up stories from our Tarpon Springs visit, as well as interesting stories from other guest writers. As always we welcome the opportunity to hear from you and so do our readers. Of special note was the wedding at Panormitis of our long time Symi Visitor staff member Kleanthi Nicolettou late last year. We wish Kleanthi and Costas much happiness in their future life together. We are now looking forward to a successful Summer season in 2009, despite the economic challenges that surround us.

The Symi Visitor Staff

Remembrance: Elizabeth Malliarou Konstantinidi died on the 6th of October 2008 on Symi, aged 82. She was a good wife and mother, as well as a friend and neighbour. A woman of great integrity and strength. As doctor Rodios Dimitrios wrote, “She was an example of fortitude, a real lesson to the rest of us”. May the earth that covers her be light and may her daughters Irini and Maria be well to remember her.

the Symi Visitor® P.O. Box 64 Symi 85600 Dodecanese GREECE Proprietor: Nikos Halkitis Real Estate and Newspaper T: + 30 22460 72755 F: + 30 22460 72754 ..............

Accommodation Wendy Wilcox T: + 30 22460 71785 F: + 30 22460 71787 E: symi-vis@otenet.gr

Copyright © 2008 The Symi Visitor all rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form, including reproduction in part, or whole, or on the internet without prior written permission of the proprietor

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Water & Cisterns

the Symi Visitor | Spring 2009

Placing a Value on Water The Importance of Cisterns and Water Conservation on Symi

most often the only people building cisterns these days are those who cannot survive without them, they are outside the municipal water supply.

In the days before ships ferried water to Aegean islands, residents depended open rainwater as their primary water source. This rainwater was collected through drainpipes in a water cistern typically built under the house.

Symi architect Anastasia Papaioannou has built several houses in the last few years with water cisterns. She observes that “if it were compulsory for all homes to have cisterns, the water problem during peak times would not be a problem. Residents would use the water from their own cisterns and the municipal water would supply the excess demand”

As homes have been linked to municipal water, some Symi homeowners have converted these cisterns into modern day bathrooms, bedrooms or other rooms because so many have beautiful structures with vaulted ceilings and offer great ambience. Others still have them and use them. Some experts in Greece believe that rain collection tanks should be compulsory on newly built homes, and that restored homes should not remove a cistern or convert it to other uses without building a replacement one at least 10 cubic meters in size. The concern over cisterns is increasing as the drier climate revives the use of island cisterns and renews interest in building more. Old cisterns are giving way to plastic cisterns, which some say may be suitable for plants or for bathing but is not considered healthy for consumption of cooking, and

On some Aegean islands such as Kythnos, only the rich had their own cisterns (apparently this was not the case on Symi). They were status symbols and the main part of a girl’s dowry. Having one’s own water supply was an assurance of a household’s viability. In the old days, when the climate was less arid, cisterns would hold up to 25 cubic litres, and people use less water. Today, some modern days cisterns can be as large as 50 cubic metres, but this is less common on Symi. In the villages of Mt. Taygetos in the Peloponnese there was a water police man who kept cisterns

The History of the Erection of the Shrine of Saint Michael Taxiarchis 

clean and informed villagers when the supply would be directed to their fields. Professor Yiannis Mylopoulos of The School of Civil Engineering in Thessaloniki believes that “we Greeks no longer have the awareness of the value of water that our forbearers did, nor are we careful about using it, but waste it recklessly.” Mylopoulos adds that “we have handed over responsibility for managing water to the authorities and do not see it as our duty to conserve water. Naturally the state bears a significant responsibility for the current water situation as there is no water policy.” Since Greece is on the boundary of the xerothermic zone, its economy is based on tourism and farming, two industries that rely on large supplies of water. Several times this summer, Symi experienced short term water shortages during the peak tourist season, but there are few to no visible - gentle reminders in hotels, rental villas or restaurants to make visitors to Symi aware of the need to conserve water, which is routinely done in other countries around the world. An increased use of cisterns together an increased awareness of the need for water conservation amongst residents and visitors is a step in the right direction for us all.

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slept quietly until ten O’clock the next day.

The Power of the Taxiarchis

Goldie Parr, Maria’s daughter lives next to the Shrine and is one of its principal caretakers. Pictured here in her home with Symi Vice Mayor, Ilias Haskas . Goldie recently visited Symi and her house in March this year.

of delirium. Steve continued to talk to erect His Shrine. Then I faithfully on, but those who were present were promised and said, “I will do it!”” unable to understand what he was saying. Suddenly, Steve addressed Although her economic situation her directly saying, “Mama, say “yes” would not allow her such expenses, with your heart, for He says tomorrow she responded to her son with, “Yes, morning at ten O’clock I will be cured!” Steve, yes, my Steve, with all my heart, Maria describes the event this way: I will erect His Shrine, as long as He “Only at this time did I understand that wishes it.” The conversation between this was an intervention of the Divine Steve and Taxiarchis lasted seven Grace of Taxiarchis and it was His wish hours, until midnight. Her son then

At ten O’clock the next day, Steve awoke and said, “You see Mama, I am cured,” and tried to get up from his bed. The attending doctor was astonished. “Taxiarchis cured me” Steve told the doctor.” The doctor agreed and said, “Yes, Steve, the Taxiarchis cured you and I too prayed to Jesus Christ to cure you because I was not able to do it myself.” Each day after this miraculous event Steve got stronger, and within a week Steve went back to school.

Maria’s Activities for the Erection of the Shrine Since the day Steve came home; Maria focused her attention to erecting the Shrine. First, she visited the Archbishop Athenagroas to whom she related the story about her son Steve, and explained her plans for erecting

the Shrine for Taxiarchis. The Archbishop warned her about believing the dreams of an 11 year old boy who had been in a coma. He suggested that Maria should make a large Icon of Taxiarchis and take it to the Church of Saint Nicholas, where His name day would be celebrated every year. Whilst she insisted on building the Shrine, the Archbishop explained that he was concerned that it could become a parochial Church, and potentially undermine the economics of Saint Nicholas Church. Maria remained undeterred. For a year she sought to obtain a building permit to construct the Shrine, but her efforts yielded no results. Then Taxiarchis appeared in a dream. In the dream, He took her by the arm and led her to the place where His Shrine is now built. According to Maria in the dream He told her, “Here you shall build the Shrine and you will build it a certain size.” Taxiarchis further told her that she had to pour three drops of Holy Water to start the foundation. Maria explained to Him that the Archbishop had not permitted her to do so. But He said to her again, “You must start it

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Water & Cisterns

the Symi Visitor | Spring 2009

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An Eel in the Cistern? Since Roman times and in ancient Greece, eels were e kept in cisterns to eat any insects in the water and as an indication of the water’s purity – any problems and the eels died. Their movement in the water also prevented moss from growing on the sides of cisterns. Eels in cisterns are referenced in the Elizabethan story The Eel and the Magpie by Nicholas Breton, (circa 1600s-England), and the underground water cistern --The Byzantine Basilica Cistern (Yerebatan Sarayi) in Instanbul, built in 532 A.D. is teeming with aquatic life to ensure water purity. Angelo Garro formerly of Syracuse, Sicily recalls the arrival of the eel man in his hometown. The eel man was not unlike like a modern-day gossip columnist, relaying juicy tidbits of the lives of residents from one village to the next. “He would go house to house, opening the lids of rain-filled cisterns to see if an old eel needed to be replaced. A slight ‘off’ aroma would indicate that the eel was not living up to its job description -- to keep the tank clean by ridding it of insects and algae,”

There’s a Hippo in My Cistern One Man’s Misadventures on the Eco-frontline by Pete May

The recipes below are from the Symi Women’s Association

Eels Not Just in Your Cisterns… BOILED EEL AND EGG-LEMON SAUCE INGREDIENTS: 1 eel, peeled and chopped in round pieces 10 small potatoes 10 small onions 1 egg 1 lemon 1 twig of celery ½ glass of oil Salt 10 glasses of water

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PREPARATION: In a big saucepan, boil the oil with the water, onions and potatoes for half an hour. Add the fish. Boil for about 15 minutes. Scramble the eggs with the lemon and add it to the soup. You can cook moray fish (“smérna”) or “moukrí” fish in the same way.

Whilst the account of eels in cisterns is true, it goes without saying that hippos are not used! However, this hilarious laugh out loud book that Brits will easily relate to, is a true-life tale of “one man’s journey from self-confessed planet-killing lad to eco-friendly, green-crusader Dad is set against the backdrop of Cool Britannia, Blair’s Britain and the rise of the green movement.” Pete May is a skilled story teller, and this book is guaranteed to make you laugh and think. Paperback Publisher: Harpercollins Publishers, UNITED KINGDOM Date Published: 2008 ISBN-13: 9780007264315 ISBN: 0007264313

A RECIPE WITH GRILLED SUN-DRIED EEL Clean the eel and open it vertically. If you wish, remove the middle bone by cutting it with a pair of scissors and carefully pulling it out with your hands. Keep the fish firm with rosemary or oregano twigs, sprinkle plenty of salt, pepper, oregano and hang it upright in a shady place for 24 hours.

Preferably wrap up with a tulle (cheesecloth) to avoid insects. Grill on burning coal. When grilled, pour plenty of oil-lemon sauce. Moray fish (“smérna”) can be cooked in the same way. It is said that in older times, when cisterns were not cleaned every autumn, either for economic reasons or for fear of drought, housewives used to place an eel in the

cistern for 1-2 days to eat the leeches (parasitic organisms created in stagnant water). Eels, of course, were brought from Asia Minor coasts during egg-laying, as they came down to the South from the area of Lésvos island. Eel is not fished in Symi waters, unlike moray fish (“smérna”), which is abundant.

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Book Reviews

the Symi Visitor | Spring 2009

Book Reviews A Secret Treasure Lindsay Townsend Historical Romance Author

“It is clear Lindsay Townsend knows the island (Rhodes). She weaves her knowledge of history and setting into A Secret Treasure.

I’m a historical romance novelist living in Yorkshire. For me, research for writing is not so much a labour of love as a break in the flow of my story-telling.

storm-clouds of war, it is a dangerous place to fall in love. My story involves an English girl, an Italian policeman, a Greek butcher, an ancient statuette, a motorbike and a Turkish bath.

