Wednesday, 1 May 2019

Trains 'n Boats n' Planes (OK, So Maybe Not 'Trains')...

I love it. I just love it. Travelling by Dodekanisos Seaways that is. Taking a boat rather than a plane, means no having to take my belt off at passport control, no having to undo the laces on my trainers and no shoving my wallet, watch, jacket, computer, iPad and false teeth (Only joking re that one. My teeth are real, it's the gums that are false) in one of those horrible plastic trays and placing it on the rollers and watching everything in my carry-on bag exposed on that x-ray machine for all the world to see. OK, maybe not all the world, but those po-faced security people at airports must have a bit of a field day ogling at what some people have in their flight bags. "Who'd have thought it of her, George? You'd think butter wouldn't melt from the look of her."

No, when you travel from island to island on the extremely efficient Dodekanesos Seaways vessels you can pack your cases without worrying if you're going to be paying a small fortune for being 'over weight' at the check-in. You don't have to worry about your metal shirt buttons setting off the alarm on that electronic 'portal' that you have to walk through while your bags go through the x-ray machine. Nope. None of that.

You rock up at the ticket office beside the quay at Rhodes commercial harbour, hand your 'tablet' - confirmation e-mail at the ready on the screen - to the girl behind the desk, she checks your booking reference, and minutes later she's handed you the tickets and you're walking the five metres or so to the ramp and boarding the waiting catamaran, where two very helpful fellas in smart uniforms are waiting to give themselves hernias stowing your cases in the rack while you proceed into the passenger cabin.

When you go to Patmos from Rhodes you're often going to the end of the line (some sailings go on to Samos, but not many), so getting there a little early is a bonus, as it gives you the best choice of seat location. You may be about to spend four hours plus aboard, but the vessel is very modern, extremely well maintained and the café/bar serves excellent filter coffee. The seats are very reminiscent of aircraft seats without the prospect of staring down through 30,000 feet of fresh air during the voyage. Turbulence is the result of a possible 'fourtuna' (swell) and not air pockets or storm systems. Sea-sickness is an infinitely better prospect than plunging to one's certain death while thinking "and I paid forty quid extra because one of my cases was over the 20kg too."

No, taking a holiday on another island is much easier and less fraught than flying. No contest.

The Greeks aren't renowned for their general efficiency either, but when these vessels arrive at a port en route, it's a wonder of slickness how quickly they turn themselves around. We'd left Rhodes exactly on time at 8.30am and were soon powering down as we entered the marvellous Symi Harbour. The view of the steeply-sloped hillsides, peppered with pastel-coloured houses and terracotta-tiled roofs that spill down above you on three sides as you tie up on Symi never disappoints. It's got to be one of the loveliest places on the planet to tie up. But the efficiency with which they turn around an en-route stop on these vessels is a wonder to behold. The boat turns on a sixpence and reverses to the quayside, the chaps standing at the stern throw their heavy ropes to the waiting workers on the waterfront and, before we even come to a halt, the ramp is on its way down. The second the boat is secured, people, trolleys containing mail, supplies and suitcases are being wheeled ashore and a motley selection of humankind are doing likewise. Barely seconds later the chief honcho standing on the ramp shouts to those waiting to board to come forward and the process is reversed. 

Within five minutes of us tying up, we're on the move again and heading north to Kos.

We're off to Patmos for a second time, for 18 days. bring it on.

Mind you, as we stopped off at both Kalymnos and at Leros, there was a slightly unusual turn of events this time. Next post I'll elucidate.

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