September / October 2011
We were on holiday in Greece, the last stop the island of Skiathos. We had two fun-filled days on the island, driving with a quad bike from the one scenic beach to another, swimming, roaming through the narrow streets of Skiathos town, getting lost every time we wanted to have dinner at our favourite restaurant, with the best food and live Greek music. On the third day, we decided it might be good to explore a bit further afield. The weather started to change a bit, it was already early October and although we had a few nice swims, it started to get a little bit cooler.
On this windy last day in Skiathos and second last day in Greece, we decided to take the ferry to Skopelos for the day. It was a fairly bumby ride, but because it was a big ferry, we didn’t feel it much and actually thought it was a lovely day. We walked around in Skopelos town, with lovely views and restaurants. Had lunch at one of the scenic restaurants and then walked back to the harbour to catch the ferry back to Skiathos. See a collection of photographs of Skopelos at the bottom of the post.
The ferry had to leave at about 3.30, if I recall correctly, but by 3.25 there were no other people around to board the ferry and no sight of the ferry itself… We went to ask at the harbour office. The rude girl just pointed to the notice put on the glass window of the office (in Greek!) which read that the ferry will not leave from this harbour, because of the wind, and you have to get the ferry at the next town… She said that if we could be quick, get a taxi, we could still make it in time… So we ran to the first taxi next to harbour. The taxi driver was taking a nap, sound asleep. We had to wake him and explain in a big hurry that he needed to take us to the next town. He did not believe us at first that the ferry was leaving from that port and then called someone and said, ok, it seems you are right, let’s go!
We were panicking, because if we don’t catch the ferry and bus back to Athens the next day, we wouldn’t be able to be back in time for our flight back to South Africa… The taxi driver pulled out and at a great speed tried to get in time at the next town. Just as we drove into the little town, we saw the smaller ferry (a fast hydrofoil type) depart… and then the real fun started. The taxi driver said we had another chance. The ferry will stop at the next town too. We just need to be really fast. So, then it started to feel like a James Bond movie. We drove this harrowing narrow, winding pass, with a far drop to the sea on the left, along the coast, the ferry in view . We tried to beat it, the taxi cutting corners with screeching tires – it was nerve wrecking. The taxi driver had the best fun he had in a long time. He said, ‘You know Michael Schumacher? I’m just as good!” We just laughed nervously from the back and clung to our seats. If there would have been other traffic, I’m sure we would have ended up in an accident… Fortunately the road was more or less clear… We stayed alongside the ferry pretty much, but then while arriving at the next town, and while the ferry was already docking at the harbour, we realised, we still need to go quite far downhill, through the town to get there in time. The taxi driver shouted to us in the back, “Life is beautiful!” as he put in a last effort to get us there in time… He drove at about 100/120 km through the little town, crossing pedestrian crossings without stopping, nearly ran people over, who scattered to get out of our way… and then the harbour. As we drove in, the last person was busy to board the ferry, the taxi stopped, we nearly forgot to pay him, as we just wanted to run to the ferry. The cost – the same than it would cost for a 10 minute drive in Athens, so we nearly hugged the man, but there was no time… We just made it and were so very grateful for this kind man, trying to calm us down and making a big effort, putting his life literally in danger (and ours too for that matter…) to get us there in time. But we knew it was the biggest thrill for him. As he waved us goodbye, he started to phone his buddies to tell them of his exciting afternoon….
The ferry ride back was quite exciting for us too, a bumpy ride on huge waves … But we arrived safe and sound at Skiathos and could relax a bit before we left for Athens the next morning…
Now, “Life is beautiful” is one of our motto’s and when we hear this phrase we will always remember this day …
The hydrofoil ferry looked something like this: