Thursday, January 24, 2008

Athens to Rhodes by Ferry by Saigon Charlie

June 1998 - Saigon Charlie

Today has been a powerful day of incredible highs and lows. The evening ended with us setting for hours watching the people go by in our favorite café drinking our wonderful wine. We browsed many shops and enjoyed each other for hours.

08:00

Throwing off the lines!! It is an incredibly beautiful day. Breeze in the shop is wonderful! It will be an 8-9 hour trip to Santorini. The ship is a passenger/car ferry which is both large and fast.

We took the metro early this morning to the port town of Piraeus. It was six stops from the Monastiraki Station and cost 100 dr each. The station is in old town as was very accessible from the hotel Phaedra.

Getting aboard the ferry and finding the ferry was reasonably easy enough. People were very friendly and helpful. About ½ an hour after you are underway the crew came around to check your ticket.

Time lag….

We headed for the old port of Thira which is the main town of Santorini. Thira itself means “wild island” and comes from one of the most powerful societies of the time. Unfortunately, it was wiped out in 1628 BCE by a massive volcanic eruption on the island.

The waters in the Aegean Sea are intensely blue. I can’t ever remember seeing waters this color of blue anywhere else. The islands are bare with no vegetation or any other color but brown.

The group of islands which Santorini is part of is known as the Cyclades. They seem to be a volcanic chain with earthquakes as recently as 1956. As we cruise through the Aegean, my thoughts move to the future. We are quickly moving towards the decision to move to Europe, most probably Greece. The US is fading quickly into the distance, Boston being yesterday's’ dream.

We have just left the island of Paros, quick in and quick out dropping off both cars and passengers. Very unusual in that this huge ferry backed into the dock, unloaded its’ cargo and departed a few minutes later.

Although I expected otherwise, the food and drink on both the ferry and at the docks and in Old Town of Athens has been reasonable. Here on the ferry, I just paid 450DR for a coke, this morning 1,000DR for a sandwich and coffee and at a café at the port, 1,000DR for .5 liter of Amstel and a coffee. Beer and wine are cheaper than coffee or soft drinks.

The island appears huge. Small villages with a few “big” towns.

June 28, 1998 – Sunday - Santorini, Greece

Awoke this AM to church bells and beautiful breezes. The island is over the top filled with dramatic contrasts and vistas. We are staying in a really nice Pension called “Petros” at 8,000DR a night. Room has a little balcony and view towards the sea. It is clean, quiet and comfortable. The owner also has another pension a hundred or so meters from ours as well.

As I set here on the porch of the pension looking out towards the Aegean Sea, I can’t help but think how much the past 6 months have seemed so crazy and this seems so real. One has to wonder about what is important in life.

My first impressions of this island are mixed. It is beautiful but I sense a kind of animosity from the locals. It seems that they really don’t want us here but are tolerating us because it is the only way they can now make a living. It is not as bad as Phuket but still reserved.

We rented a small moped from “Mike”, an Albanian working at a motorcycle rental shop for 9,000DR for three days. Our first dinner at a café called the “Poseidon” was horrible and the wine undrinkable. We had meat balls and mousaka and white “wine”…1,400 DR.

In front of the Parthenon on the Acropolis in Athens, Greece

13:30 Lunch Stop – Sunday

Rented a scooter this AM for 3,000DR and have been riding around the island taking photos and visiting ancient sites. Incredible!

Having lunch at a restaurant called the “Panorama” and the name pretty much says it all as the view of the sea is spectacular. Time is slipping by….we stopped and had our lunch and as I write this , Greta is leaned back in her chair sound asleep. The entire energy of this place just lends itself to relaxation and forgetting.

Our journey to Thira was fascinating. Climbing and climbing until we finally reached the top of one of the highest peaks on Santorini.

The ruins were precise and structured. It was very obvious where the theatre, market, baths and homes had been; an entire city! Lifeless in its present form but ageless in its power. We both could feel the energy that once was….almost hearing the laughter of children a millennium ago.

Trip notes:

Santorini to Rhodes – 16 hours – 6,339 DR leaving at 02:00

Santorini to Haifa – Leaves Thursday at 17:00 and arrives Haifa on Saturday at 07:00. The cost without a cabin was 24,000DR and with a cabin it was 42,000DR each. The Haifa port fee was 10,000 DR each as well.

