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Leaving Ithaki

After a whole year without leaving Ithaki, it's always exciting to know you'll be exploring more than the 35 km from Kioni to Vathy.

During the winter months, many who live on Ithaki take advantage and head off to distant and warmer, or sometimes colder climates. This year ithacagreece.com headed back to it's second home, Victoria Australia, to visit friends and family, and to be reminded of the secrets this sunburnt country holds.

Leaving Ithaki, as getting to Ithaki, is a journey in itself. One day to travel to Athens via Patras on the ferry. It was my first journey with the Andreas Kalvos ferry, the ferry which replaced the Eptanisos after Strintzis went belly up. Luckily it wasn't too cold yet as the ferry had no heating. It was also quite small and a bit smelly. Times of change aren't always for the better, but necessary. We must be thankful we have a ferry at all. We must be thankful we have a ferry at all. We must be thankful we have a ferry at all. Ok, I'm convinced.

It's a long trip to Patras port, and once there, the economic crisis showed itself in the dark aura overhanging this portside city. Many shops closed, dreary faces and little to no kefi in the streets. Even the street sellers seem to have disappeared. Sure there are still a few here and there, but nothing like it used to be, even in winter.

The barbed wire of the port continues to be a reminder of the refugee problem, but I'm sure the starkness of this statement deters visitors more than it deters the refugees.

With possible strikes, we left the island a few days earlier so we wouldn't be caught out. There are worse things than spending a couple of days in Athens. I still love this city, and although on the news it seems there are demonstrations and bombs going off at every corner, when you don't look too deeply, the city appears mostly the same. But in Athens too, there is a dark economic cloud hanging over it's inhabitants, proof of the impact that the austerity measures are paying a toll, are posted in every shop window with up to 70% discounts being offered. People are desperate and the signs are everywhere. I see, for the first time, ordinary people, not just vagabonds, going through rubbish bins. It tears at my core.

The Athens streets are quieter. The chaos of this city seems to have been quelled. Some areas have become 'no go' zones. I always loved Athens because no matter what time of the day or night, I always felt completely safe walking the streets. Not any more... unfortunately our austerity measures have increased crime to scarey proportions. Poverty can do that.

Although most of the time it rained while in Athens, there were a couple of hours here and there when the sun would come out. We headed for the hills past Ag. Stefanos and beyond to see how the other half live. Quite well by the looks of it.

It was a relief there were no strikes and we headed off on our first leg to Abu Dhabi with Etihad airlines. We waved goodbye to the rainy morning at Venezuelos airport and took to the sky.

Abu Dhabi airport has had some renovations since the last time we stopped here. The Arabic dome is gone as the airport steps into the future. There's not alot on offer at this airport, but for smokers, it does have one of the most humane smoking areas of any airport. Plenty of air-con and relatively clean air (for a smoking room).

Luckily the transit was short, but unluckily, once on the plane, a woman became ill and thus had to be taken off the plane. By the time they rescued her luggage and we were given permission to take to the skies, two and half hours had passed, adding to the already very long flying time from Abu Dhabi to Melbourne Australia. I think it ended up being close to 17 hours on the plane, not including the hours from Athens to Abu Dhabi.

Leaving Athens at 2pm and arriving Melbourne at 7pm with lots of good sleep inbetween made it quite bearable. I highly recommend Etihad (should at least get an upgrade for the next time giving them such praise ;)

December 2012 - January 2013

Leaving Ithaki     South Gippsland 1 2 3 4     Melbourne and Inner city     Coastal     Return to ithaki

ithaki sunrise


Leaving Ithaki     South Gippsland 1 2 3 4     Melbourne and Inner city     Coastal     Return to ithaki