Early start to Wednesday. I was taking the ferry to Rhodes to meet my daughter and her husband at the airport.
There was a choice of two, the high speed catamaran at 07.45 and the large Blue Star ferry arriving in Symi from Piraeus at 08.15. I had booked a ticket on the big ferry partly because it would give me an extra half hour to struggle from the grip of Morpheus into the real world and partly because it was half the price. I didn’t need to be in Rhodes by 08.30 when the cat would have arrived, it would just have meant more time to kill, so a 10.30 arrival was more leisurely.
Only problem was that the 24 hour strike in ports in Greece was expected to disrupt the Blue Star which would be leaving Piraeus at about midnight, when it was expected to turn into a pumpkin. I went into the travel agent on Tuesday evening to check and was assured that there was ‘οχι πρόβλεμα’ – no problem.
‘Το πρόβλεμα’, the problem, was that I was suspicious. Having spent the early part of the summer having to make last second contingency travel plans all over Greece I reckoned that building in a contingency plan from the outset made sense. So I got up in time to go down to the harbour for 07.45 in order to catch the cat if necessary. I rehearsed the Greek for the expected conversation with the Hellenic Coastguard who are better informed about arrivals and departures than anybody else …. but
I then opted for the easier solution. I would put my trust in the internet and check the live maritime traffic web site. So at 07.00 I was sitting in the courtyard of the hotel where the WiFi signal is strongest and logging on. It assured me that the Diagoras was just rounding the Turkish coast and heading eastwards straight for Symi. Sorted!! Time for breakfast before I left.
I sauntered down the Kali Strata, encountering some scepticism on the way, and then ambled along the harbourside towards the Town Clock where the Big Ferries park. I could see groups of people and two member of the Coastguard at the end of the road so was encouraged. Even more so as I nonchalantly went to join them and the ferry loomed from behind the clock tower 5 minutes ahead of schedule.
Good, smooth crossing. A leisurely couple of hours wandering around Rhodes town with the occasional frappé and spinach-and-feta pie.
I was planned to up to the airport on the bus and was pleased to see that neither the buses nor the taxis were on strike. A couple of years ago when the taxi drivers went on strike there were near-riots at the kiosks to buy bus tickets and the buses themselves were rammed full. No such problem on Wednesday.
As I sat in a very pleasant garden café having a frappé and a WiFix there was a demonstration on the road alongside. Hundreds of public sector workers marching with banners, chanting their displeasure at the way the austerity measures are affecting them. It was very noisy with hand-held klaxons and horns. Loudspeakers led the chanting, I guess along the lines of: loudspeaker:“What do we want?” chant “ no more cuts”. But it was all completely peaceful and caused only minor traffic disruption and delays to the buses.
The flight arrivals were not on schedule, however. A 3-hour strike by air traffic controllers disrupted all flights between 10.00 and 13.00 with the result that they all bunched together after that. The 15.20 flight I was meeting came in at 16.00. That was no real problem but it caused problems for ground handling and baggage reclaim was chaotic.
The Dodecanese Express back to Symi was more or less on time. Apparently very little disrupts the service apart from bad weather. Carried the Big Bag up the 85 metre of steps on the Kali Strata and arrived back at the hotel at 19.30. Almost exactly 12 hours after I set out. Time for a beer.
Good post! I stayed in rooms on Kali Strata and I remember the pain of carrying suitcases up all of those steps.