Trip to volcano cone:

Athinios Port

Volcano island

Hot springs

Thirassia Island

Oia Beach

4500 DR

Bella Thira Restaurant

Blue Note – excellent breakfast

June 29 1998 – Santorini, Greece

Having a wonderful day! Posted a bunch of post cards today to the states, Europe and the US. We than went on to archaeology sites on the island followed by many pictures and video.

Sat down for lunch in Fira at 15:00. Ordered “cheezy garlic bread”, stuffed pork, potato and wine….waiting to see the quality.

July 1, 1998 – At sea towards Rhodes

Setting with “Ma” Greta in the stern of a large ferry plying the waters on the way to Rhodes. Trip is suppose to take 16 hours and thus far has been wonderful.

We are scheduled to pull into Rhodes at 18:00. No idea what to expect other than what the guide book tells us. I just have a feeling though it will be as different and spectacular as Santorini was.

Rhodes looks like it will be a wonderful and fascinating place. History and forts everywhere. Who knows how many days we will stay before we head on to …… Egypt? Probably so…

Notes:

1. Airports are also military bases. No pictures are allowed. Was stopped from taking video from the airplane while landing at Athens.

2. Found very good film for ½ the price of other film. 690DR in Santorini. Developed it and the photos were excellent.

3. Club Med ships came in to Santorini in the very early AM. They were spectacular as the entered the “basin” under full sail. They moored on the dock that has the cable cars and the donkeys.

4. The “sunset event” in the village of Ioa.

5. Riding the scooter was trying due to the high winds, tight roads and heights above the surrounding terrain.

6. The ancient city if Thira was the most fascinating part of Santorini.

7. Ferry travel is far and away the best way to travel.

Rhodes:

1. Dino was the 16 year old boy who met us at the ferry.

2. Our room was wonderful and cost us 6,000DR in old town.

3. It was very clean.

4. We were the 2,232nd guest.

5. Met a French couple who live in Athens.

6. It is suppose to be 6 months cold/wet in Athens.

7. Motorbikes are much more expensive than Santorini – A 3,000DR bike there is 4,500-5,500 DR in Rhodes.

8. Food here is very limited and other than a few Greek dishes , just not that good.

9. Discos get started very late.

10. Two deer stand at the harbor entrance where supposedly the Colossus of Rhodes once stood. This was one of the man-made miracles of the ancient world.

July 3, 1998 – Rhodes, Greece

Taking a break from another morning’s activities…walking, photos, life…wonderful. No schedules, no hassle….


Last night the entire city plunged into darkness at 21:00 as people returned to their hotel rooms and turned on their AC. We were just finishing dinner and ordered our bill. Stayed dark for about a ½ hour.

It was a “late” night for us, doing drinks and e-mail at the Mango Bar until after midnight. Quite the meeting place.

As we were walking the alley’s of the old city, I heard a rustle, saw a swirl of wind and felt the most incredible tingling sensation. All within this moment, Greta said she saw two ghosts come from behind a door, go through me and leave. They were described by her as blue/white lights with no real shape other than an oblong glow…..

Had a relaxing afternoon rest while Greta did a watercolor of Santorini. It is very good work and I will always try to encourage her to do more.

We went to the archaeological museum today. It was 800 DR each and it was excellent although many items were poorly labeled and researched. Took a long video of the various items.

Have yet to see a single cloud…not even a wisp.

July 4, 1998 – Rhodes, Greece

Awoke again this AM at 07:30. Seems to be settling into the pattern as we travel. Today being an American holiday and Saturday, who knows what the day holds. Greta is being her normal rompy bottom self, even more so.

W are renting a bike and headed down the coast to Lindos. From there we really don’t know what is next. Need to book our ferry on to Cyprus than on to Haifa.

July 5, 1998 – Rhodes, Greece

Awoke this AM to cooler temperatures, church bells and religious singing in the distance. Today is Sunday. Once again I am setting at the Café Oasis. As always, very interesting as the owner is a character. It is in the same square as the Mango Bar which has the only Internet I can find thus far.

