One often thinks: 'What is the
Greek experience?' Let me tell you about
a typical day.
Rose and I made late
night/early morning passage on the Ferry Daliana from Santorini to Heraklion,
one of Crete's many port cities. We
hustled up a taxi, which turned out to be too expensive, and so shared it with
another young German couple, splitting the costs. After a crazed two hour journey across
Greece's largest island, we arrived at our port, Agios Nicholaous, for the
morning's continuation of our journey to Rodos in the Dodecanese. There were no plane rides available. They either already been shut down by high
winds, or were already fully booked.
Rose and I
were once again thrust into the world of sixty years ago, going no where fast,
but loving it.
I got a
chance to put my Greek to the test on the telephone, and called a local hotel,
Hotel Pergola, as listed in Lonely Planet. A quick bite at the harbor, and we quickly
crashed, falling into a deep sleep. It
seemed like minutes, when the landlord awakened us. In staccato Greek, he
said: "The boat is leaving. The boat
Goodness!" I grabbed by forty-five pound backpack, my thirty pound camera
bag, my 30 pound backpack, and my sixty-nine pound lighting equipment bag, as
Rose gathered her stuff. We hauled ass
down to the port. Just in the
proverbial 'nick of time,' we boarded the LANE ferry, Vitsentzos Kornaros, to Rodos, a twelve-hour journey. Rose and I
mellowed in the first hours of the journey, as we tried to catch up on our
sleep. We stopped at Sitia, and
continued on the Kassos.
fantail, drinking my first coffee of the day, I noticed the winds start to
freshen, first from light breeze, to strong breeze. Then, suddenly, the windstorm hit.
to a fellow traveler that the winds seemed a bit stronger. Upon closer observation, I could see the tops
of the wind waves, whiten, and blow off, starting to drag across a cerulean
This could be interesting," I mused to my lover. Rose reached over and placed my hand over mine. We both hung on to
that rail, as the ferry started to heal, pitching first to ten degrees, then to
in to Kassos our next destination stop.
After three failed attempts, the Captain finally backed the huge ferry
up to the quay. The first line was
tossed, and lashed in a hurry. Just as
the second was tossed, a huge sustained gust hit, upwards of 45 kph. The second line blew free! The primary hawser line, which was about 5
inches thick, exploded like a cannon shot, whipping back, ripping off both paint and rust from the aged Vincenzo Korneros!
full effects of our side thrusters, the meltemi winds pushed against the
ferry's high freeboard. The Vitsentzos
Kornaros began its slow inevitable drift toward the rocks, now close at hand
off our port side. The captain made the
right move, gunning the ferry's mighty engines and we squeaked out of Kassos
tight little harbor. Taking no more
chances, the captain moved onwards back to sea.
All the forlorn people waiting to get on sat stranded at the dock as well as those wanting to disembark.
later, in the midst of a stormy sea now laced with a patchwork of white caps
dragging across the surface, we pulled up to Karpathos, to Karpathos
Harbor. Again, just as we pulled in, the
wind venturied, doubled to Beauford 10 and sent us towards the cliff. The ship drifted far too close, and but for
the phenomenal steep depths of the waters off the Greek Islands, I am sure we
would have gone aground. The Captain
tried valiantly FOUR more times, before submitting to the whims of nature, and
heading to the next port.
An excited buzz filled the aid
as people talked rapidly in all the languages of Europe. More than a little apprehension was in the
air. I spent my time, firmly gripping the oft painted rail, reading the near
hurricane force winds from the fantail, and marveling at nature's primal force.
We tried to pull into our next
harbor, two hours later at Pigadia in Karpathos. The captain was not going to give up so
easily this time. We tried three times
to dock. Each time we tried to back the
massive ferry the winds would catch her bow and swing it towards the rocks. The mighty stern engines fought the confused
seas, and building 5-to-6 foot chop.
the inevitable, the captain, again, had to compromise, pulling away from
port. It was the only sound
decision. Another Greek buzz filled the
air. 'We must unload all the
refrigerated produce and vegetables."
A solution had been reached. We
would wait in the lee side of this very big, long island of Karpathos.
plus hours came and went. We were
seriously off our schedule to Rodos. We
were in high winds, buffeted by hurricane force winds. On the other hand, we were in Greece. The sun was shining brilliantly. It was a beautiful day. A deck hand wisely cranked up the Greek
music, and opened the bar on the fantail.
There were worse places to be after all.
Time slowed down, as we lay
there in the brilliant Greek sun and forty-knot winds. Slowly but surely, the Aeolian winds
subsided, dropping to a mere 35 knots.
We pulled in nailed the docking at Karpathos, hitching up to the ferry quay
with no less than FOUR of the huge lines, to hold the ferry tight. A quick unloading. Those going to Kassos would have to wait
three days until the next ferry, including a fine Greek Grandfather and
Grandmother we had met, who were transporting their grandchilden back to their
Still traveling in huge seas,
we made passage for Rodos, without much ado, some six hours late at 2 AM. There we stood, crammed into the stairway
down to the disembarkation deck, American sardines, stuffed in with peoples of
all countries, speaking a melange of language.
The words that came to mind were 'hurry up and wait.' We were going somewhere pretty darn quick
now, it's just that we didn't know exactly where.
Leaving the ferry, I kissed the ground more
than once with my 140 pounds of junk. We
met an enterprising Greek, Johnny, who invited us to his
"Pansyon." We jumped into his
car, sped along the thirty foot thick walls of Rodos' Old Town, before making a
quick left into the old fortress, and making our way into the maze to Johnny's
"Pansyon." A lovelier sight I
had never seen.....a double bed!
Breaking out our emergency stash of megali (large) Heinecken, Rose and I
sat on our veranda, above an ancient stone street, one-donkey cart wide. Staring at the stone buttress holding up the
wall of Johnny's place and the Greek Flag waving in the winds, we toasted to
the Captain and our good fortune.
-Glenn Steiner, 2000