I decided to take the ferry to Athens. It’s more expensive than a flight, takes all night, and no-one chooses it unless they are taking a car with them, but I like ferries so I bloody-well booked it anyway.
I arrived at Heraklion Port on a dark, cold and drizzly evening. After avoiding being run over by one or more of the vehicles powering across the dock and disappearing into the gaping mouth of the Kriti I, I boarded and presented my Covid vaccination certificate to the staff. They directed me to the reception area to pick up the key to my cabin.
The Kriti I has a first-half-of-the-1900s feel about it, and I was a bit excited to be on board as I staggered down the narrow, carpeted hallway with my bags. My cabin had two lower bunks, and upper beds that could be lowered and secured if required. I had my own little bathroom, and even a small writing desk, which certainly was a throwback to the grand old days of passenger liners.
Strangely enough, I forgot to take photo of my room, but I did take one of the In-cabin entertainment, which was definitely old school.
I left my luggage behind and headed off to explore the ship, fully expecting not to be able to find my cabin again in the maze of floors and hallways. I followed the signs to the bar/disco and lounge, and although I never found the disco (probably closed due to Covid), the lounge was a comfy and stylish affair.
The Greeks are very partial to a chapel, and the one on board the Kriti I was a typically ornate affair.
I decided to brave the elements and head out on deck. I can imagine the aft deck would be a popular spot on a warm summer’s evening, but it wasn’t so much on a drizzly, cold and windy night in December.
The ferry to Athens departs Heraklion at 2100, but thankfully offers a meal service for those passengers who couldn’t find a yiros before boarding. Being a part of that group, I was pretty happy when the announcement came over the PA that the self-service restaurant was open. There were four different meals on offer, served up in a canteen fashion.
We might not be able to put it out, but we’ll certainly dampen the bastard
As I’m still a growing lad, I tried to figure out which would offer the biggest serve, and decided on the spaghetti bolognaise. Interestingly, the pasta was served with a traditional side dish of dark rusks (twice-baked bread) topped with cheese, tomato and herbs. Just in case two loads of carbs weren’t enough, the meal was completed with a bread roll. It was odd, but at least I was pretty confident I had chosen the biggest meal.
After dinner I sat in the bar for a while, feeling like the scene would be complete if I was wearing a burgundy smoking jacket and choofing on a cigar. At 2100, accompanied by an increase in pitch of the background engine noise, we slid away from the dock and headed out of Heraklion Harbour.
I retired to my cabin later in the evening, and after a shower climbed into bed. The wind had been howling across Crete all week, and there was a decent swell running. The Kriti I boomed, rattled and shook with the swell, and I rolled about on my bunk, eventually managing bugger all sleep for the night. We were due in to Athens at 0600, and not wanting to still be asleep like a dickhead when everyone else was disembarking, I set my alarm. When it went off I was displeased as I had finally got to sleep, but the boat felt very steady so I assumed we had either arrived, or were in protected waters and about to dock in Athens. Turned out neither was the case, as the conditions must have slowed us up and we still had about an hour to go. I went back to bed.
I got up again later and went out on deck to watch the sunrise and our approach to Athens. It was a beautiful morning, and I was looking forward to exploring the ancient city.
Despite being tired after not getting much sleep, I was glad I caught the ferry to Athens. It might not be fast, and it isn’t the cheapest option, but there’s something special about travelling by sea: the journey becomes part of the whole travel experience, rather than just something to tolerate before you reach your destination.
For more on the Kriti I click here
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