…36.5483*N, 27.84638* E
30th June 2016
We had enjoyed Simi town very much, especially watching the boats parking in the notorious crosswinds of the harbour. Almost everybody we see that comes in and parks underestimate the strength of the wind. The one thing they do wrong is drop their anchor directly in front of there berth, so when the come to park, your either on top of the boat downwind of you, or, you’re in the place you didn’t want to be in! We’re not ones to boast, but parking and leaving were all done suburbly. We caught no ones anchor, no one caught our anchor, and we didn’t crash. That couldn’t be said for the other yachts and boats that had come to visit this small, quiet, fishing town.
Anyway, back out in open sea, we were all very exited to be visiting these gorgeous islands, which have lovely hot temperatures and lots of history…..and since nobody is visiting these precious gemstones, we’ll have them to ourselves!😏. As we passed bay after bay, with the small and sandy beaches at the ends, with parasols and sun beds, it sprung to me that the bay we were going to had a small, sandy beach with no tourists or parasols or sun beds or anything like that, it was In fact a lovely, sheltered and peaceful bay which had a picturesque monastery called “The Monastery of Archangel Michael Panormitis” and boasted an old Greek windmill at the entrance, painted the way they were in the traditional cloud white and terracotta red tiled roofs. The bay we were going to was called Panormitis. In the main harbour on Symi there are also five, derelict windmills that stand next to each other, on the same side as the castle, but all very much out of function unlike the one at Panormitis.
As we entered the cosy and empty bay, we found a nice area at the far end close to the beach to drop anchor. Once we had parked, I stared over at the large, grand building. It was a lot larger than I had thought, and the buildings seemed to be more “modern”, than they were at Rila Monastery in Bulgaria. However, the bell tower in the centre of the arrangement seemed to be very, very impressive. It was painted in a light peachy red, and Cornish sand colour, and at every o’clock, it dinged what the time was. I was very surprised when a 100metre ferry entered the bay but before it could park, it blew a large horn for five seconds……another ten seconds passed and all of a sudden, the monastery bells started chiming out a welcome song. After the jingle had finished and the ferry full of tourists had parked in front of the monastery bell tower and unloaded its hundreds of passengers they could be seen immediately swarming into the square and into the inside the monastery walls. When the ferry departed the monastery was,once again, empty.
That evening we all went out for a nice stroll with the dogs to the windmill we had seen on entering the bay. Once we had reached the windmill, the view over the sea was beautiful and the sounds of the water splashing against the rocks really made the setting quite peaceful. However, when we had entered this tranquil bay I had not seen what was nestled in right beside the windmill. Once we had climbed up there we saw quite clearly an old gun Emplacement which was coloured in the traditional army camouflage of dark and olive green and iron red.
I suspected it was an old German gun, from 1944 when they invaded and took over. What surprised me even more though was the fact that, when I had looked through the gap in the door, it seemed everything had been left how it was, so that meant……the gun ( which was huge ) was still in there! I would’ve thought it would have been a good tourist attraction, visiting an old gun from WW2, but it seemed the Greek authority’s had had a different idea and the doors, gunning window, and store holders were all padlocked. Peering through the gap in the door we could make out that the whole thing seemed perfectly intact, the sights in place and even an old gunners chair, left in the place he had last left it! 20 metres down the rocky hill is another camouflaged hut, we adventured down the sharp, jagged rocks and found this one was open.
At first, the green ladders that lead down and into the hut seemed old and I feared that as soon as I’d step on them they would give way. However, when I got down there, a sense of fear came over me, and the adrenalin of discovery kicked in….a blind corner was ahead….what lay beyond, Where would it go I thought to myself, maybe it’s going to be quite large and go right into the cliff, or maybe it will be very small and only built to fit five people into it……as it turned out, the answer was the latter. The small, tight, messy and dusty machine gun turret seemed bigger from the outside than in, but there were still plenty of photo opportunities. After leaving behind the two gun placements, and getting back to the yacht, I sat watching the lovely sunset dip behind the hill and listened as the monks sang out the evening benediction. The beautifully haunting music filled the bay as slowly the sun dropped in the sky. What a perfectly peaceful end to an interesting day.
1st July 2016
The Monastery of Archangel Michael was beautiful. It wasn’t as big as the monastery we had visited in Bulgaria-(Rila Monastery)-, but this one had a different feeling to it. When we had visited Rila monastery, no monks or priests were living in it, here however, the old and rustic rooms were the accommodations for these Orthodox Catholics.
On entering the lavish building, a large doorway takes you through and into a main square where young and old people stroll along the cobbled streets. As we entered the large praying area, three golden chandeliers hang above the us and the multi-coloured frescos lined the walls, each of them carrying the face of either Archangel Michael, Jesus or depictions of God. The room was dark and only the small windows near the ceiling let the light gush in. Once we were back out in the main square, we crossed it and entered one of two museums. The total fee for the museums is 1.50€ for adults, while it is free for children. However, by buying one ticket from one museum, you can get into both.
Inside the first one we went in the traditional lifestyle of the people living in the monastery was depicted, the folklore of old greece, which includes old pots, brooms, wardrobes, and paintings of the Archangel. Whilst in the one hidden behind the prayer room the monastery during the Byzantine era comes to life and details of how the prayers are sent to this bay from all around the world on small boats, bottles and boxes. Also in the Byzantine museum are five or six books written by monks of this monastery, dating back to the 15th-16th century.
Back outside, the bright sun beat down onto the Snow White walls which made the whole square light up with ethereal quality. When we noticed a room door open on the second floor, I peaked in and saw the large, scruffy quarters which had old frescos hanging on the wall and four beds crumbling at the far end. This was either a shared monks room, or, it could have been a room for visitors to sleep in because in the summer, part of the monastery turns into a hostel.
After exiting the monastery and going back out onto the promenade where a small taverna was, we had an excellent ice coffee and enjoyed watching the two large tourist boats, blast there horn and, once again, the bells chime a short welcome song, and then once docked, the tourists get of the boats and start being headed towards the monastery. Once they had left, the bay was once again, silent…….only the songs of birds and the noise of crickets, echoed through the bay.