By Gerald Durrell

The heroine of A Secret Treasure is an intelligent, sensitive young woman and keen cook in a high-pressure situation so I approached my research through Eve’s eyes, noting how stark the contrast between shade and sun at midday, between the bustle and crowds of Rhodes Old Town and the pine-fretted quiet of Ancient Kamiros, where fragile orchids grow along the edges of the paths, learning how delicious grilled meat can taste, liberally sprinkled with fresh lemon juice and rigani, or how thorny and closepacked Greek heathland is. Back home, the temptation is to use every scrap of my notes and then my writer’s day is one of choice, because to put everything in would be fatal. My fiction is suspenseful, romantic, and active: to stem the flow with a stodge of travelogue material would be a huge mistake - which isn’t to say I don’t commit such blunders! Usually then I spend a significant proportion of the next day taking out what I put in - a task which often inspires me to try even harder as I aim to get the most out of what I really love doing: writing.

Pictures and personal observation are what I find most useful in all my research. When I’m researching for a book, days are taken up with obser- I’ve just spotted this review of A Secret vation - noting people’s gestures, the Treasure by Kimber at Fallen Angel sounds and rhythms of their speech, Reviews - five angels, no less! the pervading scent of a place, and the number of steps to a particular “This is no armchair tourist account church. My husband is a keen pho- of Rhodes”, she says. “It is clear Lindtographer and takes pictures not only say Townsend knows the island. She for himself but also for me: not only weaves her knowledge of history the battlements and arrow-slits of a and setting into A Secret Treasure. castle but strange shots of dustbins Both Julio and Eve are unique, well and public telephones and kiosks crafted characters. Their courtship is and then, teasingly, candid pictures natural and charming. The bad guy of myself, sunhat jammed over my is deliciously bad. It is fortunate that eyes, head down as I take copious A Secret Treasure is only 102 pages notes. long as you’ll want to read it all in one sitting.” I researched the Dodecanese islands for my early romantic suspense book, You can purchase A Secret Treasure Night of the Storm, and my novella, online at http://www.bookstrand.com/ A Secret Treasure set in Rhodes. It’s product-asecrettreasure-11086-330. a light romantic suspense set in the html 1930s, when Rhodes was under Italian occupation and during the gathering

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My Family and Other Animals and plants of Corfu. That Durrell can hold the attention of readers who have no interest in biology simply demonstrates what a fine work this is. Gerald’s depiction of a larger-than-life expatriate family on a larger-than-life Greek island is a tremendous celebration of life. “The variety of different Greek characters parading through this book rivals the variety of Corfu’s flora and fauna. Absolute great read!“ David Lundberg, author of Olympic Wandering: Time Travel Through Greece

Given the unexpected theme in this month’s Symi Visitor regarding naturalist Gerald Durrell’s book My Family and Other Animals, related to Rachael Skerry-Papcaladouca’s new column and the article about Island Sky the visiting expedition boat, we thought we would introduce readers unfamiliar with this book to an excellent wintertime read. On a cold, dreary wintry day, it is not difficult to be transported to a sunny morning in the Aegean watching a young Gerry discovering the nest of a trapdoor spider, or something of the mating rituals of the Greek tortoise. When the unconventional Durrell family can no longer endure the damp, gray English climate, they do what any sensible family would do: sell their house and relocate to the sunny Greek isle of Corfu. My Family and Other Animals was intended to embrace the natural history of the island but ended up as a delightful account of Durrell’s family’s experiences, from the many eccentric hangers-on to the ceaseless procession of puppies, toads, scorpions, geckoes, ladybugs, glowworms, octopuses, bats, and butterflies into their home.

SV footnote: The Greek doctor, scientist, poet, and philosopher Theodore Stephanides, became Durrell’s friend and mentor, and his ideas left a lasting impression on the young naturalist. Together, they examined Corfu fauna, which Durrell housed in everything from test tubes to bathtubs. Another major influence during these formative years, according to Durrell, was the writing of French naturalist Jean Henri Fabre. In the June 2005 issue of The Symi Visitor, local Symi carpenter, Thanassis Boyias, was featured for his work to reconstruct the Municipal Fish Market as well as the dome of the Murad Reis mosque in Rhodes. The latter was made famous by Gerald Durrell’s brother Lawrence, also a noted author, who stayed at The Villa Cleobolus during the period described in his ‘Reflections of a Marine Venus,” which is in its gardens. (Despite Durrell’s jokes at the expense of “brother Larry,” in My Family and Other Animals the two were close friends all their lives.)

Author Gerald Durrell with other animals

This book is absolutely, brilliantly funny. The wit and unique characterizations are woven with great descriptions of the animals

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Book Reviews

the Symi Visitor | Spring 2009

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Dating Aphrodite : Modern Adventures in the Ancient World (Hardcover) by Luke Slattery (Author)

dust. As a community we don’t go up to the attic much. We have forgotten where we’ve put the key.

A combination of travel book, history book and a meditation on what it means to be living in the media-saturated twenty-first century, ‘Dating Aphrodite’ takes you to the actual places where the big ideas of Western civilisation were born. Slattery shows you the real landscape and explains how, even today, the spirit of these places and the meanings that can be found there shine through. (****)

Yet there is a growing curiosity about what’s up there. You catch glimpses of it occasionally. A large Sydney bookshop, for example, recently had in stock not just a couple of copies but a pile of Harrius Potter et Philosophi Lapis, a Latin translation of the first Harry Potter book. It wasn’t a spoof. Maybe the intended buyers were high school Latin students. But rest assured, there are sane folk who take pleasure and comfort in the reassuring shape of Latin sentences. Some of them are seeking refuge from the traumatic stress disorder suffered by the English language. Others are young people who are bored to sobs by Big Brother.

Review by Michael McGirr Some time ago, the son of a friend of mine had reached a stage of life where he liked nothing more than to unsettle his father. Nearing the end of year 12, he thought he had at last found the means to put the old man well and truly off his cornflakes. He announced that he intended to go to university to study classics. Classic is a word that has been so stripped of value that it has long been used to describe a style of jeans, soft-drink bottle or car. But the young man meant he wanted to spend time in the arcane and yet strangely familiar world of Greek and Latin language and literature. The classics are the attic of our culture. In them, you can find all kinds of fascinating and useful things, as well as important reminders of our family history, which have been allowed to gather

Luke Slattery is part of this cultural resistance. His account of classic (mainly Greek) culture, Dating Aphrodite, is part of a growing trend in non-fiction writing, one that answers a profound need. The problem for those wanting to find their way up to the attic is not shortage of material. It is the opposite. Enter the name of Homer, the blind Greek bard who sang The Iliad and The Odyssey, into Google and within seconds you will get 21,000,000 hits. Admittedly, a good number of these are for Homer Simpson. But the point is obvious. The culture we inhabit is changing from one based on memory, a human art, to one based on retention. If you take €20 out of an ATM, that factoid will be retained in a computer for all eternity. But the smell of the flowers you bought with the €20 can only be remembered. Telstra may retain an account of every phone number you ever dialled. But the tenderness of a conversation over the phone can’t be retained, only remembered. **** Publisher: ABC Books (2005) / ISBN-10: 0733317006

Tarpon Springs Artist Chris Still Dives Deep In our Sister City, the beautifully renovated facility of the Heritage Museum, formerly a library, has two separate wings. The history wing traces the development of Tarpon Springs from prehistoric times to World War II, and it features a vintage photography exhibit of the city, a Native American presentation and a sponge diving movie and display. The second wing features ecology with large-scale murals of Tarpon Springs by artist Christopher Still. “We’re looking at the same sun the Timucua Indians looked at thousands of years ago,” says Christopher Still, who was chosen in a national search to paint a series of ten historical murals and two waterscapes for the newly renovated State government’s House of Representatives chamber in Tallahassee, Florida. The murals at the Tarpon Springs museum are fine Giclée reproductions (see below) by the Tarpon Springs artist, of the series that hangs in the State Capital in the chambers of Florida’s House of Representatives. The ten murals tell the story of the state’s vivid history. Each mural contains many symbolic elements

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Christopher Still, shown here using a magnifier to capture details, paints almost everything in his works from items he has collected.

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Featured Story

the Symi Visitor | Spring 2009

Symians in Tarpon Springs Photos

Inside the spacious, modern Spanos-Papas Community Centre, which comfortably hosted the nearly 500 guests

95 year old Stamatia Kypreos review her award with Symian Association President Michael Faklis

Symians Honoured in Tarpon Springs

Beverley Billiris (3rd from right) with husband George Biliris (left) meet Ilias and his wife Emily before the official signing

The Symi Visitor display table

The Community Centre hosted the almost 500 guests

Vasile Faklis (not shown) and his parents and family worked to make the Sister City link happen

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Two prominent local philanthropists, born in Symi, were honoured at the dinner dance in honour of the Feast Day of the Archangel Michael, and the 75th Anniversary of Taxiarchis Symian Society, at the modern Spanos/Pappas Community Centre in Tarpon Springs. Michael Cantonis, (see photo on page 3) owner of the Acme Sponge & Chamois Co., Tarpon Springs, and former Tarpon Springs resident Stamie Kypreos, owner of Stamie’s Beach Wear, and part owner of the Boardwalk, both in Daytona Beach, Florida. Stamie was also recognized for her 95th birthday and presented with a very large birthday cake. Some Symians believe that she may be one of the oldest Symians living.

Charles Samarkos reads the Symi Visitor article about his grandfather Tarpon Springs ship builder (see page 1)

5/6/09 10:08:38 AM


Visiting Boats

the Symi Visitor | Spring 2009

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Visiting Boats in Symi Island Sky was Truly Blue

There was not a cloud in the sky at the end of the tourist season last year, when a “new breed of smaller ‘expedition’ vessel” Island Sky berthed in Symi’s harbour. The Island Sky and her 87 passengers are smaller cruise ships that not only go where the big ships can’t, but to places that can only realistically be reached by ship, places such as the remoter shores of South America and Australia, the Antarctic, Arctic - and Baly Bay. Expedition ships wander where adventure takes them. Any diversion means going off the unbeaten track and this year, Symi was on its adventure calendar. What makes an expedition ship? “Size is important,” Island Sky’s Captain Hope Inglis says, “and in addition to the ship’s crew they have a specialist expedition team for each trip with expert lecturers and a properly equipped lecture room. In August of this year, Island Sky travelled “to the Land of the Lemur” in conjunction with the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust of the UK. The expedition had a strong conservation theme with lectures on wildlife and Durrell projects in 18 countries, all focused on preserving endangered species; Lee Durrell, BA. PhD Honorary Director of the Trust joined for a lecture. In Madagascar and Mauritius, where the voyage ended, there were trips ashore to see the trust’s work in the field. SV Comment: Ironically, only the other day, Symi Visitor staff was conversing with columnist Rachael Skerry-Papacalodouca about entitling her monthly column “My Family and Other Animals.” A tribute to Durrell’s book entitled the same. Durrell’s book My Family and Other Animals is a humorous yet endearing look at his family and his childhood experiences living on Corfu during World War II. Like Durrell, Rachel will be sharing with Symi Visitor readers her family’s life experiences on the island of Symi! We look forward to it!

