So, I elect to go to Santorini – bearing in mind, this was my first preference when I was booking my holiday in the first place. Being a mere four hours away – one of the closer of the Greek islands – I’m not being too ambitious. How hard can it be?
"There’s no ferries," sez a reasonably unfriendly tour operator who, like every other Customer Service Assistant (whose "service" I thought it was to assist customers?), is quite obviously looking forward to going home at the end of the season, which is, literally, the end of the week. The conversation that follows goes something like this:
"Excuse me?" (I think, but don’t verbalise) "This is the country of island-hopping-via-ferry innit?"
"It’s the end of the season," she does externalise.
"Oh, yes, so I keep hearing."
"Definitely no ferries?"
Okay, I ain’t swimmin’."
"You could fly to Athens?"
"And this would help me because…?"
"You can then get plenty of ferries from there."
"Oh. Okay. How much?"
"About 12,000 drachmas – if I can get you the special price."
"Really? Wow. That’s only about 30 quid. Okay, let’s check it out."
"No availability. They’re all booked."
"Oh," I say, slightly deflated. "Not to worry."
"You could go by ferry?"
"I thought there weren’t any ferries?"
"Not to the other islands, but there’s an overnight one to Athens."
"Oh!" I perk up. "How long does that take?"
"Ten hours. You’ll arrive at 6am and can get other ferries from there."
"Okay, that’s not so bad. It’s overnight; I didn’t have anything planned for tonight." Other than say, more conversationless, "romantic," candlelit, solo dinners with panoramic views and delightful food. Another problem with package tours is that you don’t tend to meet fellow solo travellers. Usually, the only interaction comes from those cringeworthy waiters, confirming any urban myths about "the greek male"… Count me in!
Okay, so after I get to Athens (cool – I’ve always wanted to see the Acropolis), I can get to Santorini, then a ferry back to here, preferably in time for my flight to Dublin? At this stage however, I don’t care if I end up in Turkey… Whoops .Perhaps I shouldn’t have said that. Hindsight reveals I may have jinxed myself!
"No, you can’t get a ferry back from Santorini. That’s why you can’t get one to there. You’ll have to go back to Athens."
"Oh. I see. Crete to Athens, Athens to Santorini, Santorini to Athens, Athens to Crete. Oh god… Oh fuck it. I’m brave. I’ll do it." (To appreciate this, now might be an appropriate time to get out a map!)
So… that’s why I’m here. Waiting to board the (first) ferry to Piraeus. The anticipation is much more exciting than anticipating anymore time in Crete. Well, no, I can’t blame Crete – just "the end of the season."