Greece opened its doors to tourism (testing and/or vaccination requirements are still in place) on Saturday, May 15th. And within hours of reopening, we were on the road again! A week's adventure, a modern day 'ferry tale' was in the making.
|Time to write a ferry tale!|
The Scout put his months of lockdown to good use and had plotted out a trip that began with a luxurious night in Athens at the Grand Bretagne, (we used Bonvoy points), and then took us to the island of Kastelorizo, or by its Greek name, Megisti, a charming place only a stone's throw from the Turkish coast. We spent three nights there, then two on the island of Rhodes and then returned to Athens. All travel to and from Athens was by overnight ferry.
|Our route to adventure|
The ferry on which we traveled, the Blue Star Patmos, a newer vessel built in 2012, has a 2,000 passenger and 430 car capacity. A small gift shop carried high end clothing and accessories, books and toiletries. The popular Greek Flocafe operated several coffee/snack/wine bars throughout the ship. A buffet dining room offered good selections of hot and cold food.
|Coffee, snacks and wine bar on board|
As I've written before, Greek ferries, such as this one are much like cruise ships - large and luxurious.
|Our regular cabin outbound|
Because our journey took 22 hours we had booked a regular cabin so we could stow our luggage and bags and also get a good night's sleep. The beds were comfortable, the linen of good quality and pressed, the cabin decor basic, as was the ensuite shower, toilet and sink. It had a flat screen television. If you look closely at the photo you will note four people could sleep in the room as two bunk beds are folded against the wall. As it was, two people made it crowded.
|Our deluxe double topped any cruise room we've had.|
So we chose on our return trip to upgrade to a deluxe double room which simply boggled the mind! It was more spacious than any cruise cabin we've experienced. The bed was one of the best we've found in our travels, the room also had a flat screen television. Slippers and a toiletry kit were provided as was a welcome fruit plate, and soft drinks and water in a small refrigerator.
|The ferry was pet-friendly with indoor kennels provided|
We loved that the ferry was pet-friendly, offering kennels in a protected room on the ship's 8th and top floor. There were a number of four-footed travelers with us in both directions.
The cost of the ferry journey isn't inexpensive and varies by destination and class of travel. Our deluxe cost more than the regular room but the regular room cost more than just buying a seat. I should note, many bought seats and chose to 'slump and sleep' on two chairs, booths or the tables as the journey progressed.
A Journey of Discovery
|Arrivals and departures our favorite part of the journey|
We've let far too many years slip past since we last explored by Greek ferry. When we first visited Greece - now more than a decade ago- we traveled by ferry. We were reminded again of one of our favorite things about ferry travel and that is the island hopping/sightseeing that comes along with the price of the ferry ticket.
Many of our stops on this trip to and from the Dodecanese islands were at islands we've never heard of before. We now have a couple more 'must visits' on our list as a result of the quick look and subsequent research we have done. For example, on our return from Rhodes our itinerary included:
|Symi from the ship|
We visited Symi many years ago and so our stop was a nostalgic one. A new ferry dock outside the harbor eases the loading and off-loading, but it used to be fun to go into the heart of the village to disembark. The harbor is bordered by colorful neoclassic buildings. A return visit will be in order one day.
Beaches are predominant in the list of Top 10 things to do on this small island with a population of less than 1,000 persons. Located mid-way between Kos and Rhodes, it looked a bit too small for us as we aren't 'beach people'. BTW, that beautiful dog, pictured above, got off here and was wagging his tail as he accompanied his human out of sight.
|Nisyros calls out for a visit|
Nisyros has the youngest and still-active volcano in Greece. A population of just more than 1,000 people live on this circular-shaped island with a diameter of 8 kilometers. It offers a couple of picturesque villages, Mandraki and Nikia, both with traditional architecture and spectacular views. This one may need a longer visit than a ferry stop.
|Kos, another that calls out for a return|
This island was the busiest with dozens of foot passengers embarking and disembarking. It is rich in Greek and Roman landmarks and also boasts a 15th century castle. Another one on our ' must return' list.
Kalymnos and Lipsi (Leipsoi) were two islands we missed as our stops were in the middle of the night. It is difficult to think of catching a ferry sometime between midnight and 5 a.m. but I guess it is not much different than flying a 'red-eye'. You'd get used to it, if you lived on these islands.
We arrived in Athens Sunday morning about 8:30, ending this Greek ferry tale and ready for another one! I will tell you about the enchanting Kastelorizo in the next post -- it is a little place with a huge history! Hope to see you back again.
For those wondering about travel in a time of COVID: we carried our U.S. CDC vaccination cards, as well as a medical certification written by our Greek doctor that said we had been vaccinated. We were required, as were all travelers, to fill out a health declaration and contact tracing type form which had to be submitted at time of boarding. On it we declared we had been vaccinated. We boarded three times during our week's travels and no one ever asked to see the vaccination cards. As you can tell from the photos, masks were required when moving about on board and distancing was maintained.
So how about you? Are you traveling yet? Still in lockdown? Let us know in the comments or send us an email. We loved to hear from you!!
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