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Europa in Symi Anchored just beyond Harani, the Europa a flagship of German company Hapag-Lloyd, made a brief port of call to Symi in late autmn. Its ferry brought guests ashore for sightseeing and shopping around Yialos. Europa was built by Kvaerner Masa, in Finland and completed for HAPAG-Lloyd in 1999. Europa is intended for the luxury cruise segment of the German speaking market. Traveling at a speed of 21 knots, Europa operates year round on a world wide basis carrying up to 408 passengers in 204 cabins and a crew capacity of 270 persons. The ship was built to the “all outside concept,” where all passenger suites are facing the sea. Nearly 80% of these cabins have balconies, offering guests their own private views of Symi harbour. Europa has a gross tonnage of 28,400, an overall length of 198.6 m. It’s Europa’s policy to cater to guests’ every whim, and this is especially true with food. Its executive chefs Fritz Pichler and Peter Springer head Europa’s 33 cooks onboard. Guest chefs with Michelin star ratings have visited Europa while on tour. They include chefs from other European countries including French Jean-Paul Bourgueil, Swiss Reto Mathis, and German Harald Wohlfahrt.

Arethusa The Arethusa was a regular sight for Symi residents as part of its Treasures of the Aegean: Greek Island Cruises. By the end of October, Arethusa had visited Symi 17 times. Serving the American market exclusively, the small cruise ship brought 40-50 American visitors to Symi, Kos, Rhodes and Bodrum Established in 1958, Grand Circle the owner of Arethusa has been a leader in international travel, adventure, and discovery for Americans aged 50 and older. It appears that Symi will not be on its port of call for 2009, where Arethusa plans to sail to ports in Athens • Meteora • Delphi • Greek Islands including Mykonos, Santorini & Patmos • Ephesus • Istanbul, Turkey.

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Artist

the Symi Visitor | Spring 2009

rooftop in Greece during his European travels. Symi Visitor readers can view his work online at www.christopherstill.com and at Hand detail of crab

Gallery beneath the waves large

that introduce the people and events that shaped Florida’s history from 16th century European discovery to today 47 year old Christopher M. Still is serious about his work. He learned to dive years ago so he could infuse his works with authenticity gained firsthand. Using a pressurized, airtight box outfitted with a small canvas, oil paints and brush and sealed glove, he produces underwater color sketches that serve as visual cues for his work in the studio. “I had the opportunity to sit on the bottom of a spring for a couple of hours and got knocked over by a manatee.” Still says with a chuckle. Manatees will winter in Tarpon Springs landmark Spring Bayou, where the annual Epiphany and dive for the Cross occurs. For the painting called Beyond the Seven Mile Bridge, Christopher Still made numerous dives from a base camp six miles off Key Largo at Carysfort lighthouse, (located in the Southern most part of Florida) and the oldest iron-screw pile lighthouse in the Florida Keys. He also enlisted the help of several scientists as technical advisors, among them Dr. Randy Runnels of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection in Tampa. “Artists can always claim artistic license, but Chris doesn’t do that,” says Runnels, who befriended Christopher Still at an art show more than a decade ago. “Here you have an artist who really tries to make everything scientifically accurate. Chris literally immerses himself in whatever he’s dealing with.” Beyond the Seven Mile Bridge took eight months to complete. Larger than the previous murals, close to 4 metres long, the painting celebrates the magnificent sea life of Florida’s coral reef. A giant lobster with tentacles outstretched probes the water from his coral perch, while schools of

http://www.gulfcoastmuseum.org/ tions including the Florida Governor’s EXHIBITIONS/exhibition.html Mansion and the Smithsonian Institute in Washington D.C., St. Petersburg SV Note: Giclée, pronounced “zheeFlorida’s City Hall, Tampa, Florida Inter- clay” is an invented name for the procnational Airport. For his most recent ess of making fine art prints from a fish flit about and a sea turtle swims project and paintings done for the digital source using ink-jet printing. into view. Sandpearl Resort on Clearwater Beach, The word “giclée” is derived from the just south of Tarpon Springs., Christo- French language word “le gicleur” This mural is part of Still’s commispher Still and his wife, Kelly, a marine meaning “nozzle”, or more specifically sioned paintings by the Sandpearl biologist work together and spent “gicler” meaning “to squirt, spurt, or Resort designed to give Florida tourover a year researching and learning spray”. It was invented in 1991 by Jack ists “a little education on the beach about the shells, the marine life and Duganne, a printmaker working in the and what they can expect to find on the natural habitat to allow him to field, to represent any inkjet-based the beach.” In another mural enticreate his artwork which truly gives a digital print used as fine art. The intent tled, Beneath the Waves, still offers unique insight to the Caladesi and the of the name was to distinguish coman underwater view of the various Clearwater Beach experience. monly known industrial printing from living shells and in, Return to Picnic the type of fine art prints that artists Island, he shows tourists aquatic life Chris has lived in Tarpon Springs for were producing on those same types on the beach. over 20 years, and works in historic of printers. The term Giclée has since downtown Tarpon Springs at 324 come to mean any high quality ink-jet Dr, Randy Runnels marvels at the East Lemon Street. He was born in print and is often used in galleries and exacting details and images. “You Clearwater, FL, just to the south of art shops to denote such prints. basically have to explore his paintings,” Tarpon Springs. he says. “I’ve looked at this painting dozens of times and I’m still amazed Chris Stills currently has a retrospecat the new things I see.” tive exhibit of his work at the Gulf Coast Museum of Art which will be Runnels also recalls the lengths to happening through January 2009 and which Still went to learn about his includes a piece he completed on a subject, spending long, cold nights on a platform outside Carysfront lighthouse sleeping on a grate while waves splashed underneath. Spurred by safety concerns, the Florida Coast Guard cancelled the idea of sleeping inside the structure, leaving Still and Runnels to battle the elements of wind and cold just as a temperatures were dropping. “It’s par for the course, for someone as naturally curious and dedicated as Still.” Says Runnels Christopher Still received a full scholarship to study at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in the north eastern city of Philadelphia, before moving to Florence, Italy to apprentice in traditional fresco painting techniques. He also studies at the Frudakis Academy of the Fine Arts for sculpture Following a European fellowship and further work at the Pennsylvania Academy, he returned to Tampa Bay, Florida in 1986 to “explore his home state with new eyes.” The artist’s paintings can be found in other museums besides the one in Tarpon Springs, and private collec-

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Changing Tides by Christopher Still 1994 owned by Collection of the Friends of the Tarpon Springs Public Library

Christopher Still works on a small crab in the beach scene, one of the paintings that will hang in the Sandpearl Resort in Florida. The artist usually does not allow his work to be photographed before it is completed, but made an exception for this story.

5/6/09 10:08:42 AM


Neo Classical Architecture

the Symi Visitor | Spring 2009

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Symi’s Neoclassical Architecture and L’Oeil de Boeuf (Ox Eye window) Immigration Update The immigration problems facing the Dodecanese islands will continue. It is a growing problem for Symi. So Symians can relate to the issues of an island the same size such as Patmos. Proximity to Turkey perpetuates this challenge. In a sign of the growing strain that the influx has placed on island life, the popular Dodecanese isle of Patmos unilaterally closed its docks to would-be migrants, declaring that their number had “dangerously” exceeded its 3,000-strong population. The decision of local authorities to allow immigrants to pass through the island for fingerprinting but not leave the port, had a knock-on effect on Agathonisi. Twin Gables with Oculus Windows

In describing Symi and one of its architectural features, the Ox Eye window, Chrysanthi Zouroudi a Qualified Architect Engineer of NTUA is quoted in EGEO Exotiko magazine as saying that “…after they constructed the triangle part of the roof, they placed an ornament right in its middle so that it does not look plain…”

glazing bars (bars framing the panes of glass) as spokes radiating outward from an empty hub, or circular centre.

It is found in virtually every documented architectural style throughout recorded history. It is one of the finest and most aristocratic of features that are characteristic of Symi’s architectural paradise. The “ox-eye” window, whose roots can be traced in the reputed buildings of the Italian Renaissance, is found in the pediments of royal Italian palaces of the Renaissance, in particular in the buildings of Brunelleschi, Alberti and Maderna, as well as in Palladio’s architecture (ex Villa Rotonda). In Italian architecture, It’s quite unusual for Greece to see such a neoclas- it is called “Oculus” or “Occhio di Bue”, sical style of architecture, so different from the tra- (“ox’s eye”). Besides referred to as oculus, ditional architecture of other Aegean islands, with oxeye, bull’s-eye, it’s also called roundel and the tiny and minimalistic houses, with the whites cameo. The need for its existence in the buildings and blues. Yet there is something eye catching of that period was great, mainly due to the weight about a round shape, especially when found in a decrease within the structure, so as to make a buildsea of squares and rectangles. Set against a pat- ing more stable and more resistant. tern of traditional rectangular door and window openings, this soft organic form can draw consider- Occhio di Bue also symbolises good luck. Within able attention and even provide visual relief to an Christian religious symbolism, the ox is a symbol otherwise predictable facade. Although there are of St Lukas (St Luke) and represents strength and many architectural terms and definitions to describe patience. But many people believe that adorning round openings, “oculus” offers the richest and most one’s house with the symbol of an animal’s eye interesting history... stems from ancient times and mainly from Minoan Crete; Today in Greece a modern interpretation is The oeil-de-boeuf is a unique opening or window type thats use spans thousands of years. Also called bull’s-eye window in architecture, a small circular or oval window, usually resembling a wheel, with

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For as long as anyone can remember on the remote isle of Agathonisi, the biggest event has been the trickle of tourists who annually make the long trek to its shores. Their arrival, after the appearance of electricity and the telephone, has been the most momentous thing to alter the idyllic island’s way of life. Until this year, that is, when groups of bedraggled men, women and children from as far away as Afghanistan and Iraq also began arriving on Agathonisi. The Aegean island’s 150-strong population has been overwhelmed as it tried to cope with an influx of immigrants that by last week had surpassed 4,100 in number. Without exception, they had been dumped on Agathonisi by smugglers ferrying human cargo from nearby Turkey. When late last year, in the space of 10 days, some 700 migrants clambered out of rickety boats onto Agathonisi’s shores, local authorities issued an urgent appeal for help. “Where were we going to put all these people? In stables?” asked Evangelos Kottoros, who heads the tiny community. “”We gave them food, we gave them clothes; but we don’t have the infrastructure. We had always sent them on to Patmos, but then it

Continued on page 20

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Visitors

the Symi Visitor | Spring 2009

Ox Eye window 

Continued from page 13

that the “evil eye” symbolises protecting one’s house and its owners against evil. With the Neoclassical buildings of Symi, it is important to distinguish the basic features of the “ox’s eye”. The circular opening of the skylight in its simpler design is typically of a cross or a rodace, sculpted in the form of flowers or stars. In a number of buildings, the rodace constitutes the central part of an elaborate decoration that can look like intricate lace. At other times, the “ox’s eye” does not function as an opening, but solely as a “jewel in the wall.” Even more rarely, the skylight is of a triangular or rectangular shape, and can also depict some human form.

