• From Delphi to Piraeás

    by  • 7 January, 2003 • Travel • 0 Comments

    I got up late. Breakfast at the hotel was excellent. The view from the windows was nothing but extraordinary. You could see as far as the sea in the Gulf of Itéa. There was a group of young American students in one corner eating calmly and minding there own business. I chose a table at the opposite end of the dining room, which could easily accomodate a few hundred people. I got a couple of dirty looks from the students when I lit a sigarette after being done with my breakfast. I happily ignored them. I was far too pleased with myself for having almost reached my destination to be bothered by such small-mindedness.

    I drove off at around 9 o’clock. The first 15 kilometers were difficult with the road carving itself a way through the mountains down to sea level. Delphi is at some 1500 meters on the slopes of the Óros Parnassós which peak at 2457 meters. Once past Aráchova (900 meters altitude) it became easier. Another 12 kilometers and I was in the plains. It took a little more than an hour from there to get into the Athens area with its dense traffic. At around noon I was in Piraeás, much too early for the ferry boat which wouldn’t leave before 8:30 in the evening. I bought my ticket and was told that boarding would start at 4 in the afternoon.

    DSCF03010701.gifTo bide my time I first went for a coffee at the nearby “Central” train station (yes, that’s it, in the picture right). Later I visited the town and had a snack in one of the numerous such places that populate the back streets of the harbour. Piraeás is pretty colourful, with wide shopping streets, giving entrance to small alleys packed with craftsmen shops of a wide variety. This could be any harbour where it not for the typical Greek “períptero’s”, the corner stands that sell anything from newspapers, to cigarettes, to telephone cards to sweets and washing powder. They are also a perfect source for information. In small villages they function like a Central Intelligence Agency pur sang.

    DSCF03010702.gifAt four o’clock I was the first in line before the gate of dock A, from where my boat was scheduled to leave. The gate was closed. Passengers on foot coming from the train station or deposited by taxis were gathering too. They disappeared in small groups after having waited for some time. Through the gate I could later see them walking up the ramp of the “Kriti I”, the vessel that would take us to Iraklio. Then a car pulled up left to mine and the driver opened the window at the passengers side. He asked something which I didn’t understand. He immediately switched to English. How long had I been waiting here, he inquired. Fifteen minutes, I replied. There was another gate, but it was not totally legitimate to use that, he said with a smile. He would go there now, if I cared to follow him, I was welcome. He drove off and I followed him. Sure enough, 400 meters around the corner a gate was open, only it was for dock B. Nobody stopped us and we entered. My new Greek friend stopped at a períptero opposite from where our boat was docked and I drove to the onramp of the “Kriti I”. Nobody was there, so I simply entered the hull of the boat, parked the car in the first spot that was empty (I had the complete deck to choose from) and went upstairs to the reception area. Nobody looked surprised. I wasn’t so lucky with the cabin this time. The “Kriti I” was booked full and all the cabins were taken. I could share one with three other persons if I wanted to. I wanted to, no problem.

    Except for the fact that the boat left late due to bad weather conditions at sea, everything was perfect. I met my cabin companions, 1 electrical engineer from the Cretan Electricity Works and 2 high school teachers, returning from a trip to Athens. We had a few drinks together, then we all went to rest. None of them snored. I don’t know if I did. I woke up at 7 in the morning, my companion passengers had already left the cabin for breakfast.

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