It’s my birthday today. Not that I usually celebrate the day but I will spend most of it travelling back to the UK – always the worst part of a trip that has been so enjoyable.
Lateral flow test has been done – Tick!. Passenger Locator form complete – Tick! Clothes stuffed into suitcase – Tick! I’m all set to go.
It seems like a lifetime ago since I was deliberating whether to do this trip or not. Although travel restrictions had been lifted it was still with some trepidation that I went for it and booked flights to Athens. I must admit that the opportunity to walk with Amal as part of The Walk from Turkey to Manchester was the big determining factor in this. Just to be able to be part of this phenomenal event in Athens and Piraeus was such a privilege and one that I’ll never forget.
At the time it felt as though I may as well chuck a couple of islands in whilst I was at it, especially after the rigmarole of the Covid protocols. Syros, Ikaria, Tinos and Andros all delivered something special in their own unique way. Syros lacked any pretentions, confident in its own status as the administrative centre of the Cyclades. I loved my little apartment (Voulias in Kini) on top of the hill over looking both Ermoupolis and Kini Bay – a real retreat with amazing sunset views. My second visit to Ikaria gave me the opportunity to explore a little more of the Northern side of the island. However, I feel like Ikaria keeps her secrets close to her chest and only an extended stay would give the opportunity for her to reveal some of her treasures – though I suspect that that is not a guarantee. Tinos was everything that I hoped it would be, having had friends rave about this little island for years. How I’d never visited before I’ll never know. I found Tinos very special and it was so good to be back on an island with a good bus service. My guided tour of the island with the incredible Valentina was invaluable and definitely took me to parts that I’d never have got to on the bus. And Andros, beautiful, green Andros. I only had vague recollections of my first visit nearly 30 years ago but thankfully I was able to see it through fresh eyes and without any preconceptions. Again having the benefit of an excellent guide enabled me to get a closer insight into the islands treasures. Are there any islands amongst those visited that I wouldn’t go to again? No. Given the opportunity I’d visit them all again. But so many islands and so little time!
Back to the matter in hand – getting home. John my host very kindly offered to phone for a taxi back to the port of Gavrion. What a lovely stay it has been here at Elpida and that was down to the fantastic hospitality by John and his family.
At Gavrion I wait for the Superferry 2 which will depart to Rafina. Things are relatively well organised here, certainly no sign of chaos that ensued whilst boarding at other ports during this stay.
Although I’m glad to be getting home to my family, I do feel a pang of loss as the ferry pushes forth from the shores of Andros. In a way, that pang is a kind of barometer of how much I’ve loved the place. Farewell Andros. You didn’t disappoint.
It’s a comfortable journey up on the deck with gorgeous views of Evia. It is hard to imagine the devastation that beset this beautiful island only a year previously. The ferry pulls into the port of Rafina. I don’t think I have been here for nearly 30 years either so have no recollection of the place.
As I disembark I can see a bus at a bus stop over to the right. It isn’t the bus that I need to the airport but it does have a very useful timetable on display. It seems that I have some hours to wait before the next bus. Close to the bus station there are some public toilets and also an automated left luggage facility. that also has a phone charging point. I chuck in the suitcase and have a short wander around the port area. There is a small beach close by but beaches are the last thing on my mind.
There isn’t much to see or do here in the short time that I have so I plonk for lunch instead. I don’t have much of an appetite – I never do just before I’m due to fly but it is probably the most comfortable place to while away an hour or two.
Eventually it is time to retrieve my luggage and head to the bus stop. I do this well in advance of the scheduled departure time because – well you never know!
It’s a nice bus journey back to the airport, through various town and villages and almost with a bump – I’m at the airport.
That is it. This is the end of my impromptu trip to Greece in September 2021.
So what’s next? I always have several trips floating around in my mind – a bit like a fantasy football league. I don’t spend much time trawling websites for ideas or planning trips that will never happen. The ideas stay in my head and often evolve and change into something completely different. Working for a tour operator specialising in holidays to the Greek islands, my clients will also inspire me to visit certain places.
I never book anything too far in advance – with a busy family life you just never know what will crop up. However, I do have my next trip planned – one that was cancelled due to the pandemic. It was originally going to be a holiday with one of my granddaughters who had just turned 16. During the following years her sister also turned 16. Then there is their older sister who I just couldn’t leave out so it became a holiday with me, 3 granddaughters and my husband. This is the next scheduled trip – one that is probably on a more beaten track but I’m looking forward to it immensely.
My annual solo trip later on in the year? Well I have a one way flight booked to somewhere but that is about as far as I’ve got. Let’s see what that one turns into. 🙂
Until the next trip!