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From Lesvos to Sifnos (Almost)

Nissos Chios FerryWe almost made it.

We left Xidera with a plan. Everything had to work perfectly for us to pull it off, or more likely the imperfections of the plan had to cooperate. We had tickets on the Nissos Chios from Mytilini to Pireaus which would get us in at 6:45am with enough time to catch one of the two ferries to Sifnos. The first was a highspeed, I think it was the Speedrunner which left at 7am. Then the Ag Giorgos, a big old ferry was leaving at 7:25. Hopefully our ship would arrive early and the Giorgos would leave late and we would make it with moments to spare.

We stopped in Vatera and had lunch at the Hotel Aphrodite and then a swim in what was the cleanest and most beautiful sea of the summer, right in front of the hotel. We got to Mytilini with a couple hours to wander around and take photos. The boat arrived and after about twenty minutes of unloading the cars from Pireaus and loading the trucks from Mytilini the allowed the cars to go. The inside of the ship was enormous and they sent us up a ramp one or two levels up from the truck garage. It was an easy ferry to get on and off. Inside the cabin was beautiful and there were several lounges, cafes and restaurants. It was probably the nicest ferry I have every taken in Greece, having been built just a year ago. At 6am we passed Cape Sounion and the Temple of Poseidon at a pretty good speed. The regular ferries take 12 hours from Mytilini to Pireaus. The Nissos Chios takes about 8. We would arrive about 7 one of the crew told me. Then we had to reduce speed a couple miles outside of Pireaus according to new regulations. Then they made an announcement that we could not enter the port yet because of traffic. We sat outside Pireaus for about 10 minutes and then slowly made our way into the harbor. I went down to the garage and Andrea and Amarandi came too so we could save time by not having to find each other off the boat as we usually do (so only one of us dies from the fumes).

It seemed like forever but we finally got off the boat at 7:35 and headed for the exit. We were at gate 2 and we had to go to gate 9 for the Western Cyclades, through heavy Pireaus traffic. Our friends Lue and Peter were on the Ag Giorgos, giving us a report. The ship was still loading trucks. We had a chance. We finally arrived at gate 9 and there were still several trucks waiting to get on. Everything had gone our way. I parked next to the ticket stand and jumped out. "Three tickets and one car for Sifnos" I told the guy in Greek.
"Sorry. No more room for the car. The ferry is full."
We could see our friends waving to us from the ship. They throught we had made it. But the ship lifted the ramp and sailed away to Sifnos.

Greek Ferry RomildaIt was pretty sad. We had come so close. One of the port policeman offered to take me on his motorbike to the ticket office so I could leave the car and buy a ticket for the Romilda, leaving at 3pm. I thanked him but we decided to go to Athens and we could pick up the tickets on the way. We drove back a couple entrances to gate 7 at Kariaskakis Square where there are the ticket offices. No tickets left on the Speedrunner. The Highspeed only had VIP class which were 95 euros. With the car it would have cost us $500 one way to Sifnos! The Romilda, a stinking rustbucket, one of the oldest ships in Greece would take 8 hours. The same as our trip from Lesvos, to cover a third of the distance.

I sent a text message to my friend Tony. "How bad is the Romilda?"
His answer: "In Sifnos they call it the Voyage of the Damned".

We drove to Athens and parked at the lot on Filenninon Street. I called George at Fantasy Travel and told him we would be in Athens tonight and the Attalos was full. He booked us a room at the Electra Palace right around the corner. So while Andrea and Amarandi went shopping I went to Fantasy and Nick gave me a desk so I could answer my e-mail. And that's where I am right now.

The girls just walked in. Time to go eat.

Anyway we are in Athens at least for Friday night, staying at a suite at the beautiful Electra Palace Hotel courtesy of George at Fantasy Travel. It also happens to be right above one of my favorite restaurants, the Paradosiako Cafeneon on Voulis street where we just had lunch. Andrea went off to the street with all the shops that sell doorknobs. Amarandi went out and brought home a bag full of Chinese food. I am trying to decide what to do about Sifnos. My instinct is to just go back to Kea and sleep for a week.

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