I wipe away my sweat-stash as I type this. Those of you who nodded your head in understanding, bravo. To the lucky ones who have no idea what that is- it is the perspiration that forms delicately under your nose, which turns into an attractive moustache. Not that any moustache on a lady is attractive but still.
The joys of mother nature. One moment your crisping up like a delectable smoked barbecue chicken and the next moment you’re doggie paddling through the water, trying not to drown. Although, technically, you’re on a paved road.
Typhoon season in Indonesia: 35 degrees with thunderstorms. It’s like having an orange after you brush your teeth. It leaves you shivering in disgust but you eat it anyways because it’s food. The off-season has multiple advantages, mostly cost savings. You don’t even need to consider the disadvantages because, in my opinion, there are none.
Not speaking of European summers, people in the countries surrounding the Mediterranean are hilarious when it comes to the weather. You see thick jackets and jeans when it’s like 20 degrees. No one goes swimming since it’s too cold and then there is my pale ass who jumps into the water like an idiot.
There were a few instances where I experienced 100% off-season and it was 100% awesome.
A few years ago I went to Zakynthos, Greece in the technically off-season. Apparently, the high season starts on a specific day, May 5th. So if you arrive prior to that, everything is significantly cheaper, it was also less crowded, which made it fun to find transport.
On the way over to Kefalonia from Zakynthos, we had to take one ferry to the mainland and then transfer to another ferry. In the high season, there is a direct ferry but this is not the funny bit. So we arrive at the port. From previous Greece experience, we both were used to having an insane amount of people greet us at ferry terminals. In high season, there are hostel workers holding signs to entice us to stay at their accommodation and boat-loads of tourists surrounded by busybodies eating and talking. However, when we arrived at the port of Kefalonia, it was deserted. It would more accurately reflect a desert- if it weren’t for the buckets of rain pouring down. Isn’t that always the case. A few local people and we got off the boat. We rock up to the ferry ticket booth since there was no tourist info centre anywhere to be seen. We buy our return ticket so we don’t get stuck on the wrong island (our flight back to Amsterdam left from Zakynthos). She sells them to us not being at all phased by this request. We ask about the area and where we can rent a car.
The lady laughs.
Apparently, there are no rentable cars anywhere near the port at this time of year. We decide to walk in the direction that we think a town is. After following make-shift signs on trees for a car rental place that led nowhere, we sat down to eat and contemplate what to do next. Yadda Yadda Yadda next thing we know were sitting in a rickety car being driven by our Greek waiter’s dad who doesn’t speak English through the impossibly windy mountains to a town called Sami that’s over an hour away. Rumour had it- Sami had rental cars. Upon arrival, where everything but one travel agency was closed we went in and asked if we could rent a quad. The guy said Kefalonia isn’t really “quad” worthy since it is so mountainous, they aren’t powerful enough to make it up the hills. He didn’t laugh at us, which was progress. So we asked about cars. Specifically, I wanted a bright red jeep with an open top. There was nothing available. The wonderfully nice travel agent said that a rental company he knows might have something, so he phoned on our behalf. No luck. We went to get food to mend our sorrows and we happened to walk past a closed rental company (since there were about 15 in this town of Sami). We decide to call the number written on a sign and surprisingly, a Greek man picks up. He tells us all his vehicles are reserved except for one. The back window is not there but it was fine to drive. Good enough for us, we’ll take it!
The guy pulls up sometime after we have eaten our gyros in, get this, A BRIGHT RED JEEP.
Troy who hasn’t driven standard in aeons to me ” did you ask if it was automatic”
It of course was standard.
After fun-filled days in Kefalonia, back in Sami at our go-to delicious cheap gyros place. We are sitting there chatting and a Greek man across from us chimes in about something. Next thing we know, we are on the topic of our flight leaving from Zakynthos. This is where it gets good.
Greek Man “oh yeah no you won’t make that flight.”
Us “why not?”
Greek Man extremely casually “the ferries have stopped running, they’re on strike”
Us ” no they’re not, we would have heard about it somehow” as we say this we look over to the massive ferries docked at the port. uh oh
Panicked, we ask what other options we have. None were feasible including paying a fisherman cash to take us back to Zakynthos. We thought why on earth would the ferry lady sell us tickets if she knew they would be on strike the following day. She knew. Don’t tell me she didn’t. Again, at a total loss as to what we should do, we head back to the one wonderful travel agent that was so nice to us last time. He informs us we can fly. More specifically, in a small plane. We already saw our dolla bills floating away from us. The kind man let us use his computer to book the 70 euros for each ticket for a 12-minute flight. He didn’t even get a commission for it, so we ended up giving him some extra money for all his help. As I type this, I don’t know if that actually happened or if I want to believe we are good people like that and so I may have lied.
Originally, we booked our Zakynthos accommodation right near the port, not the airport so we had to pay for a taxi to get us to the hotel and of course when we asked for a refund on our ferry tickets, the lady told us they were valid for 1 year so she didn’t need to give us money back. We informed her that we won’t be doing this route again within the year and we insist she gives us our 45 euros back. She did and in the end, apart from the few mild heart attacks, we made it back to Amsterdam on time.
And that is the tale of off-season Greek transportation.