Symi Visitors Christelle Le Déan and François Naminhtinh When Christelle visited Symi 13 years ago from Paris with her two young children, she knew that this was a place to which she would again return.

The skylight also plays an important role in making sure that roof tiles are not loosened in high winds, since the opening operates as an air pressure balancer (both above as well as underneath the roof ), and helps aerate the internal space directly under the roof, usually supporting, as well as reducing its structural weight. The use of skylight in the islands’ buildings reflects the influence exerted by the families that travelled; those with naval or commercial backgrounds. When Symi experienced significant growth and commercial success through its shipping, shipbuilding, sponge diving, art and literature, it also saw a shift to European Neoclassical Style architectural influences as well. Tradesmen and seafarers travelling to the Mediterranean imported this specific architectural style and started a trend in the Dodecanese islands. It was a period of great affluence for the island and due to its significant shipping power, Symi succeeded in gaining a number of privileges from the Turks. Symi’s buildings adhered to the design and the rules dictated by the Neoclassical Style. The blocks were created in accordance with the Neoclassical models, and the size and proportion of the facades originated from the fundamental principles of Euclid’s geometry (the golden section). The roof with one or two or four sides sloping became one of the few architectural features of the island’s buildings. Today in Symi, building standards and regulations allow buildings to become listed as part of the dominant neoclassical style. But new ways of building, as well as new building materials have resulted in the “ox’s eye” losing its initial significance. Most new buildings are now built without the inclusion of the “ox’s eye”. In the rare instances that the “ox’s eye” is included however, it serves more as a decorative feature than for any functional purposes; to let in light, add decoration, relieve the edifice from the winds, and according to a popular superstition, keeps away the “bad eye”..

At that time, she and her children stayed in Villa want to stress that retaining Symi’s natural beauty Thalassa in Yialos, with no car and no motorbike, will require care, and it may not be obvious to those exploring the island by foot and water taxi. “For me, who take its beauty for granted on a daily basis. Symi was like a dream village around a bay, with “Symi will be so easy to spoil and afterwards imposthe houses in a setting like a theatre.” She first read sible to repair.” about Symi in a French magazine called Marie Claire Maison, which featured special places to discover. When asked to describe the features of the island She was looking for something different and Symi that they especially appreciate, they respond easfulfilled that wish. ily; the unity of the architecture, the density of the buildings, and the proximity of the buildings to the With a promise to return one day, Christelle did so terrain. They both marvel at how builders worked last summer, first returning with her children, and with Symi’s rocky terrain bringing houses close to then coming back a few weeks later when she their natural surroundings. “The use of space is presented her husband François with two plane clever” François remarked. tickets for the couple’s escape to Symi for a week. “You come to a place again and again when you love François is originally from Thailand. The couple met it.” She says. That is when The Symi Visitor caught many years ago at University in Paris. Both have up with them both for an interview. The couple is a shared interest in Greek mythology and Greco well known in the design and photography world in influence in all forms of design. You can learn more Paris. François is an agent representing commercial about François’ work at his website www.fhmtphoto. photographers, and his website is a testament to com. [Does Christelle have a website?] the talent and diversity of their work, and Christelle has been innovating in the world of textile design Symi has apparently not only captured the hearts and photography for many years. of Christelle and François, but also Christelle’s 18 year old son Baptiste. During his visit to Symi this Christelle has seen a change in Symi from her summer he confided that one day when he falls in first visit until today, and she understands that love, he too will come back to the island. this change comes with tourism. “People come to Symi because it’s trendy” she observes. She is a realist understanding that Symi cannot be kept like a museum, but enjoyed for its own life even in winter, with its fashion, supermarkets, churches and the fact that Symi life comes from its “sea life.” If there’s a message to convey to Symi, the couple

Symi is an architectural jewel that draws architectural theorists from around the world. It is truly one of a kind! We hope to keep it that way.

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5/6/09 10:08:44 AM


Commentary

the Symi Visitor | Spring 2009

15

Anti-Smokers being Anti-Social By Journalist Jim Gibbins

Smoking, of course, can cause a stench – but what about the bad breath of intolerance? By which I mean the holier-than-thou tyranny of a certain kind of non-smoker. That species, it seems to me, migrated to Symi in great numbers this past summer, ever ready to swoop in its cause and set up a pecking order of superiority. Like – • THE WOMAN who entered a taverna in Yialos and promptly established her elitism by taking out of her bag a rectangular No Smoking sign and placing it on her table, thereby ensuring her own smoke-free zone; • THE MAN who finished his drink at an outdoor cafenion in Chorio and then - and this was a regular performance during his two week stay here - went round the other tables and under each ash tray placed a smug note, in English, setting out the “unsociability of smoking” and “the health hazard emanating therefromin.” (sic)

latest country to move in that direction - and not, please not, by the coercion of the kind of antismokers we’ve had on Symi this year. I know several of these crusaders who would seek to change part of the very ethos of Symi. I know them to have large cars, the kind of so-called “gas guzzlers” that pollute the air and damage the ecosystem with their large carbon footprint. And yet in not smoking I know too that they think they have paid the entirety of their moral dues. OK, a pack of cigarettes may be potential dynamite – but in Greece, produced at a cafenion table and passed around among friends and strangers, it’s also sociability and democracy. But that gesture of comity may soon be stifled if what I heard at a restaurant in Chorio is right. A member of staff there told me that this summer smoking in public places will be banned in Greece and Symi. “Pressure from the EC,” she said. “And pressure from those tourists who don’t like smoking.” Oh, lordy, lordy, lordy… those pernicious antismoker lobbyists and their assumed right to dictate to a country that isn’t theirs, but over which they may be assuming a strong degree of control.

Bad sentence! Bad grammar! Bad breath! And as a pipe smoker I’m sick of that full-in-the-face bad breath and all the other histrionics of the superior non-smoker – the deliberate measured cough, the elaborate fanning, the spray held high in the hand and moved in circles of vapourising dominance.

At least in Britain, where a smoking ban has been in force for two years now, some doctors are arguing that there are categories of persons who need to smoke for their general well-being and balance.

For God’s sake, this is Greece, last major outpost in the West of smoking, and now under siege by the puritans who are concerned solely about self and, as far as I can make out, don’t have a scrap of altruism!

And in Athens a couple of years ago Leda and I witnessed a telling medical insight into the Greek attitude to smoking. We were visiting a hospital and a woman complained to a doctor that an old man, sitting in a wheel chair by an open window, was smoking. The doctor’s reply: “Of course he is. He’s sick. Therefore he needs to smoke.”

Yes, smoking in excess is dangerous. Yes, it needs to be modified, at least that, by such means as the right kind of publicity about its perils. But not by arbitrary government legislation - and India is the

Against that little cheer for compassion, though, there has to be measured an incident in a bar in Chorio at the end of the season this year. A young

Englishwoman swept in, took a seat in an alcove, and promptly blew out the candle lantern at the table. “I don’t smoke,” she said to her companion, a bemused Greek,” and I don’t see why I should tolerate smoke from any other source.” And as that candle expired it seemed to me that another little chink of light had gone out in the already faltering chandelier of democracy… SV Footnote: During the summer and autumn months in Symi, restaurant dining is outdoors, far flung from the smoked filled rooms that Symi visitors have experienced in their own country! In the U.S., Associated Press reporter Kirke Simpson first recorded the expression of smoke-filled room, in a newspaper story describing the behind-the scenes political manipulation used to secure Warren Harding’s nomination for U.S. President in 1920. However, some believe that it was Harry Daughtery, a friend of Harding’s that probably created the phrase.

AT HOTEL FIONA Relax away from the crowds in the quiet of Chorio-village. Enjoy the spectacular sunsets and views of the harbour from the privacy of your own balcony. Socialize with the locals at nearby restaurants and cafenions. Ask for “a room with a view” and make your Symi visit a memorable one!

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5/6/09 10:08:45 AM


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Commentary

the Symi Visitor | Spring 2009

Moving House By Pat Cole

Sadly we had to move. Our lovely villa, with the high ceilings and hand painted tiles on the floors that was so perfect for summer, had no heating; so spending winter there was not an option. We passed the word round to people we knew and people they in turn knew that the Coles were looking for another place to call “home”. The island’s “grapevine” worked. We were approached by several people offering long term rental. There are limitations on where we can live; too many steps are a no-no for me, so that leaves few options on a place like Symi! After a few disappointments seeing places that were unsuitable, we heard through word of mouth about an available apartment in Chorio. So we quickly set out to explore.

about 5pm.’ We had also requested two additional strong men to help with the heavy stuff; again, no contract, only a casual promise to do so. As I recall the events in hindsight I realise “Oh ye of little faith!” since on moving day, precisely at 5 o’clock the truck appeared and so did the two strong men, just as they had promised. I left them to load the boxes and furniture and caught the Chorio bus from Yialos so that I could open all the shutters before they arrived, and also to picture in my mind which piece of furniture would go where. But my time alone was cut short by the efficiency of the moving team. They had arrived at our old home at 5pm and by 6.30pm all our goods and chattels were in the new house! Incredible, I had never moved house so efficiently. I was grateful that I had not seen all our worldly goods come up the hill vulnerably stacked into the back of a flat bed truck, and held in place by those two valiant men. By the next day our satellite dish was installed with a working internet connection using our original number. It was all so easy.

