I got up at dawn this morning, with a ferry to catch from Ραφήνα/Rafina I didn’t have time to hang around. There was no traffic the whole way to the port – surprising given that I was only a few minutes away from the suburbs of the Greek capital. At times it felt like I was driving on island roads!
When I got to Rafina getting on the ferry was not as difficult or as stressful as I had expected for a Greek port.
It is a little bit different to Dover though; In Dover you enter the port and go through the Passport Control lanes, then you check-in (different lanes for different ferry companies), before being given a lane number from which to board your boat.
In Rafina all traffic enters the port, at which point there are 4 or 5 ferries in front of you. You just identify your ferry, drive up to the back of the boat, hand over your tickets and drive on. They attach a sticker to the windscreen with your destination to assist the staff in the garage so that you are appropriately parked – Not blocking anyone getting off before you, and not blocked in by anyone getting off after you.
The above is no problem really, until you realise there are 2 identical boats from the same ferry operator in port, and I couldn’t remember which one I was meant to be on!
My ferry – Golden Star Ferries «Superferry» was one which you drive on forwards, a guide will get you to turn round in the garage and reverse you in to a space, so you can drive off forwards. In Rafina I got to the port early enough that this was a fairly simple process, with a whole hour and a half before departure it wasn’t the mad rush I thought it would be.
I am expecting it to be a bit mad when I get when I get the ferry to Σύρος/Syros in a few days and then when I get the ferry to Πειραιάς/Piraeus from Syros at the weekend; the ferries only stop for as long as is necessary to unload disembarking passengers and for new passengers to board – Maybe 15-20 minutes max?
The crossing itself wasn’t too bad. It took around 3 and a half hours to get to Tinos, with a quick stop in Γαύριο/Gavrio, one of the ports on Άνδρος/Andros, on the way for passengers to disembark and new passengers to board.
On the way out of Andros another encounter with Greek wildlife – I had snakes in the road on Thassos, and now the ship was being followed by a pod of dolphins, riding the waves behind the ship. They were too far away to get a photo unfortunately, but good to watch.
I believe after I left the ferry at Tinos it was continuing on to other Cyclades islands including Mykonos, and then going on to Crete.
Disembarkation in Tinos was simple, straight off the ferry, on to the main road in to Χώρα (Tinos Town, known locally as Chora which is the Greek word for ‘village’).
Chora was quite busy (busier than eg. Thassos Town) but once out of town I was surprised that a lot of Tinos is almost deserted at this time of year. There are people about, but not many. I am the only guest in my accomodation tonight!
In some ways this is not surprising. Tinos doesn’t feature in many British holiday brochures. It isn’t a terribly touristy island. Brits tend to head for Mykonos (I can see Mykonos town from my room). Greeks do come here for their holidays, but that is concentrated around a few weeks in late July/early August, and increasingly in some places in to early September too.
After I’d settled in to my room, I had a couple of hours on the beach – Last time we were here we got sand blasted because the Summer wind – the Meltemi – was up. Today, there was just a gentle breeze.
I drove in to Chora to get to a supermarket so I could top up my sipplies of bread and cheese so I could make myself some lunch – Even though it is low season parking is still a bit of a struggle in Chora; I had to drive along the front once or twice to find a suitable spot.
Lunch was followed by a short siesta (probably not necessary in May when the Sun isn’t so strong, but I did start early this morning). Then I had a couple more hours at the beach before I returned to my room to get ready to go out.
I drove in to Chora for dinner tonight; most of the nearby places are shut until the holiday season picks up. On the way I had to spend some money on the car – Coming off the ferry this morning I noticed my passenger side dipped headlamp was out. Given that I fitted both headlamps at the same time, it wouldn’t be long before the other one went. It had gone by lunchtime.
Lukily for me I found a mechanic on the way in to Chora this evening who had the right type of bulbs in stock and as it was starting to get dark, light fading fast, he fitted them for me on the spot. He checked my full beam lamps too – but they were working fine. The look of confusion on his face when he went to put the full beam on and activated the windscreen wipers instead was comical!
Clearly he was not used to cars with the steering wheel on the wrong side – we are on an island where the number of foreign cars altogether, let alone British cars, can be counted on one hand. (A big difference to Thassos where Bulgarian, Romanian, Serbian, North Macedonian and Turkish cars were fairly common).
I needn’t have worried about driving with no lights on – The local cops were themselves driving with bulbs at both ends of the car not working! But given that I’ve not driven at night in Greece before today, I thought better to be safe than sorry. I drive in the dark fairly frequently in France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany, but Greece is a different style of driving to Western Europe.
I continued in to Chora for my dinner, and settled for a pizza (not very Greek but it was easy) in one of the tavernas along the front then returned to the apartment for a drink on the balcony before going to bed.
I’m going to try and explore the island more tomorrow, perhaps get to a couple of the places we went to in 2015; I’ll also need to go in to Chora to pick up my tickets for the ferry to Syros.
Today’s Mileage: 36.9
Accumulative Mileage: 2158.6