Cretan Disaster (3 of 6)
The End of Reason
Oh. My. God.
Perhaps this wasn’t the greatest idea in the world after all.
After 10 hours of aborted sleep attempts, I’m already sick of boats (not a good sign, considering what lies ahead), but alas, I arrived in Athens with enough time to find a ticket for Santorini and board. No time for the Acropolis.
So, doubling back about six-tenths of the way I’ve just been, I have six hours ahead of me. Ah well, it means I should have time to find the Acropolis on my return journey. (NB. always looking for the silver lining!) I’m knackered, and I am sick of giddy children, so I locate a nice, quiet corner to curl up in and, well, sleep. All this for Santorini. Better be good! I could do with a shower too. Shall I just complain some more? Can’t even write. Six hours and counting…
Sometime later that day…
Not exactly on Santorini yet. Managed to chill a little better on that last ferry. It only took about five hours – cool. Devouring a croissant-scroll thingy (as I believe they’re known in the local patisserie!) and a very strong coffee, I still managed to snooze a little amongst countless other backpackers sprawled round the deck – much to the disapproval of the pacing and muttering staff. Five hours of breathtaking scenery, I might add, and the sun is radiant. Man, these people know how to live. Five hours hardly seems long enough. Well, long enough for me, but not for my destination. Hmmm. Oh well, just lucky I guess. More time for Santorini. Or so I thought…
On vaguely hearing a muffled voiceover, something about "not stopping long, please disembark," I shuffle sheep-like down the stairs with the rest of the passengers lacking independent thought. "Tis only after I disembark that I read the sign, "Welcome to Paros".
Oh no (think Phoebe inflection). This is not good. Must double-check.
About to about-face when I surmise just what the voiceover probably said: "not stopping long, as this boat is continuing on to Santorini," just as the said vehicle vanishes into the azure mass. Shame it’s such a picture…
Shit. I’m still not on Santorini. This island does look divine though (NB. always looking for the silver lining!). It’s about now that I think about discarding the whole Santorini idea. After all, it’s 2pm; how realistic is it to get to Santorini, back to Athens, then back to Crete in time for a flight to Dublin? And did I mention that the said destination is in fact a mere four hours away from my original departure point? But I feel it’s my duty to at least stand on its volcanic shores. I’ve come this far, even if I only do just that. I must get to Santorini.
Not a problem. I’ll just jump on the next available ferry to Santorini. Dodging touts, I find myself explaining my situation to one of countless ferry operators, naively assuming this shouldn’t be a problem.
I debate, for the best part of what seems like a millennium, with an unrelenting ticketer (dismissive cow), and realise from the start I won’t be getting anywhere, let alone Santorini, with her attitude dictating my itinerary. It’s plain and clear: one ticket, one destination. Yes, but I bought this ticket to Santorini, can’t I just get on the next available ferry? You know, like break-of-journey (accidental in this case!). Man, I can see how people might try to abuse the island-hopping rights, but listen woman, I’ve been on a goddamn ferry since 7pm last night, am NOT the happiest of campers and just want to get to Santorini. At least, this is the virtual conversation going on in my weary head, though in reality I was slightly more polite.
She does not appreciate my urgency or have any empathy for my masochistic itinerary.
"No. You bought that ticket in Athens."
"And? What kind of excuse is that!"
"It’s been torn, you can’t use it," she says, opting for Lame Excuse No.7, in Chapter 10 of the Bastards-R-Us Guide to Greece.
"Okay, fine, but can I at least use the unused portion of my ticket, or pay the difference, and/or be reimbursed for the part I’ve already paid for?"
She ain’t budging. Jaysus. Someone needs a group hug! Either that or the loan of a tampon. (Well, not a loan, as in "I’d like it back," but I’m suspecting/hoping her hormones are partially responsible for her, erm, candour!)
"You have to buy a new ticket."
"Okay, fine. When’s the next ferry then?"
Oh great. So now I’m going to get to Santorini just in time to return to Athens! If I don’t get the early ferry to Athens it won’t connect with the night ferry to Crete, which I have to get in order to catch my flight back to Dublin.
Okay, deep breath. Just as I’m about to give in – well, not much choice really – she volunteers, "It’s not the company’s fault."
Fortunately I refrain from my would-be reactionary response: "I never said it was the company’s fault. I realise that. I acknowledge it’s my fault for accidentally disembarking here, I just want to get to Santorini woman!"
Why I am going there at all now is beyond me, but, I must.
Okay, I’m calm now.
Paros is absolutely stunning, and well worth the accidental stopover. I decide I’d like to live here and have lots of children running up and down the white stucco steps and things.
Hmm, "temporal insanity" of overcoming a poor situation? This, this is what I wanted to see in Greece. Blue-domed churches, windmills, wandering cats and dogs (one of whom I befriended and fed and talked with, which made my day), little old men sipping coffee and smoking pipes on their little chairs outside their little white houses (one of whom befriended me, talked with, erm, offered me coffee and a pipe, though I declined), colourful doors and steps and railings; vibrant fuchsia-coloured, erm, bougainvillea and vines winding over the white stucco.
My journey has just been validated.
Okay, the panic’s over. Regardless of how much of Santorini I see, this is good. Now, I shall just let this dapper barman continue handing out the Mythos and kill a little more time till the ferry.