Thursday, 18 October 2012
Greece 2012 Part 11
Friday 7th September 2012
Theofilos/Chios/Blue Star Patmos
Yes, things do look better this morning, if only because we are at sea, the sun is shining from a cloudless blue sky and the sea looks beautiful. I couldn’t wait to get out of the cabin and on deck, so showering/hair wash was a speedy affair despite the weird bathroom arrangements! Cappuccino and a muffin on the aft deck completed the recovery and then I could enjoy the glorious views. The engines of THEOFILOS sound all right, but the season ends in a couple of day’s time and this ship could be going you-know-where…
From my shaded viewpoint on deck I saw a passing cruise ship called AEGEAN PARADISE, from Etstur Lines, which was heading north presumably to Istanbul. Heading south, like us, was an attractive little vessel but she was too far away to identify.
In the Reception area I noticed a small table laid with a cloth and flowers, a comfy chair each side, and a big blue NEL Lines flag on the wall behind. This looked a brave attempt to smarten the area, and I particularly liked the big poster-size aerial view of Piraeus harbour which was on a nearby wall. It may have been taken in the 1960s so there were lots of ships to try and identify.
Up on the top deck was a big white container/‘box’, contents unknown, which must have been added at some stage of her career. Dog kennels were also on deck.
We are due in Chios soon at 11.30 a.m. and could now see land on both sides of the ship as we sailed along; in fact we arrived early, at 10.45 a.m. so were soon disembarking into the heat of the quayside.
As we walked out through the car deck I could see a small covered trailer with two furry heads peering out – it was two donkeys.
We have the day here, before leaving tonight on the new ferry Blue Star PATMOS, which should be in complete contrast with the 1975-built ship we are leaving. PATMOS was delivered from her South Korean builders in June this year.
From the quayside seats at the bus station we watched THEOFILOS leave, and apparently I missed seeing MYTILENE arrive and leave, as she was hidden by THEOFILOS. Oh well, I saw the poster picture and I have sailed on her.
A shady beach on the edge of town sounded like the ideal place to while away the hours until we could check in for tonight’s sailing, so we walked along and found one. I had a comfy blue steamer chair under a palm-leaf parasol, facing blue sea, under blue sky; it was hot, there was a gentle zephyr, the sea was lapping quietly onto the beach probably 20 feet away on a slight slope, I could see the mountains of Turkey across the water in the distance, and there was a very small beach bar offering drinks and snacks, so I paddled, chatted, slept, rested, photographed, snacked, listened to music, watched the big red bulk carrier come into view and the local tug inspect it from every angle, and did nothing much for several hours – very satisfying.
Back in town we decided to try a local delicacy called honey puffs, which looked light and full of calories. Where the plan was to share one honey puff, the reality was the arrival of the plate with 5 honey puffs on it, all smothered in white chocolate sauce. We could see other guests in the coffee shop tucking into their plates of honey puffs without stopping their conversations, but it was an impossibility to clear the plate in front of us, so we gave up. They were wonderful to see and try, but so sweet.
We had to walk after that experience, and enjoyed seeing more of the town of Chios before queuing to board our overnight ferry: Blue Star PATMOS. She was handed over to the Blue Star fleet only in June this year (2012), so it will be such a contrast to travel on a new ship. She arrived at 10.35 p.m., just half an hour before she is due to leave again, so passengers and vehicles had to disembark very quickly before we could board.
She was built by DSME (Daewoo) shipyards in Korea, at 18,498 gross tons. She carries 2,000 passengers, plus vehicles, and it felt as if she was fully loaded as we all went to find cabins (326 passenger beds), airline style seating (425) or other places to sleep. She appears well designed and fitted out, with so much light, and labour-intensive reflective surfaces everywhere. I thought the cabins were excellent, with their brand new fittings and so much light. My cabin also had a more conventional shower.
With so many people on board this big ship, to sail from Chios overnight to Piraeus, it was a little difficult to see all of her but she was extremely impressive.
I liked the chunky letters spelling out the word ‘welcome’ as we arrived in the public area, and the carpet with names and contours woven into it. We are due to arrive in Piraeus before dawn at 6.25 a.m. so it was a short night. Tomorrow will be the last full day of the holiday and promises to be yet another interesting time.
Ships seen: Aegean Paradise of Etstur Lines, small unidentified vessel, Navios Hyperion - bulk carrier built in 2004 in Japan, and a local Chios tug, Theofilos, Erturk 1, Psara Glory, Blue Star Patmos
To be continued….