Getting to Ikaria is no easy task, I’ll tell you. Despite being one of the largest of the Aegean islands, it seems to be somehow left out of the grid. Although it is clearly visible from the Turkish coast, it is easier to get to Mykonos or Santorini then Ikaria. Well, I hope it will stay that way.
The day started early. At 6:30, I was on the bus to Kusadasi. I was sure I had a solid plan – funny me. As there are no direct boats to Ikaria from Turkey, I first had to reach Samos, from where ferries run to Agios Kirykos, the administrative centre of Ikaria, couple of times a week – Yes, you cannot just go to Ikaria whichever day you feel like, you have to plan!
So my boat to Vathy in Samos was due to leave at 9:00 and arrive at 10:00. Boat to Ag. Kirykos at 11:45 – plenty of time to go through passport control and even have a proper breakfast. Not so fast Joe! I quickly passed through the customs in Turkey and was sitting on the boat at 8:30. And I kept sitting, so did the boat. Due to the increased whatever in Turkish customs after the failed coup, as well as the huge number of people looking to spend their Eid holidays in somewhere cheaper (and nicer?) the boat just couldn’t move.
We finally started to move at 9:40, but I was getting very tense. For sure the trip would last longer than advertised, and then there was the Greek customs. And if I miss this boat, the next one is on Wednesday or something. Come on…
The entertaining bit of the trip though was to overhear (ok, not overhear, simply listen, yes I like listening to others’ conversations, shush!) twenty something Istanbulites discussing which beach clubs they should go to in Samos. I’m not going to get into details, but I will tell you this much: some of the Turks really have the wrong idea about the Greek islands. They get on the boat to Samos or Chios thinking they will find the same boom boom – fuck me – boom beach clubs they go to in Cesme or Bodrum, and then they are heavily disappointed. Aegean islands, perhaps with the exception of Mykonos and Santorini, is about peace and tranquillity, and very very good ouzo.
To cut the long story short, of course the boat trip was longer than advertised, and by the time I passed through the Greek customs, it was already 11:15. Ah, still fine, I have half an hour and the Hellenic Seaways ferry hasn’t even arrived yet. So, I went in to the office of Hellenic Seaways to exchange my voucher with a ticket. The nice lady printed my ticket and said ‘Ok, now you have to go over there, to the other end of the bay to take the ferry.’ The other end of the bay??? That’s like 2 miles away, and no taxis in sight (Greek Sunday!). Shite!!!
So I started walking. Fast. I can run 5 km in half an hour, but can I walk 3 km with a loaded backpack in the same time? No, I wasn’t able to. When I saw the ferry entering the bay, I quit walking and started running. Damn, I’m gonna get stuck in Samos with 25 zbiliion Turks! Feck, feck, feck…
And then he arrived, my knight in shining armour – well, on a crappy motorbike really, but who cares. A young lad on his bike slowed down and pointed with his hand ‘are you going that way?’. I pointed the ferry docking on the pier, with a begging face expression ‘yes, I am going that way’. He said, get on, and yesss, I was saved by the grace of Greek gods.
I arrived at the pier just as the embarkment had started. I gave my ticket and settled on the top deck. And you know what? The ferry left 45 minutes late. Welcome to Greece.
After a pleasant journey (compared to the shitty, uncomfortable boat of Meander Tours, Hellenic Seaways rocks!) we entered the Ag. Kirykos harbour. The B&B I booked was in the village of Therma, some 2 km away. I decided to walk the distance and found my apartment – after several failed attempts in the narrow alleyways of Therma – at around 3:30. And as one should expect, there was an A4 sized paper with big writing sticking on the entrance: Tolga Dorken, Room 8. What it was actually saying was, if you’re an idiot enough to arrive during siesta hours, go find your bloody room on your own! I LOVE GREECE!
So here I am, sitting on my wooden throne on the beach, adoring my kingdom. I just had the most delicious grilled squid and am on my third glass of white wine. Stars are shining, there’s a gentle Greek tune coming from the back, and the sound of the waves from the front. There’s a brave woman going for a swim. Life is good. So far, I love my kingdom.