At first impression it seemed rather small after our spacious villa in Yialos, but the large terrace with a sweeping view to Pedi Bay was the draw. After much discussion helped along by several glasses of wine, we agreed that it was indeed a place for all seasons! In all likelihood we would spend our summers outdoors on the terrace, and the size of the flat meant it would be easy to heat in the winter. “Let’s go for it” we said. Then to the practicalities of moving. We had arrived in Symi in April 2006 with just two suitcases and two tea chests so, we thought, “no problem”. But when we surveyed our acquisitions over time; a wardrobe, a computer table, a television (complete with stand), a bed side table and more, we realised that our move was not going to be quite so simple! On moving day, we sat amongst our boxes feeling a sense of dejection, a fear that no-one would turn up, after all this was Greece, and no formal agreement had been signed, only a casual ‘see you on Sunday at

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Our large terrace with a sweeping view to Pedi Bay was the draw to our new home in Chorio

As spring approached our thoughts turned to furnishing the terrace. A large furniture store in Rhodes had just what we wanted and in no time at all we placed our order; a dining table, director chairs, four cane chairs and coffee table. We arranged for transport to the ferry with further delivery to Chorio. Excited as the furniture was offloaded, Andy (my husband) carried it up to the terrace where we then carefully unwrapped each piece – to our dismay, half the order was wrong! The dining table was a

different model entirely, and the cane chairs were nothing like the ones I had selected. Telephone calls rallied back and forth between us and the furniture store. Arrangements were made to send the wrong items back on the ferry Proteus with the correct items coming on the returning boat. Once again we waited impatiently. It all looked good this time. Andy couldn’t wait to put together the flat packed table – Not again!! A piece was missing this time. So more calls to Rhodes where they insisted that all the parts had been loaded on the ferry. Andy faxed a diagram with an arrow showing the missing part. Prolonged silence and then a call from Rhodes finally arrived… the missing part was still in the store room. Another trip down to meet the ferry and at last all was ship shape and correct. Our terrace looks lovely now. The memories of the move and settling in are slowly fading. We spent many hours appreciating our wonderful view this summer, entertaining friends and enjoying six months of outdoor living that makes Symi so special.

5/6/09 10:08:46 AM


Commentary

The Owl symbolises Greece through the ages In the September issue of, The Symi Visitor featured the story about Stelios a teenager who rescued owlets and returned them to their nest. In Greece, owls have always been special. In particular they have been symbolically displayed on Greek coins. Today, the Classical Owl tetradrachm is publicly the most widely recognized ancient coin, and today the one euro from Greece still carries the symbol of the Owl. No coin better epitomizes Athens than the Owl, and no city was more central to Greece than Athens. Athena’s attribute, the owl, is still a symbol of wisdom today, though at different places and in different times, Owls have symbolized other things, including dread and death. The Owl species depicted on Athenian Owls is the Athena Noctua, also called the Little Owl or Minerva Owl. Standing 15 to 20 centimetres and weighing 71 to 127 grams, they range from the Mediterranean to Scandinavia. It is likely that the Owlet that Stelios rescued was of this species. (See story in The Symi Visitor October 2008). Modern Greece paid tribute to ancient Owls on it coins, paper currency and its stamps. The modern euro coin depicts on the obverse a Classical Owl tetradrachm surrounded by 12 stars representing 12 euro countries. The reverse, which is common to all one euro coins, depicts a map of Europe and 12 stars. On the 100,000 drachmas note issued during German occupation of Greece in World War II when Greece was experiencing severe inflation, this note depicts an early Classical Owl tetradrachm on one side and the ruins of the Temple of Athena Aphaea on Aegina on the other.

the Symi Visitor | Spring 2009

17

My Family and Other Animals!

Here is my new column entitled, “My Family and Other Animals.” This is a column intended to provide Symi Visitor readers with a sense of every day life on Symi, and through the eyes of someone who lives here all year round with their family and animals too! I am proud to base the title of my column on a book written by a remarkable man, Gerald Malcolm Durrell OBE 1925 – 1995. He is a noted British author who also wrote various children’s books based on his four years living in Corfu with his family from 1935-1939. His most famous book about his life on this Greek island being, “My Family and other Animals.” At the age of 10 he was intrigued by the animals, flora and fauna of Corfu and it profoundly influenced him into becoming one of the world’s most prodigious naturalists and conservationists of the century. To start with I believe combining daily living with animals and children is a very good idea. It gives them something warm, cuddly and calming to interact with, while encouraging a sense of responsibility and cause and effect. At present, my menagerie consists of 2 goats, 7 cats, 4 geese, 13 chickens, 1 duck, 1 rabbit, 2 fish, and 1 bird in a cage and a… “Partridge in a pear tree!?” (Well almost!) I will begin by telling you about our goats, they were our most exciting project this year. Our grand plan was that we should all be drinking fresh goat’s milk instead of ultra heat treated cows milk, so we bought 2 beautiful, baby, female, white goats in the spring. The children named them “Snow White” and “Heidi.” Heidi colouring has since changed; she is in fact a sort of gold colour, most unusual and Snow White is aptly named, she is still entirely white. They grew quite quickly on a diet of fresh local vegetation; a special dried goat’s food and straw. Care is needed however as they eat anything, even when I am petting them they are nibbling at my clothes or sun hat! They are lovely-very responsive pets and the children can sit with them for ages.

The owls are depicted with wide eyes. The meaning of the eyes likely falls into one, or perhaps more than one, of three areas: wisdom, protection, and sexuality. Wide eyes are all-seeing, and thus all-knowing. It’s here that there’s a connection to the Owls of Athens, with the wide eyes of both Athena, goddess of wisdom, and her owl seeing all, knowing all. Wide eyes are also attentive, watching over and protecting. And wide eyes can signify sexual attraction and excitement.

Last September, we were advised that the time had come to let them mate. Apparently if we let them mate in September they would then have their kids in February this year. so we borrowed a likely looking male goat from a fellow breeder. The original idea was to give them back to their first owner to mate with their father!!!??? I just could not condone such an arrangement even in the animal kingdom and thus we looked elsewhere for prospective fathers. We settled on “Conan the Barbarian” (the name chosen by my son and husband) a rather large, beautiful but undeniably stinky, black and brown goat. The smell was over whelming when he arrived and they had a job to get him in the pen. Yeeks, I thought who is going in there to clean up and feed him – Me?

Owls were handled by Pythagoras, Xenophanes, Democritus, Hippocrates, Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Euclid, Archimedes, and others whose thinking helped to shape the very foundation of Western civilization, and the Athenian Owls placed on coins over half a millennium ago are arguably the most influential of all coins.

However he turned out to be a sweetie and I re-named him Lord Byron. He was most romantic and I fear my children will no longer need lessons on reproduction after his visit! He did however get out frequently and pretty much wreck the fences and eat us out of house and home! Often, returning home after a late night in the restaurant I would find myself donning my head torch to venture off into the Symi wilderness looking for Lord Byron! He stayed a month and we all shed a tear when he left, we

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Commentary

the Symi Visitor | Spring 2009

My Family and Other Animals! 

Continued from page 17

had become great friends. Luckily he will have a long and happy life in Pedi valley, as he had been hand reared by his owner! We are now hoping that the job was done, but despite the number of books I have now read on the subject I cannot be sure if Snow White and Heidi are with kid or not? Here’s hoping, so I now give them daily prenatal classes, kidding! No, really, I just talk to them about the realities of childbirth and make sure they are well fed. At the weekends we let them free for a few hours and the children charge around the mountain being shepherd /esses. It means they can munch on things they instinctively know they need, and which we cannot necessarily provide. This was a wise tip in one of the books. Luckily they come home when they are ready. I hope I shall be a successful midwife. I am quizzing Symian shepherds already about the do’s and don’ts involved. I shall keep you posted. If all goes well, in Spring time we should have between 2 to 6 kids becoming a part of our animal family. Once weaned we can either add them to the herd or sell them, leaving us

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with MILK from Snow White and Heidi, which, lets face it is all we really wanted in the first place! One’s menagerie is never complete without the odd extra popping in, I have in past articles told of Hoopoe birds and Swallows but there was also a spider called Doom. It all began one dark evening when I found a big fat hairy spider in my kitchen. As my husband was going to kill it, I had pangs of guilt and ended up putting it in a jar for my 10-year-old son to have and observe. He was the one who named it “Doom” and made a proper home in a box complete with twigs and rocks etc. we fed it bees, wasps and flies, whatever was available. The 2 observations we succeeded in making were: 1.) That he only liked them alive, once he caught them he would wrap them up, nice and fresh in web, a bit like the idea of cling film and wait several days before eating them.

to settle and then pounce with alarming agility! Days turned into weeks and I suggested that really he should return to his natural habitat, so Nikitas let him go (far away from the house I might add). However a few days later I went into the store room to get something and there on the wall was Doom, returned from his trekking in the hinterland to find us, so back in the box he went to continue his life of pampered captivity. Unfortunately he is currently no longer with us—Doom died. However, I must be honest I am not that sorry I had always felt slightly nervous about his 8 legged presence… Life on Symi and especially on the mountain presents us with new wonders everyday. I shall enjoy sharing them with you all while also telling you of my own animals. Any animal husbandry tips are most welcome!

2.) Ready meals were buzzing around his house, and he would wait for them

5/6/09 10:08:49 AM


Tarpon Springs

the Symi Visitor | Spring 2009

Tarpon Springs Divers from a few Dodecanese Islands make Tarpon Springs the “Sponge Capital of the World” By Symi standards, Tarpon Springs is a very new city. It is located in the State of Florida, the southern most State on the eastern coast of the United States. The east coast of the State touches the Atlantic Ocean, whereas the west coast of Florida buttresses the Gulf of Mexico. The first people to settle in the location of Tarpon Springs on the west coast of Florida arrived in 1876; they were A.W. Ormond and his daughter, Mary. They built a cabin near Spring Bayou. (The site of the annual Epiphany diving event). George Inness, an American landscape artist, discovered the beauty in the Bayou. He and his son, George, Jr., painted the scenes found in the area. Mary Ormond liked the great fish that inhabited the Bayou and that leapt into the air and sprayed water. In 1879, she officially named the small settlement Tarpon Springs; a misnomer since the fish was mullet, not tarpon! Today on the Florida west coast, smoked mullet is a traditional dish. One year later in 1880, Hamilton Disston, a wealthy manufacturer of saws, bought four million acres of land in the central west coast of Florida from the Governor for 25 cents an acre. This saved the state from bankruptcy. Included in this purchase was Tarpon Springs. In 1884, a post office was established in Tarpon Springs, and soon the railway arrived and a depot was built to accommodate passengers and freight. Thanks to the efforts and investments of Hamilton Disston, Tarpon Springs, the region, with its series of bayous feeding into the Gulf of Mexico became an exclusive winter resort for wealthy Northerners. In 1887 with a population of 52 residents, Tarpon Springs was incorporated. John Cheney, a promoter associated with Disston, discovered that harvesting the sponges growing in the waters of the Gulf of Mexico could make money. Although Tarpon Springs was successful as a tourist resort, it wasn’t long before the sponge industry became the community’s most important industry. By 1890, the sponge industry was firmly established in Tarpon Springs. The Cheney Sponge Company sold almost a million dollars worth of sponges that year. The first Greek immigrants arrived to this city

