Thursday 30th May 2019
Today was going to be a long day…
Ed and I set off from Norfolk at 3 a.m. – sleep-deprived but full of enthusiasm – to catch our early Gatwick flight to Mykonos. The benefit of such an early start was the almost empty roads until we hit the M23 as we closed in on the airport. Soon enough we were in the departure lounge at Gatwick north terminal, enjoying breakfast and a pre-holiday beer in the Red Lion Wetherspoons pub. A little early for alcohol, maybe, but we figured it might help us nap on the plane!
We boarded in good time, only for the pilot to announce a 40-minute delay due to landing restrictions into Mykonos. This made us slightly nervous, as we only had a 2-hour window if we would make our connecting ferry to Naxos, and short delays have a habit of turning into longer ones. It turned out okay though, we made up some time during the flight and only landed about 25 minutes later than scheduled – panic averted.
Our plan at this point was to get a local bus to Tourlos, the main ferry port on Mykonos, but after checking the timetable outside the terminal, this would have meant a further 40-minute delay and missing the early 3:20 pm ferry. We opted for a taxi instead, which cost us €15 as we shared it with another couple heading in the same direction. As it turned out, we could have saved our money as the early ferry was running 90 minutes late, but hindsight is a wonderful thing!
On the plus side, arriving early meant we had plenty of time to enjoy the first feel of Greek sun on our skin, plus a Mythos beer (or two) to keep us cool! The port has some seating and a small shop, so it isn’t an unpleasant place to spend an hour or so.
The 4:30 pm Seajets Superjet arrived on time, and before long we were zipping along the Aegean towards Naxos, where we would have a few more hours to spend until our late ferry to Amorgos arrives. I was a bit worried about feeling travel sick on such a small ferry, but the sea was calm enough that I didn’t even bother taking an anti-sickness tablet and felt fine.
Stepping off the ferry onto Naxos harbour was a great feeling: I have fond memories from my previous trips, and it was great to be back again, albeit for just a few hours.
In need of a snack, we wandered south past the main throng of shops and tavernas and stopped at Creparea, where we enjoyed a sweet crêpe and some water (gotta stay hydrated!). We then continued down towards St. George beach just south of Naxos town. As it was approaching 5 pm, we had no trouble finding some sunbeds outside a beach cafe and settled down with a beer to relax in the late afternoon sun. Ed quickly fell asleep while I read my Kindle and listened to my favourite Spotify playlist – bliss!!
We left the beach around 7 pm, as the cafe staff wanted to pack up the sunbeds, and we were getting pretty hungry again. Heading along the main harbour, we decided on pizza for dinner and settled on Il Girasole, where we shared a large veggie pizza, Greek salad and some decent house white wine.
Feeling suitably stuffed, we returned to a bar we’d visited the year before when watching some of the Euro 2018 football finals and sat down to watch most of Turkey vs. Greece friendly. Unfortunately, we missed the game’s only two goals as they happened inside the first 20 minutes, and the rest of the match was pretty dull. It helped pass the time, though, and we had another beer (or two) as well.
By 11 pm, we were exhausted, so after a stroll up towards the temple of Apollo, we settled on some chairs at Captain’s bar just opposite the port. Not wanting to be ill on the ferry, I resisted more alcohol and opted for a coca-cola and took one of my anti-sickness tablets – I’d never been on a ferry in the dark before, and wasn’t sure how it would affect my travel sickness.
As the time neared 11:55 pm, I checked the location of our ferry on MarineTraffic.com, only to discover it was just leaving Paros and so was bound to arrive at least 20-30 minutes late. We wandered to the port anyway to stretch our legs and be ready to board as soon as possible. Despite the late hour, I was surprised that quite a few other travellers were waiting.
As I had predicted, the ferry arrived about 30 minutes late, but I hadn’t envisaged a further 30-minute wait while they unloaded lots of lorry trailers. We finally got underway just before 1 am. At first, we sat outside on the top deck, but as you can imagine it was pretty cool and windy, so within 10 minutes we were sat inside where it was much warmer. The crossing was again very smooth, and a combination of fatigue, alcohol and the anti-sickness tablets had me dozing off pretty quickly – I had the good sense to set an alarm on my phone, though, just in case we didn’t wake up on arrival!
It was 3 am by the time the ferry docked in Aegiali. We headed off in the direction we knew our hotel was located, and luckily, the girl from the hotel hadn’t given up on us and was still waiting at the back of the harbour. It was only a 5-minute walk uphill to the Yperia Hotel, where we were quickly shown to our rooms. After throwing my bag to the floor and collapsing on the bed, I fell asleep.