Rollin’ into Syros

I feel harassed to tell you what an issue I have created with my luggage, dearest Graeme has mentioned in several times. He mutters “That bag” pointing to the flabby kind of wheel along holdall big enough to fit an adult human in.

It reared its head at Gatwick airport, when I honestly had this moment which felt straight out of an absolute nightmare, that suddenly I had no idea what was in it. It felt like I’d packed it weeks ago (well 10 days to be exact) like something had got in there I didn’t need. Or was it just the sheer volume of clothes I thought I needed. (I do need – it’s cold here at the moment, jumpers, jeans and jackets are wardrobe staples, I need hiking boots, but then it gets really hot by June – so YES I DO NEED 7 PAIRS OF SHORTS AND 10 BIKINIS!)

Anyway I had a wobble about the big bag at the airport – Graeme sniffed, winding me up and said “your bag your problem”. Harsh, but fair. But it was under 20 kilos, so we managed everything we needed under 80kgs – I was impressed. Despite this we huffed, puffed and struggled when we arrived in Athens. Luckily our Airb&b host Nasos met us at Syntagma Square and took one look at us and laughed “you moving here or what?” Lol – ‘Yes actually!” we replied. He helped us drag the bags to his flat. All fine, see big bag is okay.

Luckily I had done some research and come up with a genius idea weeks in the planning to check our bags into the long term luggage storage at Athens Studios – brilliant place, 3 euros a day for a massive locker and no need to even think about the bags for a whole week while we took enough stuff to last us through Meteora and Delfi. Perfect. Not to end up torturing ourselves with the bag shuffle to Piraeus last Sunday, we cleverly decided to ‘treat ourselves’ to a taxi. “Not a problem” nice taxi man helped – earned a tip and left us to huffle and puffle the bags into a wardrobe sized lift to the 5th floor in the aforementioned ‘hotel of ill-repute’..

After a  sleepless night in Piraeus at such a dubious hotel, I won’t bring myself to mention its name we set off to walk 800 meters to baord teh ferry to Syros with THE BLOODY BAGS!

Again, all fine the bags made it on the Blue Star Naxos – piled in the safety one of the luggage hold areas on the car deck.  We relaxed, snoozed and wandered around gazing wistfully at the Aegean in the blue lit hours after dawn. It always makes me think of the line in Nikos Kazantzakis’ Zorba the Greek; “The sea, autumn mildness, islands bathed in light, fine rain spreading a diaphanous veil over the immortal nakedness of Greece. Happy is the man, I thought, who, before dying, has the good fortune to sail the Aegean Sea” . It truly was a sight to behold, an unwritten summer of adventure and discovery opening up before us on the horizon…plus the travelcalm tabs had kicked in so I was feeling a little soppy.

After 3 and a bit hour’s of people watching and cheese pie eating (nb. blue star snack bars are actually pretty decent for coffee and snacks these days), soon enough the ferry starts slowing into to Syros. Its bulk heaved into the port at Ermoupoli, its twin hills glinting in pastel shades under a turquoise sky.

We had a few words between us on the ferry about whether to get a taxi to Avlitis Studios, they were a 12 minute google mapped distance and I was convinced they were tricky to find up a hill. Anyway we set off walking after the chaos of a ferry arrival, cars beeping, families reunited and tourists looking for hosts and busses on the port. We walked and dragged the bags…oh my big bag felt like someone had replaced all my shorts and sandals with lead, its wheels were useless on the cobbles and the pull along handle isn’t quite big enough to get a speed up. “Grrr”, I was sweating – wearing a coat and the sun blazed down. There was a moment when I gritted my teeth and muttered inaudibly “should have got a taxi, stick to your instincts Lindsay, don’t listen to this crazy penny pinching idea of walking..grrrrr”. We kept swapping over the bags and each talking it in turn to pull/push THE BIG BAG. Then Graeme, detecting this was getting harder – cracked out an ingenious idea! The longboard, of course, that trusty steed!

Next thing I know he has placed the bag on top of the board, its smooth alloys mean the bag moves along with much less effort. Brilliant! – Oh, look there’s a hill we have to climb. He hands over the reins to me, no problem this is a breeze the bags weight is reduced by half and I pull it gently up the hill – at the peak I am almost jubilant, we can see the Avlitis sign, we are really close to the studios. We both look at each other relieved, excited, the big Greek adventure. Then, suddenly everything just slows down, my grip recedes from the bag, the bag now on its super-fast wheels starts to move…downhill.

I freeze, my instincts make me shout at the Bag “Stop, Stop!  STOOOOOPPPP!” I am a fool, an idiot – the massive bag shaped ‘vehicle’ starts speeding up, it careers down the hill, I try to chase it continuing yelling. Graeme swears, I can feel tears welling up, I am panicking, he runs like a superhero. All the while the bloody 20kilo monstrosity keeps going down the hill, faster and faster, down at least 400meters, I can’t breathe! Then by some miracle the big flabby bag gives up, it skids off the longboard. It rolls like a car in a highway chase and then skids to a halt. Okay – this we can cope with. But no, that would be okay, but we still have a problem. The longboard isn’t one for slowing, so it keeps going until the end of the road and does a grand finale and jumps! I think it’s just into grassy scrubland, or is it a ravine, or a dried up river bed. I just stand there crying, heaving, thinking over and over, “What a numpty” and worse…Graeme jumps down into the concrete base and grass – he doesn’t yell, he shakes his head and I just die a little bit inside knowing that he loves that board and if its splintered in two, all the money in the world won’t make it right…just when I’m about to really cry, he triumphantly emerges from the grass holding the longboard still in one piece! This means our marriage is still in one piece…all can be saved!

“Only you! Only you could do that” he shouts from the bottom of the hill! Then starts dragging the bag up the hill again, with the might of the Greek legend of Sisyphus pushing the rock to the top. Although if you know the tale that really should have been my punishment. Only this time unlike me, he doesn’t let go – we make it just round the corner, I run ahead to the studio and Antonios runs out to greet us and help with ALL THE BLOODY BAGS.

Once inside the haven, for the first 5 minutes we can’t look at each other. Antonios Mum, Maria makes us strong Greek coffees and laughs at how much luggage we have. “Only a week here” I smile and blink back tears. When they leave us in our room, I am red faced. “They must think we are idiots” Graeme looks at me “No, you are the idiot and that bag is your idiot bag”

One day we’ll laugh about this. Not yet, maybe in a week or a month, or even a year – but I really hope it will be funny.

Miraculously, no children, mopeds, goats or cats were injured in this incident. But there was a bemused farmer who looked on from the hills and probably thought “Idiot Brits and their MASSIVE BLOODY BAGS”. Which I imagine means the whole island knows about our arrival…

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