Phantom Tour Pickup Service

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Europe » Greece » South Aegean » Mykonos
August 28th 2016
Published: June 12th 2017
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Today we've booked a tour to the island of Delos, which we've read is a significant archaeological site about a twenty minute boat ride from Mykonos. A minivan arrives to pick us up. The driver tells us that the regular driver has a problem with his van and he was called in by his boss at short notice to come and get us. He drives us about a hundred metres to a dock in front of the hotel and tells us that we need wait here for someone else to come and meet us to take us to the boat. The time the boat is supposed to leave comes and goes and no one has come to get us. I tell Issy to wait while I go back to the hotel to try to find out what's happening.

I call the number on the tour voucher. It feels like trying to call a bank or a phone company back home. I'm given a menu of options to pick from. I select '3' for Mykonos. The person I speak to tells me that I've called Santorini by mistake. She says that she'll get someone from Mykonos to call me. I wait. No one calls. I ring the number again, and again select '3' for Mykonos. Again I'm put through to Santorini. The lady says she'll call Mykonos again and get them to ring me. I repeat this process twice more. Still no one calls back. I send the tour company an email but don't get a response. I decide that banks and phone companies back home could learn a lot from Mykonos tour companies about how to make sure that their customers never get to talk to the person they really need to speak to. Issy's got tired of waiting on the dock and comes back to the hotel. She doesn't look very happy. I'm not very happy either. I find an emergency number on the tour voucher and call that. The man who answers tells me that someone from the hotel called and told him that we both had stomach upsets and that we wouldn't be going on the tour. I wonder why they bothered picking us up and taking us to the dock if we weren't intending to go on the tour. The dock itself doesn't look like too much of a tourist attraction. I begin to wonder whether we did have stomach upsets and whether we've now got dementia as well. He gives me another number to call.

The lady who answers the other number makes no mention of stomach upsets. She explains that we needed to walk about half a kilometre from where we were dropped off to another dock. She says that "everyone knows that this is where the boats leave for Delos", and that we should have known this too and ignored what the driver told us. So this is apparently all our fault. Having just arrived here from the other side of the world we clearly should have known every minute detail about where every form of transport leaves from here in Mykonos. I'm glad for her sake that she's not standing in the room with us. It seems that we've missed the tour. She says that we can go tomorrow instead and we won’t have to pay her company any more money. Issy reminds me that we really want to go to Delos, and that I shouldn’t tell her that we hope that her company goes into liquidation and she is left unemployed and destitute, no matter how tempting this might be.

It seems that the tour company is on a real winner with its hotel pick up service. It took us about a hundred metres and then dropped us further away from where we needed to be than we were when we were still at the hotel, and we had to pay them for the privilege. I tell the lady that I don't think that we'll use the pick up service tomorrow. She asks me if I'm sure. Again, I'm glad for her sake that she‘s not standing in the room with us. I send an email to the company asking them to explain the rationale for the cost of their pick up service. For a few minutes I feel better. I then think that maybe I should have waited to send the email until after the tour tomorrow. I'm sure that there are all sorts of nasty things that the tour company could do to us once we're on their boat. I wonder if maybe we should take some life jackets with us.

We're still not very happy. Issy decides that she'll get rid of some of her unhappiness by washing her hair. Unfortunately I don't have this option, so I decide to go for a long walk to the Armenistis Lighthouse instead. We wanted to go there yesterday to watch the sunset, and only didn't because we couldn't find a taxi. I'm now starting to sense that transport mightn't be Mykonos' strong suit. The hike looks to be about five kilometres each way, and I tell Issy that this could take two or three hours. She tells me not to do anything dangerous. I think she tends to worry when I go off on long walks to strange places when I’m not very happy. A few minutes after I set off I decide that thongs probably weren't a particularly wise choice of footwear, but I can't be bothered going back. I walk past the island’s two ports, the very attractive Agios Stefanos Beach, and some very fancy villas on a steep hillside overlooking the rugged coastline. The traffic, people and villas then thin out and I'm starting to feel a bit lonely. I walk past another bay with a pebbly beach. Its only sun lounges are on an offshore pontoon. There are two people swimming off the pontoon, and other than that the beach is empty.

I haven't seen any signs to the lighthouse, and I don't have a map. I hope I'm going the right way. The road goes up a long steep hill past some menacing looking dogs guarding a palatial villa. I wonder if they've got rabies. I think I remember reading somewhere that you can get a rabies injection after you get bitten provided it doesn't take you too long to get to the hospital. I wonder if I’ll be able to get to hospital in time if one of the dogs bites off one of my legs.

I reach a fork with hand written signs pointing to "lighthouse" along one of the forks, and to "dead end" along the other one. I think that maybe quite a few people looking for the lighthouse have gone down the dead end. The road is very steep, and I suspect that if you walked down the dead end and had to come back again you probably wouldn't be very happy. I haven't seen anyone else walking now for a long time. I hope this doesn't have anything to do with rabies. I climb on up the hill. The lighthouse is right at the north end of the island, and that's where the wind is coming from. It's several steps beyond a hurricane, and I can't keep my hat on. The views over the steep and very rugged looking east coast and across to the neighbouring island of Tinos are spectacular. Tinos looks bigger and more mountainous than Mykonos. The lighthouse is abandoned and locked. I'm already very high up, so I don't think the view would be any better if I could climb to the top. This would seem to be a bit like trying to improve the view from the top of Mount Everest with a stepladder.

There seems to be another road that I can walk back along which follows the top of the ridge rather than the coast, and the views of the port and Mykonos town from up here are also excellent. My feet are hurting, and I reflect again that wearing thongs for a ten kilometre hike up and down steep rocky hills might not have been a great decision. I need to hurry back. I've been away for nearly three hours and if I'm not back soon Issy won't be happy. I start to run down the steep hill from the top of the ridge into the town. My feet are now in furious agreement that wearing thongs wasn’t a great idea. I get back to find Issy looking surprisingly relaxed. Washing your hair must be a very relaxing activity. I think that maybe I should buy a wig. I wonder if you need to take a wig off to wash it and if that would still be relaxing. It doesn't sound very relaxing.

We head into the town for dinner. We'd heard that Mykonos was a very gay friendly island, and this certainly seems to be the case. About half the men here seem to be gay. Issy says that she has more trouble identifying gay women just by looking at them, so we're not quite sure if half the women here are gay as well. She says that it feels like being in Sydney during the Mardi Gras. I'm not quite sure how she knows this. I wasn't aware that she'd ever been to Sydney during the Mardi Gras.


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