The regular daily return ferry crossings to Samos started again on the 1st April, leaving Kusadasi at 9am and starting back from Vathi Harbour on Samos at 5pm.
The price has gone up this year and Meander Travel are currently charging 40 Euros return inclusive of port tax but I think from May 1st this price will be exclusive of port tax so expect to pay an additional 10 Euros from that date.
The mood in Samos was very different from our last visit last summer. Back last August we took a three day break to the island and were depressed by the atmosphere, the tourist numbers were down, the interisland ferry service was struggling, there was a palpable air of doom and gloom and as I wrote at the time the feeling was one of the morning after a massive party and nobody wanted to clear the mess up. The economic crisis was biting and people were angry.
Fast forward six months and whilst there are obvious signs of the ongoing economic struggle the mood was lighter, more optimistic and in the bright spring sunshine Samos was more welcoming than it was last year.
There were less flash cars and motorbikes on the island and one of the big supermarkets in town was closing down but there were a lot more smiles from people, lots of very genuine and unsolicited offers of help and advice. It seems almost as if Greece is remembering what it is like to be Greek – the waterfall of European money has stopped and it is time to pull the belt in but being Greek is about laughing in the sun, loving the simple pleasures of food and family and welcoming guests. The gold plated pension plan may have gone for ever but the lifestyle remains as golden as ever on the blue fringed islands under the Aegean sun.
Samos still isn’t the cheapest place to visit and a coffee will set you back 3 Euros but it’s worth the trip currently just to see the amazing hand made Easter Eggs and the Easter displays in all the shops. They make Turkish celebrations look muted and low key!
There are a few tourists about but Easter is a family holiday in Greece and the squares and parks were full of families enjoying the Easter break.
I visited the beautiful Greek Orthodox Church in the centre of town and lit a candle for Phil and had a little cry in the heavily decorated and wonderfully lavish interior under the peaceful stare of painted saints and the calm gaze of multiple Madonna.
It was a nice day on the island, we didn’t hire a car this time, just walked around Vathi and admired the window displays of sweet treats, dyed eggs on twig trees, legions of fluffy chicks and proud chocolate bunnies that carried baskets of foil wrapped sweets. All very, very, tempting.
After a leisurely lunch at my favourite harbour side taverna we explored the back streets where secret gardens were blooming with wisteria and pale fat lemons hung heavy on the trees. No matter where you went though you couldn’t escape the run up to Easter and despite the sunshine and the blooming gardens and the pretty houses leading down to the harbour Samos at this time of year is mainly about the chocolate!
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Tomorrow it will be three years since Phil died. We never made much of specific dates; we didn’t particularly celebrate Wedding Anniversaries and certainly not Valentines Day because as he said, “I love you every day!” Tomorrow will be as sad a day as today, because I miss him every day.
They say time is a great healer, I don’t think so in my case, three years later, still broken but faking it well.