Monday, August 29, 2011

Paros & the ferry

Greek Trip, Day 14, Friday 1 October 2010, Paros & the ferry

An afternoon on Paros finished with us wandering back to the waterfront to buy postcards and to look for somewhere to have dinner. P1010785

From the waterfront we turned left and followed the road into the newer tourist area. There we found a cafe and settled down to have some dinner and to catch up on a few domestic chores.

There were lots of specials. The owner explained that it was the end of the tourist season, that this would be the last night they opened until the next season, and they had to get rid of the last of the food.

I mentioned in the last post that I found very few people as I wandered the streets. That was partly because it was siesta time, more because most of the tourists had left. Unlike Mykonos, the smaller number of tourists coming to Paros makes for a shorter season.

Our owner came from Paros but lived in Athens. Each year he spent the tourist season in Paros, working in Athens for the remainder oP1010791f the year.

  It was quite beautiful sitting there watching the sun set over the water. We sat and ate and talked.

As it got darker, the cats came out in force, roaming the embankment looking for food. They assumed, correctly I fear, that the guests at the various cafes would be happy to feed them.

Youngest has always been a bit of a cat fanatic. Her photos from this and our previous Europe trip are full of cat photos. She fed them quite shamelessly despite protests from others. I was more discrete, dropping bits from underneath the table. It wasn't until the clamouring cat gathering reached a significant size that the others realised that I was a culprit as well!

Paros has become a large ferry hub. That was the reason why we were there. From our cafe, we had a very clear view of the ferries coming into port to pick up passengers. Now here there was a problem.

P1010794 Given short cash, it was only at the last moment that I had agreed to come. We had booked sleeper accommodation, but my booking was separate.

My wife explained that the others were together, that I was going to be sharing with people, but she had no idea what it would be like.

It all began to sound quite unpleasant when mixed in with stories about travelling on ferries. Yes, I know that I shouldn't mind, after all, I have stayed in youth hostels, but I had now been told all this a number of times over several days. Given that we were not boarding until 11pm and that I was now quite tired, it had become something of an issue.

After dinner we walked back to the ferry port. There we found that the ferry was running late, so we sat down and had a glass of wine and some coffee. The ferry finally arrived and we queued to board. My family waved me good bye, leaving me to work out where I should go. Finally I asked a steward.

He looked at my ticket and said please follow me Sir. I was taken to the reception area on the top deck,  given a key and taken to my room. This proved to be a large motel style room with two beds, a sitting area, my own TV and coffee making facilities, plus a separate bathroom with a full size bath.

I was so relieved that I settled down with a cup of coffee to watch some TV and then to bed. I didn't try to find my family. I had absolutely no idP1010816ea where they were.

It was only next day when my wife knocked on the door to find me that I realised just how lucky I had been. The others in the party were in two small share rooms with minimal facilities on the deck below. 

By contrast and indeed by accident, I had one of the two best cabins on the ship at the corner of the top deck. This gave me not just a large cabin with all facilities, but also large portholes looking over the front and sides of the boat.  Now if my family hadn't been so quick to leave me, either my wife or daughter could have shared the magnificence!

My wife's reaction as she gazed around was something to behold.  This was not what she expected either!

The ship docked in Rhodes quite late, again making me glad for my cabin the night before. I know that this gloating is quite unseemly, but it was a highlight.   

In my next post I will begin the story of Rhodes. Again, Rhodes has a different history from other parts of the Greek islands.

Did you know, for example, that Rhodes first became part of Greece as recently as 1947?  Or that at its peak in the 1920s, the Jewish community totaled nearly a third of the population of Rhodes?

I did not. However, more on this will have to wait.           

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