On July 17th I left my family in Dewey Beach, Delaware and drove 6 hours to my home in upstate New York. I had been on the road for a week and a half, first stopping in Williamsburg, Virginia for a week at a resort we had bid on in a live auction a few months earlier (before my plans for Greece were made). There were only a few hours in between to do my laundry and pack for Greece and I was certainly cursing myself for not leaving Delaware sooner. But I wanted to squeeze every minute out of our annual family beach trip.
After a few hours of sleep, I was back on the road, this time north to Montreal. My friend and co-pilot by my side, the tune’s of XM’s Yacht Rock radio bringing us back to the memories of our youth. The three plus hour ride passed in a blink as we reminisced and talked excitedly about the trip ahead of us. There were still many hours between us and the promised views at our resort in Amorgos, Greece, one of the furthest islands from the mainland of Athens where we were flying into. It was actually closer to Turkey.
Montreal is an easy airport. Their security not as tight as the U.S. and the lines nearly non-existant. We breezed through easily and had plenty of time before our flight. Our yoga instructors were on the same flight and we chatted briefly and you could feel the excitement in the air. The flight was long but sleep took me for a few hours. I had my iPad loaded with movies and plenty of books on my Kindle. We arrived in Athens nine hours later, collected our luggage and followed the sea of travelers to the nearest bathroom for freshening up. What’s next?
We had reservations for a 4:30 p.m. ferry out of Rafina port and it was 9:00 a.m. Not knowing what else to do, we caught a taxi to the port which was about a 45 minutes ride away. The port was quiet and we found our way to the travel office to retrieve the tickets as noted on our internet reservation document. The office was bursting with activity: phone lines chaotically ringing, agents speaking rapidly in Greek (the saying it’s all Greek to me could not ring more true in that moment), no one wanted to look our way. Finally there was a pause in activity and we were able to retrieve our tickets. It was only about 11 a.m. and we had several hours to pass and two large suitcases by our side.
Fortunately, we found a waiting area with lockers to stuff our suitcases away so we could explore the port town. It was getting warm by then and there was nowhere to change out of the clothes we’d been wearing since the morning before. We tucked away everything we could fit in the locker and started exploring on foot. The coastline was beautiful but I was tired and was slowly dragging my body along. My friend, Lana, was in much better shape than me. We walked up and down the roads, peeking into shops that interested us and made our way to a small church on a hill above the coast.
We were hot, tired and happy. Also hungry so we wandered the small square, finally settling on a patio, hoping the waitress spoke English. We looked at the small Greek menu and I had the idea to pull out my phone and use Google Translate. I held and hovered my phone over the menu but it didn’t seem to be working. My friend, Lana, said to hold it still because she thought she saw some English words. I pulled my phone away from the menu and the English words were ON the menu. We thought that was about the most hilarious thing. That and the fact I didn’t have wifi to use the app in the first place. We decided to try another restaurant.
The fish markets at the port were heavily scented with the catch of the day so we thought going with seafood would be the best bet. We decided to share a seafood platter with shrimp, octopus and a couple other fish, imaging a wonderful plate of steamed delight. It ended up being fried and we were both a little disappointed. The cats (and dogs) of Greece have free reign over the streets so having them watch us eat was a bit disconcerting too.
After lunch and with a couple more hours until the ferry was to depart we planted ourselves on a bench and took turns laying out flat for a small nap. Suddenly, there was a rush of air as though an airplane had flown too low or a train had rumbled past which caused us both to sit up in alert. We didn’t find out until later but we’d experienced a small earthquake that had originated miles away in the city of Athens causing the Parthenon to close for the day.
The ferry was extremely late. We came to find out there is something called Greek time and that means there is no expectation for things to happen when they are scheduled to. We finally boarded the ferry at about 5:30 but we were both ready for sleep. If you are traveling to Amorgos from Athens, do not, whatever you do, take a ferry from Rafina. Catch a flight to Santorini or Naxos – ferries (at least the one we were on) are not meant to transport you for more than an hour or two. Our ferry ride lasted nearly nine hours and I was severely motion sick from it. Losing the contents of my stomach kind of sick. I rarely get motion sick. Our arrival into Greece had turned into the longest day. Once we arrived on the island (at the wrong port), it was a 45 minute, windy transport via Amorgo’s only hilly, twisty road. But that was to be the last serious issue of the trip.