I haven’t been thinking straight lately. I have found myself in many a confused situation, the results of which are often expensive. This is mostly because less than a month ago my father passed away, and while he was very ill, he still took us by surprise, as was his way.
I am not really ready to talk about that yet but it is informing much of my thinking and many actions, even if I don’t realise. I have been very scattered, and it is for that reason that I found myself on the platform in Mitcham in Surrey last Sunday evening at half past midnight thinking (in polite language): CRAP! This is MITCHAM! Where even is that? How do I get home now?
(The answer? Read on).
It had been quite an intense 24 hours. My leanings tend towards optimistic, so when my ferry from Santorini to Athens was 2 hours late, I thought “Ok! Maybe I will see that famous Santorini sunset.”
Once inside the grim holding pen that the ferry terminal was, looking at a stern grey cliff knowing that the sunset was behind, I thought “Maybe I will see it from the boat!”
When the ferry arrived after the sunset and I got on, to be shuffled and bossed around by impatient ferry staff, I thought “At least I have two films downloaded from iTunes!”
But my optimism was wearing thin, not least because I was being shoved around by the ferry staff. Sit there. SIT THERE! (But, it isn’t my seat?) – furious pointing by the ferry staff – SIT THERE!
Ok, I will.
It quickly transpired that the staff were rough with us because they were tired and they knew what was to come. Within 10 minutes the boat was slapping hard on waves that sounded like they might crack it, and half of the passengers were getting sick, violently. Stacks of doggie bags were walloped on the counter and people would take 5 or 6 at a time. I was determined not to become one of their pukey number. I felt ill, and the smell of sick made things worse, but I managed to hold on. Arriving in Greece at my hotel at 2.30am instead of 10.30pm, and in a very expensive taxi, I thought, oh well, I will just chill out tomorrow morning.
On arrival at Periscope Hotel, I was greeted with a shot of masticha liquer, which I was told would be great for my tender stomach. It was and I could have had ten of them, and I was offered more, but I was weary and bed called so off I went, diligent.
Periscope is a funky little design hotel in the middle of quite a chi chi neighbourhood of Athens. Designer lifestyle shops abound, and Periscope, within, reflects that location. A cafe overlooking the street serves breakfast in the morning – eggs cooked to order and lots of fruit, yogurt, juice and savouries. The location is great for roaming, being only a 40 minute walk from the acropolis, that is if you have a sense of space and direction, which unfortunately I do not.
Never mind, I located some souvlaki to power me on my journey, as recommended by the staff in the hotel, although I couldn’t be sure that I ate at the one they recommended, confused as I was. I thought I had and decided that the presence of older moustached Greek men would serve as enough of a recommendation. I then proceeded, map in hand, following carefully, and found myself on a motorway, with no clue as to where to go from there.
Eventually I found the Acropolis. Ancient Greek ruins perched on a height overlooking Athens. Despite the presence of hundreds of milling tourists, it was a great experience to wander and absorb as the sun began to set over Athens. I had been before, 16 years ago but it still felt like my first time, wondrous as it was.
I was running out of time, and I needed to get to the airport, so I swung by New Hotel, the sister hotel of Periscope which was just nearby and from where I would go to the airport. The restaurant menu is not Greek per se, there was lots of Spanish influence, but I spied a fish of the day, which was dorado. It was grilled simply and so fresh, served with grilled vegetables and a sauce, which I didn’t think it needed. An espresso martini chosen to shake and wake me up saw me on my way.
To the airport, stocking up on fava, feta and some lovely Santorini wine. I landed in London and by some miracle, whizzed through immigration with speed, grabbed my bag and made the train. But I was too late for the tube and so decided that it would be just as easy to get a cab from East Croydon as London Bridge.
The train stopped. MY STOP?! Oh my I nearly missed it. Let me out! I scrambled over surf boards and suitcases and landed between the two closing doors pleading with the train guard at the other end of the train : PLEASE OPEN THE DOOR AND LET ME OUT!
I got out, relieved. I paused, looked around, and realised I was in Mitcham. My heart sank. I went to the bank machine. And got a very expensive taxi home to my bed.
I stayed in Athens as a guest of Periscope Hotel.