during the 1880s, when they were hired to work as divers in the growing sponge harvesting industry. In 1905, John Cocoris introduced the technique of sponge diving to Tarpon Springs that used rubberized diving suits and helmets. Cocoris recruited Greek sponge divers from the Dodecanese islands of Kalymnos, Halki and Symi Greece. Using these diving suits they significantly increased the yields from harvesting sponges. By 1905, over 500 Greek sponge divers were at work using 50 boats. The early sponge divers created a need at the docks for places to eat and for the boat crews, and as news of the industry spread, people came to the docks to see the sponges. As a result, shops opened so people could buy the sponges and other souvenirs. In 1907 sponge buyers created the Sponge Exchange. A building with a courtyard in which each sponge diver could store his catch while awaiting the auctions that took place twice a week. With the perfection of deep-sea diving equipment, the dollar amount of sponge harvests continued to increase. Divers were able to go deeper into the sea and for longer lengths of time. For 30 years, the sponge industry was the largest industry in Florida—larger than citrus or tourism. Tarpon Springs prospered through the 1920s and 1930s. Around this period, the sponge fleet averaged around 200 vessels. By 1936, Tarpon Springs was recognized as the “sponge capital of the world” and more than 2000 Greeks had moved to Tarpon Springs from the Dodecanese islands. The sponge industry in Tarpon Springs was growing to its maximum. But that abruptly changed in the 1940s; a red tide algae bloom occurred in 1947, wiping out the sponge fields in that region of the Gulf of Mexico, most of the sponge boats and divers switched to fishing and shrimping (prawns) for a livelihood. The city then converted most of its sponge-related activities, especially the warehouses where they were sold, into tourist attractions. The Sponge Docks are now mostly shops, restaurants, and museums dedicated to the memory of Tarpon Springs’ earlier industry. Most sponges sold on the docks are now imports: Relatively few sponges are harvested from the area, although attempts have been made in recent years to restart local sponge harvesting. In the late 1980s the sponge industry made a comeback Led by local businessman George Billiris (whose wife is Mayor of Tarpon Springs—Symi Visitor March 2008), and in the fall of 2007 a record harvest of sponges by

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Boosting Tourism in the Sister Cities: Symi and Tarpon Springs Tourism is down throughout the globe, and this year, Tarpon Springs was no different. George Billiris, sponge merchant, gift shop owner, operator of the tour boat St. Nicholas, (and husband of the Mayor Beverly Billiris) has seen a lot in all his decades living and working at the Sponge Docks. In 60 years working at the docks, however, he has never seen tourism and business so bad. Seeking to foster a turnaround, Billiris is putting together a marketplace event at the Sponge Docks. For the first time since 1924 the boat he operates, which takes tourists on a simulated sponge diving trip, is staying tied up during the week. The boat now only sails on weekends, if there are enough tourists, and for special trips. For the last several months only a handful of visitors have been walking along Dodecanese Boulevard, the main street of the riverfront tourist district. Summer traditionally is the slowest time of the year for the local tourist economy, but it has

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The Never Ending Love of Symi and its Patron Saint Although fame and fortunes have come to many of the people of Symi in other lands, the love of Symi and Archangel Michael is obvious in the third generation American teenager’s remark, upon his arrival in Symi’s harbor. “I have never been in Symi but I feel like I have always lived here from the stories I have heard.” When the sponge fleet left so did all the other industries. The inhabitance of Symi went to Rhodes, Piraeus, Egypt, the Congo, Australia and the Unites States of America. In the Untitled States the Sarris and Xynidis families settled in settled in St. Augustine, Florida where they continued their families trade; ship building. The Arfaras, Galolurakis, Kantonis, Kat-

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Tarpon Springs

the Symi Visitor | Spring 2009

“Sponge Capital of the World” 

Continued from page 19

a single boat was made. Now, Tarpon Springs is back to being a leader in the world’s natural sponge market. All aspects of the sponge industry are available to view in Tarpon Springs, from the harvesting of the sponges, all the way to the auctions that are now held weekly at the Sponge Docks. In addition to seeing the history of sponge harvesting, visitors can experience the Greek influence. Greek restaurants and shops are located throughout the area. Seafood, Greek salads, and pastries are particularly popular. Many visitors attend Greek Festivals. St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Cathedral was modelled after the great Byzantine cathedrals such as St. Sophia Cathedral in Constantinople and is open daily to visitors. Today, Spring Bayou, site of the first settlement, is still a delightful place. Visitors can stroll along the winding streets and see houses that reflect the grandeur of the wealthy who came to Tarpon Springs each year to escape the harsh Northern winters. Tarpon Springs has a peacefulness and quaint charm that Symians would enjoy as they reconnect with relatives and family friends.

Love of Symi and its Patron Saint 

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saras and many other families went to Tarpon Springs, Florida where they opened wholesale sponge exchange companies. The majority of the islands people went to New York, Pennsylvania and Ohio taking jobs in the mills and factories. Their dreams were of returning to their wealthy little island after five years. Little did they realize that one leaves Symi never to return.

Boosting Tourism in the Sister Cities 

Continued from page 19

never been this bad in recent memory, Billiris said. Once a rare sight, vacant shops now dot the Sponge Docks. The rest of the city is faring even worse, with vacant storefronts and restaurants visible along Pinellas and Tarpon avenues, the city’s main commercial strips. Billiris said he could not bear watching local businesses go down the tubes. “We just felt we have to do something to help all the local merchants who are suffering all over the city, not just at the Sponge Docks,” he said. “We can’t just sit back and join in with the apathy and negativity.” In Billiris started to utilize his two dockside car parks to create a marketplace. Businesses and restaurants in the city were given an opportunity to showcase their offerings at booths set up in the parking lot for a nominal fee to cover costs. The event will featured live music, dance and, in the tradition of Tarpon Springs, the occasional belly dancer. Dodecanese Boulevard remained open during the marketplace and businesses and city officials supported his plan. The marketplace is still evolving but Billiris envisions a monthly or bi-monthly event. More volunteers from the community can make the idea work well. Like Tarpon Springs, Symi Mayor, has been considering ways to get Symi businesses and hoteliers to work together to better utilize Symi’s natural resources during the off season to draw niche tourists; hikers, bird watchers, artists and photographers. The Sister City link gives officials in both locations an opportunity to exchange ideas.

Billiris might as well have been talking on behalf of Symi when he said, “We have to do something to get the tourists back to our area, we have to Wherever the people of Symi went they carried two things with them, their promote ourselves.” love for Symi and their worship of Archangel Michael, the patron Saint of the island. In America this was depicted in Symi Circle in Morehead City, North Carolina, Archangel Michael Shrine, Tarpon Springs, Florida, and Archangel Michael Greek Orthodox Church, Campbell, Ohio. The same was true all over the world wherever the people of Symi went.

Immigration Update 

Continued from page 13 central state that should deal with the problem, not the poor people who live on them.”

migrants take enormous risks to reach what they hope will be a better life in the west.

As Greece’s overstretched coastguard dispatched “We are totally against the transformation of sacred high-speed craft to patrol the isle, officials were Patmos into a ghetto for hungry immigrants from asking which far-flung island would be next. Africa and Asia,” the island’s union of hoteliers wrote to the centre-right Prime Minister, Costas KaramanNo day now passes without migrants desperate to lis. “Our island cannot be promoted as a destinaflee poverty and conflict illegally entering Greece. tion for high-end tourism on the one hand, and on the other allow hundreds of illegal immigrants to “Greece is taking more punishment in terms of the wander around hungry and dirty.” numbers arriving than other EU states where border controls have been tightened,” said Martin Baldwin- Appealing to Greek authorities to improve Athens’ Edwards, who runs the Mediterranean Migration slow asylum process, human rights groups say Observatory at Panteion University in Athens. “It’s the remote islands that will most suffer, but it’s the

With the government struggling and putting its hope in more EU aid, the overload is also being felt in morgues as the number of unidentified migrants found dead along the Greek coastline also mounts.

said it wasn’t going to take any more, and we were really stuck.”

Last year nearly 200 men, women and children were buried in unnamed graves, mostly on islands where their bodies had washed up. While some were killed attempting to sneak across the heavily landmined border Greece shares with Turkey, most drowned trying to swim to Greek shores, often after being pushed overboard by people smugglers. Adapted in part from The Guardian, 2008

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5/6/09 10:08:49 AM


Winter in Symi

the Symi Visitor | Spring 2009

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Winter in Symi Winter Is Icumen In James Collins

Inspiration comes at unexpected times, usually when you are doing something mundane that you don’t have to think about; cleaning your teeth, weeding the garden, reading this… Today it came while I was watching the boats leaving the bay and heading off across a calm sea, seemingly unaffected by the strong, cold breeze sweeping down from the north.

approx. 1260) and, as far as I know, not yet written. Writing… winter… time on my hands and lots of possibilities. What to do? Suddenly, admiring the neighbour’s washing line and trying to remember a day when she had nothing on it, my mind started to work. It never ceases to surprise me when that happens. Other people are even more amazed at this rare event.

I had had an idea and I had to write it I was trying to think of what to write down before I forgot it. So here I am. and went out onto the terrace to drink in the view, listen to the neighbours Two questions come to mind, two around the corner chatting vocifer- things Symi visitors often ask, 1) ously, get some fresh air, watch the ‘What’s it like in the winter?’ and 2) workmen relentlessly pushing wheel- ‘What do you do in the winter?’ The barrows up and down the lane and see tempting answers to which are, 1) if anything caught my imagination. It’s like this but colder, and 2) mind your own business. The more polite While standing there looking at the answers, however, are briefly explored electric cable to the house and won- below. dering why it was held together with a piece of masking tape, my mind ticked ‘What’s it like in over. Things around me registered the winter?’ subconsciously, the cold breeze, the clear sky, the brittle air, the old lady I assume people are asking about passing by wearing pop-socks and Symi life. ‘It’ is a pretty vague word but carrying a plank. A tune came into the fact that the question is usually my head: ‘Winter Is Icumen In’, the antidote for the traditional English round ‘Summer Is Icumen In’ (dated

asked of me while on the island helps to narrow down the possibilities. Well, yes, it is quieter, with fewer visitors and less residents as some return to other homes or to work elsewhere. And there are fewer opportunities for eating out. But there are more opportunities to catch up with friends who have been beavering away at work seven days a week for the summer, there is time to enjoy the festivals and events that happen and more time to search out company and invite people in for meals and entertainment. That is if like us, you do part time work in the winter. Not everyone does, and life for full time workers carries on much as it did in the summer only with less sweat involved, though just as much toil. But before I can fully settle down to my winter schedule of tapping out nonsense, putting together a new book of anecdotes, writing my family history and generally enjoying hours of creative time in the fridge that the front room becomes, there are some practical matters to attend to. And before we can really get into the social whirl, which is an ex-pat, part-timeworking, all year round, resident’s

way of winter life there are things to be done. For example, there is the roof to paint. The flat roofs often crack slightly under the searing summer sun, and those cracks require filling, otherwise rain will find a way in and drip perilously close to the Xbox and other essential winter survival items. There is wood to be gathered (for those lucky enough to have a real fire) and this can come from various sources. I’d been saving the old vine twigs for kindling, but a small snake has set up home in that pile now so I may leave it alone and start collecting again. Lots of people go through an exchange period at this time of year

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Wintering in Symi am still producing work based on the sketches I made. We have not visited any other Greek Island, though I would like to, but I don’t think anywhere would grab my heart quite as much as Symi did, it was magical.

