A Day in Spetses

7 October

Today we took a ferry to visit the island of Spetses, about a 20 minute ride. Spetses is one of the Saronic islands, the farthest on from the mainland port of Piraeus. Historically, its claim to fame for Greeks is that Laskarina Bouboulina, the female naval commander who was the heroine of the Greek War of Independence in 1821, lived in Spetses. We tried to visit her home, which is now a museum, but it was overrun by school children apparently on a field trip.

The island is small, with only one large settlement with a population of just over 3,000. Ferries and high-sp0eed hydrofoils arrive regularly, along with pleasure craft. It was very busy on this October day, so we can only imagine how crowded it is during the season. Motorbikes overrun it, often criss-crossing each other in Keystone cop style and most don’t have good mufflers — the noise is ongoing.

We did take a walk away from the port and found some quiet. We met an Australian lady who runs a private foundation that feeds feral cats (they are everywhere, as on other islands we visited) and spays as many as she can get hold of. She said the natives poison them as a means of control, unfortunately hurting pet cats and dogs as well.

A great small world story: On the ferry going to Spetses from Kostas, we met a Greek gentlemen who told us he had homes in Athens and on Staten Island in New York. Turns out he lived near Bob, they took the same ferry to get to work on Wall Street every day, and even worked in the same building in the late 1970s! Of course, they had never met.

Another interesting story is that we passed some Greek men on a side street and when they noticed Bob’s Harvard Law School t-shirt they struck up a conversation since one of the men had a nephew going there. Turns out that not quite so great a claim to fame for them, though, was that their current prime minister attended Harvard also (though he did not study law).

To end the day, we found a quiet spot in an outdoor cafe while waiting for the ferry that would bring us back to the mainland. It never ceased to amaze me how you could sit in a cafe for as long as you wanted without ever being disturbed. It usually took a little while to order coffee (or ice cream or ouzo), the service was fast, and you had to work at getting the attention of a waiter to pay the bill. Nice.

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