I love it here. The people are incredibly friendly, the women beautiful and the prices within reason. Life is an “event”, not just passing through.

Last night we discovered a new part of town that seemed to be totally occupied by the Dutch tourists. As we were passing through, there were a few hundred people in the street celebrating the Dutch 2 to 1 victory over Argentina. The whole section of town seemed to dedicated to some serious partying. Characters were everywhere. It was hard to decide what the name of the bars were as they all seemed to have several names on different signs. It was also interesting to note that no receipts were given for either the drinks or food we had. Everywhere else they were fanatical about making sure this was done for tax reasons. We had been told it was part of the Greek governments attempt to collect as much tax as possible so that it could pay for the Olympic Games in the year 2000. Whatever the reason, changes are afoot with people and business perceptions of taxes and commerce.

As I set here and write this, it is so enjoyable to listen and watch the Greeks interact. So much “drama” in their voices and body language. So much passion. Makes a man wonder what kind of lovers the women are with so much animation in their “projected” public lives.

A wonderfully beautiful Sunday morning on a Greek Island in the Med. As always, everyday in life makes me smarter and wiser. Life’s journey is always filled with eddies, rapids and backwaters. Why should this part of the journey be any less so?

July 6, 1998 – Monday – Rhodes, Greece

Awoke again to another beautiful day. Had coffee, turned in the motorbike (4,100 DR a day) and now headed to get our tickets to Cyprus.

Finding out more about this place. Apparently the season runs for 4 months – June-Sept., than everyone that works returns to their villages. It gets cold here but doesn’t snow. At least it isn’t Boston or Chicago.

The pension we are staying in has 8 rooms. All around 6,000 DR a night. Not a lot of money for a season’s work but enough to make a living.

American College of Greece 6 Gravias Street Agia Paraswewi 600-9800

Athens News – http://athensnews.dolnet.gr

Green Hill International School

British and American

Ferry Pricing Notes:

Rhodes to Haifa 24,000 DR

Tuesday 15:00 17 hours

Wed. 08:00 leaves 20:00 to haifa

Thursday 17:00

Time Changes for schedule commence on 6 July through 6 September

Poseidon Lines

15,5000 DR

5,000 DR

20,500 DR total

July 7, 1998 – Last day in Rhodes

Just another day … some get it, some don’t. Those that don’t will always argue with you about nothing. Always down to their level. Always…..

Mango Bar – Michael is the worker bee

Marianne is the owner’s wife.

Ouzo is 500 DR

The “men” , the “women” are for the most part, a Greek comedy playing out character roles.

July 8, 1998 - 10:35 Local – Poseidon Lines Ship

Cruising along the cost of Cyprus headed for the port of Limassol. Suppose to be met at the dock by a gentlemen who is picking up his wedding gift which I agreed to carry.

July 8, 1998 - Cyprus, Nicosia

Royal Hotel – 17 Euripides Street.

Changed phone number to 757245 15 number or 12 number for three days with breakfast. Clean but very, very worn.

Wednesday – Nothing is open. Can’t change money. Do so at ferry terminal seems to be the best advise.

Don’t take the Poseidon Lines to Cyprus. Locals advise to wait for the other ferry company’s ferry (Salamis Lines).

Passport is handed in when you board the ferry. You are given receipts which you pick up later. It will have a Cyprus stamp for the arrival date of the ferry.

Internet connections tough to find. In Santorini,

Getting money exchanged using a Visa card was a big deal.

July 9, 1998 – Nicosia, Cyprus

Nicosia to the airport is a 40 minute cab ride. Cost was 15 pounds.

Poseidon Lines Suck.

Salamis Lines is better – locals agree.

The Sans Rival is a call girl place and costs 10 pounds a night. Appeared to be a Russian restaurant….Rimi Hotel.

Tony’s Bed and Breakfast.

Main bookstore has no signs and is in a very old building.

Berlin Café’

Couple we met and had dinner was were named "Marie and Buddy"

Faros Barbeque Boss – cost for 4 people, wine and more food than you can imagine ,,,, 22 pounds total.

Watch out for the travel agents and what they promise.

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