Saturday, July 27, 2013

Mykonos, Day 12, 07-15-13

Europe 2013 Journal
Day 12, Mykonos, Greece, 07-15-13

8:04 a.m. Having lost all practical idea of idea what day it is, how much longer before the journey ends, etc....I am sitting on a deck chair staring out at the Mediterranean, a couple islands to either side of me, and the small forms of boats and ships moving to and fro intent upon their own purposes. Just finished breakfast and will go ashore in a while. I must look Mykonos up on a map to get an idea of its relative proximity to the mainland of Greece, etc.

We dropped anchor shortly before seven, and my first impression of Mykonos was of white. All the buildings are white; a stark contrast to Italian coastal towns which are a jumble of bright colors. Will probably try to find Tom and Mike to see about going ashore with them, but to be honest, I'd just as soon go by myself for no other reason that I can go where I choose, stop or not stop at my whim. Interesting the insights into ones self that come along. I am definitely a loner, I think, though for reasons too complex to try to sort out like the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle.

I did ask Adrien and George at breakfast about the remainder of our itinerary, and apparently tomorrow we enter Turkish jurisdiction, which has some unusual rules. One must surrender one's passport and pay a fee to enter the country and I have heard but have no way of knowing that they can deny entry to anyone known to be gay. Well, I shall simply keep my rainbow flag in my suitcase.

Went ashore around 9:30 after waiting for Tom and Mike for half an hour. Shuttle dropped us off probably 2 miles from town, but a shuttle bus took us much closer and we walked from there. I must say, Mykonos is truly one of the most beautiful cities I've ever visited. As I said, every single building in the city is painted white, with blue windows and doors (though there were a few red doors seen). The streets are extremely narrow, with the side streets no more than 8 feet across. They wind and bend and blend so that you're constantly seeing new things. There are innumerable chapels one enters through open blue doors in the single wall that is the street. And the city is marvelously clean. You see people out in front of their shops or homes (it's often hard to tell which is which) with brooms and mops. Even the streets are painted in lattices of white.

Because it is something of a Mecca for the very wealthy (some of the yachts in the harbor are mind-numbing) there are very expensive shops mixed with tourist-oriented businesses. Lots and lots of souvenier shops selling the usual gee-gaws. Mike never met a souvenier shop he didn't love, and insists in going into every single one of them. Tom and I finally wandered off to go find the famous windmills which are a symbol for the island. Other than the one I saw in Rhodes while in service, they are the only ones I know of outside of Holland. Five of them sit atop a hill overlooking the city. They are white, of course, and I doubt they are functional, but symbols don't have to be functional.

Tom and I wandered up and down the narrow streets until we parted ways and I headed back for the ship, which proved an adventure in itself. Though the city is a maze of narrow streets—interestingly, I did not consider even the narrowest of them to be alleys—I knew that if I followed the downward sloping streets and kept to the left, I would eventually find the waterfront, which I did. I stopped to have a glass of tonic, then continued. I wasn't sure how frequently the shuttle bus ran (the cruise line hired it just for use by the ship). But I headed to where it had dropped us off. Absolutely no one else was there when I arrived, and I waited around until I got impatient (maybe five minutes) and, seeing the ship in the distance, decided to walk. Not the best of ideas. So I started walking, following the road which had no sidewalks. I walked toward incoming traffic, staying as close to the side—which was at times the edge of a drop off—as I could. The ship got closer and I thought “the landing should be right around that next bend.” Upon reaching the bend and seeing that no, that wasn't it, I chose the next bend. And the next. And the next. Up hills. Down hills. Around corners. Finally got to the area I recognized as the general docking area but had no idea which dock the boat shuttle came into. Walked and walked some more, trying to find it. Asked a couple people who spoke no English. Finally, finally found it and returned to the ship. I don't think I'd care to do it again.

4:35 Just went and bought another 4 hours of internet time which I hope will last me until Istanbul.

5:34 And we're off to Lemnos. I went outside to see them raising one of the transport boats out of the water and raise it into its davits. Interesting!

7:01 Strange. Just attended a meeting on leaving the ship. We must put our luggage in the hall by midnight the evening before we leave, and take anything we need for the morning with us when we leave the ship. Not practical. I'm not about to walk around with my toothbrush and toothpaste and liquid multi-vitamin and aspirin and hairbrush and...with nothing to put them in!

I've enjoyed the cruise, and the staff has been great, but there have been a couple of things they should have done to avoid confusion...such as putting a notice at the bus pick-up point in Mykonos verifying it was indeed where the bus would be (again, I was the only person in the place and, prone to confusion as I am, had doubts that that was where I really should be) and the times the bus would be coming. After waiting 10 minutes, I decided to walk back to the ship. It couldn't be that far, could it? Yes, it could. And was. I walked. And walked. And walked along the road paralleling the sea. Up hills and down hills, with no sidewalks and sheer drop-offs to my left. I would round a bend expecting to see the ship and it would not be there. So I'd assume it had to be around the next bend. It wasn't. Or the next. It wasn't.

Finally I saw the ship and walked toward it. I watched for the tender alongside it to head to shore, and knew I could follow it to where it went. Partly right. When I got to the docking area, I found that there were a mass of docks with small boats lining all of them and bigger boats in the way, and....I asked several people if they had any idea where cruise ship tenders came in, and none of them spoke English.

At last I found it, and returned to the ship, not a little tuckered from the walk.

We left Mykonos around six. I'd love to go back!

Tom and Mike like to go to dinner between 7:30 and 8. I prefer to go between 7 and 7:15, but I'll wait for them. Ah, the sacrifices one makes for one's friends.

Roughest seas we've encountered, lots of people weaving around trying to find their sea legs. Waves splashing loudly against the hull—which I notice, being at the far forward part of the ship and just above the waterline.

I've noticed that when someone leaves fingerprints on the glass doors between the inside and outside sections of the Terrace Cafe, one of the staff immediately comes and wipes the doors clean. Class.
And there was a casually dressed bigwig from the cruise line aboard, to whom everyone paid subtle deference, but the crew would have been just as attentive were he not there.

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