My short time on Tinos has come to an end. It has been interesting visiting the island in low season; The last (and first time) I came it was the middle of August when the tourist season was at its peak.
In Tinos, most things are yet to open – but the painters arrived at the apartment today, and there has been activity at some of the tavernas near the beach. I think perhaps they’re going for a 1st June opening!?
After breakfast I had a last couple of hours at the beach (they’ve put up those wooden sun shelter things now – not quite umbrellas but close to them). It was slightly cloudy this morning, but still warm enough enjoy the beach.
I drove in to town to grab a few bits too; parking wasn’t terribly easy. I had to drive round the car park several times while I waited for someone to leave. Annoyingly I forgot to get some Tinos postcards. I always like to get some postcards to stick my bedroom wall (and I do need to update what I’ve got at the moment); but I’ve got plenty of photos at least. Perhaps I’ll get them printed properly in place of postcards.
I arrived at the port a little early for the ferry, but no problem – It’s not like the airport where once you’ve checked-in and gone through security you can’t go back out again. I simply abandoned the car in the queue for the ferry and wandered back in to town to get an ice cream.
While at the port I got chatting to some of the locals. One was a truck driver in the queue for a different ferry who saw my numberplate and wanted to practice his English, proudly announcing «I went to primary school in England for 11 months».
His ferry came in so he had work to do. Although he wasn’t travelling, he had to load up all the trailers which would be travelling unaccompanied (a different truck driver would pick them up at the other end).
In the queue behind me were 2 Albanians, both Greek-speaking, who now live and work in Greece and they were making their way back to the mainland.
It is only in Greece that people come up and talk to me just because of where my car is from. I imagine, because British cars don’t come this far in big numbers, they are interested to know what brings me here.
Out here, people stick their thumbs up at me on the motorway (Greeks as well as other British cars); I get a friendly wave from total strangers as I drive through towns. I had been worried that by arriving in an English car people would speak to me in English instead of Greek. Generally, this is not the case. Even when they see I’m in a GB-registered car they still speak to me in Greek.
When my ferry arrived it was time to board. It was a little busier than boarding at Rafina, where I got on about an hour or so before departure; Here, the ferry had just 10 minutes turnaround. Having been a foot passenger on these ferries on numerous occasions, I’ve always seen total chaos. In reality, from a car driver’s perspective, it seemed quite ordered – it just looks chaotic to the untrained eye.
First, the ferry comes in, passengers & cars get off. Then loading beings, first with trucks reversing on one at a time (unaccompanied trailers first before the ones where the truck is travelling too). Then the gates open and loads of foot passengers start to board. Once they have boarded they let the cars drive on. Cars drive on to these ferries forwards but have to do a 3-point turn while inside the ship’s garage so that at the destination port, you just drive off.
There can’t have been more about 5 or 6 cars boarding at Tinos (including me). Most were bound for Syros but one or two were going on to the next (final) stop in Piraeus. I’ll be travelling through Piraeus on Sunday and I am expecting that to be significantly busier than anywhere I’ve driven yet.
The crossing to Syros from Tinos is only a short one – 30 minutes. By the time I got out the car we were already half way out the port and they call drivers down to the garages a few minutes before arrival too. It’s a strange sensation driving a car through the garage while the ship is doing what looks like a handbrake turn at sea before reversing in to the port while at the same time a loud blast of the ship’s horn deafens everyone on deck (not like Dover/Calais where the boat won’t go until everyone is out the garage and the garages don’t open until you’re in port).
Perhaps a sign I’ve come to Greece too many times, but I can recite the pre-recorded tannoy announcement from memory now (in Greek as well as English):
«Σε λίγα λεπτά φτάμε στο λιμάνι της Σύρου. Οι επιβάτες με προορισμό της Σύρου παρακαλούνται να είναι έτοιμοι για την αποβίβαση, και οι οδηγοί οχημάτων να κατεβαίνουν έγκυρα στα γκαράζ. Βεβαιωθείτε ότι δεν αφήνετε τα προσωπικά σας αντικείμενα στις καμπίνες σας ή στης θέσεις σας. Σας Ευχαριστούμε. «
«In a few minutes we will arrive at the Port of Syros. Passengers whose final destination is Syros are kindly requested to be ready for disembarkation; Drivers should proceed to the garages. Please make sure that you have not left any of your personal belongings behind. Thank-you».
On arrival in Syros it was straight in to the traffic of Ερμούπολη / Ermoupoli; the capital of both the Cyclades group of islands, and of the wider the South Aegean region – it has the feel of a proper capital city (not just a sleepy main village on a Greek island). A university city, Ermoupoli is busy all year round; the University of the Aegean has its Engineering courses based here.
It was a short drive from Ermoupoli to the village where I’m staying: Γαλησσάς / Galissas – This is now my fourth visit to Syros, and the second staying in this particular accommodation – a small apartment above the village shop & café. I last stayed in this apartment during a similar short visit to Syros in the Summer of 2014, when I spent 6 weeks travelling solo around all 4 corners of Greece. The difference this time is that I have the car.
It was a very hot afternoon; Syros might only be a few miles across the water from Tinos but the weather always seems so different. Tinos had a light breeze (and in the Summer the Meltemi wind gets up) – Syros has none of this. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky as I lay at the beach this afternoon. I think temperatures at the moment are hovering just below 30. It has definitely warmed up in Greece since I was on Thassos.
Galissas is busier than Tinos was – It’s also the first time I’ve heard English spoken by native English speakers since Thassos (as opposed to English spoken by foreigners or Americans). I still managed to find a quiet spot at one end of the beach. The water at Galissas is noticably warmer than any other beach I’ve been to over the last week. It’s a bit like having a bath.
I had time to watch the Sunset also; something I didn’t do in Tinos – I was staying on the wrong side of the island for Sunsets and I had no intention of getting up early to watch the Sunrise instead!
For dinner – a few changes in Galissas since the last time I was here. The meze restaurant has closed. Or rather it has moved…. to Athens! In its place on Syros is a new grill restaurant specialising in gyros, souvlaki, etc. That’s where I ate today.
I also note that, in place of the ‘Garden’ taverna which was here in 2013 (and had closed by my visits in 2014 & 2015), is a new meze taverna with what looks like a pizzeria next to it. So a few new places to try out over the next few days.
I’m off to bed now.
Today’s Mileage: 9.9
Accumulative Mileage: 2247.5