Tuesday, 25 September 2012
Greece 2012 Part 5
Part 5 Agios Georgios day
Saturday 1st September 2012
It was an alarmingly early start again today, to get down to the Great Harbour for our 7.24 a.m. ferry trip departure. As we checked out of the hotel at Reception I met the lady I have seen several times over the years, on duty at the desk which is open 24 hours a day. That was a pleasant surprise, to shake hands and exchange greetings before leaving. On the quayside, still before sunrise, I waited whilst my kind companion took our rucksacks to the ticket agents to leave safely for the day; I could see the moon high in the sky, the early sunlight creeping over the port, and several ships arriving and departing.
Today we are to sail on that little ship known to British Rail ferry lovers as HENGIST, but nowadays known to the Greeks and Ventouris Sea Lines as AGIOS GEORGIOS. Built 40 years ago in 1972 she is still sailing, with several of her original features there to see, and today we are to sail to the island of Serifos, in the Cyclades to the south east of Piraeus, arriving at 11.50 a.m. We have several hours there, before she comes back to collect us at 4.30 p.m. to return to Piraeus. What a delightful prospect!
We set off on time, passing several ships in the Great Harbour as we left, and seeing others out in Piraeus Roads (as I gather that area is called).
Sitting on deck under a shady awning was relaxing, so as soon as a light breakfast was demolished, it seemed sensible to go horizontal for a while and enjoy the air and sea breeze, pillowing my head on the much travelled turquoise pashmina-type big scarf.
Regaining consciousness I discovered that the breeze was Force 7, but the deep blue Greek seas were that wonderful and memorable colour, with the sunlight sparkling on the drops raised by the breeze and our movement through the water. I was soon approached by a Greek lady, speaking English, who wanted to ask me for an English word relating to the brain. It seems she was a retired teacher of English in Athens, living in Serifos, and was very keen to practise by talking with me. She was writing lecture notes at the time so I suggested the word she might need was ‘cerebral’, i.e. relating to the intellect in the brain. She seemed happy with that; I could hardly believe that the discussion had taken place in such unusual circumstances, but we talked about many things over the next half an hour.
We arrived a little late at Serifos because of the strong winds, but soon disembarked and watched AGIOS GEORGIOS sail away with more passengers to another island. The little sheltered port of Livadi is seemingly overwhelmed by the huge rocks/mountains that are seen at first, but the island has beautiful beaches and great tranquillity, and seems to be almost unknown to many visitors. We strolled through the little town around the sheltered bay, and looked at the houses perched precariously on the steep hill behind, until we came to a small hotel (Hotel Cyclades) with a café right on the beach, and there we spent the rest of the day. We sat under the thatched roofing, had lunch, I had a swim in the clear but cool sea near our table and talked with a few other people in the water, we had ice-cream, we watched the scenery, I wrote some diary notes and the ship list, pondered on the fact that I had sand between my toes, and did nothing much else, which was all very satisfying.
We strolled back to the quayside to await the ferry, and soon she appeared over the horizon and slightly late because of the wind.
Lots of passengers were already on board and we were amongst a big crowd embarking here at Serifos, but we had the forethought to expect this and had booked tickets for Distinguished Class in the upper forward part of the ship. We could sit in the comfy lounge with cheerful waitress table service for coffee or snacks during our return journey to Piraeus. Later I wanted to walk around and joined the many hundreds of people out on deck in a very cheerful atmosphere. There were babies, toddlers and views to admire, as darkness fell. Sunset was spectacular as we approached our home port but then we had to wait as two ferries had to leave the harbour on time. I could watch a fireworks display on land whilst waiting, which was pointed out to me by a friendly Greek lady.
We disembarked a little later than scheduled, but made good time to the ferry agents, who only close for about 5 hours a day after midnight, to retrieve our rucksacks. Then it was a very brisk walk to another part of the harbour to get a ship bus to Gate 2 for boarding our overnight ferry: IEREPETRA L. She was scheduled to leave at 11 p.m. for the journey to the port of Vathi on Samos island.
Ships seen: Blue Star Naxos, Blue Star Delos, Hoegh Osaka, Agios Georgios, Adamantios Korais, a Star clipper with 4 masts, Super Jet, Blue Star Paros, Theofilos, Wind Star (also with 4 masts), Highspeed 4, 5 and 6, Speedrunner 4, Knossos Palace, Al Venizelos, Flying Cat 1, Posidon Hellas, Phivos, Agios Nektarios Aeginos, Superfast 12, Sea Dream I, Helas Liberty, Knissos Mykonos, Jet Ferry 1, Panagia Agiasou, Asian Emperor, Neptune Lines Neptune Thelisis, Artemis, Marmari Express, Ierepetra L, Aegean Glory, Blue Star 1
To be continued….