If we had taken any notice of the Canadian lady’s story about gales and worried about it at all then we needn’t have done because when we woke to our last day in Koufonisia there was no wind at all, the sun was shining and the prospects were good for a perfect day.
Over a simple breakfast we watched the French neighbours hanging out the washing and making sure that all of the socks were hung in neat pairs and with heels facing the same way and after that he squeezed a dozen oranges to make a breakfast drink in such a careful and loving way that he almost turned it into an art form. She appeared earlier than normal but went straight for the laptop and the mobile phone.
It was a lunch time ferry to leave the island and we had a last morning to spend in Koufonisia so we took a final walk to the village beach and had a long swim in the crystal clear waters, so clear that we could see the marine life activity on the seabed including a curious transparent like creature that looked a bit like a condom, or perhaps it was a condom, I am fairly certain that it was a creature but wasn’t prepared to get close enough to check!
After the swim we strolled leisurely back to the apartments for the last time, packed the last few things away in our bags and sat on the terrace waiting for our transport down to the harbour. These were our last few moments in Koufonisia, it was the hottest day of the holiday so far and we took time to reflect on our time here – we had enjoyed it, life on the island was perfectly synchronised to the rhythmic sway of the sea and it was another to add to our visited list but it wouldn’t break into our top five and to be honest we probably wouldn’t be coming back.
Our transport arrived and we said goodbye and in just a couple of minutes we were at the quayside with a handful of other people waiting for the Seajet. As ours was a tight connection in Naxos for the transfer to Ios we really needed the ferry to be on time so we looked out to sea nervously scanning the horizon for signs of its arrival. Eventually it came into view and was soon in the port but it was already five minutes late so this reduced our transfer window in Naxos to only eight minutes.
I tried to use thought transference to will people to board quickly and then to get the captain to slip the moorings and leave and it must have worked because everything went smoothly and soon the Seajet was easing away from Koufonisia and was soon at full throttle, rounding the southern end of Naxos and heading efficiently north towards the port at the other end of the island.
The ferry lost no more time and pulled into the harbour only a few minutes behind schedule but as the doors opened and we prepared to disembark we could see that our next ferry, the Aqua Jewel, was already loaded with passengers and cars and I used thought transference again to get the crew to hurry up and dock. The Aqua Jewel was almost ready to leave so we did our ‘Frenchman in a queue impression’ and pushed our way to the front and as soon as were off we ran to the other side of the quay and made it with seconds to spare. It wasn’t very elegant but at least we were on board and that was important because if we had missed this connection then we would be stuck in Naxos for the night.
Having sailed up the coast of Naxos we now sailed back down it towards again towards Ios. It was flat calm today with no wind at all and even the Greek flag at the rear of the boat was completely unable to manage any flapping activity as it hung limply on its pole. We sat on the top deck in the sun as Naxos and Paros slipped away and behind us and we got ever closer to Ios. The ferry sailed sedately along the coast and we looked out for familiar sights and soon we saw Valmas beach, the white sentinel church on the headland and then the harbour that we knew so well finally coming into view.
Vangelis was there to meet us, he had guessed that we would be on this boat which was good because foolishly I had taken down the fax rather than the telephone number so had been unable to phone ahead. We were pleased to see him and he welcomed us in his usual jovial way and gave us an immediate weather forecast update. He drove us the short distance to Homer’s Inn and soon we were settled in and on our way to the swimming pool to meet up with old friends. Martin, Lisa and Robin were where we expected them to be – near to the bar – so we joined them and caught up on the news and swapped redundancy stories with each other.
Inevitably we spent the rest of the afternoon around the pool in a repetitive cycle of overheating on the terrace, drinking Mythos and cooling off in the water before starting all over again. As the afternoon disappeared we prepared to go out to the Chora because part of the Ios routine is that at the end of every day we go to the village in time to see the sunset over Sikinos to the west just in case it was any different from the previous time. This involves a strenuous climb to the very top of the town and past a succession of small white churches that get smaller and smaller the closer to the top we climb. Later, being creatures of habit, we visited the same taverna as previous years because once we have found somewhere that we like I have to confess that we are reluctant to go anywhere else.
It had been a couple of years since we been to Ios and I think in that time we had forgotten how far it was and how many steps there were to get there. We had also forgotten that a meal at the Mills involves a lot of complimentary bread so we didn’t really need the additional portion that we rashly ordered. It was a good meal but we ate far too much and afterwards we huffed and puffed back down the steps to Homer’s Inn and at the end of the trail we were glad to get back and to go to bed.