The End of Santorini
Was that my relaxing week in the sun I just heard whoosh by?
Nah. Couldn’t’ve been. I’m still on a bleedin’ ferry – three down, two to go.
In a strange (possibly obscene, ludicrous and entirely self-destructive) way, I’m kinda gettin’ used to this whole non-sleep-non-explorative method of travel.But where was I? Oh yes, Paros, at the bar.
Perhaps I should’ve just stayed there. No, I’d had quite enough of a horrible little man that told me I looked, well, older than I am, and who inspired a "raised vocal discussion" over the Australian Republic issue. Most definitely foreseeably dangerous company to stay amongst, and, there were absolutely no women in the bar. And if there’s ever a bad sign, all these "men’s men" were sipping espressos. No women, no beer, what’s that about? One thing’s f’sure: no place for a girl like me!
So I head down to catch the 11pm ferry – why, I’m still not convinced; basically, my stubborn streak getting the better of me, fulfilling a need to complete what I set out to do. A pointless exercise to some, but complete selfish satisfaction for me.
Okay, how bad can this expedition get? Sure, I’m greeted with wailing winds, lapping (near-breaking) waves and the locals’ commentary of doubting "whether the weather" will allow for such a commute – which is all I need. Again I contemplate going directly back to Athens, so at least I’m guaranteed time to see the ol’ town. "Whichever boat arrives first" becomes my process of elimination as to which direction I head. In my heart of hearts I really want to stand on Santorini, but I’m also thinking rationally-ish. Well, for me. At this stage I also start contemplating flying to Athens, to Crete, to Dublin – man, to Brisbane! I’ve reached tired and whingey stage. And god, I hope it’s not my pre-menstrual week.
Alas, I meet up with a Kiwi and some Canadians and decide to board the Piraeus ferry with them – at least I’ll have conversation. And yay, both ferries arrive. I’m at least going somewhere.
Or so I thought.
"No, you can’t go on this, that ticket’s for tomorrow."
Yes. "Cos I’ve got to turn right round from Santorini and come back via here, can you not just ignore the date, or dare I suggest, change it?"
"No, head office must authorise any changes. You’ll have to go down to that office," he sez, pointing nowhere in particular.
He must be joking. Man, just let me on the boat! It’s freezing – well, not compared to Dublin standards. Okay, Santorini it is. Guess it really was meant to be. In my running back and forth from port, to ticket office, to man-at-the-gate that wouldn’t let me on, to office, I eventually queue with fellow passengers to Santorini, only to exchange bemused glances as said ferry pulls out.
Whoa! This is becoming all too familiar. However, we don’t exchange feelings of disappointment as they sigh in relief, "Ah, it’s not the Piraeus ferry," and I sigh in sheer frustration, "It’s NOT the Piraeus ferry?"
I finally get the right ticket to the right destination and the right ferry turns up to that Santo-****in’-rini place, and I miss the ****er! "Dang. Damn. Shit. Fuck," I utter in that order. Repeatedly.
I reverse-flutter back to those hospitable faces at the ticket office; they’re sick of mine, that’s for sure! "Okay. Hi. Me again. Just missed it, erm, the people I was waiting with [dispersing blame?] thought it was the Piraeus ferry, can I please just change my ticket for the Piraeus ferry when it does arrives. Where did you say I could go to do that?"
"No, you can’t."
About 10 minutes ago, this same guy said that’s exactly what I could do! What is with these people? Beginning to feel like Gilligan here. Well hey, it’s not the worst place in the world to be stranded! Except I’m not too sure I’d manage to build a grass hut!
"You have to buy another ticket if you want to go to Piraeus".
"I’ve just bought two tickets to Santorini, which I’m yet to see, and I have a ticket for Piraeus for tomorrow – but you won’t let me use that tonight! And, technically, it IS shagging TOMORROW!"
Oh-so-generous Mr. Ferryman [who I definitely wouldn’t pay till I got to the other side!] says, "Okay, you can get on the next one at 12.30am." Oh, I can get the next one now, but I couldn’t get the next one at two o’clock this afternoon, which would’ve made for a more suitable time to arrive in Santorini – and I would’ve actually had a chance to see the place! It’s okay at midnight, when there’s no point me going at all! Sherlock then says, "Why do you want to travel for four to five hours to Santorini, spend two or three hours there, only to have to turn around and come back here tomorrow morning?" As if I hadn’t questioned that myself more than once!
Oh God. Am I talking to walls? If I’m not I probably should be. This is what I told him 10 fucking hours ago! "I accidentally disembarked here and have been trying to get to Santorini ever since, but do you think you’ve let me get on the next available ferry in which to do so?"
"I think you’re best off buying another ticket to Piraeus and going back there tonight, or staying here tonight."
I’m sure he does think that. But why would I buy yet another ticket to Piraeus when I can’t use the one I’ve already bought, along with two tickets to Santorini without seeing the place? And where am I going to find accommodation at what’s rapidly approaching one o’clock in the morning in the ghost-town that is Paros?
Dammit, I’m going to Santorini, to turn around and come back, end of story.
So I’m allowed on the later ferry this time, which went via godknowswhere, Naxos, Ios, (Sydney?), arriving in… oh yes, Santorini – at 5.30am! I feel I need to kiss the ground as soon as I disembark.
It’s not even cold. There is a goddess.
Mission accomplished. Finally. Arguably wasted, though I think I’d kick myself for having come this far and not seen at least a glimpse of it. It’s at this point however that I’m not entirely sure what to do with my rapidly diminishing, now only two hours. I don’t much care. I’ve arrived; I at least should watch the sunrise. I’m tempted to stay all day and book a flight – or would that be copping out, having come this far? Or would that be sensible? Oh god I would like a shower.
While a full day would be great, I’m just thinking the way my luck, and yes, admittedly, the last-minute organisation on my part has progressed, perhaps I wouldn’t get a flight, and I’d have to do the long haul back anyway, and wouldn’t make the connecting ferry back to Crete. I think my paranoia and pessimism is understandable at this stage. No, as sad as this may seem, after 20 hours or so of boating, plus occasional landlubbing time-in-between, I spend two hours at my destination – doing SFA. Well, I bump into two backpackers, while the other passengers head to hostels for sensible things like, you know, sleep.
"Do you speak English?" I initiate.
"Cool. Are you waiting for the ferry too?"
"No, we just got here."
"Yeah, me too, but I’m goin’ straight back. Long story. Don’t even ask."
"Oh, excellent." (Feigned enthusiasm – apologies to atypical Americans.)
"But I’m originally from Iowa."
Oh, excellent. Rednecks.
Doing bio majors.
Oh, excellent, redneck anoraks!
One guy goes on and on… and on, persistently mentioning how his fraternity is "a Christian brotherhood."
Excellent: Christian redneck anoraks!
"My Pastor is Australian/"
Wow. Ain’t that neat. I finally make it, and this is what I experience. Just when I reach what I think is Sanity, turns out it’s just Santorini: the end of Sense and Reasoning.
Back on board, I’ve been on Ferry No. 4 for 1.5 hours, am waiting (as opposed to accidentally disembarking!) at Ios. I made an attempt to scrub up (i.e., throwing hot water recklessly over my head!) in the lav and actually feel reasonably human. I think I’ve gone past the needing sleep or nourishment stage. And did I mention I really, really, really, enjoyed Paros? Oh, c’mon, someone has to justify this perpetual disaster!