Thursday, September 1, 2011

Santorini to Sorrento in a Three Day Blur

Not the most interesting post today sorry, three days of travelling is rather uneventful when it goes roughly to plan. In the interests of keeping up our trip log though, I bring you: Santorini to Sorrento in a Three Day Blur.

Leaving Santorini was bittersweet. We were both about ready to go but at the same time when the tourist rush died down it was the sort of place where I could see myself getting into the day to day groove. We didn’t have to leave camp until about 1.30pm so we took our time with breakfast and packing. With our tight end-of-trip (nearly) budget we decided to eat lunch before we went and take dinner on board with us. I packed our gear, minus the tent, and then cooked up a packet pasta and added vegetables and spices that previous campers had left behind on a free-for-all table. At the same time I cooked up crumbed chicken schnitzel and layered it with salami, Santorini cherry tomatoes and cheese in huge bread buns to take on the ferry.

Courts was taking the tent down while I cooked and the kitten we had made friends with at camp took full advantage of the soft spot he knows I have when Courts isn’t there to scat him away. He feasted on crumbs and then while Courts ate I packed the bike ready to go. Despite not needing to leave until 1.30pm, we had to check out by 12pm and weren’t allowed to do so unless we could show our luggage all packed up. This meant after checking out we had very little to do so we ended up heading to the wharf early.

We made a rookie mistake seeing a sign for internet café and paying 3 Euro for an hour of wifi before going next door and discovering the café there had wifi free for customers. To kill time before the ferry arrived we took advantage of that too and then finally saw the ferry pull into port. In the scorching afternoon heat I could not have been happier when the guard let us through a gate, bypassing the huge queue of people waiting to board in direct sunlight. Vehicles are usually allowed on first but quite a few times we’ve been told it’s ‘Drivers Only’ and I’ve had to board separately. It’s never been a problem because we’ve never seen a queue like that, but this time I was crossing fingers and toes that I’d be allowed through with Courts.

As he parked the bike, I ran up to the Economy Lounge and nabbed the same seats we had had on the way there, right next to a window and a power point. Courts joined not long after and it’s a good thing his bum was firmly in his seat when the ferry pulled into the first stop, Naxos, because chaos erupted. The economy lounge is comfy but crowded, and everyone makes do and makes friends with the strangers they’re sat next to. At Naxos though, a group of crazy Greeks got on and decided to take over the boat. An overbearing old man told a couple of Aussies that it didn’t matter that their friend was on her way back from the toilet, his wife was having her seat. The poor woman was very apologetic as she was forced to sit in someone elses seat.

That was nothing though, because the man found another seat across the room, that was big enough to seat himself, his wife and all their friends. The only problem was, there were already two Aussie girls sitting there. He told them to move and when they politely declined (there was nowhere else for them to go), the Greeks decided to just sit either side and move closer and closer and the girls had no choice but to either move or be crushed to death. The girls gave in and crammed in elsewhere while fellow passengers watched in disbelief.

The rest of the ride was uneventful and we set foot on the mainland just after midnight. Barricades meant we had to go the long way to the hotel but it was nearby so it didn’t take long. Taking advantage of the free wifi we set our photos to upload to Flickr while we slept and fell deep into sleep with rubbish – but English language – TV playing in the background.

After a continental breakfast at the hotel we took our sweet time leaving which meant we ended up in a rush to get to Patras for the overnight ferry to Italy. Good traffic and straight highways meant we beat the GPS predictions by well over an hour and it was a good thing we did because the ticket office kept us waiting over an hour. Superfast Ferries had previously treated us well but this time they served the two people in front of me in record-slow time, and then when it was my turn, they took my reference print out and said ‘One minute lady’ and then kept serving the people behind me. 50 minutes later I was told they had a computer problem and were waiting for another office to open and close my booking and it was 15 minutes after that that we finally got given our boarding passes.

We were still one of the first on the ferry though so we parked and unloaded and reloaded the gear on the bike, taking with us our carefully planned cabin bag. We (I) had done a lot of rearranging to fit our sleeping mats and sleeping bag into the bag that usually has our tent, having learnt from the last overnight ferry that it was unlikely to be a comfy night. We were the first into the aircraft seat room but this time the seats were allocated and looked a lot comfier than the last ferry.

We only sat in those seats for a few seconds though over the entire ride because we took over the corner behind the last row of seats, on the floor. We were in overnight ferry heaven with the bottom shelf of the luggage store on one side, a powerpoint behind our heads, the perfect amount of room to put our mattresses side by side, and the privacy afforded to us by the seats in front. We put all our gear on the shelf and went and had a coffee and later some dinner before returning later to our camp to sit in bed on the wifi and reading books.

In the morning we had another epic ferry breakfast – I already miss the inch thick French bread and bacon – and then the debate of the century started. When faced with a queue or crowd, Courts likes to remain in his seat or wherever he is comfortable until the very last minute and then walk through behind the last people in the queue having done little to no waiting around and standing. Although I have no issues queuing if it’s the only way, like at theme parks, if I don’t have to queue I’m generally the same as Courts. I’m the last to stand up and queue at airport gates and I’m happy staying seated on a bus until it’s near empty.

On a ferry with a motorbike, I’m the opposite. First of all, I’ve seen the way idiots treat other peoples bikes in the cargo hold when they think no one can see them. One guy sat on our pannier, the weight of which we have to watch as it is, as he waited for the bike next to his to be untied (they all get tied together). Second of all, while Courts is happy being late to anything and everything, I hate being late and I hate feeling rushed. If I have to go out for a particular time, I’ll get ready an hour early so I know it’s done, and then watch TV or relax till it’s time to go. Courts will watch TV or relax until it’s time to go and then start getting ready.

When the ferry docks, the crowd of people trying to get off is insane. I’d be happy staying seated until everyones gone and then meandering off except I know there are idiots touching the bike that’s in my name and I know the bike has to be repacked before we can leave. The ferry workers want everyone off ASAP so it’s a rush to do this as it is. I’d rather go to the door to the garage the second we know we’re nearing port, wait until it’s opened and be the first one out. I may have to wait longer but no ones in my way and I have plenty of time to take packing the bike before we are rushed off.

I never once told Courts he had to come with me but of course it’s natural to assume it’s expected so while I tried to get to the bike he got angrier and angrier at not being able to wait till last. It didn’t help that when I got to the bike well before he did (having separated to find the easiest way down when Court’s procrastination meant we were at the back of the queue) and repacked it myself, I didn’t realize we needed tools from under the seat to tighten the chain before we left. I tried to remedy the situation with jokes and kisses and it worked – until we got off the ferry and the way out was clear as mud and everyone was in our way and it was hot and Courts got frustrated all over again.

It wasn’t the most fun of rides but when we eventually arrived in Sorrento 4 hours later, the incredible view and abundance of lizards was enough to turn his mood at anytime. He went off to the bathroom and I pitched the tent and set up our stuff, on the edge of a (fenced) cliff with a view of the sunset over the entire Bay of Naples, all the way to the city itself. We sealed three days of travel with a bottle of Sorrento wine and real Italian ravioli at the camp restaurant overlooking the now twinkling city lights.

It’s not all bad now, is it.