After the case of the missing case (pun inadvertent, but I’ll take it), it was with trepidation that I went to collect D from Athens airport two days later. We were flying to the island the next morning, and she couldn’t afford to wait 24hrs for her case. It occurred to me that the 8 or so suitcases still on the carousel when I was waiting for mine could be a backlog. Also, D would not be as zen (ahem) as I was about being on holiday without any of her clothing. I got to the airport as her flight landed and then proceeded to wait for an hour. The doors opened and closed and people from her flight poured out. I saw her standing nervously by the carousel, she kept turning round to gesture to me that her case wasn’t coming. I admit to feeling a knot of tension until finally, thank goodness, her case came out. We went home and slept only to get up early and go back to the airport to catch our flight to the island.

Now, you may not know this about me, but I am a planner. I like to anticipate things and plan for them, not that I am not adaptable, but I don’t usually like to leave things to chance. This aspect of my character is exaggerated when I travel. Not for me the we’ll-find-accommodation-when-we-get-there-let’s-just-book-tickets-and-see-where-we-end-up. I am not the fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants kind of traveller. When planning our holiday therefore, since our final destination is a flight and boat ride away, I timed the trip so we had a long wait on the Big Island before getting the ferry to the small island we are from. This meant I could spend time with my godson and his family, who are extremely good friends of mine who left me in London and moved on to a better life in Greece (a fact about which I am not bitter, not bitter at all, I am completely at peace with it). That evening I was invited to a 50th birthday party which started at 9:30. The ferry at 6pm left ample time for me to unpack and get ready. Like I said, planner.

We met up with our friends and they took us to the beach where we swam and sunbathed and then had a lovely lunch. Randomly, said lunch consisted of BBQ spare ribs, traditional Greek fare – er not (but delicious nonetheless). At about 5:30pm, they took us to the pier to catch our ferry. When I went to the ticket office to buy our tickets, it was closed and there was a piece of paper attached to the door saying that although the boat has been leaving at 6pm on Sundays since time began, today it would be leaving at 8pm. This was disappointing news, but certainly not the end of the world. The only problem was that we were both carrying three pieces of luggage each, so a stroll around town was not an option. Our friends had somewhere to be so we could not use their car as a storage locker. We wandered over to a café, which had about 9 customers, all old men who were playing cards and talking shit to each other. So far – so authentic Greek experience. Every so often, a woman’s voice hollered from somewhere in the distance, and one of them would run off, presumably home to have dinner.

I called my folks to let them know about the delay. They were waiting for us on the island.

“The good news is that there is a ferry to the island today,” I started. “The bad news is that it leaves at 8pm instead of 6pm.”

“You’ve made a mistake,” said Dad. “Did you read the notice right? 18:00 hours is 6pm, you know.”

It’s not only airport staff who assume I am incompetent, apparently family members agree.

“I know that 18:00 is 6pm Dad, it says that it is leaving at 20:00 and that is 8pm right?”

“Ah, yes, that’s right, what are you going to do?”

“We’ll just hang out somewhere, don’t worry. We’ll call you when we are leaving.”

At 7:30 I went back to the ticket office to buy our tickets. It was still closed with instructions to go to their Head Office nearby. I got the tickets, and asked why the boat had been delayed. They had been making an extra trip to Turkey.

“Where is it leaving from?” I asked

The ferry usually leaves from a spot near the ticket office, but sometimes it stops further down the pier, I wouldn’t ordinarily care either way, but there are only so many times I can schlep back and forth carrying three pieces of luggage.

“Oh it’s running late” the guy said.

“Yes, I know, 8pm instead of 6pm, I got it. Where will it stop when it gets here at 8?”

“No, I mean it is running late now. We think it has left Turkey, but it won’t be here til 8:30 at the earliest, and then it will have to clear Customs across the harbour before picking you all up at the end of the pier.” 

The chances of arriving at the party on time were now slim to none. I comforted myself with the thought that we are in Greece, time seems to take on a different meaning here, and also things were likely to be more relaxed than in London where turning up more than 2 hours late for a party is not good form. As I turned out of the office I heard someone shout

“OI!”.

Obviously, I turned around to see who was calling me. I mean, my name isn’t oi and I wouldn’t have turned around at all had I been at home, but on an island in Greece, it was obviously meant for me. It was P, a friend who was also going to the party. We commiserated about the delay while he pointed out that there is a café where you can leave your stuff securely, no problem. (Too late at this stage, but good to know for the future.)

At 8:45, we saw the ferry come in. It went over to the customs area, presumably off-loaded Turks and locals and stayed there until 9:15. Finally, it came over to where we stood, about 30 people, waiting patiently to get on. It didn’t even tie up, we climbed aboard and off we went.

This journey is one of my favourite journeys, and I was upset that it should take place at night, when you can’t see as much of the familiar landscape coming into view. Still though, we made it in under an hour, and I went home, changed at lightning speed and made it to the party in time to get a plate of delicious food and catch up with almost everyone I have ever met. It was a fabulous evening, and the fact that I had left home at 8:45am, and arrived at my final destination at 10:30pm, when the actual travel times involved were a 45 minute flight and a 55 minute boat trip, made it even sweeter.

So far the indications were that my holiday was not going to go as planned, but since I was on the island (affectionately known as ‘The Rock’), surrounded by friends and family, I didn’t let it bother me too much. I was ready to holiday.

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