Rita Herbert It has been 14 years ago since we spent seven months wintering in Symi. It was our first time on the island. After thirteen years my memory of the things I observed and drew are very sharp and I

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Our reasons for coming to Symi were unusual. At the time we lived in a city close to an oil refinery and the fumes from this were damaging my husband’s health as he has a chest condition. We had put our house up for sale, but our timing was not ideal, the housing market was depressed and we were unable to sell. Rather than spend another winter there we rented our house and looked for somewhere that offered clean air and little traffic pollution. We had a Greek

friend who was helping us and he suggested Symi as meeting our requirements. So it was by word of mouth we came to discover Symi. I must confess that at first I didn’t even know where to find Symi, and even with an atlas it was hard to spot! I had trained to be an artist in my youth, (which I might add was many years ago!) I have been painting all my life but more so in the last 15 years as family responsibilities have lessened. Though I have done quite a few paintings in watercolour it is not my preferred medium as I paint more in oils and acrylics. Watercolour is always a challenge as it is a difficult medium to handle well and needs a lot of practice. I have admiration for really skilled watercolourists. Oil and acrylic works have the advantage of not needing to be framed and under glass. Having said this, watercolours are easily transported

Continued on page 23

5/6/09 10:08:50 AM


22

Winter in Symi

the Symi Visitor | Spring 2009

Winter Is Icumen In 

Continued from page 21

as things come out of summer storage, carpets are cleaned and put back down on the cold, stone floors, bags of clothes are excavated and aired; the duvet is back on the bed and sheets of plastic are pinned to windows to keep out water and wind. There is a period of generally making the house ‘winter-proof’, though it often only helps to temper the chill rather than preventing it completely. But, once everyone has recovered from the summer shifts, and the prewinter chores are completed, the social diary can start to fill. Now I can shed some light on:

‘What do you do in the winter?’ This winter has a theme in our household: learning and re-learning. I am hoping that Neil will learn how to turn lights off when he’s finished with them, but it’s doubtful, and I am hoping that the Alarm Cat will learn how to keep snakes out of the wood pile, but that too looks unlikely. Instead the former is going to learn music and the later

is going to find new and interesting places to sleep, which is something both of them do all year round, so no change there. As for myself, I am going to put my mind towards piano and Greek practise. A group of us will be getting together for language ‘lessons’. It’s rather alarming that I have been appointed ‘Greek teacher’ as I am neither Greek nor a teacher. But thanks to several years of Latin when younger I do know the difference between a noun and an adjective. I am also quite adept at explaining the third person plural indicative active, and I once spectacularly pointed out the difference between a protasis and an apodosis (if you try it, you’d probably love it). And what I can’t do with my litotes is nobody’s business. Actually, I am not the cleverest person I know and I just looked up those things in a grammar dictionary as I had no idea of their existence until now. But I won’t actually be teaching, merely trying to control a group of people in an

overcrowded environment. Oh, it’s the same thing.

Apart from the language and music practice there are many other, more appealing things to do on Symi in the winter months. Going to Rhodes when it’s windy is always a thrilling gamble. There are things to keep up, our blog, the housework, our reputation. There are things to keep down, the plastic covering the leaky skylight, the electricity bill, the cat from the sofa. There are things to take up, new hobbies, dinner invitations, wet carpets. There are things to put down, towels under doors, damp carpets, the cat. (Only joking.) There are places to visit, the hardware shop for more So, ‘what’s it like in the winter?’. Busy. roof plastic, the electricity board to ‘What do you do in the winter?’ Keep pay the bill, the cat sanctuary. (Still busy. ‘Yes but what do you really do only joking.) There are things to give in the winter?’ Don’t be a busy-body. up, wearing shorts, sitting outside, I’m busy. swimming. There are things to give in to, dinner invitations, party invitations, and temptation. And there are more serious things to do. We will be taking a short break to Marathunda over the Panormi-

The History of the Erection of the Shrine of Saint Michael Taxiarchis  and I will help finish it.” The day following the dream, Maria again visited the Archbishop and described the conversation in the dream and showed him the marks on her arm made by Taxiarchis’ hand. Still, after all these events the Archbishop did not grant permission to build the Shrine. The land on which the Shrine now stands was originally bought for her daughter Goldie, for whom a house would be built one day. But as instructed in the dream she poured the Holy Water on the ground and the work for erection of the Shrine began. In a very short time the Shrine was built and within a year the Shrine was ready for Liturgy. Much to her distress, the Archbishop, the President of the Community, and the local Greek authorities informed her that they would not allow a Liturgy to be served in the Shrine. Maria was extremely upset. She recalls that a few days later, the Taxiarchis appeared again and told her, “Do not fear. Everything will be all right.” The next morning, as she was going to light the candles, she saw Bishop Germanos (Polyzoides) in the Shrine chanting the Hymn of Taxiarchis. When he finished, she

approached him. He congratulated her for her Faith and her work, and told her that she had his permission to have Liturgies in the Shrine. She was overcome with happiness. It was she thought another “miracle”. Since that day, the Shrine celebrates with the most magnificent Liturgy. Many come to honour the Archangel Michael. Since building the Shrine in Tarpon Springs, Maria Dim noted some of the miracles performed by the Taxiarchis at the Shrine.

A Young Girl Receives Her Sight In the year 1943, a short time after the Shrine was built many pilgrims came to the Shrine; among the pilgrims was a mother with her frail six year old daughter,. The girl had lost her sight when she was two years old, because of disease. Her mother told Maria that she dreamt Taxiarchis told her to bring the child to this Shrine and she would get her sight back. After a request

tis weekend (7th to 9th November) and attending the festival. Walks are planned and this will start (though probably not finish) in an opposite direction to the kafeneion. There will no doubt be quizzes and DVD nights, dinner parties and maybe even a murder mystery party. There are several name days and church festivals that we could attend. Early next year there will be Epiphany, and then the pre-Lent carnival, various parade days, and Independence Day in March, and before you can say ‘Koukoumas’ we will all be asking ‘where did that winter go then?’. Just like we are now saying ‘that summer went fast’.

Continued from page 6

prayer by Father Karaphilis, the girl regained her sight.

A Crippled Woman is Cured Mrs. Tavlandos, from Chicago, suffering from an incurable disease and unable to walk, had a friend suggest that she visit the Shrine. So she came with the intention of spending all night in the Shrine. Maria told her it was her duty to keep her company until midnight. She did so, and at midnight she left her. The next morning she went to the Shrine, but the woman was gone. That afternoon, Maria heard the woman in the Shrine. She was in the best of health and told her that she had remained in the Shrine until morning, when she felt perfectly well and was able to walk without the help of her crutches.

A Woman Recovers Her Hearing During the Holy Week of the year 1954, a 36 year old woman, accompanied by her brother in law came to the Shrine to receive the Holy Unction. She apparently felt a humming in her

ears, and on her way home regained her hearing which she had lost 18 years before.

Crippled Woman (Operated Nine Times) is Cured through Taxiarchis’ Miracle On July 13, 1958 at 2pm, Mrs. Gerolmos came to the Shrine at the urging of Mrs. Tavlandos who had been cured previously. Mrs. Gerolmos’ son carried her into the Shrine while Mr. Markopolous helped her get settled. Maria rushed over and helped sit her in front of the Icon of Taxiarchis. She started to cry inconsolably. Maria tried to console her and give her strength, telling her that Taxiarchis would not forget her. At that time, Mrs. Gerolmos asked for assistance in helping her to kneel. Maria describes that during this process she personally was making the sign of the Cross with a piece of cotton dipped in the oil of Taxiarchis while also kneeling down. A few minutes after bringing Mrs. Gerolmos to her knees, she stood up and started running around the Shrine. Everyone present in the Shrine was astounded and unable to speak. At the request

Continued on page 29

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5/6/09 10:08:50 AM


Winter in Symi

the Symi Visitor | Spring 2009

23

Wintering in Symi  Continued from page 21 and this is very useful when moving around from place to place. Some of my paintings of Symi that I display on the Web were done whilst I was on the Island, others, especially those in oil and acrylic paint, were done after returning to Britain. I don’t work from photographs, though now that I have a digital camera I might use a photo as reference. I prefer to work from sketches done on location and my memory of the place. Working exclusively from photos can produce something lacking in life and vibrancy. When one sketches a scene it is fixed much more firmly in the mind, unnecessary details are edited out and the essence captured to act as a prompt to memory later. Working in this way gives the painting soul, at least that’s how I see it! I believe the art work must go into the artist in some way and come out with something of the artist in it. Working from photos seems to bypass this process and produce something much more mechanical. Trying to recall my favourite thing to paint in Symi is a challenge, since I drew everything around me. There are so many interesting shapes and colours in the buildings and the sea that it would be difficult to name one thing. One of my favourite parts of Symi was the walk to Nimborio which I did nearly every day. As spring unfolded so did the parade of flowers which summer visitors completely miss in their search for beaches and blazing sun. I had heard the road had been concreted but I am pleased that this is apparently still a rumour. I loved the climb up the steps to the upper village of Chorio with its glimpses of the sea and harbour through narrow alley ways; vistas that artists long for and that Symi offers in abundance. I took all my art materials to Symi as I did not know if they could be bought on the Island and as it turned out my hunch was right. But since I mostly sketched I did not need too many paints. We have never visited the Mediterranean or the Aegean in the summer, I prefer the green unfolding of winter and spring and the gentler slower pace too. Since Symi I have painted in New Zealand, Cyprus and Tunisia. I also paint at our beach hut at Calshot on the south coast of England, where the seashore is diverse and interesting especially when the tide is going out. I am currently doing a series of paintings based on the sand and seaweed. Even though my paintings of Symi are watercolours, I have not had particular training in watercolour; it’s a medium I have used from time to time. I have tried to improve my technique as I take a painting break for a charity every year and many of the people attending seem to want to work in watercolours. I try to teach them something about acrylics too. With watercolours the quality of the paper and paints is very important and also very expensive. The paper is particularly important but the nature of the medium makes it very difficult to correct

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mistakes so if you mess up an expensive sheet of paper you have to start again. This can be inhibiting as fear of failure is a real deadener of spontaneous work. I try to encourage amateurs to try acrylics which allow correction and if necessary can be completely painted out. Symi Visitor readers who were on Symi during the winter of 1994 may remember a little dog called Mavis who adopted us. My husband has written a book about our time in Symi and finally finished it a couple of years ago. He plans to publish it, and those who have read it have really enjoyed it. The book is written in the form of a diary with an entry for each day we stayed in Symi. Mavis the dog is the thread which holds the story together. Each day is about something experienced or observed; I will be doing the book’s illustrations. Whilst there’s a chance it may never be published it has brought my husband much pleasure and effort in finishing.

number of years. We have now moved back to West Sussex on the south coast of England. We live in Elmer near Bognor Regis where our house is very close to the sea. This move was made to be nearer our children and five grandchildren (who were not on the scene when we were in Symi) and now live nearby. Sadly we have never revisited Symi though we would like to in the near future. This year is our 40th wedding anniversary and another visit to Symi would be a nice way to celebrate that. I must admit to a bit of apprehension about how the island may have changed after seeing what has happened in parts of Cyprus, but looking at recent photos I am so pleased that it appears that things seem to have been developed sensitively in Symi.

