“Cruising the Dodecanese” is Peter Sommer Travels’ last scheduled cruise in Greece in 2017. This year, to give an impression of the experience, we are providing a diary of sorts on our blog. Rather than describing every day in detail (you can check our itineraries on www.petersommer.com for that), every day we will pick one image we took that day, accompanied by some explanations and thoughts.
We started from Chalki today, having breakfast at Alimia, a small island with a well-protected bay where the city-state of Rhodos (Rhodes) used to winter its fleets, and continuing to Symi, that small and barren island stuck between the North of Rhodes and the west-grasping peninsulas of the Anatolian mainland. Symi is more associated with sponge-diving than any other place, and for good reasons.
I have written about Symi before: it is a must-see place. Not for its ancient history, which is marginal at best, but for its harbour town with a long-gone century of urban history based on the sponges. There is nothing like it, it represents a period of immense but long-gone affluence and it is delightful. It is also a history lesson in stone and plaster.
One element of trade, the sponge with its dangerous and complex diving component, defined Symi in antiquity and in the Ottoman era: Symi was identical with sponge-diving. It was the main trade in this island. The boastful pride of the Symi houses is the reflection of the risks taken by sponge-divers long ago.
Tomorrow, I expect we’ll go for Rhodes.