March 28, 2016: The Ferry to Athens

I was awake, without a clock, before nine this morning.  I did not bring my phone to bed, it does not work up there anyway, because it was plugged in on the desk to be sure that it would be charged for today so when I woke up and Dominica was still asleep I panicked that we had slept through the alarm and got out of bed anyway.  It turns out that it was early, but a good time to be up regardless.

What a busy day.  Dominica and I did some work and got ready for the day and got the girls up a little after ten.  We did a decent job of getting out the door and down to Atsipopoulo to go to Momento and get our morning coffee (not going to make any coffee in the house in case it makes a mess) and sandwiches for the girls as it is their last time to get these sandwiches that they love so much (for Liesl it is simply lettuce, tomato and green bell peppers with mayo and for Luciana it is just cheese and mayo.)

We did our final drive into Rethymno and up to the hospital.  Our plan for today was, now that Luciana did her final antibiotics last night, to get a quick test done, make sure that she is all good to go and leave quickly.  There was quite a lot of kids in queue for the doctor, though, and we ended up having a long wait. They came out and talked to us right away, took her temperature and started paperwork, but to get to the lab work was going to take hours (it takes over an hour just for the lab itself to do the test anyway) and we did not have that kind of time.  Around one thirty we made the call that we just had to bail on the process and assume that we need to look into getting some lab work done when we get to Romania.  We have to do an ultrasound in Romania anyway and they will probably want to do this lab work up there as well, so it does not seem like it is all that bad, really.  But it does mean that our entire morning was a wasted trip and a lot of effort that we could have skipped.

We were back at the house before two and spent the rest of the afternoon getting the house in order.  Lots of sweeping, mopping, packing, balancing luggage, charging batteries, cleaning out the fridge, carrying trash down town, etc.  Always so much to be done when moving out.

A little after three Greenways came up and picked up the car which made things so much easier for us.  We were very thankful that they were willing to do that.  Otherwise I would have had to have made a second drive down to Rethymno, cross the whole city, get to their offices, deal with stuff there and then either spend more than an hour (maybe two) walking back up the hill or gotten a taxi all the way from there. This made things very simple and easy.

Our van to take us to the airport was scheduled for five and to pick us up down at the corner.  We knew that we needed a van and that it would be well worth the extra cost to know that we were going to just fit.  Trying to squeeze into the normal taxi with the trunk tied shut to keep our luggage in for a trip of over an hour is not fun.  And we really do not need any disasters on our way to the ferry, there are too many connections to make.

Everyone, except for Dominica of course, is looking forward to having the evening on the ferry.  Such a cool experience.  Ciana is a little worried that the ship will rock and that she will fall out of the bed, however.

Sofia, who owns the house (it is the Villa Sofia after all) came and hung out with us for a little while before we left.  We were all packed up and the house was cleaned and we were ready to go.  When the van arrived early she even helped us to move the luggage down the hill to it and get us loaded up.  We turned over the keys and said goodbye.  Dominica talked to her for a minute while I ran to the corner store (the taxi van was parked by the corner store anyway) to pick up last minute snacks and say our goodbyes to the woman who runs the store as we have seen her every day for the last three months.

Three months!  I can’t believe that our season in Greece is over.

The van was a brand new, luxurious Benz.  Lots of space for our stuff and room for us and then some.  It was great.

The drive to Chania takes around an hour.  It was a beautiful day for a drive.  Great views of the mountains and sea.

The ferry terminal is actually in Souda Bay, famously the home of the NATO base.

It was only six when we pulled into the ferry terminal, a full three hours before the ferry was set to leave port.  We didn’t care, getting to the ferry nice and early and knowing that everything was all set was well worth having time to kill on the ferry itself.  This is what we want when we are doing major travel – lots of spare time and no stress.

We were, I am pretty sure, literally the first people to board the ferry for this trip.  Three hours is a bit of an extreme amount of being early and this is only the ferry for the eastern third of the island so only people from a maximum of ninety minutes away would reasonably consider using this terminal instead of the one at the capital.

Since we were early the ferry operators let us just drive right up onto the ferry with the taxi van and unload our luggage right into the luggage holding cages which was so handy.  This is so convenient.

We went up to reception and checked in.  We got a berth on the six floor just a few doors down from reception.  So easy.  Our berth had a big window, four individual beds, a desk and chair, a full bathroom with a shower and everything.  Small for a hotel room but so much larger than you get on a train.  Very nice indeed.

Everyone is very excited about the room.  This is going to be quite fun.  Going on an overnight ferry is certainly a bit of an adventure.  There is only one power outlet in our room, though, so we are very limited on what we can plug in.  My CPAP will be all set and we do carry a European power strip with us these days but we can’t just plug things in all over the place.

I went down and explored the salon on our deck.  It is a nice area with a lot of room.  We had been hoping that they would have a large menu but they did not, just drinks and snacks, nearly all of which had meat.

I returned to our berth, grabbed the family and we went exploring the ship to see what else they had for us.  In the room were ads for two restaurants that were not the salons that would likely be just perfect.

I should mention that the ferry is enormous.  Bigger than any ferry that I have ever seen.  This is far more akin to a cruise ship that also carries cars and trucks than it is to any ferry that I have ever used.  This is a really, really big ship.

We climbed up to the eight deck and up there we found the restaurants that we had been looking for.  There were two, right next to each other.  One is the self service cafeteria and the other is the fancy “please don’t wear shorts or jeans” place with a four course meal.  They were getting ready but were not serving yet, it was still very early.

I went to reception and learned that the restaurants open at eight, one hour before the ferry departs at nine.  That is not bad.  But it was only seven.  Back to the cabin where we just relaxed for a while.  The girls played with toys.

Pretty much right at eight we went back up to get dinner.  We were all very hungry and Dominica and I were actually feeling a bit tired and were quite willing to eat and get to bed straight away.

We just did the self service restaurant.  We would have been happy with the fancier one but who knows if the girls will eat enough for it to make sense and we were not dressed for it.  Dinner was quite nice and we were just about the only people in the restaurant which is perfect when you have restless kids.  Dominica and I both went for the salmon dinners, which were tasty.

We returned to the room just before nine.  Instead of being the only people on the ship, it was now packed with the salons full and people camping out in stairwells and such.  We got to our room and the girls played for just a little bit longer and before ten we were all in bed and heading towards getting some sleep.

I ended up having to sleep in one of the top bunks because Luciana was scared of it.  But overall it went well.  The berth was very comfortable.  This is the way to travel.  Cheaper than flying and way more comfortable.  And as it goes overnight we really lost no time compared to flying, maybe even got more time on either end because it was so well suited to our needs.

One thing that surprised me is that I maintained mobile phone service way out into the Aegean Sea.  I was still able to post to Twitter and such even when we were nearly an hour out of port!  That was very convenient.

We started a new Twitter feed today for our travels:

That will be the most up to date way to keep up with us as we see the world.