Whilst travelling, I have done many stupid things. I have got my flight dates wrong, and left myself only 9 hours to pack up my entire life in New Zealand, sell a camper-van and get on a flight to South Africa. I have left my purse in Dubai Airport and arrived in Cape Town with absolutely no money, cards or ID. I have missed a flight from Thailand to Vietnam. I have sat on a plane to Queenstown from Australia, and, as an English citizen, said happily to my boyfriend, 'Doesn't it feel nice to be flying back towards home?' (Don't judge- my geography knowledge is equivalent to that of a three year old child's).
But getting off at the wrong island in Greece has to really top the list of stupid things I have done.
I had travelled to Greece this summer with my two sisters in a desperate attempt to salvage some of 2020. We had landed in Athens and had the most amazing few days exploring the historic sights of Athens (tap HERE for my ultimate guide to 3 days in Athens!). Our next stop was the beautiful island of Mykonos, so we booked an early morning ferry leaving from the port in Athens with the intention to arrive into Mykonos about 5 hours later.
'Intention' being the operative word.
We had the magical experience of sailing away from Athens just as the sun was rising, basking everything in a beautiful sunrise orange glow. After watching Athens disappear into the distance, we headed downstairs, found some seats and took it in turns to doze on the sofa.
A few hours passed and the ferry made several stops at different Greek islands. We knew we were due into Mykonos at 12:30, so when it got to about 12pm, we began to pack up our bags and went to the deck to catch the first sight of the island. We couldn't believe how beautiful it immediately was- sparking blue sea, bright shining sun and the infamous rows of white houses. We heard the announcement asking passengers to disembark, so we headed back down the stairs where there was a massive queue of people waiting. By now, it was bang on 12:30 so we happily joined the crowds of people.
A) wisely use that time queuing to check that we were, in fact, arriving into Mykonos?
Or did we:
B) spend that time queuing pretending to push each other into other passengers and generally mucking around?
You've got it. The answer is, of course, B.
As the crowd surged forward, we happily made our way down towards the exit and disembarked into the burning heat of the midday Greek sun. We headed over to a little bit of shade and leaned against our suitcases as we watched the boat get loaded up with new passengers, and eventually close its doors and sail away. We literally stood there and watched until it was a little speck in the distance, then my sister looked up the name of our hotel and asked me to put it into my google maps.
I did, and then frowned. "It's saying we can't walk there from here?" My sister looked over my shoulder as I very slowly zoomed out on the maps- and then we both stared at the phone in a horrified silence. We were not on Mykonos. We had got off the boat at the wrong island, and we were currently on Tinos, an island none of us had ever heard of before.
By now the boat we were still meant to be on was literally a tiny spec in the distance. I could not believe that we had literally stood there and watched our own boat sail away.
I looked after the bags while my sisters raced to the ticket office to try and organise a new boat ride. Very luckily, there was another boat that evening (although not until 9pm) but at least we wouldn't need to try and find accommodation on Tinos! Embarrassingly, the owners of the hotel we were meant to be staying at on Mykonos had organised to come to the port to meet us, so we had to message them explaining that we were stupid enough to have got off at the wrong island.
Unsure of what to do next, we dragged our suitcases to the nearest restaurant and by the time an hour had passed and we were half way through a delicious pizza and coffee, we were feeling much more optimistic and had even convinced ourselves this was the best thing that could have possibly happened- we now had an entire day to explore a whole new island!
And, as these things often go, it ended up being one of the best days of the entire trip to Greece. Tinos is impossibly beautiful and after explaining our situation to the restaurant owner, they agreed to look after our bags free of charge so we could explore the island. While there are beautiful streets, buildings and beaches, Tinos is also home to the Evangelistria Church, which is widely viewed as one of the most important religious buildings in the whole of Greece. Worshippers crawl on their hands and knees all the way from the port, up a steep hill all the way to the church to show their devotion, and this is done so regularly that there is even a strip of carpet laid out to aid them!
We finally headed back to the port for 9pm, and managed to catch the boat to Mykonos. This time, we checked very carefully that we were coming into the right island before getting off the boat!