Santorini - Paros
2 May 2011
We potter around at the room packing to head away. The ferry leaves at 3.30, and we will get a lift from here an hour before. We go for a walk to the café on the beach to grab a bite to eat and a cold beer. The sun is out and it is really warm today, the beach is a lot calmer, and a few are in swimming – typical now that we are leaving! Tony checks the hotel booking for tonight on the internet to try and get an address (there wasn’t one on the booking confirmation form). One thing we learnt early on was that in Greece you don’t take anything for granted, and it could be that he stuffed up here…
The booking form has a google maps direction guide, so Tony goes to that hoping for a clear map and address. The map “of driving directions” needed a start point, so being a smart arse Tony put in Perissa, Santorini to see how google would get them across the water. He was stunned to see it actually came up with a route to the ferry terminal, and then instructed them to catch the ferry to Paros. It was then he saw that Paros has two ports, oh bugger! Our ferry ticket simply shows Santorini – Paros, but nothing to indicate what the port is. We have booked a hotel at Parikia, but the map shows the ferry stopping at another port across the island. We chose the hotel because it was 150m from the ferry terminal (and it was cheap!), but this shows a distance of several kilometres. After a few moments cursing we realise there is nothing that can be changed this late, nor is there any point worrying about it. At least we have the right island! Many islands share similar, or identical, place names. There is a Paros Island, and then there are a couple of towns called Paros on various other islands, so we knew to have our wits about us when making bookings.
Before heading back to our hotel Tony saves the web pages with the booking information and also the maps. He saves a close up of the town map, useless as it is because there are no bloody street names. We are back at Katerine and John’s hotel by 2pm to make sure we are not late, and sit reading by the pool with a couple of other guests. It turns out they are also heading away on the same ferry.
The drive down the cliff side is just as hairy as the drive up, and we just know the photos won’t show just how steep this all is. The ferry terminal is packed, many having been displaced from yesterdays strike. The same ferry that bought us to the island draws up to the wharf, and drops the vehicle ramp. It is a strange sight to see, hundreds of people swarming off, followed by a few vehicles. Then waiting vehicles are driven on, and finally the waiting crowds (that’s us) are unleashed from the terminal. We are let go in groups because the stairways on the ferry cannot cope with everyone at once, and one or two vehicles are still driving on through the passengers, so you have to keep your wits about you. As we pull away from the wharf two cars coming flying in through the gate, but they are too late, and the would be passengers have done their dough. There is a sign at the terminal telling everyone to be there 30 minutes before sailing, and no refunds if you miss the boat. They don’t look too happy, and it is almost amusing to watch them jump up and down as if demanding the ferry return to port.
As we leave Santorini we have the opportunity to see the cliff face from below, and those photos we are taking still won’t give anyone the sense of wonder we are feeling. The mist has closed in around the mountain tops, so much for the brilliant day. The three hour trip is pleasant enough, smooth sailing, and warm, although that mist is around in the distance. We stop off at Naxos on the way, the turnaround here is very quick, and there must be less than 15 minutes from landing until they head off again.
We arrive in Paros and as we pass through the gates the expected throngs of people touting to sell hotel rooms are there. We had been told that these guys will use every trick in the book to get you to their hotel, but we have one booked and paid for, and it “should” be only 150m from here, but the map directions also suggest a walk of about a kilometre?? Yes, the “Port of Paros” on our ticket is Parikia, woo hoo, but we still don’t have clue where to go. One guy is really persistent, and demands to know which hotel we have booked, so Tony tells him. He says to go left and it is by the church, but Tony's map says go right, so he heads to the car rental place. They haven’t heard of the hotel, and when they call the number, there is no answer. Shit, Bugger, and .…!
They check the map and send us in the right direction, in the meantime the guy who tried to get us to stay at his place tells us we are going the wrong way. The “first on the left” is a tiny alleyway, so we continue on until we find a road… but there isn’t one. We have walked about a kilometre in the heat, and stop at a mini market for water. The shop keeper makes a few calls for us, he and his friend look at the map and say it is by the church, but there are churches on nearly every bloody corner. He also tries to call the hotel, but there is still no answer.
