We were crammed into a cleaning cupboard, soon to be discovered and shamed. The boat hadn’t left the harbour yet and people’s tickets were still being checked, then it hit me that I had no idea why on earth we had started on this pointless endeavor in the first place. The true underlying reason was in fact that we were strapped for cash and had drunk too much ouzo.
We had arrived in the Greek port of Volos that evening, having hitched a lift with a nice young man with a very fast car. Volos is an industrial sort of place, but historical nonetheless being where Jason sailed from on his quest for the Golden Fleece. Our aim was to catch a ferry from there to the island of Skopelos, where a relaxing beach holiday awaited with our two good friends who were already their.
Unfortunately there were no departing ferries until 5am the following morning. Not wanting to waste our meagre budget on a room for half a day we decided we could easily eat, drink and hang out in the port until the time came for us to leave. We soon took shelter from the blistering sun in a cheap and cheerful taverna, where we proceeded to order some snacks and a bottle of the good stuff. We sat here for a few hours whiling away the time, watching the ships in the dock and dribbling water into the ouzo to watch it turn cloudy.
By the time darkness fell we were bordering on inebriated and somehow got chatting to a welcoming Greek man in the bar. Now this happened a couple of times in Greece, and it is a strange phenomenon, but he didn’t speak any English and our Greek hovered around 15 words, yet in my drunken memory we had a full on conversation for at least a couple of hours. Now I look back on it I think the only words of mutual understanding between us were ‘Skopelos, Skopelos’.
Anyway, it wound up that he needed to go somewhere for a while, and after much gesturing we understood that instead of us lying about on benches in the port, we could sleep in his car and he would wake us at the appointed hour. What a wonderful man. We ordered more drinks to celebrate.
The car was swish with leather seats, but by the time we settled down and found a reasonable position in which to sleep there was only a hour until our ferry left. Then, in what felt like a blink of an eye our Skopelos man was gently waking us and ushering us in the direction of the boat. What he was doing up at this time remained and always will, a mystery.
The sleep hadn’t helped the ouzo running around our heads, in fact it had made us groggier and more disorientated. We walked onto the boat amongst the crowd, but the ticket kiosk was pretty far in and there were no guards to be seen. Then the brilliantly cunning plan of sneaking on without paying formed in our minds. Quite why we thought we could get away with it will also forever remain a riddle.
After a stupid botched attempt at hiding in the cleaning cupboard we were discovered and turfed off. I can’t quite remember if there was talk of paying or not, but we found ourselves back in the port, alone with no Skopelos man in sight. I don’t remember the next couple of hours too well, but I do have a vivid memory of drunkenly trying to convince some early morning, small scale fisherman to take us to the island. Fairly unsurprisingly they didn’t and we eventually fell asleep on some benches with our bags as pillows.
Anyone who has ever woken up in the blistering July sun, with a terrible hangover, on a bench in a busy port will tell you that it is not the most pleasant of experiences. We needed food and cold beverages, so I drew the short straw of tracking down a shop, while my boyfriend went to find out the time of the next ferry, which happened to be 6pm.
The wait was not so bad, we walked around the corner to a patch of grass to make a bit of a picnic and relax our aching heads. We had books to read and shade to rest in.
Then the time to board came around and we finally made it onto the boat, paying this time and acting like respectable citizens. We found a spot to dump ourselves and our things for the two hour crossing, and indulged in the cool sea breeze.
A while into the journey a man came walking by, and noticed us as we noticed him. He let out a cry of ‘Ah ha! Skopelos, Skopelos?!’, we nodded and greeted each other with a hug. We responded with the customary ‘yes, Skopelos, Skopelos, efcharisto!’. He pointed at himself and then gestured solemnly towards the approaching island ‘Skopelos’.
At that we left it, both heading towards the same destination. Perhaps he wondered why we were on a ferry 12 hours later, perhaps he didn’t care. We wondered about many things.
We arrived on Skopelos and it was beautiful, with whitewashed houses tumbling down the hillside towards the port. We met our friends that evening with much rejoicing and ended up having a great time, relaxing in coves with crystal clear waters, fishing, befriending local dogs and eating fantastic food.