A Life in a Year – 30th August, A Blue Star Ferry and a Greek Taxi

I was conscious that we had to get up very early and consequently I had a restless night and woke prematurely sometime before the alarm because it was on my mind that we had to catch the seven-thirty ferry to Naxos. It was still dark when I got up first at about six o’clock and then used my banging about and switching the lights on technique to wake the girls. Not very sophisticated I have to concede but it worked well enough.  Packing a rucksack is quite straightforward and the girls had already perfected the back-packers art of cramming without folding so it didn’t take long to get ready.

The Blue Star ferry was much bigger that I had imagined it would be and we made directly for the top deck and found ourselves a nice seat next to a young German couple. The sun wasn’t up yet but dawn’s rosy fingers were spreading across the already busy port and the first bit of early morning Mediterranean sun was bathing the boat with a teasing morning warmth and solar cheer. The ferry left precisely on time and cast off was accompanied by the sun rising majestically over the city. Unfortunately as we left port it disappeared on the other side of the boat! Being some time since I was in the Boy Scouts and not having a compass with me I’d misjudged our position and direction of travel and set us down on the western side of the deck. It was a bit chilly in the shade and we had to wait about two hours before the ferry and the sun synchronised their position in our favour and we were able to fully enjoy the warm rays of the morning sun.

It was a good journey and the German couple were very entertaining. They were on their way to Santorini and had arrived the night before on a flight from Hamburg and had spent the night drinking in a bar in Piraeus, they hadn’t slept a wink all night and were in a very bad mood with each other. We couldn’t understand German of course but there is an international language of grumpy and we could comprehend that well enough. He was the worst and really very argumentative, I especially liked it when he returned a piece of litter to another passenger that they had inadvertently dropped and it had blown his way. Don’t get me wrong I admire that sort of environmental awareness and litter enforcement zeal but I think it’s wise to check on whom you are picking on before making a fuss over a sweet wrapper (size, muscles, tattoos etc.) After all mid-journey it’s a long swim to Naxos or back to Piraeus. We had a good rambling gossip about them (and Germans in general) and then later realised that they could speak excellent English (doh!). It took about 5½ hours to sail the one hundred and three nautical miles to Naxos including a stop off in Paros and it was a good journey except that there wasn’t any Mythos in the bar.

Being on the top deck of the ferry had kept us quite cool but when we arrived in Naxos it was one o’clock and really very hot. We got off and ran the gauntlet of the frantically animated Greek apartment owners all imploring us to choose their accommodation. The associated chaos was not dissimilar to a French bus queue and I’m not sure which part of ‘no thank you’ they didn’t fully understand but it was an entertaining passage from harbour to town nonetheless and we knew that we would have to go through the whole experience whenever we got off of a ferry again for the entire holiday. And we looked forward to it!

The sun was strong and we walked into town and choose a taverna using tablecloths as a primary selection criteria. We found what we were looking for, a nice green check, and I ordered a Mythos! To my complete surprise Sally and Charlotte choose a Greek salad so just to be different I had a Naxion salad instead. I don’t think I will be having another one! It wasn’t inedible or disgusting or anything, it was just smothered in a sort of cottage cheese, which was a bit sticky and there was an awful lot of it! I had to have another Mythos to wash it down!

We decided that it was time to find our accommodation so we looked for a taxi to take us there. We found one without any difficulty at all and after loading our backpacks in the boot I jumped into the passenger seat and burnt my arse on the red-hot vinyl that had been baking in the hot sun all morning. Sizzle, sizzle no warning or anything! I felt like a griddled steak and I noticed that the driver’s seat had a towel strategically placed across the seat to offer protection but there was nothing for the passengers.  In England we are so obsessed with health and safety that there would surely have been a warning on the dashboard or something but there was nothing here to advise that I might suffer 1st degree burns just by getting into the taxi and sitting down.

It was just a ten-minute ride to our hotel, the Agios Prokopios, which turned out to be really good. Nice people and a very agreeable room with balconies front and back so that we could get the morning and the afternoon sun. We quickly unpacked (well not so much unpacked but threw our bags untidily on the floor) and went to the pool where we chilled out for a while.

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