Sunday August 22: Traveling, traveling, can I get some sleep now?

My flight landed around 4am Athens time, so I am now 8 hours ahead of all of you back home.  The time difference makes finding a mutually passable time to call the parentals pretty fun.  Haha.  After disembarking from the plane, it took me all of about 5 minutes to get through the airport, past border control, and to baggage claim.  After the interrogation sessions I got each time I entered the UK border, it was a pleasant surprise to simply flash my passport, get it stamped, and be on my way.  I now have 11 countries (13 if you count Scotland and Wales as separate countries from England/the UK) to my name!  I caught a bus to the port, per the instructions of the lady from the flight and then had a few hours to kill before my ferry to Paros departed.  A British family from my flight happened to be waiting for the same ferry as me so I struck up a conversation with them.  Luckily they had done this before (and I had no clue what I was doing) and they welcomed me to wait with them.

The port at Piraeus is an interesting area—there are lots of homeless dogs and vagabonds sleeping in the grassy areas so it was really nice to be with a group instead of by myself.  At 6am the ferry office opened, we retrieved our tickets, and headed to the ferry.  I lost the family shortly after boarding without getting a chance to say goodbye (our tickets were for different seating areas so I was shepherded away), but I’m really thankful that I met them and for their help!

I slept pretty restlessly for most of the ferry in the airline-style seat I’d booked.  Even though I was exhausted, I didn’t know what the ferry’s procedure was for arriving at a port (my ferry was going to multiple islands) or disembarking and I didn’t want to miss my stop or leave any luggage behind in the storage area.  No one I asked seemed to know (or understand me), but things turned out okay in the end.  The ferry landed at Paros’ port around noon and getting off was easier than I expected it to be.  I have to admit, I started tearing up a bit as the bridge was going down and I caught my first glimpse of Paros.  Finally being on the island after nearly 18 hours of traveling was pretty emotional.

Travel tip: If you travel with Blue Star Ferries, don’t bother booking anything other than an economy passage.  The website doesn’t give you any information about seating for the ferry, but economy is all you need.  There are storage rooms for your luggage and then you are free to sit anywhere on the ferry that isn’t reserved seating (airline seats, business class).  Paying more for a reserved seat isn’t really worth it—it’s better to use the money you’d save for food and have a better view from a lounge chair on the deck

Entering the city from the dock was an absolute madhouse.  Hotel owners with signs for their establishments formed a chute for the disembarking passengers, shouting, “A room for you, Miss!” and “Miss, you need a room!” at me until I emerged into the town square 20 feet later.  What a welcome! 
I left my bags at a baggage deposit, walked to a supermarket to grab some initial groceries, bought a bus ticket, and was seated on the last bus to where I’d be living within an hour.
When the bus pulled away after leaving me on the side of the road, I didn’t really know what to do.
There was another road ahead of me, so I figured that I should probably try that one first. Thankfully my fears about being stranded in Greece were put aside pretty quickly since entrance to the wildlife hospital was about 200 feet up the road.  Being tired, weary from carrying heavy bags, and alone does silly things to a person’s psychy.
Sofia, a long-term volunteer from Hungary, greeted me at the gate.  She helped me get my bags to my room (luggage wheels don’t really like rocky trails), showed me around a little bit, and then left me to rest for a while.
I can’t even describe how amazing it felt to finally be at my destination and be able to relax.  The rest of the day was pretty low key—chatting with Sofia, napping, eating dinner, calling my parents to tell them I had arrived safely, and then going to bed.