We ask for a taxi as the packs are getting heavy (we walked for bloody miles the other day, and don’t want to do that again!, besides it will be dark in an hour or so). The taxi arrives and looks at the map, and the driver shakes his head, he doesn’t know either. So we decide we may as well get in and drive for a while to see where to go. We agree to a EUR5 maximum fare and head along the road further, and turn left a good kilometre along the road, but these roads don’t match the map, so he takes a road that heads back towards the port.
He stops a couple of people, yes they know the hotel, but we cannot actually drive there, so he takes the taxi as far down the alleyway as he can. We are told iIt is just along on the left and he drives off. We head in the direction shown, come to a fork in the “road”, take the left alley and soon come to a very low archway across the road, and a set of steps. We come out at a restaurant, they don’t know the hotel, but they ask around, and we are told it is along the lane, some 80 metres. We walk to the church on the corner, and back without any luck. Tony leaves Cynthea to guard our bags while he heads off looking in another street, and ends up back where the taxi left us.
Cynthea calls out to Tony, she has found the hotel, the entrance and sign were well recessed behind a closed gate, so that is why we missed it. Silly buggers, fancy us thinking that they would have street signage! Our relief is short lived, the gate is locked but there is a note for us at the Festos telling “Mr Corbett, come to Captain Manolis, 100m>>”. It is back past the restaurant where we had asked directions. Cynthea decides to send Tony looking while she waits at the restaurant. The alley divides into two, and surprise!, the restaurant doesn’t know that bloody hotel either. Tony takes the path to the right, and a few metres around the corner he sees the hotel. The guys at reception see the note in his hand, and ask Mr Corbett how he is, they had expected him an hour ago. Mr Corbett replies he is pissed off, and tired, but figures, correctly, that these guys have nothing to do with the useless pricks at the other place. He drops his pack and goes to get Cynthea. At reception we explain about the lack of directions, and they shrug, but when Tony mentions the taxi and where it took them they are horrified, and say the ferry terminal is close (yeah, right). Vasilis takes Tony to the other entrance, and says the port is just there, so Tony walks out the gate and finds himself in the square, opposite the bloody ferry terminal! The map, it seems, was accurate after all, the google directions bit from the port coming into town wasn’t… Anyway, how the hell does a car negotiate steps??
They apologise and say they have nothing to do with the other hotel, they are merely looking after their guests until they open. Vasilis asks for our booking email, but Tony does not have it printed off. He is told not to worry about it.
We are shown to a very nice room on the second floor, it is a very nice hotel, and probably much nicer than the other one would have been (yay, free upgrade). Breakfast is at 8.15, but we have to be at the ferry terminal by 8.10. Vasilis tells us we don’t need to be there that early, that five minutes before the ferry is due will be plenty of time. We are so sure, especially after what happened in Athens, and don’t want to risk it.
Tony asks if Vasilis can give us breakfast now, so we will be able to have something before we leave in the morning, but he says until the tourist season starts, he opens at 8.15. He offers a coffee, and we gratefully accept. Vasilis turns on the filter machine, the coffee is cold in the pot and he is going to reheat it for us! The first cup is still cold, and he pours a second one, but that too is cold, but it is wet (just think iced coffee). As we are watching the news we see Obama got Osama. Good news, but the idiots jumping up and down don’t make for a good look. We were highly disgusted at the terrorist supporters dancing in the streets after 9/11, and here are these fools doing the same thing. It is not a time for celebration, and the western world should be on guard.
We head out to the square for a bite to eat, and as we leave see Vasilis is making a fresh pot of coffee. The port area is beautifully lit up at night, the tiny alleyways are full of life, and some alleys even have names! Shops galore here, and we spend quite some time wandering through, it is easy to get lost in the maze, but just as easy to find your way back again. We buy fruit for breakfast, and have a meal at the taverna on the corner. No stray dogs to be seen in Paros, but plenty of cats.
Back at the hotel and there is no one at reception, but at the breakfast bar the coffee in the pot is still warm, so we help ourselves to a cup. Vasilis arrives a few minutes later and offers to open at 7.45 so we can have breakfast, and the offer is gratefully accepted. We head to the room and sleep well. It pours with rain overnight, but we didn’t hear a thing.