Sunday, October 12, 2014

The Journey Back to Greece.

Bye, bye Kuşadası....for now.

Today, we went back to Greece....but only for the day.  When our Greek island hopping plan fell through, both Bro and I were very disappointed as we had both looked forward to spending time wandering through island villages that we had iconic images of stuck in our heads.  Oia was stunning and we wanted to experience more.  So, our consolation was to take a day and go back to one of the Greek islands - in this case, Samos which is located about a 90 minute ferry ride from Kuşadası.  We had bought our tickets night before last and yesterday evening, we checked where the ferry leaves from.


We had gotten conflicting information on exactly when we needed to be at the ferry dock but I was certain the boat left at 8:30a but just in case, we decided to give ourselves plenty of time and left the guesthouse around 7:30a.  I had told Chiemi last night that we wouldn't be having breakfast at the hotel - no point having her get up early just to feed the two of us.

Since we knew exactly where we were going, we arrived at the ferry dock barely 15 minutes after walking out the front door.  There were two guards there to greet us.  Bro handed one of them the piece of paper that we had gotten from the travel agent.  There was some Turkish words exchanged between the two guards before one of them handed the piece of paper back to Bro. Turns out what we had was a voucher to buy ferry tickets - we didn't actually have tickets in hand.  He directed us to a nearby travel agent, Meander Travel.

Off we went to Meander.  There, Bro handed over the voucher and sure enough, it was a voucher to get our tickets which we had already paid for.  What we hadn't paid for was the service fee. 


While Bro took care of the tickets, paying the service fee, and waiting to get his change, I stood on the balcony, outside Meander Travel, and took some photos of the harbor area.

Just below Meander Travel is a small row of seafood restaurants.

The ferry dock by the orange brick building on the right.  Don't know who the statue is of....high up on that hill.

After Bro got our tickets, we had some time to kill so we walked around some.

In the plaza area near the harbor, seafood restaurants all around.  Bro pointing out the tip of a behemoth of a cruise ship.

Standing nearby the guards at the ferry dock was this pastry vendor.  Hey, we hadn't had breakfast so what a great reason to buy something from him.  We had to wait our turn.  The man before us said this was the best pastry cart vendor in town and that he usually sells out by 8am.  Wow!  His stuff must be good so all the more reason to buy some pastries from him.


Note to self.  ALWAYS let Bro buy pastries when he's hungry.  That way, we're sure we get a lot!! :-)

It all looked good. We got some meat filled ones, one filled with spinach and some sweet cheese filled ones.

See those two little powdered sugared ones?  They were filled with a drier version of tahini.  Only two left.  Must be good so we took one.

There's always a *friend* waiting for a handout :-)

With our breakfast in hand, we decided is was time to head for the ferry.  We passed through security and made our way back to where we were told was the entrance to the ferry terminal.  Luckily, there were a few guards to point the way as we walked along.

We saw the line of people queued up to enter a building.  That was the line in waiting.  We took our place and waited.  Shortly before 8am, the doors opened and we entered.  After showing our tickets, we then had to clear through immigration as we're leaving Turkey.

Out the other side, we were on a walkway that ran alongside the water.  We had no idea where to go....somehow, we were leading the pack.  We saw the massive cruise ship....the only thing around so we headed towards it.  As we neared, we heard the sound of music.  A group of Turkish dancers and musicians were performing to welcome the cruise shippers to Turkey.   I guess that's what you get when you pay beaucoup bucks to travel here....us airplane folks never get a greeting like this.


Anyhoo, as we rounded the corner, we saw a smaller boat.  The Meander Travel banner above told me this was our transport.


Boarding, we glanced inside to see a room filled with seats.  Both of us wanted to sit outside so we headed to the upper deck and found some seats there, upfront near the captain's room.  By the looks of the number of people who had been waiting in line for the ferry versus the capacity of the vessel, it was clear it was not going to be a full boat.  I was happy with that!

View of Kuşadası Castle, on Pigeon Island, from the ferry dock.

Before the ferry even left dock, Bro was already breaking into his breakfast goodies.  Might as well.  A man was walking about offering cups of Turkish tea for sale.  I was a bit tempted to get a cup to go with the pastries but decided water would do just fine.


Splitting the tahini filled pastry in half to share.  I wish I had taken a picture before he ripped it apart.  In any event, it was very delicious.  I must try to recreate this one when I get home.

Unbeknownst to me, Bro had brought along the piel de sapo melon that he bought at the market in Selçuk yesterday.  Of course, the knife he bought came along as well.  Surprised it all passed through security.  I guess security on ferries is not so tight.  As we all know, he would've never gotten that blade aboard a plane!  Note to self.  Check Bro's backpack contents before leaving hotel :-)

Melon love!

Our ferry left dock pretty much on time.  For some reason, I really didn't pay attention to the view of Kuşadası as we left the town behind us.  I was more captivated by the sight of Kuşadası Castle.  Unfortunately, we won't have the opportunity to explore it as we leave town before the crack of dawn tomorrow.


Soon, Kuşadası was just a speck in the distance and we just settled in for the ride.  We chatted and got amused watching the poor waiter deliver multiple trays of tea and coffee to the captain's room.  Here, they don't believe in using paper or styrofoam cups for hot liquids - it's porcelain all the way!  He scurried back and forth from the kitchen below to the room above, carefully balancing the tray so not a drop of liquid left any of the cups!  The waters very calm but even so, the ferry would occasionally hit a wavy bump.  I guess he does this all the time and is used to it.  I would have spilled something before making it to the captain's room.  Speaking of the captain, he was dashingly dressed - sharp, white uniform, shiny shoes....the whole bit. Definitely came across as the one in charge!



Somewhere in the sea is the boundary between the two countries.  The same man who delivered tea and coffee also had to change the flag that flies atop the front mast.  From where we were sitting, I could see the Turkish flag being dropped and the Greek one being raised.  We were now a Greek vessel.

It wasn't long before we saw land.  I think Samos is located about 3 kilometers, as the crow flies, from Kuşadası but from departure terminal to the arrival terminal in the capital city of Vathy, it's about a 90 minute trip.


From the first moment we saw the outline of land through the haze of day, it seemed like an eternity before we got close enough to see buildings.  Everyone we had talked to when we were in Greece and had mentioned that we were planning to go to Samos immediately noted how green the island is. Apparently, it holds that reputation in Greece. 


Most certainly, as we passed near shore, we could see the green landscape....very much different from the arid landscape of Santorini.





Vathy is situated in a cove so our ferry had to make its way around land to enter.  The small city is located right on the shores of the sea.  It looked like a small town but I guess for an island the size of Samos, this is a big place.  It looked pretty from a distance.




Once we got off the ferry, we had to enter the arrival terminal and go through immigration.  We were in no rush so somehow we ended up close to the back of the line.  With Greek entry stamps in our passports, we headed out to explore the town.


We were back in Greece and I'm feeling very much like I'm on familiar ground. It's like déjà vu seeing signs in Greek and having to whip out euros.

I hadn't spent a whole lot of time reading up on Samos so this truly was going to be a day of discovery for us!