“The flavour of the place is pleasant and alert, as you gaze over the rail (of the ferry) you may have a Byronic twinge of nostalgia and decide that one day you might return to settle among those mazy streets and silent dusty squares.” Lawrence Durrell
Being a nervous traveller, normally when travelling by ferry that requires a crucial connection I like to allow a couple of hours or so leeway so that I can be certain of making the transfer.
The journey to Amorgos required a change at Naxos with only forty minutes on the timetable.
I began to get nervous when the first ferry was over fifteen minutes late and when it docked 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 Mykonos and was soon at full throttle and heading efficiently south towards neighbouring Naxos.
Once disembarked Kim did her ‘Frenchman in a queue impression’ and pushed her way to the front of the line for the connecting ferry to Amorgos. It wasn’t very elegant but at least we were sure to get on board and that was important because if we had missed this connection then we would be stuck in Naxos for the night.
It wasn’t an especially memorable crossing, I always prefer the older traditional ferries but this was a high speed, expensive but efficient and it roared its way across the water to deliver us to the main port of Katapala. This was a shame because we were staying at the opposite end of the island about fifteen miles away and there was no one to meet us as promised.
There wasn’t a scheduled bus for three hours so we found a taverna for a beer and a salad, phoned the hotel owner and he agreed to drive down and collect us. Thirty minutes later he arrived and after another half an hour or so we were sitting on the balcony of our hotel room.
This was a place to chillax, tranquil and slow, perfect for recovering from a nervous breakdown or contemplating the meaning of life and other serious matters; why are British police vehicles called Panda Cars, how did the Trojans fall for that Wooden Horse Trick and just how did Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton become U.S. Presidential candidates? Here, I thought, I might find the answer to something that has always troubled me – how can I be sure that the little light in the fridge has gone off when I shut the door?
Amorgos provided a huge contrast with Mykonos. No sun-beds cluttering up the beach, just towels spread out and held down in the corners by stones, no pesky buzzing scooters, just pedestrians and no tattooed people but instead lots of ageing bearded hippies with pony-tails, wearing white linen and leather sandals, carrying sketch-pads and all that was missing was the joss sticks and the candles, the flowers and the guitars.
The prices too were much more to my liking and more suited to our budget and in the space of about three hours the cost of living had literally halved.
The beach was close to the port but there was no activity of any kind because there were no boats due today. The whole place had settled down to late afternoon lethargy. It is nice to see boats because it means there is still some connection with the rest of the world, or did I get that wrong and it is the other way round?
Not being dedicated beach people we stayed just long enough to dry off and then returned through the village and back to the hotel where we let the rest of the afternoon just slip through our fingers.
After four days it was time for a shave and I mention this not because anyone would be remotely interest in my ablutions but because I have noticed a curious thing about bathroom wash basins in Greek hotels.
In almost every bathroom there is a notice on the wall explaining how precious the water is and encouraging guests not to waste it – so curious then that there is hardly ever a basin plug and if there is then it more than likely will not fit and the water just pours away into the u-bend and beyond. Surely if they are serious about being careful with water then it would be sensible to provide a simple piece of rubber on a chain to make sure that to wash your face you don’t have to keep the tap running continuously!
Later we dined in a restaurant in the harbour where a full moon was decorating the inky sea with silver glitter that shifted constantly and broke and reassembled a kaleidoscope image on the surface of the water that undulated with a gentle ebb and flow and that reassuring sound of tiny waves lapping the shore and percolating through the sandy gravel.
From the hotel balcony there was a good view of the night time harbour that was peaceful and serene with the lights of the buildings reflecting on the surface of the water and providing an idyllic image of the Cyclades.
In this moment I was reminded why I always say that Amorgos is one of my favourite Greek islands.