On returning to England after our time in Symi we managed to sell our house and moved to Wales where we were engaged in voluntary work for a

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Out and About in Tarpon Springs

the Symi Visitor | Spring 2009

Out and About

Rena Faklis and young friend

A genuine Symian smile

3rd generation Symian

Nikos Halkitis (left) Michael G. Catonis (centre) Ilias Haskas (Right)

An Asteria Dancer singing solo

Mayor Beverley Billiris explains the Sister City process to 500 guests at the Symian Association Greek dance

Nik & Liz Halkitis with friend Maria Pantellis

At the Symian Association Greek dance each table featured Icon of Archangel Panormitis. 500 people attended

George Faklis (right) with close friend

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Sharing family pictrues from Symi

Symi Vice Mayor and Tarpon Springs Mayor with spouses George Billiris (far left) and Emily Haskas (far right)

5/6/09 10:08:56 AM


Out and About in Tarpon Springs

the Symi Visitor | Spring 2009

A Symian reunion of past Symi school friends

Reverend Father Michael Eaccarino with his wife

Sergio Haritos with his wife and daughter end Father Michael Eaccarino with his wife

Old friends

Lasting Symi friendships in Tarpon Springs

Katie Faklis (left) one of the organisers of the Symian Association Greek dance

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Michael Cantonis (jr.) enjoys The Symi Visitor

Grandmothers love

A proud Symian recalls memories of Symi

Tarpon Spring Symian Dom reviews the guest list

Satisfying the Symian sweet tooth

Symian Rev. John Kiramarios (right) chat with Michael Cantonis and wife Presbytera Evelyn

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26

Out and About in Tarpon Springs

the Symi Visitor | Spring 2009

Symian Stamatia Kypreos celebrating her 95th birthday

Tasso and Diane Anastasiades celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary

Vasile Faklis (center) played a central role in forging the Sister City Agreement

Symian cousins with Taxas Supermarket owner Yannis

Tarpon Springs dance troupe Asteria Dancers

Tarpon Springs has over 300 dancers. Children performing at the opebning ceremony of the 75th Anniversary dance of The Symian Association dance

The grand piano at the dance featured photographs of the founding fathers of the Tarpon Springs Symian Association

Three Generations of Symians : Goldie with her niece and great niece.

Symian Goldie digs for the Vice Mayor’s gold!

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Symians- The Faklis Family with Symi Vice Mayor and his wife Emily, are key members of the Symian Association

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Out and About in Symi

the Symi Visitor | Spring 2009

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Out and About in Symi

Out and About in Symi continued on page 30

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Commentary

the Symi Visitor | Spring 2009

Why Symi Has Not Been So Affected by the Decline in Tourism A study conducted and published by Piraeus Bank found that “all inclusive” package holiday tours cause problems for local economies and for Greece tourism. Despite the fact that Greece has many comparative advantages over its competitors, it is still perceived as a “sun and sea” tourist destination. As a result, the Bank’s report finds that more than half of the hotel beds are concentrated in just three regions; Crete, Dodecanese and the Ionian islands. Mass tourism, the packages organized and sold by major tour operators abroad, still represent a significant share of the market, accounting for 6 out of every 10 visitors to Greece. The report found that because of this, Greece is heavily dependent upon these tour operators and this can affect the negotiating ability of Greek businesses. In examining hotel performance numbers, the study notes that the package tour industry has Greece’s tourism sector trapped in a vicious cycle with no easy way out. The apparent weaknesses inherent in Greek tourism mean that hotels face problems of seasonality and occupancy. This in turn impacts earnings and without adequate revenue it becomes more difficult to modernize and adapt to the demands of an international clientele. In turn hotels become less and less attractive and eventually out of date, as a result the cycle is perpetuated. Fortunately for Symi, packaged tours have not dominated the island’s hotel industry. Villas and small hotels offered through Symi Visitor Accommodation, Kaladoukas Holidays, and also directly with Symi hotels such as Hotel Fiona in Chorio, Opera House in Yialos and Iapetos Village, to name a few, draw upon a clientele of long time Symi visitors, as well as those with family roots on Symi and European tourists who do not visit Symi via all inclusive package holidays. Where Symi has felt the economic impact is from day trippers with tighter wallets. Whilst daily excursion boats bring hoards of tourists for the day, many are not spending like they did in the past. Furthermore, the market is highly seasonal, 89% of the season occurs between May-September. In 2007, the Pireaus Bank report found that the average occupancy rate was 61.5%, the 2008 occupancy rates have not yet been released.. The global economic crisis, the increasing price of fuel, unfavourable exchange rates do not paint a rosy picture, but the longer term prospects are still good, but it requires change in business strategy to extend the summer season on Symi, and segment the tourist market, capitalising on reaching out to social networks that already exist and can be targeted online for hikers, travel photographers, bird watchers, artists, religious historians, and more. Symi’s Mayor plays an important role in working with Symi business owners, to explore ways in which the tourist season can be extended and tourists with special interests could be catered to on the island.

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Puzzle answers on the inside back cover

Word Search Theme: Panormitis Monastery

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5/6/09 10:09:21 AM


Commentary

the Symi Visitor | Spring 2009

The History of the Erection of the Shrine of Saint Michael Taxiarchis  of Mrs. Gerolmos, Maria called Father Raptis of Saint Nicholas Church who came immediately. Mrs. Gerolmos relayed the story to Father and asked him to pray before the Icon. After the prayer, Mrs. Gerolmos placed her crutches before the Icon of Taxiarchis, and departed for home.

The Shrine’s Bell Rings during the Night On July 19th, 1958 at about eleven O’clock in the evening, while Maria was with some relatives discussing the miracles of Taxiarchis, the group heard the Shrine’s bell ring two times. Maria describes the experience this way: “We thought that someone was ringing the bell as they were passing by. We went to see who it was. We didn’t see anybody and the rope was in place. This happened three more times

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Continued from page 22

before a new miracle took place. This was taken as a sign of the coming miracle.” There are other miracles that Maria witnessed, but she writes that she cannot tell them all. But she believes that those she has related are enough for each Christian soul to believe in the power and Grace of Almighty God and the Archangel, who willingly offered His help to and guidance to all who approach with faith and ask for His aid. SV Comment: The miracles that Maria recounts still continue. This year, in Tarpon Springs a Cuban woman attending the evening service on Friday November 7th, recounted to The Symi Visitor how the Taxiarchis had healed her. Unable to walk due to severe problems with her knees, a friend brought her to the Shrine several years ago, where she prayed

to Saint Michael. Her prayers were heard; now she is able to walk without any aid. This year she was planning again to spend the night in the Chapel and give thanks to the Taxiarchis. Throughout the service she sat with an Icon on her lap. Meanwhile on Symi at the Panormitis Monastery, pilgrims crowded into the Chapel to pay their respects to Saint Michael for His Name Day celebration, witnessed a miracle. Reportedly the crowd witnessed the face of the Icon disappear revealing the wood behind and then reappear. The event was recounted to others at the Monastery, and word spread quickly. It was even reported in an Athens newspaper.

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Out and About / Puzzle Answers

the Symi Visitor | Spring 2009

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5/6/09 10:09:32 AM


Real Estate

www.symi-property.com

the Symi Visitor | Spring 2009

Real Estate

31

Contact Us Telephone: 22460 72755 Mobile: 6973 370 611

Tunnel House

Pedi Bay Water Front

As featured in Kathimineri’s explore Nature Magazine Rare opportunity to purchase three connecting ruins. With fine architectural features. Located near the Symi musuem. For someone who appreciates neo-classic architectural restoration.

Moor Your Boat in Front! Enjoy barbeques in the courtyard. Minutes on foot from the St. Nicholas beach. A great house for the summer. Enjoy open views of the boats across Pedi Bay.

Mule House

Pedi Bay Water Front

Easy access to this quaint house nestled among the Symian locals. One large bedroom with connecting bathroom, leading upstairs to the lounge/kitchen area with a mousandra bedroom. Enjoy the views of Pedi Bay from both inside and outside dining areas. Make an offer today

2 story house directly infront of marina. Approx. 75 sq. m. open floor plan.

Spitaki Rose

Uninterrupted sweeping views of the harbour. This house comes with an additional plot of land for development or to keep as a private garden for outdoor entertaining.

Traditional two storey house with one bedroom and double bed mousandra. Refurbished in 2003. Combines classic Greek simplicity. Views across the harbour to Turkey. Lower courtyard and side terrace.

Villa Flora

Mavrovouni

New Construction: Customise this stunning home to suit you. Commanding views of Symi harbour, this spacious-airy villa has high ceilings and outdoor courtyards. Perfect for entertaining.

Milos (Steno Spiti)

Chorio - Museum Area

One of only a handful of Medieval ruins on Symi with a tunnel. Plans are for two flat roofed structures and a third over the tunnel. Unique restoration project nestled in the village.

New construction: Stunning 2 story house, 2 / 3 bedrooms with ensuite bathrooms, living/ dining, kitchen with sweeping views to Pedi Bay. 3 large terraces and unique in Symi--garage for vehicles / boat

Pedi Bay

50 meters from the sea and walking distance to restaurants and beach this upstairs flat is perfect.

www.Symi-Property.com 0509_TheSymiVisitor.indd 31

5/6/09 10:09:35 AM


32

the Symi Visitor | Spring 2009

0509_TheSymiVisitor.indd 32

Real Estate

5/6/09 10:09:39 AM

spring 09  

spring 09 brochure

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