“Let’s take a ferry. It will be fun!” I said while Nicole and I were FaceTiming and planning our Greece trip a few months ago.
Boy, was I wrong.
Greek Island-hopping sounds fun and easy, but in reality, it’s not. At least it wasn’t for me and Nicole. When we planned our Greece visit, we knew we wanted to go to Santorini and Mykonos, but there aren’t any direct flights. That meant we’d need to fly from Santorini back to Athens and then to Mykonos. With the layover, it would take at least six hours to fly in comparison to a two-hour ferry ride.
When we planned our trip, ferrying sounded great, but we had no idea we’d end up like sardined cattle on a two-million-degree boat. The thing about traveling is that you learn as you go. And one thing we now know for sure is that unlike our Flying Dress in Santorini, not every episode of The Boo and Shorty Show is ridiculously fun with a happy ending.
We started at the Santorini port, crammed into a “terminal” that was more like an
long, air-less, stone tunnel. We somehow managed to snag two seats along the wall and put our luggage in between ourselves and the zillions of other people packed in the building. We waited about an hour, dull brained from the heat until the doors opened and the entire crowd was led outside to wait in the blazing sun.
“There has to be a better way to do this,” Nicole said.
Hundreds of us waited for what felt like eternity until a massive ferry plowed through the blue waters and pulled up to the dock. A bridge lowered, connecting the boat to the land, and cars and people swarmed off.
The crowd we stood in began to advance. Whistles blew. Officials yelled and waved for everyone to back up.
“It’s like the Hunger Games,” Nicole said.
I laughed but it wasn’t really funny, because it was true. Things were starting to feel a little… primal. I clutched my belongings and wished for shade.
After about 10 minutes, the flow of people getting off the ferry stopped and the massive group we were in flooded the undercarriage of the ferry. People dragged luggage, strollers, and children over the bridge, alongside cars onto the boat.
Once inside, sweat began to roll down my back, soaking my white linen dress. We found the clump of suitcases designated for the Mykonos stop, dropped ours there, and moved toward to the front of the boat where people slowly crept up two tiny staircases – one on each side of the massive hull.
“This is ridiculous,” Nicole said.
I focused on staying calm. I thought about Bonaire and realized my experiences there had helped me train for this. As sweat pooled in my bra and underwear, I kept telling myself I could handle this. It was merely Bonaire hot.
I didn’t think to take a picture as thousands of people inched forward to ascend to the upper deck, but I did take a picture about halfway to the front while we were on the way out. So, imagine this, in reverse, with that big door shut, no air conditioning, and double the people.
We were almost to the stairs when the boat started to turn. I grabbed the wall and looked behind me at the people in the massive crowd, swaying into each other.
“The boat is moving,” I shouted to Nicole.
“How can do they do that?! This is not safe!” She yelled through her sweaty mask.
It definitely was not safe. We clutched the hand rail and focused on making it up the stairs. When we finally got upstairs to the air conditioning, I went straight to the bar. There was no liquor, so I got two bottles of bubbly for her and two bottles of beer for me.
“This is horrible,” Nicole said.
“Uh huh.” I settled into the seat beside her and we drank.
Once we go to Mykonos, we were still sweltering and cranky as hell. The massive group of disembarking people headed for the taxi stand. We walked to the rideshare area. I ordered an uber to take us to the hotel.
A man approached us. “What is your hotel?”
Nicole told him the name of the hotel.
The guy repeated the name like he never heard of it. Then he looked at his phone. “You want a ride?”
“No,” I answered as I thought of all the posts and comments from female digital nomads warning other female digital nomads to never accept a ride from someone who was not an official taxi service.
He walked away.
The uber ride canceled.
I tried again. The ride was canceled again.
I fought a scream. My whole body ached. Nicole looked like she was about to cry or murder someone. We went to the end of the taxi queue and waited and waited, in the blazing afternoon sunshine, as one taxi arrived about every 15 minutes.
“Let’s call the hotel and see if they’ll send someone,” I finally said to Nicole.
I dialed the hotel and told the man who answered where we were.
“Ohhh.” Then the man chuckled. If I could have punched him through the phone, I would have. “There are only 32 taxis on the whole island, that’s why it’s taking so long.”
“Can you please send a car?” I asked.
“Yes, we can send a car but it will be 50 euros. I can also give you the phone number for the taxi service…”
“Please send the car.” My skin was now a salty, sweaty, orange crisp and my tongue felt like carpet. I would have paid 1,000 euros for a ride.
“Yes, ma’am,” the man replied.
When the car finally pulled up, we were actually next in line for a taxi, but it could have taken another twenty minutes for one to appear.
We tumbled into the hotel's black SUV and collapsed. The air conditioning felt like a swimming pool.
“Let’s take a ferry. It will be fun!” Nicole said.
“Boy, was I wrong,” I replied.