Never ever again will I underestimate the amazing experience of sleeping in a bed! After weeks sleeping on a puff of air, separating me from the the ground, the luxurious comfort of the hotel in Patras was nothing short of paradise.
We woke early, tensions still slightly high but alleviated by rest. After a quick breakfast, we gathered the bikes and cycled down to the bus terminal to see if we could get our bikes onto the bus. It turned out that we could, but it was up to the driver if he decided to charge us money for them. For the first time this trip, something was going our way. The only downside was that we would have to wait over an hour and a half for the next bus that had availability. Eventually it arrived and, all ready to nudge our way to the front to ensure the bikes got on, the porter came to us and the bikes were loaded on before the luggage…”YES!” I thought to myself, retracting the statement two minutes later when everyone’s suitcases and bags were thrown on top of them, no regard whatsoever for the spokes or disks! We boarded, leaving it in the hands of fate as to whether or not we would be able to ride them again.
After a couple of hours or so we entered Athens. From the bus window it became apparent that there was no one in the world, ex-marine or not, that was going to get me on a bike in this city! Dodgems flew all over the streets with little acknowledgement for one another, let alone a cyclist. It would be a death wish for sure. Finally we drew into the bus terminal, suddenly aware of the fact that we hadn’t thought about how we were going to get our bikes in the back of a cab. My optimistic partner in crime was adamant we would be able to get a 6 seater, but looking at the line of yellow taxis ahead of us, it became clear that these just didn’t exist here. All of the taxis were the same make of car and we couldn’t afford to get two to the port; this was an extravagance enough that I was swallowing the bill for due to my cycling refusal. Then, out of nowhere, a Mercedes estate taxi joined the queue. We rushed to the front and very rudely tried to explain to the woman waiting in line that we really needed this car, not one of the 8 that had now piled up behind. She didn’t understand but let us in anyway. After some bickering amongst the taxi drivers it was agreed we could ride with this one. Another bonus, today was working out too well. But then we realised that if the driver put the seats down, there was no space for both of us. Not only this, his seats didn’t actually go down properly and he had some kind of giant tray in the back that prevented the bikes from going in flat. The result was a, highly illegal I am sure, crammed in couple of bikes with Andy literally slammed into the back into the back (no seat), like when you stuff that last jumper into your suitcase and zip it up quick to stop it coming out. I was left to take up the front seat and off we went…
ZOOOOOM! Clearly this guys was in a rush and as he darted about like a bullet between any cars he could see a tiny gap between, we started to wonder whether we would actually make it to the harbour at all! Not scared of anything (apart from cows, but that’s another story), Andy did note the fact he wasn’t wearing a seatbelt and opted to put his head in his hands, really the only option due to space anyway, and I almost gave myself cramp pressing the invisible break!
Thankfully the car eventually stopped and we clambered out, bikes in tow. They looked a little worse for wear, but they still worked so we cycled toward the necessary terminal for Zante ferries. I had booked the tickets online through directferries.com after Zante ferries’ website stated there were none left, so I was slightly apprehensive as to whether or not this would be a successful ticket pick up. Yet again, luck was on our side. We collected the tickets, Andy went off to grab some beers and snacks and I waited next to some dodgy looking folk until we boarded the ferry to Milos.
A windy 6 hour crossing followed as we sailed to catch up with my ex and his girlfriend. They were staying in the port and we were heading 6km out of town to the campsite, but a few texts back and forward and all plans had changed; they had found us a room near them and were coming to meet us!