I woke up at the normal time, 07.00 on Monday morning feeling much refreshed after the first sleep in 2 days. Seven hours sleep is good for me and I went down for breakfast nice and early. The breakfast terrace is separated from the tree-lined street by a hedge of jasmine. The scent was amazing and the breakfast was a very relaxing experience. In a busy, bustling town the hotel terrace was an oasis of peace and quiet.
I packed my bags into air-travel mode: sharp objects and liquids in the hold luggage; camera bag reconfigured as ‘cabin luggage’ with cameras, netbook, Kindle ….. and arrival-in-cold-UK clothing. Then I checked out. The owner of the hotel offered to take me to the bus station in time for the bus to the airport which was good of him.
I spent a pleasant morning ambling along the seafront, poking around the marina, drinking coffee, and having a Greek salad. Basically enjoying the last sunshine I expected to see for a while.
My flight was at 21.00, check-in opening at 19.00. On checking bus times it transpired that the latest bus that would get me there on time was at 16.30, the next one leaving the town at the same time as take-off. It was recommended that I get to the bus station early as the taxi drivers were on strike and therefore there would be more pressure on buses which could be expected to be full.
We had been returning home from Symi a few years ago and had been victims of a taxi drivers’ strike on Rhodes. It had been chaos. It was not simply people travelling to the airport but to all other destinations on the island who crowded the main bus terminus. On Rhodes tickets have to be bought in a kiosk before getting on the bus and there was a crush of people completely surrounding it enquiring about service numbers and times as well as buying tickets, making it impossible to read the timetables. The bus itself was packed full with people and Big Bag luggage. A completely manic experience which I was anxious to avoid again.
The bus terminus in Kos was considerably busier than usual though nowhere near as manic as that occasion in Rhodes. The only real problem was making sure to get on the right bus. Few of them had destinations indicated and those that did could not be relied on. There were about 50 or 60 people at the stop where I was waiting and when a bus pulled in proclaiming ‘Mastihari’ on a painted board on the dashboard there was a surge towards it which coincided with the doors opening front and middle and a surge of people getting off.
When an incoming wave hits a cliff or harbour wall and rebounds backwards meeting the next wave coming in the clashing waters form a high standing wave and often shoot upwards in spray, a phenomenon known as ‘clapotis’ (check http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clapotis if you don’t believe me). Well, there was clapotis on the pavements at the bus station as the two waves of passengers collided head on. Priority for those arriving was to get off. Priority for wanting to get on was to find out where the bus was going, so there was a lot of shouting to the driver and interrogation of anyone wearing a light blue shirt, the drivers’ uniform.
I asked the driver in my best Greek if the bus was going to the airport and he said no, it’s the one behind. As the bus was going to somewhere completely different the wave surged backwards again but not before the crowd had recognised that I spoke English, the lingua franca out here, and a bit of Greek, so in the absence of light blue shirts I found myself being interrogated and pushed forward to enquire of the driver of the next bus, now pulling in. No, he was not going to the airport either, but the one behind was. The wave surged back again just as yet another bus pulled in and everyone surged towards that one. The third bus was nearly empty so the surging wave could board almost immediately.
Then I overhead another guy in a light blue shirt, who had appeared out of nowhere, telling the driver of the second bus that he was to go the airport and the third bus would go the destination he thought he was bound for. I translated that into English, the news rippled up the pavement, and the wave surging towards the third bus suddenly went into reverse.
Fortunately for me the bus did go to the airport otherwise I would have been lynched by the mob.
It arrived just after 17.00. Having confirmed that I couldn’t check in until 19.00 I headed for a restaurant just outside the airport car park with a guy I had met who was catching the same flight. It was very pleasant sitting on the terrace outside the restaurant having meal. The food was good and not as expensive as might be expected where there is a captive clientele. Not at all like motorway service stations in the UK. In fact about as far removed from that experience as you can get.
The rest was straightforward if somewhat boring and tedious. Though not as much as usual. Kos airport is considerably smaller than that in Rhodes and the whole experience is much less cattle-market. Furthermore, the fact that there was a 2 hour check-in and wait for the flight was somehow put in context by the fact that I had been on my way since 22.00 on Saturday evening.
Arrived back in Manchester slightly ahead of schedule at 23.05. Weather atrocious, rain driving through the covered access to the airport building and dripping through the roof. Nice welcome back to the UK!
But good to be back and met by Ruth and Tim.
Final round-up tomorrow, all being well.