Saturday, September 8: I reluctantly head to the new port in Santorini, where I turn in my rental car and climb the ramp of this ferry, thinking it is the SuperJet Sea Jets ferry to Piraeus. However, I’m turned away on the ramp when I show my ticket. I’m told to join the hordes of people lined up inside a l0w-slung building at the opposite end of the port. This ferry, shown in the picture below, is similar to the one I took from Crete to Santorini. It is apparently the SLOW ferry. I’m to take the FAST ferry tonight. FAST being 5 hours from Santorini to Piraeus.
At about 6:30 p.m., the SuperJets ferry comes speeding into the dock like Superman on steroids. Within moments of its arrival, hundreds of us are lined up and boarding, tossing our suitcases into the hold and taking our seats. It has been quite windy all day in Santorini and the boat is rocking as it sits on the dock. The light is waning as it’s getting close to sunset. We board and within minutes the boat is underway. Like airline hostesses, the boat crew goes through detailed instructions about what to do if the ferry sinks. They warn that there will be rough seas tonight and so they expect a lot of “health problems.” They point out a huge collection of vomit bags at the front of the ferry and in the pockets behind each seat.
The rest of the evening, I experience the most torturous and miserable five hours I have ever spent on a boat. The wind is whipping the sea into huge angry waves. The boat rocks violently, like one of those carnival rides that lurches you side to side and forwards and backwards and up and down. Immediately, people around me are vomiting into their little foil-lined paper bags. I’m sitting next to a couple from Russia who say we should keep our eyes on the horizon. We do so, unrelentingly, but soon the sun sinks below the horizon and there is nothing but blackness to look at. There is nowhere to anchor our eyes or to keep our bearings.
All around me people are either actively vomiting or they are grasping their stomachs with a green and sickly glow on their faces. Luckily, I didn’t eat much before getting on board, just a light Greek salad, so even though I’m highly uncomfortable just from the lurching, I never actually feel sick. Thank goodness! However, there is nothing to do to make the time pass. It’s impossible to sleep with this extreme motion, and reading a book would just contribute to the motion sickness. The ride seems like an eternity.
We do make one stop, an hour after leaving Santorini, at Folegandros. Some people had already arranged to get off here. One guy, a couple of rows up from me, who has gone through countless vomit bags, decides to get off even though he intended to go all the way to Piraeus. Once we leave Folegandros, we are captive on this nightmare boatride for the next 4 hours.
Now, I understand why everyone was warning me not to take the fast ferry in tonight’s “weather.” I ignored such sage advice at my peril!
Finally, at around 11:30 p.m., we arrive at Piraeus. Everyone practically runs to get off the boat. I’ve never been so happy to see land again! Before leaving Santorini, I made arrangements to stay at the Triton Hotel in Piraeus. When I asked directions on the phone before leaving, they said there are no street names, but the hotel is within walking distance. They told me they were located directly behind the tallest building surrounding the port. When I get off the boat, I look around and set my sights on the tallest building. I find it and head for it. Sure enough, there is the Hotel Triton, right behind it.
It’s really a nice hotel for the price of 50 euros. It’s clean and artfully decorated.
Sunday, September 9: In the morning, I find the hotel has a huge breakfast buffet. I help myself to coffee, eggs, and numerous pastries; I pack my bag, and walk down to the port to take a few pictures. Again, though I plan to take the metro back to the Acropolis View Hotel, I find a taxi there for 15 euros. I take it, once again succumbing to the easy route. Finally, I’m back home at the Acropolis View Hotel.
Back to the mainland for five more days….