“Ancient Greeks had no sense of time or distance. No reliance can be placed on their measurements, just as no reliance can be placed on the modern Greeks when they are dealing with space and time” – Lawrence Durrell, ‘Propero’s Cell’
Horology is the art or science of measuring time. Clocks, watches, clockwork, sundials, stop-watches, egg-timers and marine chronometers are all examples of instruments used to measure time and although the word has Greek origins this is surprising because generally speaking Greek people attach just about the same amount of importance to schedules as they do their tax returns!
Opening and closing hours in the shops and bars, even banks are an example of this and this disregard for time is one of the charms of the Greek Islands. But when it comes to public transportation this is a different matter!
In Amorgos one morning after breakfast at a harbour side café we walked to the coach station for the scheduled ten o’clock bus across to the other side of the island to the Byzantine Monastery of the Virgin Mary Chozoviotissa, but the driver was working to GMT, that’s Greek Maybe Time, and the confused crowd that began to build up all had to wait until a little after ten-thirty when he finally arrived for work.
It was about a half an hour journey across the island and then another half an hour slog on foot up a rocky path on a very sharp incline to reach the entrance to the monastery.
Once there it became immediately obvious that we were going to have some difficulty visiting the interior because we were deemed to be inappropriately dressed. We had shorts on and apparently Monks don’t like shorts. They don’t mind short dresses, denims or cropped trousers but they don’t like shorts!
There was a long wait for the bus back we decided to walk along the road to the beach at Aggi Anna where the bus turns around to go back to the port. Based on the earlier delays to the schedule I calculated that we had plenty of time to achieve this and we set off down the twisty road at an appropriately leisurely pace. To our surprise and horror we were only about three quarters of the way to the bottom when the bus appeared, bang on time, and we had to get a bit of a rush on to make the connection. Actually we had to do a bit more than just hurry up and the last two hundred metres turned into a full sprint under the hot midday sun.
On another tense occasion we were leaving Koufonisia on the way to Ios and our transport from the hotel arrived and we said goodbye and in just a couple of minutes we were at the quayside with a handful of other people waiting for the Seajet. As ours was a tight connection in Naxos for the transfer to Ios we really needed the ferry to be on time so we looked out to sea scanning the horizon for signs of its arrival. Eventually it came into view and was soon in the port but it was already five minutes late so this reduced our transfer window to eight minutes.
I tried to use thought transference to will people to board quickly and then to get the captain to slip the moorings and leave and it must have worked because everything went smoothly and soon the Seajet was easing away from Koufonisia and was soon at full throttle, rounding the southern end of Naxos and heading efficiently north towards the port at the north end of the island.
The ferry lost no more time and pulled into Naxos only a few minutes behind schedule but as the doors opened and we prepared to disembark we could see that our next ferry, the Aqua Jewel, was on time, already loaded with passengers and cars and I used thought transference again to get the crew to hurry up and dock.
The Aqua Jewel was almost ready to leave so we pushed our way to the front of the queue and as soon as were off we ran to the other side of the quay and made it with only seconds to spare. It wasn’t very elegant but at least we were on board and that was important because if we had missed this connection then we would be stuck in Naxos for the night.