After 2 1/2 days in Athens and taking in the sites and sounds of a bustling metropolis we are finally boarding the ferry that will deliver us to our magical island of Ikaria. Ikaria is known as one of the blue zones in this world but first we must experience the joy of a 9 hour boat ride over the magical waters of the Aegean.
There aren’t special tickets for seats on this type of long ferry boat ride. It is a free for all when you arrive at the port. I remind you that I have experienced this at the age of 10 so now to do this as an adult really puts this into perspective. My mom on the other hand is about to experience everything about island living and we have 27 days of that ahead of us but first we have to get there.
My uncle delivers us to the port and wishes us well. He will join us on the island at some point but for now it is just us as he points us down the pier. We start dragging our large suitcases towards the ferry and as we approach my mom asks how we get our bags on the ship? I start laughing and tell her “We carry them.” Up the boat ramp we go! She then looks around at the chaos and asks “Where do we sit?” I scan the deck and the few seats they have are taken. Everyone else has claimed their area and put blankets down to sit on. We decide to to walk to the side of the boat and see if we can find a quiet spot to settle in. We are somewhat successful and just plant ourselves there, ready to enjoy the view of all the islands. The ferry pulls away from the pier and we are off!
About 20 minutes into the ride we realize we have chosen our location poorly. We are sitting where there is nothing but a breeze in the shade and now we are cold. This won’t work. We decide to relocate and take our chances on the deck off the bow. We grab our things and gently step over everyone to find a 2×2 patch of real estate to sit down. I have great memories of this moment because as we settled into the sunshine and looked around it was everything I imagined this trip would be with my mom. One woman had her blanket set up for light lunch for her family. That basically means bread and cheese. As we scanned the deck various LOUD arguments were happening but no one was mad. I watched my mom staring at everyone and she looked at me and said “Look Em, everyone yelling and arguing about politics and religion with so much passion but yet they all continue to sit together.” I replied “This is who we are mom. Philosophers, poets, politicians. It’s in our blood. It is passion for life.”
Our 9 hour journey had us stopping at several islands along the way to unload or load more passengers. The further into the trip we got, the emptier the ferry. This finally gave us a chance to snag two chairs to have some comfort for the last few hours. Since our island wasn’t a “tourist” island like many of the others we got to enjoy gliding over the Aegean waters with some silence and it was magical. Back then it was the only way to get to Ikaria. Since that trip, a small airport was built on the island but I am glad this was how we traveled.
I can’t wait to get there and jump in the water with mom.