Monday, 7 April 2014

Moonlight Serenade?

Sunday 6th April, 1.20pm. 
Waiting for the neighbours to come pick us and take us to ferry port in Rhodes. Glad we’re not flying, or we’d take up all the baggage allowance for the whole plane with all the stuff we’re taking with us.

Monday April 7th, 1.20am. Air Seats, Blue Star Ferry. 

It’s quiet now, but it hasn’t been for long. Travelling at this time of the year is quite a novelty for us. The last time we were on a huge ship like this was when we moved out here in 2005 and that was in August, when to be on board an inter-island ferry crossing the Aegean was distinctly like being one of the “boat people” in the South China seas; bodies everywhere and, if you didn’t have a cabin (which on that occasion we did, fortunately) you’d spend half the trip wandering up and down the passenger deck fruitlessly looking for somewhere to doss down, with your head on your suitcase.

Tonight it’s wonderful how much space we have, but we were somewhat dismayed when, after setting sail from Rhodes and having ensconced ourselves in our pre-booked “Airseats” in the “Airseat Lounge” fully expecting plenty of peace and quiet as the night wore on, our ears very soon picked up the sound of group singing coming from somewhere very close by.

Here in the Airseats, of which there are probably seventy or eighty in this lounge (which doubles as a “Conference Room” if the sign at the entrance is anything to go by) only a scant half a dozen or so were occupied as we sailed out of Rhodes on our way north-west to the first port of call, which was to be Kos, en route to our stop-off island, Syros. Thus we could have been forgiven for expecting to be able to gently doze off whilst reading a novel without too much difficulty. Having done a quick reccy elsewhere and found that the general level of occupancy of the entire ship was probably only about 25%, we’d congratulated ourselves on having chosen to travel by sea rather than fly, where it’s a claustrophobic’s nightmare between those far-too-close-together seats on the plane.

No, here on the Blue Star 2, there’s room to move, you can stretch your legs at will or go sit in the café or restaurant, perhaps take a stroll along the exterior deck in the starlight, yep, a pretty laid back way to start one’s holiday.

The only trouble was, there were - seated at the tables and chairs just outside our Airseat Lounge’s entrance, where there was to be found one of the ship’s several cafés - about twenty Greek ya-yas, all dressed in black and all sporting photocopied hymn-sheets from which they were soon belting out religious-sounding dirges fit to make you want to top yourself with depression. There we’d been, moments before they piped up with this droning cacophony, observing a group of Greek lads, all looking decidedly fresh and clean in their designer jeans and with earphones hanging from the usual orifices each side of their heads, telling ourselves in conspiratorial whispers how refreshingly different they were from the way they’d have looked and behaved had they been British, which would have meant us staring at tattoos galore and piercings liberally dotted about their exposed areas of skin, not to mention the ubiquitous beer cans which would have been glued to their right hands while they “goooarred!” “F-ed and blinded” and “wassupped” their way through the voyage thus disturbing the peace of their fellow passengers and generally making a nuisance of themselves.

Generalise? Me? Perish the thought.

Anyway, just as we got ourselves settled in our reclining Airseats and I’d noticed that there was a huge 60 inch flat screen TV facing towards all the seats which, just as I was about to groan about the constant presence of such devices these days, began showing the Formula 1 Grand Prix from Bahrain, thus instantly changing my view about such essential modern conveniences, this bunch of old women started up with their chants. Talk about disturbing your other passengers in not just your immediate vicinity. Give me a bunch of British yoof any day.

The only hope we could muster was that they’d be disembarking when we got to Patmos, which is a particularly popular place of pilgrimage for old Orthodox grannies, owing to it having been where the apostle John had been exiled and all that. What with easter fast approaching we surmised that they just might be heading off to Patmos for a week’s hand-wringing and weeping over the death of their lord before joyfully crying out “Christos Anesti!!” for yet another year, and we were right. Phew!! After several hours of this cat’s choir (sorry ladies, but facts are facts and it was noise pollution of the purest kind) we were not a little relieved to see them all salt away their songsheets, pick up their carpetbags and shuffle off fiddling with the gold crosses on their neckchains to descend the stairs and disembark when we tied up at Patmos.

We’d already stopped off at Kos and Leros by this time and thus had begun to have our doubts as to whether we’d lose them. If we hadn’t it would have been much more difficult to kick our shoes off and stretch out on two or three seats each and doze away the hours until we arrived at Syros, which is scheduled to be around 4.00am. Yea, I know, I didn’t realise there was such an hour either.

This ferry, tied up beside us at Leros, is dwarfed by the mighty Blue Star

The thing is, since we’d decided not to scrimp on the spending for this holiday, since it is to mark a particularly big anniversary, you could be forgiven for asking why we didn’t splash out on a cabin. Well we would have, but it would have meant having to get up at 3.30am anyway in order to get ourselves ready to disembark at Syros. It didn’t see worth the bother of having a cabin for such a short night.

Sitting here now though, my wife stretched out across three chairs just in front of me and snoring everso slightly, with the minute hand on my watch just approaching the twelve and the hour hand the two, here I am not sleeping as usual and coming to the conclusion that “Airseats” are all very well, but they don’t make good beds.

No firm plan has yet materialised for what we’re going to do after ten days or so on Naxos, but we’re leaning more and more towards heading off to Poros, which will mean a ferry to Piraeus, then another from there to Poros, but it looks like it can all be done in one day, so that’s good. I’ve e-mailed Mrs. Mellou, the lady who’s kept rooms there for the past three or four decades and where we’d stayed no less than five times between 1977 and 1982, so I’m hoping she (well, her son to be accurate) will have replied by the time I get some wi-fi going on Syros, thus we’ll make our decision based on that.

Assuming we do go to Poros, it will then mean that our return trip home to Rhodes will be Poros-Piraeus, then Piraeus-Rhodes, which is a grueller, so we shall definitely be pushing the boat out (well, climbing aboard a big one to be accurate) and booking ourselves a cabin with a window.

After all, we won’t be wanting to take any chances on a repeat serenade from the Rhodean Grannies female voice choir during the last leg of the trip home now, will we?

1 comment:

  1. That's what you get for travelling on a Sunday! Sounds wonderful anyway and I think I must really stop travelling with the orange or blue/yellow airlines and travel the more traditional way to my holiday destination in what, after all, is a maritime nation.