Karpathos, August 2007
Really and truly believing that the Lane Lines ferry was due to leave for Karpathos at 4:15pm, we set off at a leisurely pace from Chania at eleven in the morning, driving on the National Highway en route to Siteia port. Plenty of time to wander three hundred and fifty kilometres across Crete, take in the scenery, and enjoy a genteel stop for luncheon on the way. According to the ferry schedule, we'd be in our rooms in north Karpathos by nine that evening, no sweat.
Until we accidentally re-checked the tickets which said 14:15 not 4:15pm. Military time.
"Oh dear," and "How unfortunate," were not phrases I recall being mentioned.
Now, three hours to cover three hundred kilometres. No scenery, then. And definitely no genteel luncheon. Foot hard down, we screamed across the island like an errant space shuttle, overtaking all those bloody lucky tourists who were busy taking in the scenery and planning to enjoy genteel luncheons, and who were openly conspiring in a master plan to deliberately get in our way.
All the supersonic and suicidal overtaking manoeuvres went well until we reached Istron Bay, when even our kamikaze driver had to accept that we were firmly blocked by a convoy of very sleek, very air-conditioned, and very ... very ... slow ... tourist coaches. Who hogged the middle of the long, winding and potholed road for eternity times two. Until they mercifully stopped for a coordinated pee-break 15kms before Siteia. There is a God after all, and even He must have a bladder.
Blast-off again! We re-entered the Earth's atmosphere at a frightening rate, losing only a few heat-resistant tiles, and touched down at Siteia port in a cloud of dust at 14:10. Military time, just to be sure.
Hmm. No ship in sight. Hmm again. Had we missed it? Judging by the five lorries and two cars waiting there, no. Phew! Surely, all we would have to do was wait a little while for our scheduled ferry 'Vitsentzos Kornaros', and we'd be disembarking in southern Karpathos three hours later? All we could do was wait.
Spring was long past, and autumn loomed dimly in the future. It was definitely early August, and hot. Hotter than a hot thing in a very hot place labelled 'Extremely Hot Do Not Touch'.
Siteia port's only facilities comprise an odorous portakabin toilet, a broken drinks machine, and a building in which to wait. The waiting area had been designed by an compass-challenged idiotic architect, with south-facing floor-to-ceiling glazed windows whose sole purpose was to concentrate the sun's rays onto human bodies within nanoseconds.
But the architect must at least have had some interior design training, because the faded orange plastic seats - also broken - managed somehow to colour-coordinate with the accumulation of a months' rubbish on the floor: Coke cans (from when the drinks machine must have been working in July), Marlboro cigarette packets, frappe cups, a soiled diaper, and a couple of used condoms.
At least someone had had some fun, although how they managed on those broken seats must warrant a mention in despatches. Hallo and welcome to Siteia port, where you have to make your own entertainment.
...to be continued
(c) Stuart Simon 2009
Life's a long song, but the tune ends too soon...