Thassos is the island where I fell in love with Greece. I hadn’t planned to arrive until the writing workshop starts on June 9th, along with the rest of the cohort, but the Siren Song was strong. I could feel it calling me. Come back. Come home.
One of my favorite books growing up was Walk Two Moons. The main character, Salamanca, is on a journey, and even though the readers don’t know where she is going until the end, she’s encouraged by the wind that tells her to hurry. Hurry hurry hurry the rustling leaves say. It was something like that for me. The ocean breezes, the music, the whisper of the wind at night…hurry hurry hurry to Thassos.
Thassos is not generally located, relatively speaking. It is the northernmost island in Greece, in the Aegean. Most people who visit Greece will go to the Cyclades, like Santorini and Mykonos (and Naxos), or the islands close to Athens like Hydra and Aegina, or perhaps coming from Italy, they’ll stop at Corfu on the Ionian Sea. Thassos is nowhere near any of those.
I felt like Odysseus trying to return, only without the sea monsters and cyclopses. It was a long and crazy journey that began on May 31st at 9:30 a.m. and ended at 2:30 p.m. on June 1st. It started with the ferry from Naxos to Athens.
Ferry from Naxos to Pireas (9:30 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.)
I had high hopes to “be productive” on the ferry: write blogs, write essays, prepare for the workshop next week, and that was shattered less than an hour into the ride.
The night before, after shopping in the old market with some friends, we met three of the shop owners. I mentioned it was my last night and that I was leaving in the morning, and one of the men, Angelos, said he was leaving on the same ferry. Instead of going to Athens, though, he was going to Paros, another island on the way. Excitedly, I told him, “Tha sas do avrio!” I will see you tomorrow!
So, while I was typing my blog about conversations I had on Naxos, I saw Angelos sitting a few tables down from me with someone I assumed was his wife. I planned to say hello as soon as I finished my blog, but before I had the chance, I heard the announcement that we were at Paros, and he was gone!
I attempted to run after him (that is, after carefully storing my laptop and gathering my things), but I was too late. Instead, I found the woman he had been sitting with. “Do you know Angelos?” I asked in Greek, only to learn that she’s actually Italian. Yes, she knew Angelos—they were friends—and she told me to sit and chat.
Her name was Patritzia, and she just bought a house on Naxos. We bonded over our love for Greece, simultaneously saying that the energy is different on Naxos (and Thassos) from other places in that it’s “…full of life.” She asked if she could treat me to coffee and a donut, and thus all thoughts of writing evaporated and I alleged myself as her friend for life.
I arrived in Athens and had no idea where the metro was. The taxi drivers were of no help since, of course, they wanted to sell taxi rides, so I consented to just following everyone else. This proved to be successful.
When in doubt, follow the largest crowd of people.
*although I used this logic later and got off of a bus at the wrong stop
I was able to spend a few hours in Athens, where I shared a last supper with my new Athenian friends, Theodoros and Marilou. They took me to the train station at just after 11 p.m., and from there I was on my own and the real fun would begin.