Mediterranean sea - Yet another ferry
Two ferries as a matter of fact, but I'll get into that later. I had considered driving all the way to Istanbul, and while it was perfectly doable, maths showed me that it would be faster, and cheaper, to take two ferries to get there. While the first was true, the latter proved not to be. I did spend a lot more than anticipated.
I arrived at the port of Athens without losing myself (surprisingly) and after having bought my ticket to the island of Chios, all I had to do was wait for the late afternoon departure. The ferry in question was a monster of steel and blue paint. Taller than most of the buildings around it, it made even the semi trucks look small. I boarded and parked next to a pretty cool U.S army Hummer, which seemed to have been reconverted to meteorological study. I packed my necessities (laptop and headphones) and headed for the upper decks.
I'd never been on a ship like this and the only comparison i have is a small shopping center, both in terms of size and lighting. Once all the cars had boarded, the powerful engines churned the water and we slowly set off into the deep blue. Progress, unsurprisingly, was slow. To make matter worse, this 12 hour journey was to be accompanied by the presence of the single worst creature on any kind of voyage: a baby. I truly feel sorry and would like to apologise to all those that were present when i was that age, since for the entire duration of the trip i got a taste of my own medicine. Needless to say the situation did not improve and despite my attempts, I was unable to fall asleep.
3 a.m on an island is usually as dead and as quiet as a graveyard. Not on Chios apparently. The whole town (also called Chios) was sitting at the bars surrounding the the docks. I was, however, too tired to care and instead went to find myself a nice spot to go sleep. The following morning, after a pancake, I headed to the port in order to buy a ticket to Cesme, on the Turkish coast. Fortunately there was one in the afternoon, so i had time to take a shower.
Thus I headed into the hills, up some dirt tracks until I found a nice quiet spot and showered. Still having too much time to waste, I found myself wandering along the dirt tracks on the island. There was nothing special to mention until I took a right turn into some trees and landed on one of the most extraordinary landscapes I've ever laid eyes on.
In front of me was a landscape of rock covered hill. They ranged from the size of a melon to the size of a small car. Occasionally a wall would emerge before disappearing into the ground. It was strange, all this rocky hills under a bright midday sun. It took a while getting used to it. Across this expanse of raggedy edges and grey surfaces a narrow path winded, sometimes made of dust, others of concrete. Curiosity killed the cat, they say - but since I am not a cat, i puttered along this incredible scenery. It went on and on, the road pitching up and down, following the curves of the hills. Once in a while a rusty object would cut into view, usually it was an old bathtub, used to make the animals drink (I spotted a few goats in the distance, I assume they lived of what grass grew between the rocks), although I did also spot a car at one point, way off the road, i stopped, and for a while wondered how it go there.
Many twists and turns later, I reached a farm, which was inhabited. The woman who was there seemed quite surprised to see me, and waved her arms about wildly, her voice drowned by the engine. I would understand my mistake soon. A few kilometers later I reached a dead end. The dirt path stopped into the rocky wilderness. Or did it? The great thing about the human brain is that it notices patterns, or breaks in patterns, and after staring for a while i noticed said break. There was an area with seemingly less rocks than in other places, and the more I looked, the more it looked like a path. Proof of being more mature than usual, I did actually think this through. Should I go through with my idea, or turn back and head to a sure, albeit less interesting, route. Needless to say I did not go with the sensible option and into the rock field I headed. It quickly turned to a lush grassy trail and i thought to myself that this wasn't so bad after all, until i reached a very steep downhill. I now understood why that woman had been waving at me. The track was still there by the fact that the only difference between it and the surroundings was that there were a few rocks less on it. Otherwise it was covered in boulders and rocks the size of my head. Turning back would have prove perilous, as i did not feel comfortable reversing around the hairpins behind me. And so onwards I went and never had I ever been so amazed.
I knew that the van had offroad capabilities, I'd been on mud, dirt tracks and some steep hills, but this was way beyond that. This was very steep, the rocks on the track were big and the road itself wasn't level. And against all odds, my van aced it. To this day I still can't believe I made it to the end of that track, because it certainly was not down to my driving skills, I was just there for the ride. But down the van went, slowly but surely, over the bumps and rocks, down the ridges and not once did i feel it was going to roll over. The underside did occasionally touch, but nothing was there to show for it afterwards, Down into first gear and my foot on the brake, It bounced and bobbed its way along. Writing this now I still feel the exhilarating fear from that moment. What a wonderful machine.
All these shenanigans meant that it was now nearly time to get to the ferry, so i headed down towards an actual road and headed towards the harbour.