Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Halkian Days II

The drive from Kiotari to Kamiros Skala is pretty convoluted whichever way you take it. You can head north as far as Kolymbia, then take the left up past Seven Springs and through the villages of Arhipoli and Eleoussa, finally passing through Dimilia and hitting the west coast road somewhere near Fanes, where you go left and follow the coast all the way down past Ancient Kamiros and on to Kamiros Skala. Alternatively, you can head south to Gennadi and from there go right and across the island to Apolakkia, then head north through Monolithos, Siana, through the mountainous pine forests to Kritinia and down to Kamiros Skala from the south. It's a bit of a Hobson's choice, but I reckon slightly quicker the southern way, which takes about an hour.

We took off at around 8.00am for a 9.15 sailing from Kamiros Skala and no sooner had we turned on to the Apolakkia road at Gennadi, but we found ourselves behind a fairly hefty, shiny black Nissan 4x4 that appeared to be stuffed to the limit with bodies (live ones, OK?). Fortunately, the Nissan was going at a pretty acceptable pace and thus I was able to tail it for quite a long way. Once we'd passed through Apolakkia, however, it began to lose me and the only conclusion we could draw was that the driver knew this road very well. Emphasis there on the "very", since from here on heading northward it gets extremely curly!!! It goes up and down, around blind bends and frequently has an edge that, if you were to let your wheel slip off of, you'd be either in a ditch or on your head, perhaps even wrapped around a pine tree trunk, in very short order. Kerbs? What are they then?

It's very disconcerting too when you reach Monolithos, because you climb a hill to a t-junction, right beside the Panorama taverna, where the sign for Siana, pressed back against the wall immediately in front of you, tells you to go right. Dutifully obeying, you find yourself climbing steeply into the forested hills and you get the distinct impression that you're going back the way you came. This feeling lasts for several kilometers too. Climbing ever higher and seeing nothing but pine-clad hillsides, you get distinctly uneasy until you arrive at the sign announcing the fact that you're entering the village of Siana. On seeing that sign you can relax a bit, 'cos you know you must be on the right road, but with no sign of the sea for what seems like ages your bearings all all over the shop.

As we entered Siana, which was still waking up, since it was only about 8.45am, we were able to get within a hundred metres or so of the black Nissan once again, who we'd both agreed by now must be making the same trip as we were, heading to Kamiros Skala to meet the Fedon. Why else would anyone be out here in the wilds at this time of day, especially driving with such purpose? Of course, once we'd exited the top end of the village, I could see from his exhaust that he'd dropped a gear and was soon putting distance between us yet again. if I'd tried to keep up with him we'd have left the road somewhere where it would have taken rescuers a couple of weeks to find us.

This shot of Kritinia Kastro courtesy of
Eventually you start to descend, ever weaving this way and that as the road curves relentlessly and undulatingly through a seemingly endless forest, and when you finally get a glimpse of the Kritinia Kastro, standing proud a couple of hundred feet above the Aegean Sea, you relax as you now know for sure that it is indeed the right road and Kamiros Skala can now be only a few minutes away.

Taking the left on to the road leading down to the quayside, we turned left again into the ample parking area, where - sure enough - that black Nissan was already parked up, extracted both ourselves and our baggage from the car, locked it up and walked the couple of hundred metres past a taverna or two down to the quay, where the Fedon was tied up, a small knot of people standing beside her on the quay.

As we approached the gangway, where the few people were hanging around near the portable ticket desk for the boat, I caught sight of Vasili the captain among the modest throng. Now I hadn't actually seen him face-to-face since some time during the 2013 summer season, so I tried not to expect him to remember me.

Vasili is very similar-looking to the UK comedian and actor Lee Evans (he was in that movie "Funny Bones" and "Mousehunt" too), of whom I'm a bit of a fan. Every time I see Vasili I half expect him to bend his knees à-la monkey pose, extend his arms out to each side horizintally and then let his hands dangle and swing from the elbows while he apes around with a manic grin on his face. If he detects me looking at him oddly, to his credit Vasilis never lets on. 

Anyway, to my surprise and total delight he greeted me like a long-lost buddy, hugged the wife and promptly told the ticket man, whom I also remembered is called Sevgali (he's Bulgarian and has been with Vasili for many years), that we were guests and that we wouldn't be paying for our crossing. What a gent to make such a gesture. I can only assume that he remembers our conversations on the bridge of the Fedon two years ago, when I was working on the excursion and slipped him a card about this very blog and he'd gone looking at the photos and info about the vessel that I keep here on the "nearby Islands" page. In fact, it was from that page I'd retrieved his number when I called to check the sailing times.

Anyway, once aboard we went and sat in the downstairs lounge and waited for the departure. While sitting there with about ten minutes to go, the better half needed to go to the - as the Americans call it - "bathroom", even though there is rarely actually a bath in there and if it were it wouldn't be required for what we usually want to do once locked inside. When she returned, with still a few minutes to go before we cast off, she had an odd look on her face. It kind of said "Oh dear, I hope I haven't dispalyed my wares to the world." You know fellas, we can read that look can't we.

"Wassup?" I asked my beloved.

"Well," she replied, still rather flushed (in the face that is, of course) "The whole of one wall in the ladies loo is a window. It's not frosted, you can see right through it and there were a couple of crew men standing not six feet from it on the quayside. If they'd looked my way they'd have copped an eyeful."

"So, what did you do?" I asked her. She was wearing jeans by the way, not a skirt.

"Had no choice, I had to do what I went in there for. I was desperate. But it was very disconcerting to say the least!" Of course, in such circumstances the gallant hubby has to go and take a look doesn't he. Off I went and slipped into the ladies'. Incidentally, before I go on, I really liked the signs on the WC doors, what do you reckon to these then..?

I'd rather liked to have seen some facial expressions on those too, eh? Anyway, in I went to the ladies' loo opening the door to the first bit, where there's the mirror, the sink, the soap and paper towels and stuff, then through the 2nd door to the business unit. Sure enough, it feels like 70% of the far wall, which is the ship's hull, is see-thru glass. From the outside, it's the window I've circled below...

Of course, when you're at sea it wouldn't be a problem, but when the ship's tied up broadside to the quay, it really does put one off one's "flow" as it were. Fact is though, it's one-way glass. From the outside all the observer sees is a black panel. But it still shakes the resolve on the incumbent in that little room!!

We set out right on time at 9.15am and just 50 minutes later we were chugging in to Halki's wonderfully picturesque harbour, where some serious R&R awaited us if we had anything to do with it.

Part three will follow imminently.


  1. Well, you can tell your lady wife that she's not the only one to have had the 'loo in a fishbowl' experience. Ten days ago, or was it more?, I was desperate to use the 'facilities' after we had driven the other way to Kamiros, north then west then south. I was somewhat disturbed by the fact that there was a old guy on the quayside right outside said window!


    1. Aha!! So it's your fault then! He'd probably been hopefully watching that window for ages...